Sample History Essays on The Failure of the Great Leap Forward

The Great Leap Forward was a five-year economic and social development plan in China between 1958 and 1961 by the Communist party of China. This plan was initiated by Mao Zedong in 1958 with the objective of transforming China from an agrarian to an industrialized economy like Britain within a short period (McKay n.p.). This plan was premised on three goals, namely; sustain and spur industrial production by the peasants, revamp and increase agricultural production and enhance the socialist revolution on its way to communism.

The Great Leap Forward movement failed to achieve its objectives. This failure was mainly due to poor planning and execution by the Chinese government. In addition, in the communes system, people surrendered their farm tools and animals, and they were given targets to achieve. However, due to the lack of machinery, the workers used their bare hands leading to the production of poor quality goods. Furthermore, the focus on industry led to the neglect of agricultural activity resulting in a decline in food production and between 1960 and 1961; over 30 million people died due to famine (McKay n.p.). The ultimate objective of Mao Zedong was to produce more steel than Britain within a short duration. To achieve this goal, make-shift furnaces were established by peasants to produce steel. However, the backyard furnaces produced a lot of unusable masses of metal that was brittle and could not be used. The production of substandard steel by the backyard furnaces contributed to the failure of the Great Leap Forward.

The Great Leap Forward failed due to a systematic failure by the Chinese government to execute it well. Moreover, the plan was not based on any sound and proven economic analysis but rather unrealistic targets by Mao Zedong.

Work Cited

McKay, John P. A history of world societies. Vol. 3. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007.