Mike Bloomberg knows better. The former Republican mayor of New York City has launched a presidential campaign predicated on telling Democrats he knows better what is best for their own party.
Bloomberg’s tenure as mayor was defined by this steadfast insistence on telling the people he served that he knew how to run their lives better than they did. Bloomberg knew how to feed newborns better than their mothers did, so he tried to ban baby formula. He knew better than police officers who the criminals are, so he mandated they target people of color more than white New Yorkers for random searches.
This totalitarian paternalism is not new, nor is it unique in the world today. Perhaps Bloomberg himself knows this because he went out of his way to applaud the only man on earth implementing his ideology better than he is: Chinese dictator Xi Jinping.
Bloomberg: Xi Jinping Is Not a Dictator
Bloomberg’s affinity for Xi and the parallels between his own understanding of government and that of Xi’s ideological forebear, Mao Zedong, should horrify any decent American. And it should be particularly problematic for Bloomberg given that his campaign is largely predicated on the fact that he, a Maoist, is more of a “practical” presidential choice than old-school Soviet Marxist Bernie Sanders.
In a bizarre conversation with PBS’s Margaret Hoover in December, Bloomberg claimed that China relocating coal plants away from cities to hide them from global environmentalists was “doing a lot” to help the earth, then claimed that the Chinese Communist Party is somehow beholden to its people – the same people it routinely tortures, enslaves, rapes, and kills in a bid for absolute power.
“The Communist Party wants to stay in power in China, and they listen to the public. When the public says ‘I can’t breathe the air,’ Xi Jinping is not a dictator; he has to satisfy his constituents or he’s not going to survive,” Bloomberg asserted. Challenged on the fact that China has no democratic elections and no citizen of China outside of the Communist politburo had a say in Xi’s ascent, Bloomberg added, “You’re not going to have a revolution. No government survives without the will of the majority of its people. He has to deliver services.”
Don’t be confused by Bloomberg’s outrageous wealth – there is no such thing as a poor communist – and don’t allow the instinct to laugh at absurd policies like banning large sodas to save the people distract from the fact that only one kind of government has attempted them in real life. Just as it would only occur to Bloomberg to legally ban large sodas, only Mao Zedong banned flowers (for being symbols of feudal oppression, naturally).
Cultural Revolution: Mao’s Murderous Plot to ‘Educate’ the Masses
Mao Zedong, more than any other leader, pioneered the use of state force to “teach” the ignorant masses what a good life is, killing an estimated 45 million to 65 million in the process. His legacy lives on in Xi Jinping, the first Chinese leader whose name appears in the Chinese constitution besides Mao and Deng Xiaoping, the resurrector of the “mass line” purges, the only man who could get away with multiple pictures of his face looming larger than Mao’s in Tiananmen Square.
Defending Xi Jinping publicly – and, privately, humiliating employees who dared attempt to use journalism to expose Xi’s crimes – makes sense for Bloomberg only if Bloomberg sees Xi’s political goals as defensible.
At the heart of Mao Zedong Thought is the idea that the totalitarian Communist Party must “educate” human beings into worshipping Mao, what Mao referred to as “democracy.”
“Education in democracy must be carried on within the Party so that members can understand the meaning of democratic life, the meaning of the relationship between democracy and centralism, and the way in which democratic centralism should be put into practice,” Mao wrote in 1938. Mao used the euphemism “centralism” for totalitarianism – power centralized in one core.
Mao regularly indicated his desire to “educate,” which resulted in routine mass murders of individuals considered insufficiently loyal to him. In a later writing in 1942, he repeats, “To criticize the people’s shortcomings is necessary … but in doing so we must truly take the stand of the people and speak out of whole-hearted eagerness to protect and educate them. To treat comrades like enemies is to go over to the stand of the enemy.”
Mao Zedong fashioned himself a destructive “monkey king,” wrote Harvard professor Roderick MacFarquhar in a profile that formed part of the New York Times‘ abhorrent celebration of the communist centennial in 2017.
“The monkey king is an imaginary being with the strength of a superman, an ability to fly and a predilection for using his immense cudgel for destructive purposes. He is a sage. Ordinary humans and even spirits cannot defeat him,” MacFarquhar wrote. “When young, Mao had written that for change to come about, China must be ‘destroyed and reformed.’ He now realized that only the peasantry could bring that about. Mao would be the monkey king to lead that destruction.”
The Cultural Revolution was Mao’s campaign to destroy all of society in a bid to save it. Lasting over a decade and beginning in the mid-1960s, the Cultural Revolution largely consisted of publicly shaming “intellectuals” – professors such as MacFarquhar at the top of the list – for being part of the malevolent bourgeois. The public shaming included beatings, forcing people into embarrassing outfits and smearing them with paint, making them perform humiliating acts such as barking like dogs, and, in some cases, cannibalism. It was not limited to intellectuals, but to anyone the communist rabble decided seemed even mildly interested in the world outside of Mao.
“Gangs of students and Red Guards attacked people wearing ‘bourgeois clothes’ on the street, ‘imperialist’ signs were torn down and intellectuals and party officials were murdered or driven to suicide,” the Guardian noted.
Flowers, as mentioned previously, were banned, as were lawns and gardening in general. Gardeners were “bourgeois” and needed to be “educated” in the error of their ways. The author Jung Chang wrote with sorrow of spending her childhood digging up flower gardens for the Revolution in her memoir Wild Swans, noting that her sadness came from self-shame over liking the flowers against Mao’s wishes.
“Educating” the Chinese people on how to best stay healthy was also part of the process. The Great Leap Forward – a failed seizure of the agriculture industry – had resulted in at least 40 million deaths, as communists are notoriously bad farmers. The mistaken idea that farming is not a skilled job has led every communist government, from China to North Korea to Zimbabwe to Cuba, to replace skilled farmers with trusted Communist Party bureaucrats, leading to famine. Sadly, this notion did not die with Mao.
“I could teach anybody, even people in this room, no offense intended, to be a farmer,” Mike Bloomberg said at a 2016 Oxford University forum. “It’s a process. You dig a hole, you put a seed in, you put dirt on top, add water, up comes the corn. You could learn that.”
When reality proved this notion false in China, Mao rectified not by restoring farmland to its rightful owners or feeding his people, but by “educating” them.
“Workers were growing too weak even to harvest their meager crops, so they died watching the rice rot. Industry churned and churned but produced nothing of any use,” a historical analysis at the Mises Institute noted. “The government responded by telling people that fat and proteins were unnecessary.”
Bloomberg’s War on Food
There is an undeniable ideological link between what Mao envisioned the function of government to be and how Bloomberg attempted to use his power as mayor to strongarm New Yorkers into living as he saw fit.
The attempt to ban New Yorkers from buying soda in containers larger than 16 ounces is just the start of his authoritarian policies. In 2012, Bloomberg banned food donations to New York’s homeless shelters – a pivotal lifeline for many of the city’s least fortunate, because the government could not micromanage the fat, salt, and fiber content of the donations.
Bloomberg sought to protect homeless people from allegedly malignant fat by protecting them from food.
Similarly, to protect newborns from food Bloomberg personally objected to, Bloomberg attempted to ban some children from being fed. This he proposed as a health-conscious breastfeeding initiative. NYC’s “Latch On” program forced hospitals to lock up baby formula as if it were prescription medication. Doctors had to offer a medical excuse for providing every single bottle of formula used in every hospital. If a mother needed to use formula – for example, if she was not producing milk and the child was starving – health workers would be forced to shame the mother with a stern speech on how feeding her child is bad parenting.
The “breast is best” global push to prevent mothers who cannot produce milk from feeding their babies is a top priority for the China-controlled World Health Organization. It has lead to needless deaths of children who starved as their mothers could not biologically produce milk, but were shamed out of feeding their child.
The New York Surveillance State
Bloomberg has received the most criticism from the left not on his policies to limit access to food, but his consistent declarations that black and Hispanic Americans are inherently criminal minorities who deserve to languish under the weight of total state repression. Here, too, Bloomberg fits the definition of Maoist, and appears to support the creation of a China-style surveillance state in America reminiscent of the one in Xinjiang, where as many as 3 million Muslims are languishing in concentration camps.
“It’s controversial, but first thing is all of your – 95 percent of murders — murderers and murder victims — fit one M.O. You can just take the description, Xerox it, and pass it out to all the cops. They are male, minorities, 16-25. That’s true in New York, that’s true in virtually every city. And that’s where the real crime is,” Bloomberg told the Aspen Institute in 2015. “Put the cops where the crime is, which means in minority neighborhoods. So one of the unintended consequences is people say, ‘Oh my God, you are arresting kids for marijuana that are all minorities.’ Yes, that’s true. Why? Because we put all the cops in minority neighborhoods. Yes, that’s true. Why do we do it? Because that’s where all the crime is.”
“And the way you get the guns out of the kids’ hands is to throw them up against the wall and frisk them,” he concluded.
In separate remarks, Bloomberg claimed that police in New York “disproportionately stop whites too much and minorities too little,” because white people do not commit significant amounts of crime.
Long before those comments, in 2011, Bloomberg founded something called the “Young Men’s Initiative (YMI),” presumably to help the underprivileged. At the launch event for that program, he once again implied that black and Hispanic men are inherently unworthy of opportunities because they are criminal and, at best, unprofessional.
“For a long time, people have said there is nothing you can do about [racial disparities]. Blacks and Latinos score terribly in school testing compared to whites and Asians. If you look at our jails, it’s predominantly minorities,” Bloomberg said. “We’ve done a number of these kinds of things to try and attract the kind of jobs that are available to people, who maybe don’t have a formal education … Nevertheless, there’s this enormous cohort of black and Latino males, age 16-to-25 that don’t have jobs, don’t have any prospects, don’t know how to find jobs … [and] don’t know how to behave in the workplace.”
He suggested that “there will be jobs if we can get these kids, get their families together, even if their fathers don’t live with their mothers or [have] never been married or maybe, even, they’re in jail.”
Two years later, Bloomberg proposed fingerprinting every individual living in public housing, a significant number of which are members of the minorities Bloomberg has described as inferior.
It is in the execution of his understanding of ethnic and racial inferiority where Bloomberg’s Maoism shines once again. While Bloomberg only dreamed of using fingerprinting technology to track all 600,000 people in public housing, Xi Jinping made that and more a reality in Xinjiang. In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China’s largest and westernmost province, the Communist Party has installed cameras on every corner. Every bit of content on the phones of every Muslim living in the region go through Communist Party monitors seeking any hint of dissent from Party thinking. Xi Jinping’s face appears on posters in nearly every block of the capital, Xinjiang. Millions languish in concentration camps the Party calls “vocational training centers,” where inferior people go to be “educated.”
“There must be effective educational remolding and transformation of criminals. And even after these people are released, their education and transformation must continue,” Xi himself said last year in a leaked speech about the Uyghurs. His subordinates have been less subtle, referring to Uyghurs as “murderous devils.”
It would be outrageous to accuse Bloomberg of supporting the Cultural Revolution, the killing of tens of millions, or the recreation of human rights atrocities in America. No Maoist would claim to do so. They would instead look at his writings, at the policies on paper of “educating” the masses into being good, and find this an appropriate attitude for the government to take before its people. And it is here where it becomes impossible not to see that Bloomberg is far to the left of anyone in the Democrat primary – a prodigious feat given his competition are openly socialists.