The Tory blogosphere has been thrown a piece of red meat by Will Hutton.
He's written a Guardian article called: "Mao was cruel - but also laid the ground for today's China".
As usual, it is a thoughtful piece. But I always wonder with Will Hutton. Sometimes I have a suspicion that he has a tendency to conceivably disappear up his own exhaust-pipe when he writes some articles. He certainly provokes thought and debate, that's for sure.
At first glance, it is a balanced article. It is quite clear that he condemns Mao's murder and mayhem while seeking to draw some lessons from his reign:
The best option is (for China) to embrace democratic institutions - and the path to doing that is not to repudiate Mao but to see him for what he was. Wrong and cruel, but part of China's groping to find a way to cross the river.
There has been quite a lot of hostile comment below Hutton's article:
More waffle from Hutton, trying to hide his lack of knowledge of China behind big words and big claims in a desperate bid to shift a few copies of his book. - Angusbeefcake.
Mr Hutton says:
'Nobody wants to be an apologist for Mao.'
But then as others have pointed out, goes on to do precisely that. - Bitethehand.
I used to assume that Will Hutton was a sophisticated commentator and I now recognise the error of my ways. He seems more a "man in the pub" type with simple views of the world and large gaps in his knowledge. - Quisling.
But I was particularly interested by comments on some Tory blogs.
Istanbul Tory screams:
Will Hutton has gone insane. The man has an article in today’s Guardian that almost defies rational analysis. His demented argument (if indeed it can be represented as a line of argument at all) appears to be that Chairman Mao, despite his “monstrous crimes”, wasn’t all bad.
Blue Crab Boulevard calls it "Defending the indefensible"
In a remarkably thorough piece (indeed, what could perhaps be described as a "fisking"), Matthew Sinclair concludes:
I continue to be amazed by the extent to which left wing academics are willing to attempt the most incredible intellectual acrobatics to cover for the Chinese Communist party's enormous abuse of its own people.