Will Hutton lionizes Mao in The Guardian (naturally). Hutton says that if China becomes a fully pluralized economy, Mao will deserve the credit. This is rubbish. Mao's Great Leap Forward and its follow-up societal reconfiguration plan, the Cultural Revolution, enabled him to surpass Stalin as the greatest butcher of the 20th century. Deng Xiaopeng's economic reforms in the 1970s and early 1980s did far more for China's economy than any policy Mao proposed because Deng allowed (limited) entrepreneurship and (semi-)free trade.
Here's one of Hutton's worst bombshells:
Few western critics today appreciate the scale of the task confronting any moderniser of China in 1949. Western economies created the surpluses to finance industrialisation through incredible exploitation - of their own working class, and in the US via slavery. It was never likely that China could achieve self-sustaining economic growth without great collective pain to achieve its own surpluses, or that this could be done without the involvement of the state. Spontaneous market-led industrialisation is a myth.
(1) Central planning was the core precept of both the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution -- both disasters. Hutton's claim is akin to saying that Hitler paved the way for German economic strength in the post WWII era by improving the foundations of German infrastructure during the 1930s or that Ceaucescu deserves credit for the modern Romanian state due to his industrialization policy that defenestrated Bucharest and Romanian agriculture.
(2) The US did not achieve industrialization through slavery because (a) most US industrialization from 1800-1900 occurred after 1861 and (b) the South was an agrarian backwater until Reconstruction -- slavery kept the South agricultural, not industrial; finances for industrialization came from the more sophisticated economies of the North.
Hutton is a fool.