145+ Best Mao Zedong Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People’s Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. He was a principal Chinese Marxist theorist, soldier, and statesman. Inspirational Mao Zedong quotes on youth, cultural revolution, education, power, communism, love, philosophy, and life will broaden your perspective.

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Most Famous Mao Zedong Quotes

If you want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. – Mao Zedong

We shall heal our wounds, collect our dead and continue fighting. – Mao Zedong

All political power comes from the barrel of a gun. The communist party must command all the guns, that way, no guns can ever be used to command the party. – Mao Zedong

When there is not enough to eat, people starve to death. It is better to let half of the people die so that the other half can eat their fill. – Mao Zedong

Our enemies are all those in league with imperialism – the warlords, the bureaucrats, the comprador class, the big Landlord class and the reactionary section of the intelligentsia attached to them. The leading force in our revolution is the industrial proletariat. Our closest friends are the entire semi-proletariat and petty bourgeoisie. As for the vacillating middle bourgeoisie, their right wing may become our enemy and their left wing may become our friend – but we must be constantly on our guard and not let them create confusion within our ranks. – Mao Zedong

Enable every woman who can work to take her place on the labor front, under the principle of equal pay for equal work. – Mao Zedong

The first law of war is to preserve ourselves and destroy the enemy. – Mao Zedong

At no time and in no circumstances should a Communist place his personal interests first; he should subordinate them to the interests of the nation and of the masses. Hence, selfishness, slacking, corruption, seeking the limelight, and so on, are most contemptible, while selflessness, working with all one’s energy, whole-hearted devotion to public duty, and quiet hard work will command respect. – Mao Zedong

The Communist party must control the guns. – Mao Zedong

All the reputedly powerful reactionaries are merely paper tigers. The reason is that they are divorced from the people. Look! Was not Hitler a paper tiger? Was Hitler not overthrown? U.S. imperialism has not yet been overthrown and it has the atomic bomb. I believe it also will be overthrown. It, too, is a paper tiger. – Mao Zedong

Don’t give a child a fish but show him how to fish. – Mao Zedong

We Communists are like seeds and the people are like the soil. Wherever we go, we must unite with the people, take root and blossom among them. – Mao Zedong

Weapons are an important factor in war, but not the decisive one; it is man and not materials that counts. – Mao Zedong

The wealth of society is created by the workers, peasants and working intellectuals. If they take their destiny into their own hands, follow a Marxist-Leninist line and take an active attitude in solving problems instead of evading them, there will be no difficulty in the world which they cannot overcome. – Mao Zedong

Even though I believe we should promote Chinese medicine, I personally do not believe in it. I don’t take Chinese medicine. – Mao Zedong

I voted for you during your last election. – Mao Zedong

You can’t solve a problem? Well, get down and investigate the present facts and [the problem’s] past history! When you have investigated the problem thoroughly, you will know how to solve it. – Mao Zedong

People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs! – Mao Zedong

Look at World War II, at Hitler’s cruelty. The more cruelty, the more enthusiasm for revolution. – Mao Zedong

No political party can possibly lead a great revolutionary movement to victory unless it possesses revolutionary theory and knowledge of history and has a profound grasp of the practical movement. – Mao Zedong

There is great disorder in the heavens, and the situation is excellent. – Mao Zedong

If the U.S. monopoly capitalist groups persist in pushing their policies of aggression and war, the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world. The same fate awaits the accomplices of the United States. – Mao Zedong

When guerillas engage a stronger enemy, they withdraw when he advances, harass him when he stops, strike him when he is weary, pursue him when he withdraws. – Mao Zedong

A Communist must never be opinionated or domineering, thinking that he is good in everything while others are good in nothing; he must never shut himself up in his little room, or brag and boast and lord it over others. – Mao Zedong

The comrades throughout the Party must take all this fully into account and be prepared to overcome all difficulties with an indomitable will and in a planned way. The reactionary forces and we both have difficulties. But the difficulties of the reactionary forces are insurmountable because they are forces on the verge of death and have no future. Our difficulties can be overcome because we are new and rising forces and have a bright future. – Mao Zedong

Revolution is a drama of passion. We did not win the people over by appealing to reason but by developing hope, trust, fraternity. – Mao Zedong

The government burns down whole cities while the people are forbidden to light lamps. – Mao Zedong

The guerrilla must move amongst the people as a fish swims in the sea. – Mao Zedong

Politics is war without bloodshed while war is politics with bloodshed. – Mao Zedong

As for the imperialist countries, we should unite with their peoples and strive to coexist peacefully with those countries, do business with them and prevent any possible war, but under no circumstances should we harbour any unrealistic notions about them. – Mao Zedong

Let’s contemplate this, how many people would die if war breaks out. There are 2.7 billion people in the world. One-third could be lost; or, a little more, it could be half… I say that, taking the extreme situation, half dies, half lives, but imperialism would be razed to the ground and the whole world would become socialist. – Mao Zedong

Genuine equality between the sexes can only be realized in the process of the socialist transformation of society as a whole. – Mao Zedong

Complacency is the enemy of study. We cannot really learn anything until we rid ourselves of complacency. – Mao Zedong

To Be Attacked by the Enemy Is Not a Bad Thing but a Good Thing. – Mao Zedong

Civilize the mind but make savage the body. – Mao Zedong

Despise Your enemy stragetically, but take him seriously tactically – Mao Zedong

New things have to experience difficulties and setbacks as they grow. – Mao Zedong

Firstly, do not fear hardship, and secondly, do not fear death. – Mao Zedong

Don’t wait untill problems pile up and cause a lot of trouble before trying to solve them. Leaders must march ahead the movement, not lag behind it. – Mao Zedong

We must help all our young people to understand that ours is still a very poor country, that we cannot change this situation radically in a short time, and that only through the united efforts of our younger generation and all our people, working with their own hands, can China be made strong and prosperous within a period of several decades. The establishment of our socialist system has opened the road leading to the ideal society of the future, but to translate this ideal into reality needs hard work. – Mao Zedong

Long distance running is particularly good training in perseverance. – Mao Zedong

Imperialism is a paper tiger. – Mao Zedong

Communists must never separate themselves from the majority of the people or neglect them by leading only a few progressive contingents in an isolated and rash advance but must take care to forge close links between the progressive elements and the broad masses. This is what thinking in terms of the majority means. – Mao Zedong

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun. – Mao Zedong

War can only be abolished through war, and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary to take up the gun. – Mao Zedong

In waking a tiger, use a long stick. – Mao Zedong

Communists must be ready at all times to stand up for the truth, because truth is in the interests of the people; Communists must be ready at all times to correct their mistakes, because mistakes are against the interests of the people. – Mao Zedong

We are indebted to Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin for giving us a weapon. The weapon is not a machine-gun, but Marxism-Leninism. – Mao Zedong

Learn from the masses, and then teach them. – Mao Zedong

Historical experience is written in blood and iron. – Mao Zedong

Many who have read Marxist books have become renegades from the revolution, whereas illiterate workers often grasp Marxism very well. – Mao Zedong

People who try to commit suicide – don’t attempt to save them! . . . China is such a populous nation, it is not as if we cannot do without a few people. – Mao Zedong

…the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of Negroes and the trade in Negroes, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the Black people. – Mao Zedong

The state machine, including the army, the police and the courts, is the instrument with which one class oppresses another. It is an instrument of oppression against all hostile classes; it means violence and is certainly not anything ‘benevolent.’ ‘You are merciless.’ Quite so. We definitely do not adopt a benevolent policy towards the reactionary activities of the reactionaries and the reactionary classes. – Mao Zedong

It’s always darkest before it becomes totally black. – Mao Zedong

Morality begins at the point of a gun. – Mao Zedong

Deaths have benefits. They can fertilise the ground. – Mao Zedong

The weeds of socialism are better than the crops of capitalism. – Mao Zedong

Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love. – Mao Zedong

The people, and the people alone, are the motive force in the making of world history. – Mao Zedong

When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue. – Mao Zedong

Don’t make a fuss about a world war. At most, people die… Half the population wiped out – this happened quite a few times in Chinese history… It’s best if half the population is left, next best one-third. – Mao Zedong

Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy. – Mao Zedong

Our principle is that the Party commands the gun, and the gun must never be allowed to command the Party. – Mao Zedong

All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. – Mao Zedong

In time of difficulties, we must not lose sight of our achievements. – Mao Zedong

People say that poverty is bad, but in fact poverty is good. The poorer people are, the more revolutionary they are. It is dreadful to imagine a time when everyone will be rich… From a surplus of calories people will have two heads and four legs. – Mao Zedong

The young people are the most active and vital force in society. They are the most eager to learn and the least conservative in their thinking. This is especially so in the era of socialism. – Mao Zedong

Maybe you’re afraid of sinking. Don’t think about it. If you don’t think about it, you won’t sink. If you do, you will. – Mao Zedong

That has less significance than a dog’s fart. – Mao Zedong

To read too many books is harmful. – Mao Zedong

Who are our enemies? Who are our friends? This is a question of the first importance for the revolution. – Mao Zedong

Not to have a correct political point of view is like having no soul. – Mao Zedong

It will take a long period to decide the issue in the ideological struggle between socialism and capitalism in our country. The reason is that the influence of the bourgeoisie and of the intellectuals who come from the old society will remain in our country for a long time to come, and so will their class ideology. If this is not sufficiently understood, or is not understood at all, the gravest mistakes will be made and the necessity of waging the struggle in the ideological field will be ignored. – Mao Zedong

Be resolute, fear no sacrifice, and surmount every difficulty to win victory. – Mao Zedong

We must have faith, first, that the peasant masses are ready to advance step by step along the road of socialism under the leadership of the Party, and second, that the Party is capable of leading the peasants along this road. These two points are the essence of the matter, the main current. – Mao Zedong

What is work? Work is struggle. There are difficulties and problems in those places for us to overcome and solve. We go there to work and struggle to overcome these difficulties. A good comrade is one who is more eager to go where the difficulties are greater. – Mao Zedong

Swollen in head, weak in legs, sharp in tongue but empty in belly. – Mao Zedong

A revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture, or doing embroidery; it cannot be so refined, so leisurely and gentle, so temperate, kind, courteous, restrained and magnanimous. A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another. – Mao Zedong

An army without culture is a dull-witted army, and a dull-witted army cannot defeat the enemy. – Mao Zedong

Classes struggle, some classes triumph, others are eliminated. Such is history; such is the history of civilization for thousands of years. – Mao Zedong

There is in fact no such thing as art for art’s sake, art that stands above classes, art that is detached from or independent of politics. Proletarian literature and art are part of the whole proletarian revolutionary cause. – Mao Zedong

Investigation may be likened to the long months of pregnancy and solving a problem to the day of birth. To investigate a problem is, indeed, to solve it. – Mao Zedong

The atom bomb is a paper tiger which the United States reactionaries use to scare people. It looks terrible, but in fact it isn’t. – Mao Zedong

The differences between friends cannot but reinforce their friendship. – Mao Zedong

In general, any form of exercise, if pursued continuously, will help train us in perseverance. Long-distance running is particularly good training in perseverance. – Mao Zedong

The cardinal responsibility of leadership is to identify the dominant contradiction at each point of the historical process and to work out a central line to resolve it. – Mao Zedong

We think too small, like the frog at the bottom of the well. He thinks the sky is only as big as the top of the well. If he surfaced, he would have an entirely different view. – Mao Zedong

Once all struggle is grasped, miracles are possible. – Mao Zedong

Let a hundred flowers bloom, let a hundred schools of thought contend. – Mao Zedong

There is a serious tendency toward capitalism among the well-to-do peasants. – Mao Zedong

People like me sound like a lot of big cannons. – Mao Zedong

Passivity is fatal to us. Our goal is to make the enemy passive. – Mao Zedong

I have witnessed the tremendous energy of the masses. On this foundation it is possible to accomplish any task whatsoever. – Mao Zedong

Letting a hundred flowers blossom and a hundred schools of thought contend is the policy for promoting the progress of the arts and the sciences and a flourishing culture in our land. – Mao Zedong

Political work is the lifeblood of all economic work. – Mao Zedong

would elevate the status of Beijing into that of a civilized capital, and make it fit to stage a ‘civilized Olympics’ in 2008. We certainly do not want to see the farce of the Olympic flag flying over a city in which a corpse is worshiped. – Mao Zedong

So long as a person who has made mistakes… honestly and sincerely wishes to be cured and to mend his ways, we should welcome him and cure his sickness so that he can become a good comrade. We can never succeed if we just let ourselves go and lash at h – Mao Zedong

He who does not reach the Great Wall is not a true man! – Mao Zedong

What we have in excess is women. So, if you want, we can give a few of those to you, some tens of thousands. Let them go to your place. They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burden. – Mao Zedong

We speak to no other country as frankly and openly as we do to you, – Mao Zedong

In 1644, the last Ming emperor … he hung himself from a tree just over there. – Mao Zedong

I do not agree with the view that to be moral, the motive of one’s action has to be benefiting others. People like me want to satisfy our hearts to the full, and in doing so we automatically have the most valuable moral codes. – Mao Zedong

You want to know the taste of a pear, you must change the pear by eating it yourself. If you want to know the theory and methods of revolution, you must take part in revolution. All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience. – Mao Zedong

Some people have read a few Marxist books and think themselves quite learned but what they have read has not penetrated, has not struck root in their minds, so that they do not know how to use it and their class feelings remain as of old. Others are very conceited and having learned some book-phrases, think them terrific and are very cocky; but whenever a storm blows up, they take a stand very different from that of the workers and the majority of the peasants. They waver while the latter stand firm, they equivocate while the latter are forthright. – Mao Zedong

Communists must always go into the why’s and wherefore’s of anything, use their own heads and carefully think over whether or not it corresponds to reality and is really well founded; on no account should they follow blindly and encourage slavishness. – Mao Zedong

We should encourage comrades to take the interests of the whole into account. Every Party member, every branch of work, every statement and every action must proceed from the interests of the whole Party; it is absolutely impermissible to violate this principle. – Mao Zedong

Communists should set an example in study; at all times they should be pupils of the masses as well as their teachers. – Mao Zedong

Every Communist working in the mass movements should be a friend of the masses and not a boss over them, an indefatigable teacher and not a bureaucratic politician. – Mao Zedong

We Communists must be able to integrate ourselves with the masses in all things. If our Party members spend their whole lives sitting indoors and never go out to face the world and brave the storm, what good will they be to the Chinese people? None at all, and we do not need such people as Party members. We Communists ought to face the world and brave the storm the great world of mass struggle and the mighty storm of mass struggle. – Mao Zedong

The exemplary vanguard role of the Communists is of vital importance. Communists in the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies should set an example in fighting bravely, carrying out orders, observing discipline, doing political work and fostering internal unity and solidarity. – Mao Zedong

Every comrade must be brought to understand that the supreme test of the words and deeds of a Communist is whether they conform with the highest interests and enjoy the support of the overwhelming majority of the people. – Mao Zedong

The imperialists and domestic reactionaries will certainly not take their defeat Lying down and they will struggle to the last ditch. After there is peace and order throughout the country, they will still engage in sabotage and create disturbances in various ways and will try every day and every minute to stage a comeback. This is inevitable, beyond all doubt, and under no circumstances must we relax our vigilance. – Mao Zedong

Changes in society are due chiefly to the development of the internal contradictions in society, that is, the contradiction between the productive forces and the relations of production, the contradiction between classes and the contradiction between the old and the new; it is the development of these contradictions that pushes society forward and gives the impetu6 for the suppression of the old society by the new. – Mao Zedong

The ruthless economic exploitation and political oppression of the peasants by the landlord class forced them into numerous uprisings against its rule…. It was the class struggles of the peasants, the peasant uprisings and peasant wars that constituted the real motive force of historical development in Chinese feudal society. – Mao Zedong

In the final analysis, national struggle is a matter of class struggle. Among the whites in the United States, it is only the reactionary ruling circles that oppress the black people. They can in no way represent the workers, farmers, revolutionary intellectuals and other enlightened persons who comprise the overwhelming majority of the white people. – Mao Zedong

It is up to us to organize the people. As for the reactionaries in China, it is up to us to organize the people to overthrow them. Everything reactionary is the same; if you do not hit it, it will not fall. This is also like sweeping the floor; as a rule, where the broom does not reach, the dust will not vanish of itself. – Mao Zedong

The enemy will not perish of himself. Neither will the Chinese reactionaries nor the aggressive forces of U.S. imperialism in China step down from the stage of history of their own accord. – Mao Zedong

Our stand is that of the proletariat and of the masses. For members of the Communist Party, this means keeping to the stand of the Party, keeping to Party spirit and Party policy. – Mao Zedong

After the enemies with guns have been wiped out, there will still be enemies without guns; they are bound to struggle desperately against us, and we must never regard these enemies lightly. If we do nor now raise and understand the problem in this way, we shall commit the gravest mistakes. – Mao Zedong

Communists must listen attentively to the views of people outside the Party and let them have their say. If what they say is right, we ought to welcome it, and we should learn from their strong points; if it is wrong, we should let them finish what they are saying and then patiently explain things to them. – Mao Zedong

It is a very good thing, and a significant one too, to exterminate the bourgeoisie and capitalism in China. – Mao Zedong

There should be celebration rallies when people die… We believe in dialectics, and so we can’t not be in favor of death. – Mao Zedong

All reactionaries are paper tigers. In appearance, the reactionaries are terrifying, but in reality, they are not so powerful. From a long-term point of view, it is not the reactionaries but the people who are really powerful. – Mao Zedong

The commanders and fighters of the entire Chinese People’s Liberation Army absolutely must not relax in the least their will to fight; any thinking that relaxes the will to fight and belittles the enemy is wrong. – Mao Zedong

Just because we have won victory, we must never relax our vigilance against the frenzied plots for revenge by the imperialists and their running dogs. Whoever relaxes vigilance will disarm himself politically and land himself in a passive position. – Mao Zedong

The attitude of Communists towards any person who has made mistakes in his work should be one of persuasion in order to help him change and start afresh and not one of exclusion, unless he is incorrigible. – Mao Zedong

As for people who are politically backward, Communists should not slight or despise them, but should befriend them, unite with them, convince them and encourage them to go forward. – Mao Zedong

War is the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions, when they have developed to a certain stage, between classes, nations, states, or political groups, and it has existed ever since the emergence of private property and of classes. – Mao Zedong

Revolutionary war is an antitoxin that not only eliminates the enemy’s poison but also purges us of our own filth. Every just, revolutionary war is endowed with tremendous power and can transform many things or clear the way for their transformation. The Sino-Japanese war will transform both China and Japan; provided China perseveres in the War of Resistance and in the united front, the old Japan will surely be transformed into a new Japan and the old China into a new China, and people and everything else in both China and Japan will be transformed during and after the war. – Mao Zedong

The seizure of power by armed force, the settlement of the issue by war, is the central task and the highest form of revolution. This Marxist-Leninist principle of revolution holds well universally, for China and for all other countries. – Mao Zedong

Without armed struggle neither the proletariat, nor the people, nor the Communist Party would have any standing at all in China and it would be impossible for the revolution to triumph. In these years [the eighteen years since the founding of the Party] the development, consolidation and bolshevization of our Party have proceeded in the midst of revolutionary wars; without armed struggle the Communist Party would assuredly not be what it is today. Comrades throughout the Party must never forget this experience for which we have paid in blood. – Mao Zedong

Our country and all the other socialist countries want peace; so, do the peoples of all the countries of the world. The only ones who crave war and do not want peace are certain monopoly capitalist groups in a handful of imperialist countries that depend on aggression for their profits. – Mao Zedong

Knowledge is a matter of science and no dishonesty or conceit whatsoever is permissible. What is required is definitely the reverse – honesty and modesty. – Mao Zedong

The People’s democratic dictatorship is based on the alliance of the working class, the peasantry and the urban petty bourgeoisie, and mainly on the alliance of the workers and the peasants, because these two classes comprise 80 to go per cent of China’s population. These two classes are the main force in overthrowing imperialism and the Kuomintang reactionaries. The transition from New Democracy to socialism also depends mainly upon their alliance. – Mao Zedong

Winds flap the sail, tortoise and snake are silent, a great plan looms. A bridge will fly over this moat dug by heaven and be a road from north to south. We will make a stone wall against the upper river to the west and hold back steamy clouds and rain of Wu peaks. Over tall chasms will be a calm lake, and if the goddess of these mountains is not dead, she will marvel at the changed world. – Mao Zedong

Without a People’s army, the people have nothing. – Mao Zedong

This army is powerful because all its members have a conscious discipline; they have come together and they fight not for the private interests of a few individuals or a narrow clique, but for the interests of the broad masses and of the whole nation. The sole purpose of this army is to stand firmly with the Chinese people and to serve them whole-heartedly. – Mao Zedong

The People’s Liberation Army is always a fighting force. Even after countrywide victory, our army will remain a fighting force during the historical period in which classes have not been abolished in our country and the imperialist system still exists in the world. On this point, there should be no misunderstanding or wavering. – Mao Zedong

We have an army for fighting as well as an army for labour. For fighting, we have the Eighth Route and New Fourth Armies but even they do a dual job, warfare and production. With these two kinds of armies, and with a fighting army skilled in these two tasks and in mass work, we can overcome our difficulties and defeat Japanese imperialism. – Mao Zedong

Our national defense will be consolidated, and no imperialist will be allowed to invade our territory again. Our People’s armed forces must be maintained and developed with the brave and steeled People’s Liberation Army as their foundation. We will have not only a powerful army but also a powerful air force and a powerful navy. – Mao Zedong

Don’t you want to abolish state power? Yes, we do, but not right now. We cannot do it yet. Why? Because imperialism still exists, because domestic reaction still exists, because classes still exist in our country. Our present task is to strengthen the people’s state apparatus – mainly the people’s army, the people’s police and the people’s courts – in order to consolidate national defense and protect the people’s interests.” – Mao Zedong

After the countrywide victory of the Chinese revolution and the solution of the land problem, two basic contradictions will still exist in China. The first is internal, that is, the contradiction between the working class and the bourgeoisie. The second is external, which is the contradiction between China and the imperialist countries. Consequently, after the victory of the people’s democratic revolution, the state power of the people’s republic under the leadership of the working class must not be weakened but must be strengthened. – Mao Zedong

In addition to the leadership of the Party, a decisive factor is our population of 600 million. More people mean a greater ferment of ideas, more enthusiasm and more energy. Never before have the masses of the people been so inspired, so militant and so daring as at present. – Mao Zedong

In China the struggle to consolidate the socialist system, the struggle to decide whether socialism or capitalism will prevail, will still take a long historical period. However, we should all realize that the new system of socialism will unquestionably be consolidated. We can assuredly build a socialist state with modern industry, modern agriculture, and modern science and culture. – Mao Zedong