‘How to make a cat eat pepper’ approach

During mid-fifties, China was preparing ground for nationalisation of all private businesses, but rather than nationalising by decree at first, Mao asked opinion of his private sector interlocutors on it. During the same time, some unnamed wit among Sanghai Capitalists summed up Mao’s approach as ‘how to make a cat eat pepper’ approach.

“Lio Shaoqi, it was said, advocated firmness: ‘You get somebody to hold the cat,’ he said, ‘stuff the pepper into its mouth, and push it down with a chopstick.’ Mao was horrified. Force he declared was undemocratic: the cat must be persuaded to eat voluntarily. 

Then Zhou Enlai tried. ‘I would starve the cat,’ said the premier. ‘Then I would wrap the pepper with a slice of meat. If the cat is sufficiently hungry, it will swallow it whole.’ Again Mao shook his head. ‘one must not use deceit,’ he said. ‘Never fool the people!’

Mao’s own answer, he explained, was very simple. ‘You rub the pepper into the cat’s backside. When it starts to burn, the cat will lick it off-and be happy to be permitted to do so.'”

 

Taken from, with slight modification, ‘Mao A life’ by Philip Short

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