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China Perspectives
The Cultural Revolution 2

 

1. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76)
The Cultural Revolution, as suggested by the title, was a movement to transform the Chinese culture by, according to Mao Tse-tung (Zedong), uprooting it from feudal and bourgeois backgrounds of pre-Communist China and turning it completely into a socialist state. It started with Mao¡¯s article ¡隆茫Bombing the headquarters [of the feudal and bourgeois]¡隆脌 in 1966. Mao interviewed high school students dissatisfied with the college examination system and told them that ¡隆茫rebellion [against their teachers] was justified.¡隆脌

2. Phases of the Cultural Revolution
• Criticism of the school teachers. 
By 1968, all schools, from primary to tertiary, were shut down, and not resumed in some cases until 1971. 
• Criticism of the capitalist roaders--from senior to middle level Communist cadres. View posters against capitalist roaders.
Mao charged conspiracy against him within the Party, that some wanted to restore capitalism and these people were high party cadres. 
• Criticism of the followers of the capitalist roaders--technical and other professionals, people who were not "born red"--from poor peasants and poor workers" households. 
Criticism of any one with overseas connections, with ties to the Nationalist government before 1949, and with any other spots on their backgrounds, or whose behavior in the CR was not approved.

3. Forms of criticism 
As in the past, the CR was a mass political movement. Everyone was mobilized. There were massive criticism meetings, during and after which those criticized were often forced to wear tall hats and were paraded around. Those who refused to participate often became the next target. Children of the denounced were often asked to separate from their parent(s).  Picture posters and large word posters (dazibao), and loudspeakers at work units became the means to communicate the latest developments of the CR.

4.How mass mobilization was achieved
The Communist state mobilized the masses through instilling fear (¡隆茫you are next¡隆脌), social mobility (promotion), encouraging telling on one another (some did so to settle personal scores).
The Red Guards: initially created of high school students in Beijing, soon spreading to all professions in the cities. From defending Mao, they broke into many factions standing for different figures in the Central party committee, and often settled their differences with armed fights.

5. Installing a new culture
Criticism of feudal and bourgeois cultures was followed with banning any and all non-revolutionary music from the West (except from Communist countries like the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Albania), and non-revolutionary or non-patriotic music from pre-1949 China. Revolutionary songs emerged in massive quantities, often Mao¡¯s poems or quotations set to music.
The eight Peking operas:
Peking operas were a traditional genre of opera that took their themes from history. Mao decided they were too full of emperors, generals, talented scholars and beautiful women, and did not represent the masses, therefore they should be reformed. Hence the launching of eight revolutionary operas.

6.Mao¡¯s worship 
• The little Red Book. 
• Mao badges. 
• Loyalty dances. 
• Morning inquiries, evening reports. 
Parades at Tiananmen (literally: gate of heavenly peace) Square to be interviewed by Mao.

7. Communist youth movement: reeducation in the countryside
Mao¡¯s vision to fully integrate the Chinese educated and uneducated, the city and the country found its way in the reeducation of urban educated youth. Starting from 1967, the graduating classes of junior and senior high school were required to go and work in the countryside, with no date of return.

8. Cultural Revolution after Sept.13, 1971
On Sept.13, 1971, Mao¡¯s successor Lin Biao crashed his plane in Mongolia en route to the Soviet Union. Lin was trying to flee China after his plot against Mao was discovered. This significantly dampened Mao¡¯s political zeal. Political reform started. 
One of the consequences was improving the Sino-US relations: Nixon¡¯s visit to China in Dec.1971 and the Shanghai Communiqu隆搂¦ in Jan.1972.

9. The last phase of the CR: Madame Mao and the Gang of Four
A new wave of radicalism (1974-76)
Just as China was gradually returning to normal, partly marked by the reinstitution of the universities (1972), a new power struggle became prominent, between Madame Mao and her followers, and the dying Mao.
Mme.Mao targeted chief rivals for succession, such as Premier Zhou Enlai. Again, she used mass political movements to do so, one of which was criticizing Zhou as the follower of Confucius and Lin Biao.  View posters criticizing Lin Biao and Confucius.
Radicalism at schools:
Reflected in the schools, again, knowledge was linked to capitalism. One primary student¡¯s diary was published in which she constantly criticized her teachers. One college candidate was nationally praised because he turned in a blank examination paper.

10. The overthrow of the ¡隆茫gang of four
After Mao¡¯s death in Sept., 1976, his wife and three of her cohorts were arrested on charges that they started the Cultural Revolution and wanted to usurp the power of the country.  This was followed by the reinstitution of Deng Xiaoping, who in the next twenty years directed China¡¯s modernization program. Starting from January 1978, Deng declared China needed to modernize in order to become strong. On his agenda were industry, commerce, and the return of Hong Kong to China.

11. Reopening to the outside
With the new policy, China slowly but gradually reopened to the outside world. Scholarly communications were reestablished with Western countries, foreign investments were encouraged, first in four coastal cities, then in a greater number of cities.

 
   
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