China’s Great Cultural Revolution is a huge and painful part of Chinese history. It depends on the event, which took place during the revolution. The revolution was led by Mao Zedong. It was aimed to establish communist ideas in the country. The main dilemma was the absence of official definitions for a term “True Communists” in China. Politics explained that they were trying to change “old thinking”, but despite this strategy, they contribute to sharing the leadership in the Party and country, as well. By trying to change “old thinking” politicians have destroyed ancient treasures. In addition, the Cultural Revolution destroyed Chinese financial, political, and social power. The cruelty and violence that took place in China during the revolution settled in people’s memory for a long time. The aim of the leader of the revolution was to exclude the Chinese Communist Party of their opponents. People are the most powerful weapon in political struggles. Mao Zedong knew that the other party leaders were able to marginalize him. That is why he appealed to his supporters. He has decided to change the government and did it with the help of people. The Cultural Revolution started this way. However, the chaos and violence, which were ruling the country made Mao, his supporters and opponents quickly understand that their measures would destroy China.
What was China’s Great Cultural Revolution in the 1960’s?
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution took place in China in 20th century. It was a time of great social and political turmoil. China’s Cultural Revolution was an internal coup acted by Communist Party (Duiker & Spielvogel, 2011). It was the Communist Party Chairman Mao Tse-Tung who had the major influence on the course of revolution. The party has overthrown established authorities by manipulating and encouraging young intelligentsia in the country. All aspects of Chinese life were affected in the revolution. The government, economic, and family life was thoroughly permeated by revolutionary spirit and made Chinese society less elitist.
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From 1965 to 1968, Cultural Revolution had massive impact on the country. It is believed that the Cultural Revolution was an attempt of Mao to reassert his believes in China. The movement started in 1965. Lin Piao urged students and pupils of the schools and colleges to accept basic principles of revolutionary movements. The USSR generally and Nikita Khrushchev partly have been influenced by the Chinese Communist Party. So far as we know, the youths in China were encouraged to criticize the liberals in the CCP. Moreover, educational establishments were considered to be too elitist and too academic.
It is said that the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution began as the politic fight between Mao Zedong and other leading members of the CCP for dominance in the Party (Lamb, 2005). This social struggle left a deep scar upon Chinese society. From 1966 to 1975 Chinese people were trying to free the society from “Four Olds”: old ideas, old customs, old habits, and old culture, as well.
The Doctrine of a Revolution
Mao Zedong was a leader of Cultural Revolution. His ideas formed the stem of that activity. That is why it is important to pay attention to his political thinking, so-called Maoism. Certain Maoism’s principles gave conflict to Marxism-Leninism ideas and governed the Cultural Revolution. Mao Zedong developed his philosophy during the civil war. His thinking put great emphasis on the military component, which was acceptable by party discipline, as well. Mao considered people to be a source of revolution directed by political elite.
Maoism was majorly borrowed from Stalin. Mao and Stalin shared the orthodox principle that industrialization and state ownership will transform society into communist ideal. The constant development and improvement of guerrilla tactics were valued during revolutionary straggle. “Self-criticism” was established as the major tool to learn from own mistakes. The combination of party discipline, the self-criticism mechanism, and a belief that one’s own thoughts must be brought within the party lines provided the motor that would drive the revolution.
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The Cultural Revolution Dawns
After Mao Zedong decided that the Soviet Union has already abandoned socialism for capitalism, he undertook the Cultural Revolution in China. Mao sincerely believed that China has had its progress since 1949. However, this process has led to developing the privileged class in society: scientists, engineers, factory managers etc. Mao considered that the privileged class has acquired too much power at expense of the government influence. Therefore, he was concerned with the creation of a new class of mandarins, which does not know about a lifestyle of the average person in China. Mao knew that the other members of the CCP were planning to marginalize him. What counts here is that Mao appealed directly to his supporters, the students of elementary schools, who were joined by workers and soldiers later. They created the first targets of the Red Guards. The churches, mosques, and Buddhist temples were razed to the ground or converted to other uses. Red Guards were the groups of young people bound together with the same idea. This idea was to criticize those who Mao deemed untrustworthy. Economists, writers, scientists, and anyone who was considered as Mao’s rival were dreadfully criticized. Each one who had got a superior attitude was considered to be the enemy of the party and people, as well.
The Mao’s ideology was directed to create the cult of him and to purge the CCP of anyone who did not fully support Mao (Duiker, 2011). Mao was trying to create a classless society. His main selling point was to build the society where all people are equal, no one was better than anyone else; everybody worked for the prosperity of China.
By February 1967, China had descended into complete chaos. What’s worse, the purges had dared to speak out against the principles of the Cultural Revolution. Till that time, the purges reached the level of army generals becoming the powerful enemies of Mao. The Red Guard groups and purges were fighting against one another in the streets. Mao got the idea to replace the army entirely if necessary. He wanted to convert the Red Guards groups into the People’s Liberation Army. The activity of Red Guards pushed China into social turmoil. The economy of the country started to suffer. Schools and colleges were closed for a long period of time. Sometimes, the activity of Red Guards got out of hands. The Red Guards groups sublimated their anger onto foreigners. The foreign assemblies were attacked. For example, the British assembly was burned down completely.
As the matter of the fact, China’s Great Cultural Revolution got out of control. Zhou Enlai had been a leading member of CCP, urged that it was a time to stop the looming chaos in the country. In October 1968, Liu Shao-chi was expelled from the CCP. As soon as Moa realized that the main rival in the Party was removed, he had a witness to understand that there was no need to continue the Cultural Revolution. This plays a major role in the course of China’s Revolution. Historians tend to think that it was the beginning of the end of Cultural Revolution. Admittedly, next six or seven years China’s politicians and chairmen were fighting for power in the upper echelons of the CCP. Mao had the main rival in the party. It was Lin Biao, the second person in the CCP. They were trading assassination attempts against one another by September 13, 1971, the day of Lin Biao’s suspicious death.
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End of the Cultural Revolution
In 1974, two major political opponents Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were chronically ill and unable to govern the country. Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing was an active participant of China’s Great Cultural Revolution. She led four main leaders of the Cultural Revolution after Mao’s sickness. Moreover, Jian Qing engaged leaders of the revolution in the internal political struggle with more moderate party members (Lamb, 2005).
China’s supreme leader for 27 years, chairman Mao Zedong died on September 9, 1976. The four remaining leaders of Great Cultural Revolution were labeling as the “Gang of Four’ and arrested by the current leader of the CCP. The Gang of Four was blamed with dozens of crimes, leaving Mao’s reputation officially unblemished (Spence, 2001). October 6, 1976, is considered by many people to mark the end of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
After-effects of the Cultural Revolution
The schools in China did not operate for the entire decade of the Cultural Revolution. As a result, the entire generation was left without worthy education. The majority of educated and professional people were targeted for re-education.
Overall the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards and other groups of workers terrorized millions of people during the 1966-1968 (Duiker, 2011). Intellectuals and educated people were beaten, have committed suicide or died of injuries. Millions of people were sent to work hard in the countryside with the aim to re-educate them with the help of labor and peasants surrounding. Thousands of intellectuals were imprisoned.
In a word, scientists and the most educated people of society were killed or were working in labor camps. The worst thing is that the Great Cultural Revolution while trying to avoid “old thinking’, destroyed all sorts of artifacts and antiquities. Priceless historical and religious texts were burned down as the symbols of old culture (Szczepanski, n.d.).
It is impossible to count the exact number of victims of this revolution. If summing up all committed suicides, the number will reach hundreds of thousands, if not millions. In view of revolutionary ideas, members of ethnic or religious minorities suffered as well.
The history of Communist China includes brutal violence and terrible mistakes. China’s Great Cultural Revolution is almost the worst part of history. The revolution inflicted horrific human suffering and destroyed great and ancient remnants of China’s culture. The Cultural Revolution is a big disaster in modern Chinese history. People were free to do everything they want. The great chaos governed the country. People were free to express their different opinion to the government. This approach destroyed the society, education, and even families. For example, Chinese president was killed because some students did not share his political point of view. The 10 years of chaos made the government and people value stability in the country most of all. The world of democracy gave for China a strong experience of chaos and anarchy. The Cultural Revolution implied the painful memories for Chinese people. As the matter of fact, the revolution was the struggle of politics, which were sharing the chair. Their ideas and methods destroyed intellectual, economic, and financial power of the state.
Nowadays, China’s Great Cultural Revolution is believed to be the “decade of chaos”. It is generally regarded as the darkest period of Chinese history. The main ideas of the movement were betrayed by destructive impulses.
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China’s Great Cultural Revolution was aimed to destroy community-based on “old thinking” principles. As the result, Cultural Revolution destroyed society and state force. During 10 years, the country and its people were suffering from brutal violence and terrible mistakes made by politicians. Millions of intellectuals were physically and mentally pressured. Meanwhile, Mao Zedong, his supporters, and his wife were fighting for comfortable political position, Chinese led by Red Guard destroyed the priceless cultural, religious artifacts. The Red Guards turned out to be a new military force. Despite official directives and Party leaders’ encouragement, the participants of Red Guard groups act according to their own definition. The activity of Red Guards got out of hands. The majority of them clashed with each other and inflicted violence upon their communities. In the 1960-1970, there was no official definition for “True Communists” in China. Therefore, everyone become the target for abuse. Trying to protect themselves, people were attacking their friends and families. As a result, China got a bewildering series of attacks and counterattacks; unpredictable violence and fictional fighting. China’s Great Cultural Revolution brought the breakdown of authority throughout the country.