Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution



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The Cultural Revolution
The “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” usually known simply as the Cultural Revolution (or the Great Cultural Revolution), was a “complex social upheaval that began as a struggle between Mao Zedong and other top party leaders for dominance of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and went on to affect all of China with its call for “continuing revolution.” 1 This social upheaval lasted from 1966 to 1976 and left deep scars upon Chinese society.
Background
The roots of the Cultural Revolution date back to the early 1960s. After the catastrophic Great Leap Forward, in which more than 20 million people died, Chairman Mao Zedong decided to take a less active role in governing the country. More practical, moderate leaders, such as Vice-Chairman Liu Shaoqi and Premier Zhou Enlai, introduced economic reforms based on individual incentives—such as allowing families to farm their own plots of land—in an effort to revive the battered economy. Mao detested such policies, as they went against the principles of pure communism in which he so firmly believed. Nevertheless, China’s economy grew strongly from 1962 to 1965 with the more conservative economic policies in place.
To Mao the revolution had to be a permanent process, constantly kept alive through unending class struggle.  Hidden enemies in the party and intellectual circles had to be identified and removed.  Conceived of as a "revolution to touch people’s souls," the aim of the Cultural Revolution was to attack the Four Olds-- old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits--in order to bring the areas of education, art and literature in line with Communist ideology.  Anything that was suspected of being feudal or bourgeois was to be destroyed.
Buildup to the Cultural Revolution
Overall, Mao began to fear that the CCP was becoming too bureaucratic and that Party officials and planners were abandoning their commitment to the values of communism and revolution.2 Since the Great Leap Forward, he believed that he had been losing influence among his revolutionary comrades, and thus, the battle for China’s soul.
Some members of the Communist leadership argued for a new campaign of radicalism to overcome what they perceived as the stagnation of the country. Mao’s wife Jiang Qing and other officials argued that artistic and cultural works were beginning to criticize communism and should focus more on promoting a revolutionary spirit. Lin Biao, the head of the national army (called the People’s Liberation Army or PLA), was perhaps Mao’s strongest ally. Lin organized hundreds of Mao’s quotes into a book called Quotations from Chairman Mao, better known as the

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