This essay sample essay on Cultural Revolution Essay offers an extensive list of facts and arguments related to it. The essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and the conclusion are provided below.
China in the Cultural Revolution The historically unprecedented great peoples proletarian cultural revolution was a struggle for supremacy within the Chinese communist party which manifested into a wide scale social and political upheaval which brought china in 1966 to the brink of all out civil war. Although millions of people were murdered and tortured during its bloody course the cultural revolution is a chapter of china’s history rarely talked about, its just bad business to bring it up with someone who’s buying 26 percent of the world’s oil and 42% of all concrete produced globally.
The Cultural Revolution was a period of vast upheaval and organized vandalism the likes of which had never occurred before, and through historical analysis it is reasonable to conclude that the great Cultural Revolution of 1966-67 was merely a means for Mao Zedong to purge the Chinese Communist Party and consolidate his own personal power.
A period of calm and stable economic conservatism had settled over china after the upheaval and fervor of the great leap forward, and with its spectacular failure the moderates inside the CCP gained more power as Mao and his fiercely socialist policies lost considerable support.
In this environment of political moderation and conservatism the ailing Mao felt capitalist and elitist ideology was infiltrating the party and the main goals of the 1949 revolution were being abandoned, and that to ensure the future of the communist party and china as a socialist state a reinvigoration of revolutionary spirit among the youths and children of china was necessary.
It was from this small struggle to regain control over the party apparatus that a great public movement among students and the urban youth took hold all throughout china, and its destructive effects touched the lives of almost every Chinese person, from its epicenter in Beijing to the furthest provinces in Xiamen. For a little while, Mao disappeared from the centre of Chinese politics, and after his resignation as party secretary he retreated to his own devices to plan his next move against his growing enemies Deng Xiaoping and Zhou Enlai.
On August 8, 1966 Mao returned to Beijing in a flurry of energy and revolutionary spirit and published a manifesto of 16 points in which he outlined his intentions for the future of china. Coinciding with this move was a great call to all workers and students to rededicate themselves to unwavering class struggle and eliminate bourgeoisie and upper class thinking and ideals and focus on promoting the virtues of the agrarian proletariat.
This opportunity to escape work and indulge in blind ideological hysteria proved very tempting for most Chinese students and by the 16th of October millions of Red Guards, as they were dubbed, flocked to mass rallies in Tiananmen Square, where Mao and Lin Biao made frequent appearances to over 11 million adoring youths. With this call to arms throughout all major institutions Mao enlisted the impressionable and easily led youth of china as his instrument for reimposing his will upon the nation and reshaping it.
The revolutionary fervor and blind fanaticism of the red guards was matched by no other in Chinese society, and indoctrinated teenagers all over china rushed to do his bidding and destroy the 4 Olds, the 4 enemies of the continuing revolution as outlined by Mao, old culture, old thoughts, old customs and old habits. In a practical sense Mao had ordained the destruction of religious sites and relics as well as the torture and imprisonment of anyone seen to be an “enemy of the revolution”.
It was in this way that the Cultural Revolution broadened from an internal communist party purge to a mass public movement in line with the self preserving aims of Mao. Giant posters in universities and schools encouraged students to join the struggle against all those who had diverted from the revolutionary path, and in July in a carefully orchestrated propaganda event Mao was seen swimming in the Yangtze River, a move which served to rally further support for the revolution.
This specific event touched the hearts of many Chinese and led to serious momentum behind the revolution, in modern terms it is the equivalent of Queen Elizabeth swimming the English channel, and it is easy to see why this great symbolic gesture excited all of china and inspired loyalty and devotion among the Chinese for their appearingly strong and wise leader. Mao took the opportunity of revolution to finally dispose of his political enemies, and it was his newly formed and wildly devoted red guards he used to publicly ridicule and intimidate his opponents both in Beijing and the outer provinces.
After a rally held specifically against them and their actions, Mao’s two main rivals Deng Xiaoping and Lui Shaoqui were both purged, Lui beaten and imprisoned in foul conditions until his death in 1973, and Deng sent to corrective labor in Jiangxi province after witnessing the crippling of his son Pufang at the hands of the Red guards. As the existing student movement was elevated to a mass national campaign, attacks on religious and historical institutions intensified and many churches and temples were looted and destroyed.
From the centers of the movement, the universities and schools, red guards took control of towns and cities and were allowed free reign by the police and government to hold ‘great debates’ and rallies and persecute all those with which they didn’t agree. At this time Red guards were also encouraged to travel to Beijing with free transport and food provided by the government and many took the opportunity to make a pilgrimage to Tiananmen Square to catch a glimpse of their beloved leader.
By the end of 1966 Mao had a giant, easily manipulated, blindly devoted and violent army with which he consolidated his rule over the communist party with an iron fist, and at the same time elevated his personal following to almost cult status. In 1967 china Mao’s word was law, and involvement in some sort of revolutionary activity was the only way to avoid being purged.
When analyzing this period of Chinese history many agree that the Cultural Revolution was carefully orchestrated by Mao Zedong himself and that the Red Guard movement grew out of prepared soil. Alongside great cruelty and egotistic mania Mao showed an astute grasp of mass psychology, he knew that the students were the most suggestible and easily manipulated group in Chinese society, and he appealed directly to them to create a vast political instrument with which he could forcefully impose his will upon the whole of china.
The Cultural Revolution began to finally wind down in 1969, although many historians argue that it didn’t finally end until the arrest and subsequent execution of the “Gang of Four” in 1979. The effects of the Cultural Revolution directly or indirectly touched every facet of Chinese society, and the 10 years of organized vandalism and civil unrest brought the education system and economy to a grinding halt.
Perhaps never before in human history has a political leader unleashed such massive forces against the system that he created, and it was the Cultural Revolution’s aim to ultimately alter the ideological nature and soul of the people which made its effects so chilling. From mid-1973 until Mao’s death in September 1976, Chinese politics shifted back and forth between Jiang Qing and those who supported her (notably Wang Hongwen, Zhang Chunqiao, and Yao Wenyuan, who with Jiang Qing were later dubbed the Gang of Four,) and the Zhou-Deng group.
The former favored ideology, political mobilization, class struggle, anti intellectualism, egalitarianism, and xenophobia, while the latter promoted economic growth, stability, educational progress, and a pragmatic foreign policy. In recent years china has taken steps to rehabilitate the millions of Chinese displaced and formally recognized the full extent of the damage caused by the Cultural Revolution, although any expressions tracing blame back to the CCP are fiercely censored.
By conducting unbiased historical analysis and with the benefit of hindsight it is reasonable to conclude that the cultural revolution was nothing more than a vast political and ideological purge which was aimed at eliminating every semblance of tradition, decency and intellectualism, in due course leaving only the divine chairman Mao and a clean slate upon which for him to propound his ideology and political agenda. The Red Guards were not only officially sanctioned but directed by the government, as police were ordered not to interfere in red guard activities and even give them information on ‘class enemies’.
As John K Fairbank observed, “The idealistic youngsters who appeared to lead the Cultural Revolution were in fact nothing more than pawns in the power struggle within the CCP”. The cultural revolution was nothing more than a desperate purge by an ailing and meglomaniacal leader whose terrible effects are still felt today, and as I mentioned before, is a chapter of history the Chinese would rather forget ‘