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Born Red – The Chinese Cultural Revolution Essay


On October 1, 1949, the recently formed People’s Republic of China encountered the main problem of securing power over an extensive mainland and executing the socialist ideas it supported. The main problem to the process of governmental and ideological restructuring of China was the hesitant ideological nature of China’s academia.

Extraordinary measures had to be adopted by the Communist government to deal with the unambiguous and covert problem of non-Marxian thinking and bourgeois principles among its brilliant and knowledgeable class.

The crusade propagated by the Communists to convert the intelligentsia was not stimulated by enthusiasm towards the previous owners of the means of production, but by the Communist pledge for a cohesive ideological front.

The actions of the learned and the Chinese administration from the start of the People’s Republic to the Hundred Flowers Bloom era in 1956 were characterized by a certain trend, which included the division among the class rather than joining hands due to counter the ideals of the Communists (Lu 20).

Many historians noted down the effects of the Chinese Communist Party, both positive and negative effects. Born Red is one of the writings that talks about the nature of life under the CCP regime. Gao Yuan gives a personal experience in this piece of writing, showing how the CCP regime affected the lives of ordinary citizens.

This paper talks about the effects of the CCP regime. The paper further analyzes the effects of Cultural Revolution on traditional culture and social institutions. In this regard, the paper reviews the impacts of the Cultural Revolution on the lives of many Chinese.

The Effects of CCP Victory on Gao’s Family

In early 1949, the general position of scholars toward the forthcoming political change was one of reticent backing. The Chinese Communists had made substantive progress in their efforts towards the subjugation of the state. The universal sense was that the serving Nationalist administration was destined to lose the Chinese Civil War.

When the learned came to the realization that the Nationalist regime they formerly backed was a misplaced government, most of them were ready to offer their support to the Communists since it was considered the lesser between the two evils.

Executive guiding principle of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) and the Chinese administration during the epoch following the declaration of the People’s Republic of China was characterized by prudence and self-control. The Communists never wished to cause panic among citizens with ideological debate and political affairs.

The Chinese citizens at the time were more interested in tranquility and the termination of civil discord. Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong talked about the formation of a well-built state power and the financial overhaul of the state.

As Gao suggests in his book, the new policies had great impacts to the lives of many people, including his own family. Gao’s family was affected due to the policies implemented by the Chinese Communist Party (Clark 32).

The Chinese Communist Party introduced policies that brought about land reforms. The communist party had proposed these reforms in 1920, but they were implemented later in early 1950s. Those targeted were mainly the property owners since they owned huge tracts of land yet the poor languished in great poverty.

The communist party suggested that land was to be redistributed since the poor could not be left to suffer in the hands of the proprietors. Proprietors had introduced policies that ensured that peasants paid rent, which was sometimes exorbitant. The issue of landlordism has so ingrained in the Chinese society to an extent that the peasants existed at their mercy.

Mao was determined to end this type of relationship between peasants and proprietors. Gao’s family benefited from this reform since it could no longer pay rent to their proprietor. Life was better partially because the funds obtained through hard labor could be utilized in acquiring other forms of goods.

The reforms were conducted ruthlessly since proprietors were literary forced to surrender their land, which was then shared equally among the poor. Those who refused to surrender land were tried in the local courts and some were even executed.

Tenants who owned land without title deeds were granted land certificates showing the genuine ownership. Mao was sending a political statement implying that he was acting in the interests of the poor. Gao’s family took advantage of the land reforms to assert its position in society. It can be said that this was one of the positive effects of the Chinese Communist Party under Mao.

The Chinese Communist Party took control of the economy in 1950, forcing traders to seek the permission of the government before engaging in certain businesses. However, this policy had a tremendous effect to the family of Gao since it brought about inflation. The policy propagated corruption and misappropriation of public funds since public officials engaged in business instead of serving the people who pay them.

The party officials, as well as their allies controlled all major businesses in the country. Investors shied away since they could not operate under an economy that was controlled by a regime. The currency of the country was valueless meaning that traders encountered problems importing goods. Locally, goods lacked markets because sellers were many as compared to buyers.

At one instance, Gao explains that his brother was unable to dispose a used sweater because people were struggling to provide food for their families (Gao 14). The Grandpa advised that people could not buy the second hand sweater at a price seven times higher than the valued chain made in the medieval era.

Inflation was too high to extent of forcing Gao’s mother to resume work in order to supplement the family budget. The regime’s policies affected the life of Gao’s family in many ways. It should be noted that most of the effects were negative.

The regime was reluctant to consult the people before making policies. In other words, a totalitarian leader who cared little about the lives of people ran the government. His main aim was to disorganize the social structure in his favor. All reach individuals were weakened economically and socially, including Gao’s grandpa who was demoted as the party’s county representative.

Gao’s grandpa was respected because of his strong leadership skills. He always consulted the locals before making critical decisions that would affect. However, the communist party never tolerated consultations, but instead it demanded that all party officials subscribe to the ideas made at the top.

Gao’s grandpa became the victim of the party’s ideals since he was sacked after refusing to follow the party directives. Gao’s family life changed because grandpa could now rely on the factory for critical funds to provide the basic needs. Gao claims that the earnings of the family reduced from 280 to just less than one hundred. His mother was forced to start working as a local clerk to support the family.

The Extent at Which Cultural Revolution Strengthen or Destroyed Traditional Culture and Social Institutions

Cultural Revolution was against the traditional beliefs, principles, values, and cultures. The main aim of the revolution was to restore the original Chinese culture that valued the efforts of the Chinese people. All works of art that represented foreign culture were destroyed. These included churches, temples, shrines, and beautiful gardens.

The government, while supporting the revolution, banned all foreign music and culture. Anyone found practicing foreign culture was to be subjected to the arm of law. The wife to the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Jiang Mao, was the one responsible of destroying traditional culture. Her main aim was to ensure that any culture that existed before Cultural Revolution was destroyed.

She later became the Gang of Four that tried to seize power after the death of her husband, Mao. Cultural Revolution was used as a political tool to ensure that the power of the party leader was unchallenged. Any attempt to question the credibility of the Red Guards was interpreted to mean resistance or opposition. Leaders of the Cultural Revolution would always deal with an individual that challenged their authority.

Various social institutions such as the media, family, religion, polity, the school were interfered with seriously. Children were taught to obey the leaders and praise them always. They were forced to believe that Cultural Revolution was the strongest in the world since it catered for the interests of the poor in China.

The polity was affected because the powers of the central government were no more (Lee 28). Moreover, the economy, as an important social institution, could not operate since the revolution affected its activities. Teachers were believed to be against the leadership of the revolution. In this regard, schools and colleges were closed for a period of two years.

The Chinese Communist Party was not spared since it was unable to operate as well. All major ranks in the People’s Liberation Army were done away with since the revolution was against them. The activities of the revolution led to chaos and violence in various parts of the country. In this case, the institution of the family was affected since family members were forced to part ways to safeguard their lives.

Long-term Effects of Cultural Revolution

Cultural Revolution affected the lives of Chinese people for over ten years, even though the revolution ended in 1969. The struggles witnessed after the revolution are perceived to be some of the effects of the revolution since the antagonists based their ideas on Cultural Revolution.

The leaders of Cultural Revolution achieved their objectives after the death of Mao since all policies that he had introduced were stopped. However, the problems that the revolution brought are still felt in the modern day Chinese society. The Gang of Four was arrested after Mao’s death, but the new party leader advocated for Mao’s ideas secretly.

Cultural Revolution divided the country into reformers and non-reformers who are still struggling to acquire governmental power. In 1980, there were some developments in the party since the party leadership changed hands. China has been able to emerge as the world leading economy due to the struggles witnessed during the Cultural Revolution (Yan 89).

Works Cited

Clark, Paul. The Chinese Cultural Revolution: A History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008. Print.

Gao, Yuan. Born Red: Chronicle of the Cultural Revolution. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 1987. Internet resource.

Lee, Hong Y. The Politics of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: A Case Study. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Print.

Lu, Xing. Rhetoric of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: The Impact on Chinese Thought, Culture, and Communication. Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press, 2004. Print.

Yan, Jiaqi, and Gao, Gao. Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution. Honolulu: Univ. of Hawai’i Press, 1996. Print.

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