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The Chinese Cultural Revolution Essay


Summary

In the year 1966, Mao Zedong felt that the leaders of the communist party in china were leading not only the party but the entire country in the wrong direction.1 He, therefore, decided to initiate a revolution that would lead the country back to its traditional leadership style, where power is not with the bourgeoisie but with the people. His call was for the youth to eliminate all the foreign and new elements in Chinese society and bring back the spirit that had won them the civil war decades before.2 With the help of other radical leaders such as Lin Biao, he mobilized the youths to form paramilitary groups, which they called the Red Guards, to fight against the bourgeoisie mentality perpetrated by the then leaders of the CCP, Liu Shaoqi, and Deng Xiaoping.3

The Red Guards formed by the youths later disintegrated into different factions, all of which fighting for supremacy. This forced Mao to bring in the army to help in restoring order in the country. The army pushed all the youth paramilitary groups to the rural areas, subduing the movement.4 Out of these groups, there emerged a radical group that envisioned a new thought of the revolution. They called themselves Shengwulian and were based in Hunan Province.5 They were opposed to both the ideologies of Mao and the other leaders of the party. According to them, the revolution was about one class overthrowing the other.6 They also added that “the revolution had turned the relationship between the people and party leaders from that of leaders and the led to that of rulers and the ruled and between exploiters and the exploited.”7

Response

I think Mao’s intentions were good but his approach was dictatorial. He envisioned a nation where all the citizens are equal. He detested the leadership that was in power at the time for their bourgeoisie spirit and wanted all the citizens to live as one equal community. However, his use of the military in the suppression of the Red Guards was uncalled for. That was very autocratic.

He should have listened to all their grievances and consolidated them into a philosophy that would help him lead them as a united group. Worse still, his betrayal of a former ally, Liu Biao, portrayed him as a very selfish individual whose only interest was power. He interpreted Liu’s actions as a way of usurping his position. As a result, he decided to go after him, causing his death. Liu was involved in a fatal plane crash while fleeing from Mao.

Critique

Mao’s course was both ill and well-intentioned. His good intentions are seen in his struggle to rid the country of capitalistic and bourgeoisie mentality. According to him, the country was better off with communism, where they lived as one community with no superior and inferior citizen, and not with a set up where leaders want to get rich at the expense of the majority of the citizens.

He wanted the change to happen in the shortest time possible. Hence, he had to use radical means to ensure that this happened as fast as he wanted it. However, a critical view of the revolution shows that he might have used the revolution as an avenue to restore his power and influence, having lost it six years earlier.8 Besides, the use of the army in suppressing the Red Guards and his former ally, Liu, shows that his interests were not in the equality he claimed to stand for, but in getting power.

Bibliography

Blum, Susan Debra, and Lionel M Jensen. China off Center. Honolulu: University of Hawai Press, 2006.

Wu, Yiching. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins, London: Harvard University Press, 2014.

Footnotes

  1. Yichang Wu. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins, London: Harvard University Press, 2014, 146.
  2. Ibid., 147.
  3. Ibid., 148.
  4. Ibid., 149.
  5. Ibid., 152.
  6. Ibid., 166.
  7. Susan Debra Blum and Lionel M Jensen. China off Center. Honolulu: University of Hawai Press, 2006, 120.
  8. Ibid., 125.
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IvyPanda. (2020, July 25). The Chinese Cultural Revolution. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-chinese-cultural-revolution/

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"The Chinese Cultural Revolution." IvyPanda, 25 July 2020, ivypanda.com/essays/the-chinese-cultural-revolution/.

1. IvyPanda. "The Chinese Cultural Revolution." July 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-chinese-cultural-revolution/.


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IvyPanda. "The Chinese Cultural Revolution." July 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-chinese-cultural-revolution/.

References

IvyPanda. 2020. "The Chinese Cultural Revolution." July 25, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/the-chinese-cultural-revolution/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'The Chinese Cultural Revolution'. 25 July.

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