Mao's Last Revolution
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The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People’s Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.
In a masterly book, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals explain why Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, and show his Machiavellian role in masterminding it (which Chinese publications conceal). In often horrifying detail, they document the Hobbesian state that ensued. The movement veered out of control and terror paralyzed the country. Power struggles raged among Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Qing―Mao’s wife and leader of the Gang of Four―while Mao often played one against the other.
After Mao’s death, in reaction to the killing and the chaos, Deng Xiaoping led China into a reform era in which capitalism flourishes and the party has lost its former authority. In its invaluable critical analysis of Chairman Mao and its brilliant portrait of a culture in turmoil, Mao’s Last Revolution offers the most authoritative and compelling account to date of this seminal event in the history of China.
socialist revolution. They resent it, and even oppose it. Toward the Great Cultural Revolution, their attitude is either one of dissatisfaction or of wanting to settle accounts. They want to settle accounts with the Great Cultural Revolution. Mao was directly critical of Deng Xiaoping, as we saw in the previous chapter, and much of the following passage would be quoted extensively in big-character posters on university campuses during the spring and summer: The problem with Xiaoping is
the nation. Its leader, Mao Zedong, "Chairman Mao," was held in a reverence that even Stalin would have envied. Its 19 million members ensured that the Chairman's directives were heard and heeded at all levels of society. And when those directives led to widespread famine and tens of millions of deaths, as they did during the Great Leap Forward (GLF) and its aftermath (1958-1961), the cadres held the country together and enabled the CCP to weather the calamity. By 1966, the Chinese economy had
Renmin ribao"lao jizhede biji (A Historically Unprecedented Decade: Notes of a People's Daily Reporter), 2 vols. (Beijing: Renmin ribao chubanshe, 2001), 1: 256. Si. Xi Xuan and Jin Chunming, "Wenhua dageming"jianshi, p. 148. 52. Jiang Qing pleaded sickness; Zhang Chungiao and Yao Wenyuan had not yet returned from Shanghai; Guan Feng and Q1 Benyu were not invited because the agenda topics did not concern them. 53• Wang Nianyi, Da dongluande niandai, p. 208. 54• Ibid. 55
uncomradely: uncomradely because Khrushchev wanted India to attend but did not mention the People's Republic of China (PRC), and because he was prepared to hold the conference under the auspices of the United Nations, of which China was not a member; pusillanimous because, as the official CCP newspaper, the People's Daily, argued, this was no time for appeasement. Rather, volunteer armies, implicitly from the Soviet Union, should be sent to the Middle East, presumably to defend the Iraqi
Lu Dingyi as department head was followed on June 6 by the CC Secretariat's formal suspension of three of the department's deputy directors as well as the department secretary general. The 234 "lesser kings of the underworld" (that is, ordinary cadres) working within the department were shaken up by a reduction in its overall size and radical changes to its makeup, most notably the merger of a number of its key offices and sections into one big Office for the Propagation of Mao Zedong Thought.40