Sociology Index

Cultural Revolution In China

Cultural Revolution was a sociopolitical movement that took place in the People's Republic of China between 1966 and 1976. Cultural Revolution marked the return of Mao Zedong to a position of power after the Great Leap Forward which paralyzed China and affected the country's economy and society. Cultural Revolution was launched in May 1966 when Mao Zedong believed that bourgeois class elements had infiltrated the government aiming to restore capitalism. Mao Zedong's goal was to preserve communist ideology in the country by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society.

Mao Zedong wated to re-impose Maoist thought through the dominant ideology thesis within the Party. Mao Zedong insisted that these revisionists be removed through violent class struggle. The Cultural Revolution spread to the military, workers, and the Communist Party leadership. Cultural Revolution resulted in factional struggles. Cultural Revolution led to a mass purge of senior officials, most notably Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

During Cultural Revolution period Mao's personality cult grew greatly. Mao declared the Cultural Revolution to have ended in 1969. After Mao's death and the arrest of the Gang of Four in 1976, Deng Xiaoping gradually began to dismantle the Maoist policies associated with the Cultural Revolution.

The Chinese Cultural Revolution as History (Studies of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center) by Joseph W. Esherick, Paul G. Pickowicz, Andrew G. Walder. This book covers the entire Cultural Revolution decade (1966-76) and shows how the Cultural Revolution was experienced by ordinary Chinese at the base of urban and rural society. The book explores the way events originating at the center of political power changed people's lives and how people's responses took the Cultural Revolution in unplanned and unanticipated directions.

The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962―1976 by Frank Dikotter. The Cultural Revolution's goal was to purge the country of bourgeois, capitalistic elements he claimed were threatening genuine communist ideology. Young students formed the Red Guards, vowing to defend the Chairman to the death, but soon rival factions started fighting each other in the streets with semiautomatic weapons in the name of revolutionary purity. As the country descended into chaos, the military intervened, turning China into a garrison state marked by bloody purges that crushed as many as one in fifty people.

The Cultural Revolution: A People's History, 1962–1976 draws for the first time on hundreds of previously classified party documents, from secret police reports to unexpurgated versions of leadership speeches. After the army itself fell victim to the Cultural Revolution, ordinary people used the political chaos to resurrect the market and hollow out the party's ideology. By showing how economic reform from below was an unintended consequence of a decade of violent purges and entrenched fear, The Cultural Revolution casts China's most tumultuous era in a wholly new light.