This Day In History: The Cultural Revolution Begins

Right, so it was forty years ago today that Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

The gist: Mao Ze Dong, feeling the power he had gained over the first two decades of CCP control in China beginning to slip into the hands of others, began a purge of “bourgeois” from government and the rest of the country.

Despite having made a rather large flub a few years earlier (aka The Great Leap Forward), this is where Mao’s infamy lies. Even though it had a catchy title, the GLF just didn’t have the rabid fanaticism the the Cultural Revolution did. Mao (with the help of the Gang of Four – one of which being Mao’s wife) managed to mobilize the nation’s students into a crazy and often lethal group called The Red Guard. These guys ousted, criticized, and often tortured whomever they felt were standing in the way of the revolution. Labelled “bourgeois”, this is when the middle-class, limping for years, died.

The Cultural Revolution also, puntastically, removed most of China’s culture from the country – and indeed from the planet. Literature, temples, art, and basically anything else that might give China some sense of identity now, was considered “rightest” and unneeded under the new regime.

This continued until Mao’s death in 1976. A few years later Deng Xiao Ping returned from in-country exile, impossed on him during the CRL, took the reigns and began reforming China – it is largely due to him that China is where it is today. Good or bad, I think the world can agree that he was a shade better than his megalomaniacal predecessor.

Four decades on, the scars are still deep, and the middle-class has yet to fully recover. Though growing, well-educated free thinkers are still the exception, not the rule in most places throughout China.

And so yeah, that’s my brief “This Day In History” moment.

This post officially marks my breaking of 200 posts. 200 posts in a little over a year, not too shabby. If you’ve been along for the whole ride, thanks for reading… and if you’ve just got here… I swear, sometimes I’m entertaining.

I get a day off tomorrow (actually still have to work 2 hours tomorrow night, but) after working a week straight teaching each day… I’m tired as all hell, but somehow have been conned into heading downtown to meet Maggie and all the girls from her work for a night out at Noah’s (a nice bar in town). Though perhaps most people would jump at the opportunity to spend time with their beautiful girlfriend and her cute friends… I am very much not. I’m tired, they don’t speak English, the last time I went out with them was a clusterfeck of confusion that despite being sold to me as fun and dancing didn’t touch on either.

We’ll see if tonight fares better.

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  1. Pingback: Mao And Red Guards Chinese

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