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Causes of the Chinese Cultural Revolution

1278 words (5 pages) Essay in History

08/02/20 History Reference this

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Revolution refers to a fundamental change in a political organization.  It is an activity that creates fundamental changes in the socioeconomic situation [1].  Rebellion refers to resistance to change. There are a lot of revolutions and rebellion in China since 1911, which have affected the country till now. There have been successful and unsuccessful revolutions which are called rebellions in the country over the years. Examples of revolutions and rebellions in China include economic, social, cultural, and system changes. In some cases, revolution is only partial, where the economic status changes but the political system remain the same. Cultural Revolution hurts China because it led to the loss of lives, destruction of properties, and disruption of human activities. 

To assert his authority over the Chinese government, Mao Zedong, a communist leader, launched a Cultural Revolution in 1966. He believed that current leaders were not focused. He asked young people to remove unworthy elements from the Chinese society and restore the revolutionary spirit that gave them victory in the civil war[2].  He gathered a group of people, including his wife, to help him attack party leaders to establish his authority over the government. He also put together a coalition to undertake the Cultural Revolution. He was determined to see to it that the revolution was successful. His wife, whose name is Jiang Qing, gathered a group of radicals to lead the cultural realm. Zhou Enlai was Mao’s premier who kept the country running while he focused on the revolution.  However, conflicts arose among the leaders and reflected on the performance of the initiative. Mao was concerned about middle-class who infiltrated his government and party.  He wanted to eliminate people who did not share his ideas and visions of communism.  Although he thought about starting the Cultural Revolution early, he hold it back until 1966.  Things escalated quickly, and elder people were abused and attacked.  Scores lost their lives, and Mao encouraged the movement to continue with what they were doing. He decided to rebuild the Communist Party to have control in 1968 after the country had been subjected to radicalism. Over the years, America’s streets and universities have turned into rioting grounds that point towards the return of a violent civil turmoil of the 1960s. The 1960s was a period when norms and values of behaviors broke down among American youths [3].  Many college students and young people became political activists and led the civil rights and antiwar campaigns.  Other young people separated themselves from mainstream culture through their dressing and behavior. Many people loosened their attitudes towards sexuality, and women started protesting traditional roles assigned to them by society.  They no longer wanted to be just housewives and mothers but wanted to be actively engaged in the affairs of the country. Left wing politics attracted middle-class college students who wanted to see a change in how the country was being governed. Leaders believed that universities were a natural base to promote social change. They were fighting for equality and civil rights for everyone and formed the Free Speech Movement.

Before the Cultural Revolution started, there was an exploitive system of contract and temporary workers. The system was capitalist and did not promote euqality state that Mao wanted.  He wanted workers to have permanent jobs to guarantee them consistent income[4] . Thus, the revolution was good because it fought for the rights of workers to have permanent jobs to improve their lives. Previously, state and government employees had more privileges than average Chinese person, and Mao wanted to change this to ensure equality. He believed that this system prevented the country from attaining equality of everyone.  He ordered government officials to practice productive labor to narrow the gap between classes.  Therefore, the Cultural Revolution was good because it connected the gap between government workers and the average Chinese person. However, the revolution did more harm than good. The unleashing of Red Guards of 1966 led to unanticipated problems[5].  They ignored the policy of using reason to perform political struggles against opponents.  Red Guard officials attacked intellectuals who did not agree with their ideologies without consideration. Mao hired radicals who did anything he asked, and this led to the loss of lives and destruction of properties. Moreover, universities were shut down, and the economy was disrupted. When the policy concerning intellectuals was applied, rightist intellectuals were criticized publicly. I thought that the Cultural Revolution dealt with cultural changes in China. I thought that it discussed cultural ideologies, changes, and steps taken to promote unity among the people.  Cultural Revolution affects my family’s understanding of customs and culture. Mao Zedong started the revolution to tighten his grip on power by removing old cultures, customs, and practices. Cultural Revolution affects my family’s thoughts of old cultures and their significance to our lives today.

Some people argue that the Cultural Revolution was not a revolution and should not be put on the list.  They state that although it had a massive impact on Chinese people, it was not successful in effective change[6]. Instead, Mao Zedong struggled to have power and resulted in unscrupulous means to control the government. Critics argue that it could have been a revolution if it did something successfully. Furthermore, it ended after the death of Zedong, pointing its failures. They believe that a movement should be considered a revolution if it manages to effect a long-lasting change in the society and the Cultural Revolution failed.

Cultural Revolution started in 1966. Mao Zedong started it to get rid of middle class infiltrators who did not share his ideologies on communism. The revolution had a negative impact on citizens, including loss of lives, loss of properties, and disruption of activities. Schools were shut down in attempts to give the Communist Party leader to show his power. Although some people do not think that it is a revolution, it is given its huge influence on people.  It removed current leaders from power, many people were imprisoned, the economy plummeted, and education was disrupted. It ended when the Mao Zedong suffered a stroke.

References

  • Barnes, T. J., (2017). Retheorizing economic geography: from the quantitative revolution to the “cultural turn.” In Theory and Methods (pp. 53-72). Routledge.
  • Dittmer, L., (2015). Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese cultural revolution. Routledge.
  • Havelock, E. A., (2019). The literate revolution in Greece and its cultural consequences (Vol. 5330). Princeton University Press.
  • Perry, E., (2018). Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution. Routledge.

[1] Perry, E., (2018). Proletarian Power: Shanghai in the Cultural Revolution. Routledge.

[2] Barnes, T. J., (2017). Retheorizing economic geography: from the quantitative revolution to the “cultural turn.” In Theory and Methods (pp. 53-72). Routledge.

[3] Havelock, E. A., (2019). The literate revolution in Greece and its cultural consequences (Vol. 5330). Princeton University Press.

[4] Barnes, T. J., (2017). Retheorizing economic geography: from the quantitative revolution to the “cultural turn.” In Theory and Methods (pp. 53-72). Routledge.

[5] Dittmer, L., (2015). Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese cultural revolution. Routledge.

[6] Dittmer, L., (2015). Liu Shaoqi and the Chinese cultural revolution. Routledge.

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