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The Cultural Revolution. Sara Al-Mesnad IB History HL. iNTRODUCTION. The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命), was started in 1966. It was set up to secure Maoism and eliminate Political Opponents. Mao’s main focus was on rebuilding what he considered the now ruined economy

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The cultural revolution
The Cultural Revolution

  • Sara Al-Mesnad

  • IB History HL


  • The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (无产阶级文化大革命), was started in 1966.

  • It was set up to secure Maoism and eliminate Political Opponents.

  • Mao’s main focus was on rebuilding what he considered the now ruined economy

  • Mao feared that the economic success had created upper and lower economic classes - Get rid of four olds.

  • He rallied support from young people across China to enforce his politically correct -humiliation and imprisonment.

  • Little Red Book

  • Red Guards were going crazier, killing thousands.

  • Economic stagnation.

  • Mao realized that the Red Guards had to be disbanded, and the military would now have to be trusted with law enforcement

  • Mao became ill in the early 1970’s and died in 1976

Aftermath of the great leap forward
Aftermath of THE GREAT LEAP Forward

  • ‘Red’ vs. ‘expert’ controversy in leadership

  • Peng Dehuai criticised 3 aspects:

    • Damage to long-term economic development

    • Rejection Soviet development model

    • Obvious decline moral and efficiency

Reversal of the great leap forward
Reversal of The Great lEAP fORWARD

  • Liu’s policy changes:

    • Reintroduction material incentives

    • Efficiency

    • Technical expertise vs. ideology

    • Relaxation central planning

    • Strict discipline

    • Reorganize party

Socialist education campaign

  • 3 interrelated campaigns:

    • Educational campaign

    • Rectification campaign

    • Purification movement – PLA

  • Mao: open investigation

  • Liu: covert infiltration

  • Mao: mass education movement

  • Liu: party-controlled rectification operation

  • Toward a cultural revolution
    tOWARD A CULTURAL Revolution

    • Only PLA campaign successful

    • Lin Biao Minister Defence – key role

      • "Chairman Mao is a genius, everything the Chairman says is truly great; one of the Chairman's words will override the meaning of ten thousand of ours.”

    • “Little Red Book”

    What was it s purpose
    What was it’s purpose? Mao Zedong Thought

    • Fundamental change in the way the Chinese people viewed the world

    • Aim to totally replace older feudal attitudes and to replace with socialist attitudes

    • Mao’s bid for power?

    • Lin Biao and Jiang Qing’s ambitions?

    • Wu Han’s play – key (Hai Rui = Peng Dehuai, Emperor = Mao)

    Official history of gcpr
    Official History of GCPR Mao Zedong Thought

    • The official historical view of the Communist Party of China on the Cultural Revolution and Mao's role within it is incorporated in the ‘Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China’ adopted on June 27, 1981.

    • In this document, it is stated that "Chief responsibility for the grave `Left' error of the `cultural revolution,' an error comprehensive in magnitude and protracted in duration, does indeed lie with Comrade Mao Zedong" and that the Cultural Revolution was carried out "under the mistaken leadership of Mao Zedong who was used by the counterrevolutionaries Lin Biao and Jiang Qing and brought serious disaster and turmoil to the Party and the Chinese people.”

    Marx and mao
    mARX AND mAO Mao Zedong Thought

    • Both agree that communist revolution requires cultural revolution

    • Marx – oppression = change attitude

    • Mao - revolution occurred in China BEFORE the majority had changed their attitudes

    Why a need for cultural revolution

    • Failure of Great Leap – masses capitalist

    • 1962 Mao tries to implement the Socialist Education Movement – re-educate masses

    • Liu and Deng against, ‘unrealistic’ while countryside still struggling

    • 1963, Mao appeals directly to people

      • Party cadres openly criticise themselves, but masses able to criticise them too

    Result of the sem
    rESULT OF THE SEM Mao Zedong Thought

    • 3 advantages for Mao:

      • Still had power to initiate new political campaigns

      • Influenced those outside the army

      • Made clear Mao’s suspicions of the other members of the party leadership

    Key aspects of the cultural revolution

    • Personality Cult (strongest 1968)

    • Amongst the young in particular

    • Cult built around Mao

    • Deep sense of gratitude to Mao

    8 august 1966
    8 aUGUST 1966 Mao Zedong Thought

    • 16 point decision

    • Red Guards destroy the “four olds”:

      • Thought

      • Culture

      • Customs

      • Habits

    A short intro to the red gaurd
    A short intro to the red gaurd Mao Zedong Thought

    • The Red Guard is the name given to the hundreds of thousands of students who left their schools to spread Mao’s message; that the Moderates were bringing China down the ‘Capitalist Road’, and needed to return to pure Communism once again

    • They were responsible for a majority of the chaos created during the Cultural Revolution

    • They traveled the countryside and visited factories, etc. to spread the message

    • At the end of the Cultural Revolution, they were sent to the countryside to ‘learn from the peasants’

    Influence red guard
    Influence - Red guard Mao Zedong Thought

    • They had the workers arrange meetings so frequent that production came to a standstill

    • Anyone who complained was accused of being a bourgeois, etc.

    • Vandalism was also common, as the Red Guard started to stamp out authorities, like the leader of the factory, etc.

    • High levels of violence ensued

    • This meant that national output fell dramatically during the course of the Cultural Revolution

    • This caused the Chinese economy to be crippled through the three-year duration of the Cultural Revolution

    Influence political
    Influence - Political Mao Zedong Thought

    • Later, the Gang of Four, especially Jiang Qing considered everything as Capitalist; they condemned a basic theory that production power decided the relation of production to the character of the society as ‘Revisionism’; in a sense referring to looking back to the past.

    • They agitated workers openly by saying ‘[not to] fear to stop production and work’.

    • They disliked modernism; they referred the introduction of technological plants as ‘worshipping and toadying to foreign countries’.

    • Most workers complained about the Four’s policies, and made an effort to produce. However, a decline in production was impossible, with their constant exposure to slogans created by Jiang's groups

    Controlling the media
    cONTROLLING THE MEDIA Mao Zedong Thought

    • Power of art and literature

    • Art and literature political

    • Only character development was when all traditional bases for friendship were abandoned and replaced by shared class consciousness

    Emulation campaigns
    emulation campaigns Mao Zedong Thought

    • Socialist heroes for the people to emulate

    • 1962 Lei Feng appeared, orphaned by brutal landlords and Japanese aggression and saved by communist forces, had developed a profound love for his fellow proletarians

    Idealogical trainings
    Idealogical Trainings Mao Zedong Thought

    • Mass meetings held

    • In schools and colleges students discussed the wisdom of Mao’s words and why he was always correct

    • Mao’s role in the revolution became the subject of plays, films and novels

    • Newspapers dedicated front pages to his sayings

    The education system
    The education system Mao Zedong Thought

    • Indoctrination in the classroom began with primary education

    • History taught to highlight the wrongs of the feudal past and western imperialism

    • Students taught to have unbounded love for comrades and hatred for class enemies

    • All children taught to aspire to being young pioneers, the first rung towards party membership

    • Enrollment as a young pioneer was a major event for a student and family

    • All students were encouraged to admit their failings in public in an attempt to become better socialists

    The youth
    tHE youth Mao Zedong Thought

    • Instead of killing the intellectuals in China, who amounted to less than 10% of the population, Mao decided to re-educate intellectuals in the ways of the proletariat. To do so, he made many books and learning sources illegal, and relocated members of the bourgeoisie class to farming communities where they were forced to do manual labor.


    Literature Mao Zedong Thought

    • During the Cultural Revolution, almost all forms of creative literature were made illegal. All western books were banned and destroyed, and no one was able to publish any literature unless it supported the Communist National Party. Mao Tse-tung published many works himself, and almost everyone in China was forced to carry around a book of his quotations known as the “Little Red Book.”

    Music Mao Zedong Thought

    • Music, like all other forms of art, only existed in the form of propaganda.

    • Typical songs were titled “The East is Red,” “Long Live Chairman Mao,” and “I Love Beijing's Tiananmen.”

    Art Mao Zedong Thought

    • At one point in China calligraphy had been considered the greatest form of art above painting and dancing. The Chinese language consists of 6000-7000 characters, each with an intricate design. During the Cultural Revolution, all forms of art, calligraphy, painting, dancing, and singing, were reduced to those that supported the Communist National Party.

    “Let the new Socialist Performing Arts conquer every stage.”

    Etiquette Mao Zedong Thought

    • The Three Main Rules of Discipline are as follows:

      • Obey orders in all your actions.

      • Do not take a single needle piece of thread from the masses.

      • Turn in everything captured.

    Religion Mao Zedong Thought

    • Mao lashed out at organized religion in China. He blamed religion for China’s problems and under his rule many different types of temples and churches were burned to the ground or converted into government buildings. However, some people began to worship Mao, and Mao worship evolved into a cult activity.

    People Mao Zedong Thought

    • Over 90% of all of the people in China belonged to the proletariat class. These were countryside farmers who lived in small farming communities. People would farm for both sustenance and local sales, and sometimes meat was hard to come by in certain locations.

    Women Mao Zedong Thought

    • Before Mao, women had been treated as subservient in China. However, Mao insisted on treating women as equals saying “Women hold up half the sky.”

    “Proletarian revolutionary rebels unite!”

    Dazhai 1967, Maoist China’s most famous agricultural collective

    End of the cultural revolution

    • As Mao started getting older and sicker, his wife, Jiang Qing, somewhat took her husbands place in the communists Cultural Revolution.

    • When Mao died in 1976, his wife and 3 infamous radical colleagues (the Gang of Four) were arrested for trying to overthrow the government and causing around 34,000 deaths during the Cultural Revolution. Some consider this the official end of the Cultural Revolution

    • By 1979 Deng Xiaoping, a leader twice beat out by Mao, took control of the Communist Party and once again swayed from the Cultural Revolution to encouraging economical development (“Less empty talk and more hard work”-Xiaoping)

    Aftermath 1967

    • Victims

      • Almost all Chinese more or less suffered in the Cultural Revolution. The persecution against high-placed leaders and intellectuals was especially, harsh. And the young wasted their precious time being Red Guards. The pain of the CR still remains in the minds of a lot of Chinese.

    • Trial

      • The trial of Lin Biao and the Gang of Four was held in Beijing from late 1980 to early 1981. It was a unique event in that the current authorities were deciding the fate of those who had ruled in the past. The Chinese People were observing the trial and sentencing of the Gang of Four who had been threatening all China .

    • Today

      • After the CR, the economic reform proceeded, and China changed dramatically. But part of it's people are beginning to be aware of the problems in Chinese society, thinking that if the CR happened once it might happen again. Whether a tragedy such as the CR will occur or not depends the Chinese themselves.