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View Diary: China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – The Origins of Ultra-Left Ultra-Violence (pt. 1) (113 comments)

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  •  The triggering event (16+ / 0-)

    centers on the play "Hai Rui Dismissed from Office".   The play tells the story of an official who honestly stands up to an evil emperor, and is dismissed from office as result.

    It is really important to remember that the Cultural Revolution toolk place shortly after the disaster that was the Great Leap Forward.  Tens of millions died from starvation as a result of the Great Leap Forward, and the disaster made Mao worry he was losing control.  He came to see the play as a metaphor, and launched the Cultural Revolution in reaction to it.  You can argue that  the Cultural Revolution was really just an attempt to keep power.  I am reading a book on Stalin and the purges, and there are similarities.  

    When I was in college a left wing professor actually praised the cultural revolution and he taught the class using a Monthly Review Book entitled "the Chinesse Road to Socialism".  In retrospect it is obvious that he had no clue what the Cultural Revolution was about.  

    Hitler committed suicide.  Yet two other monsters, Mao and Stalin, died in their bed of old age.  When they died, some American leftists actually defended them (Stalin in particular)

    I can't tell you how much it bothers me that Mao and Stalin were able to deceive men of good will, could be responsible for the deaths of tens of millions, and yet see absolutely no accountability during their lifetimes.

    The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

    by fladem on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 04:23:24 PM PDT

    •  Yup, (9+ / 0-)

      Mao became paranoid that "Hai Rui Dismissed from Office", which he initially approved himself, was an allegory in which he was the Emperor and Peng Dehuai was Hai Rui. Peng Dehuai was the commander of the Chinese forces during the Korean War and one of the two highest ranking Chinese generals along with Lin Biao. At a party conference in 1959 at which time it had been apparent that the Great Leap Forward was a catastrophe, Peng Dehuai attempted to pass a private note to Mao criticizing the Greap Leap Forward. Mao became enraged and treated it as a personal attack, read the note aloud to the entire conference, and had Peng Dehuai purged. As a result, the Great Leap Forward was extended for much longer, and the hunger lasted until 1962 by which the disaster was so great, Mao had no choice but to allow Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping to step in. It was at this point that Deng Xiaoping had his famous quote, "it does not matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice."

      By 1965 Mao was dissatisfied with being a figurehead and paranoid about the purge of Nikita Khruschev. Since all the officials in Beijing reported to Liu Shaoqi (as State President), Mao invited some intellectuals from Shanghai named Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan to pen an article attacking "Hai Rui Dismissed from office." He sent his wife Jiang Qing in November 1965 as the secret courier to deliver his message, otherwise the men would never have dared to write such an article. Since it challenged the Beijing party hierarchy. The author of the article was a respected intellectual who was vice mayor of Beijing.

      At first, the Beijing party officials laughed off the article, they did not realize how serious the situation was. First, the author of the article got into trouble and was purged. Along with him, the mayor of Beijing who tried to protect him was purged after February 1966. During this time, Mao left Beijing and started hanging out in the south where the senior party officials could not contact him or find out his true intentions. He cultivated Lin Biao to ensure his control of the army (he finally returned to Beijing in August 1966 to oversee the massive crowds of Red Guards we see in the photos). Meanwhile the purges kept moving higher and higher in the party structure until finally it reached Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

      Key to the success of the cultural revolution was that the other party members did not realize at first the scale of what Mao was doing or that they would eventually be targets. There were political campaigns in China all the time back then, they thought it was just another minor campaign that would purge out a few minor officials. Had they all stood together in the beginning, they could have probably defeated Mao. But they all attempted to appease Mao until realizing there was no appeasement.

      "It is, it seems, politically impossible to organize expenditure on the scale necessary to prove my case -- except in war conditions."--JM Keynes, 1940

      by randomfacts on Tue Mar 26, 2013 at 10:04:05 PM PDT

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    •  Remember "Uncle Joe" was an ally in WW2 (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      spacecadet1, lotlizard, KJG52, glorificus

      US wartime propaganda labored to make Joseph Stalin appear like one of the good guys.  

      (Of course, given the last 20 years in this country, I can't help wondering if Stalin's sin to American elites was not that he was a homicidal maniac with a personality cult and nukes and an enemy to any god but himself, but rather that he represented competition to laissez-faire capitalism.  Had he played ball with GM during the 1950s, would the McCarthyites have placed themselves at Stalin's service?  Our 1% seems to have no problem whatsoever dealing with Mao's successor state.)

      "Politics should be the part-time profession of every citizen who would protect the rights and privileges of free people and who would preserve what is good and fruitful in our national heritage." -- Lucille Ball

      by Yamaneko2 on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 01:44:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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