Mao Tse-tung (later some changed it to Zedong) began the Cultural Revolution in 1966. In 1968 he realized it had gone too far, but it had unleashed radically Leftist forces that persisted beyond his influence. The Cultural Revolution did not end until Mao's death and the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976. It was different from the so-called Great Leap Forward, which had been a political movement but did not create enormous official change in the economics of the nation. The 10-year period of the revolution was a real-life "Alice in Wonderland," Red Chinese style. Urban China became a nightmare. Agricultural China entered a period of stagnation, not quite as bad as Stalin's collectivist famines, but nevertheless enough to stagnate production. Life in China became 24/7 political indoctrination, as if meetings, show trials and demonstrations could feed the people. Amazing as it sounds, people got in their minds that if one was a good Communist, they could be a good doctor - even if they never went to medical school. It was close to being mass hysteria.
The mines and factories became completely taken over by "students," who were full-time demonstrators and no longer attended classes. Being 18-, 19- and 20-year old people, they were inculcated with all the brilliance, wisdom and life experience of 18-, 19- and 20-year olds the world over!
Transportation was brought to a halt due to the requisitioning of trains and trucks to carry Red Guards around the country. The lack of transportation and disruption of work caused shortages of raw materials and other supplies by students, who in turn blamed the workers. Arguing against the obvious was immediate cause for a show trial. Revolutionary committees, consisting of representatives from the party, the workers, and the People's Liberation Army, controlled the factories, too. All they knew was Karl Marx had written in "Das Kapital" and "The Communist Manifesto", which had nothing to do with running factories. Being put in charge of a tire factory was the same as being put in charge of a steel factory. Engineers, managers, scientists, technicians, and other professional personnel were "criticized," demoted, "sent down" to the countryside to "participate in labor," or jailed, if they demonstrated knowledge about their craft. The theory was that in learning about the craft, they had been subject to bourgeoisie ways that involved study, hard work, and knowledge that what they made would be needed by people. In other words, a "consumer society." Once removed, their skills and knowledge were gone, unrecalled. A 14-percent decline in industrial production occurred in 1967, after one year of the revolution.
Mao saw that he had created chaos and ordered the army to restore order in late 1967 and 1968. Growth rates followed, but imports of foreign equipment fell, resulting in technological setback. Xenophobic hysteria had taken hold of every part of society. Universities soon closed because educated people were considered dangerous. The reason for this was because in acquiring knowledge, they learned of Western accomplishments. The Communists did not want people to know facts about the West. To know facts about the West was to have knowledge of the West's superiority. They only wanted them to know the lies they taught.
The disdain for education, a staple of Communism (and most totalitarian regimes) is curious since "intellectuals" (as opposed to small businessmen, farmers, ranchers, lawyers, politicians, military men, scientists, educators and all other stripe of human endeavor who developed Western Civilization, particularly America) were the leaders of Communism. Marx, Lenin (not Stalin), and Mao were intellectuals. They did not tolerate other intellectuals who might be as smart as they were. The particular oppression of intellectualism of the Cultural Revolution was the pre-cursor of Pol Pot's "Year Zero" campaign, which started while the revolution was still occurring (1975). New technology and absorbed technology were halted due to the lack of education. Pol Pot was a Paris-educated intellectual, too. The world sure owes the French a debt of gratitude for the ideas they put in people's heads, don't we?
Mao thought the Soviet adage that "the West would sell us the rope we use to hang them" made sense, which was one of the reasons he allowed Nixon to bring in technology through trade starting in 1972. Mao and the adage were, of course, dead wrong. Nixon knew this, and U.S. imports to China simply strengthened the West, made China more dependent on us, and created admiration for Western know-how. But Mao was an intellectual.
When the Nixon Administration began making secret overtures, indicating recognition and an opening of trade routes, Mao and China realized they had to clean up their act. The West was going to see what was going on in China, a country that dwarfs the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany in the area size and of murdered civilians. 65 million Chinese died as a direct result of Communism. Because the country was exceptionally closed - Russia was open in comparison - these horrors seem to have occurred almost under the noses of the world. It can be argued that Nixon saved thousands (if not more) lives by opening China simply by forcing the Chinese to put on a happy face in response to U.S. recognition. Nixon, as much as anybody, helped end the Cultural Revolution. This is the kind of statement that liberals and Nixon-haters will take great exception to, claiming it is political spin and historical revisionism, none of which changes the fact the statement is more true than false. Thus, and it is.
Political stability was gradually restored prior to, during and after Nixon's trip to China early in 1972. Premier Zhou Enlai (also Chou En-lai) encouraged coordinated, balanced development. The radical revolutionary committees had reduced the Chinese Communist Party to underling status. Skilled and highly educated people were allowed back into society, slowly. Universities reopened and actually required "students" to attend classes instead of holding show trials. Foreign contacts were expanded. The economy did suffer again when an imbalance between industrial sectors and agriculture occurred. Foreign investment ensued, which did more to improve China than 25 years of Communism. Chemical fertilizer production, steel finishing, oil extraction and refining were all up-graded by this investment. 13 of the world's largest and most modern chemical fertilizer plants were brought in. Industrial output then grew at an average rate of eight percent a year.
Poor weather affected agricultural production. Zhou Enlai called for the Four Modernizations at the Fourth National People's Congress in January, 1975. He emphasized the mechanization of agriculture and a comprehensive two-stage program for the modernization of the entire economy by 2000.
During the early and mid-1970s, the radical group later known as the Gang of Four tried to attain a power center through a network of supporters, including the media. Moderate leaders were promoting pragmatism and modernization, in contrast to the Gang of Four and media exemplars. Zhou Enlai and Deng Xiaoping were attacked in the press and in political campaigns as "poisonous weeds." News organs advocated the Gang of Four's nonmaterialism, political incentives, radical reduction of income differences, elimination of private farm plots, and a shift of basic accounting procedures. They opposed central planning (breaking from a traditional tenet of Marxism) and criticized the new dialogue with the West. Foreign technology, in their view, was a tool for espionage. Interestingly, in this they had a point.
Contradictions and uncertainty as to who held real leadership in China caused political unrest. Paralysis set in and business slowed. The modernization program was badly affected. When Zhou Enlai died in January of 1976, the country became chaotic. Deng Xiaoping was "purged" in April. The Tangshan earthquake in July of 1976 further complicated the situation. With agricultural output slowed, China was forced to come to grips with reality. That reality was that the only they could survive as a country was to abandon traditional Communist principle, and for all practical purposes try to "copy" America. This is basically what they have been trying to do ever since. In September, Mao died, and a month later the Gang of Four was arrested. China then tried to re-write its history, as if Mao and his 65 million dead were a figment of the imagination. In reading the Western mainstream press, one would think it was. But not on my watch.
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism