Event: Cultural Revolution

Cultural Revolution

To combat the political fallout from the failed Great Leap Forward, Mao began to attack his opponents in government by calling for purges of the bourgeois elements that had supposedly infiltrated the high party leadership. Driving the public to reignite its revolutionary fervor, Mao and his supporters closed schools in favor of Red Guard youth bands, distributed his “Little Red Book” throughout China, and encouraged through the “Sixteen Points” the abandonment of the “Four Olds”: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. This resulted in some benign changes such as naming children with “revolutionary-sounding” names, but also included acts such as destruction of cultural artifacts, violence and humiliation towards “bourgeois” individuals, and participate in mass rallies intended to establish a cult of personality around Mao, in some places, even setting up shrines to Mao Zedong. The resulting chaos was responsible for creating an atmosphere of fear that silenced dissenters, solidified Mao’s power in the Party and in control of China, and reduced economic development in favor of political consolidation. The direct impact of the Cultural Revolution was an even-longer-reaching influence of Mao’s power during his life, but a relaxing of his ideals after his death. The horrors attributed to his Great Leap Forward and the chaos inspired by his Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution are directly responsible for diminishing his prestige, despite his influence on Chinese politics even into the modern day.