The Cultural Revolution was designed to destroy all of the culture of pre-communist China, to establish a new more perfect communist society, and to punish his critics of the Great Leap Forward. He sought out to do this by any means possible. The plan he came up with was clever but yet very destructive on the whole of China. Through Mao’s domestic diplomacy, he convinced the easiest influenced people in China, the peasants and the youth, to join in the fight to cleanse China from all Western and Capitalist evils, and to establish the ultimate communist society.
After the failure of the “Great Leap Forward”, Mao and the communist government were receiving an overwhelming amount of criticism from his colleagues and the general public so Mao decided to take things into his own hands(Duiker,1048). Mao took the criticism personally and sought out to get his power and popularity back. To achieve this Mao created the “Cultural Revolution”. This Revolution’s goal was to rid China of all that represented Western and Capitalist ideals and thoughts.
He also set out to destroy all traditional Chinese vestiges by getting rid of the “four olds”, old thought, old culture, old habits, and customs. (Duiker,1049) He saw the four olds as representative of former Nationalist China, which in essence were capitalist because they were not communist, so therefore deemed as evil. Mao used the simple lives of the peasant farmers as the ideal communist lifestyle. He had sympathy for this group, because he was born a peasant farmer.
At that time the majority of China was peasants, so it makes sense that Mao would try to convince this group that they were the best example of a communist. Mao said things that would give the peasants pride in their class. He said that the peasants can do anything if they organize and do it together. This is very similar to what Lenin preached to the proletariat of the Soviet Union in the early 1920’s. To a certain extent Mao was right, the peasants had the numbers to do whatever they wanted.
The peasants were a group of people who had been looked down upon since the beginning of China, so it seems fitting that if they are given any power or recognition that they take advantage of it to the utmost of their ability. Whether Mao felt that the peasants were really the true example a communist or not, he still used them to achieve his personal goals. The policies of the Cultural Revolution that Mao set forth were carried out by a group of teens called the Red Guards. Mostly 14-20 year olds born into communist China. The Red Guards were the designated protectors of Mao(Zhu,37).
They were given the authority, by Mao, to question all authorities on their dedication to the party(Zhu,37). The reason Mao chose the youth of China to be his protectors was that they had not been polluted with capitalist propaganda, like the older generations. (Zhu,41) This is the youth that was given picture books at the young ages of five and six years old that promoted the communists(Zhu,30). Mao changed the educational system for his benefit, to more specifacally focus on pride of the country and the government than on what we would consider normal school subjects like writing and math(Zhu,31).
This is also the first generation that was growing up without any Western influence whatsoever, because of the strict filtering of western media. Mao knew that these teenagers would be loyal only to him because communism did not allow any religion, so Mao ended up being their God. Since the communist takeover in 1949 it seems as though that Mao had been grooming this generation to reshape China into his ideal state. When these teenagers caught wind that Mao was hailing them as the future of the country and the only non-corrupted communists, of course they took advantage of this authority given by their leader.
Since the youth had not been corrupted by the west or former Nationalist China, they knew the true meaning of communism, and therefore they could distinguish who and who was not Mao’s enemies. The Red Guards were given the authority to search out the enemies of the state in anyway possible. Some of the main people who were questioned were those in authority. The Red Guard questioned the accused by first searching their houses for anything the Red Guard considered Western or anti-Mao, and then they would question the accused to see their loyalty to the party.
If the Red Guard found anything questionable from the house, they would confiscate it imediately. The questioning process went as follows, the Red Guard interrogated the accused, and more times than not the accused were guilty whether or not there was evidence to convict. (Zhu,64+) From the government workers like Zhu’s dad to a manager of a theater company like Zhu’s mom all persecuted and condemned on false accusations. A lot of the time the convicted would be beaten badly by the Red Guards. Most of the convicted were also sent to labor camps.
Sending the convicted to the labor camps was all a part of Mao’s plan to make China into the ultimate communist society. Since the peasants did manual labor for their job, and the peasants were seen as the ideal communist citizen then it makes sense to send them to labor camps. Those that were sent to the labor camps, according to Mao, had lost their Revolutionary focus, and working as a peasant was supposed to re-focus them. (Zhu,64+) This process, of Mao’s chosen generation persecuting those who allegedly were against Mao, and sending them to do the peasant’s work, was all apart of his plan for a perfect communist society.
Mao’s Cultural Revolution had quite a different effect on Zhu than it had on most of the youth of the day. Initially in Zhu’s early life the picture books and the education reforms had the same brainwashing effect on him as it did on the rest of the youth. Early in his schooling Mao established himself as the authority figure in the students’ life. He did this by replacing the loud speaker at the front of the classroom, which had been a symbol of authority because that is where the principal spoke from, with a picture of himself.
Also in Zhu’s English class, their first lesson was not the basic A’s and B’s, but were communist sayings. Zhu’s view of the communist government started to change when his parents were taken into custody for crimes they never committed. He then strarted to question the morality and effectiveness of the government. This effected Zhu more than just that the fact that his parents were gone, he was discriminated against now because his parents were convicted “capitalists”. Because od this experience Zhu was able to look at what had happened from the outside and notice how corrupt the party actually was.