The Cultural Revolution was a movement in China during1966-1976. This revolution was a power struggle within the Communist Party of China. This struggle grew to include large portions of Chinese society, which eventually brought the People’s Republic of China to the brink of civil war. The revolution was launched by Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, in order to regain control after the Great Leap Forward. During the Great Leap Forward campaign Mao Zedong loss a significant amount of power to his rivals Lui Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.
The campaign started in 1957. Mao Zedong wanted to increase the speed of socialism in China. He did this by establishing special communes in the countryside. The purpose of the Great Leap Forward was to increase the production of steel and raise agricultural production. However, this plan backfired. Steel production was not as high as he had hoped for. Industries were in turmoil because peasants were producing too much steel and other areas were being neglected. The peasants were unaware on how to make steel and most of the time did not have the proper equipment.
The steel that was produced was impure and useless. With all of the focus on steel output, agricultural productivity decreased. As a result of all of this chaos and unfortunate climate conditions a widespread famine fell over the land. Mao was losing respect and support from many party members as a result of the failed Great Leap Forward campaign. Lui Shaoqi decided to end many of the Great Leap policies and won prestige among his people. In an effort to restore his political base, Mao, initiated the Socialist Education Movement, in 1963. This movement did not have any effect on Chinese politics.
It was aimed to influence schoolchildren, whom Mao could draw support from in the future. In 1964, the Socialist Education Movement had become the “Four Cleanups Movement”. The goal of this movement was the cleansing of politics, economics, ideas, and organizations. This movement was a direct hit against Liu political stance. Social changes in China’s economic and political transformation displeased many Chinese citizens. The Cultural Revolution allowed these individuals to have a voice on their discontent and oppose China’s new power structure.
Soon a movement began that removed university presidents and other prominent intellectuals. Mao supported the Red Guards, advocates of the Cultural Revolution, in there efforts of these mass purges in and article entitled “Bombard and Headquarters”. This began the Cultural Revolution. On August 8, 1966, the Central Committee passed “Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution”. This stated that the revolution was a great revolution that allows individuals to speak freely about making changes.
Mao praised the actions of the Red Guards campaigns to develop socialism and democracy. These student activists held great debates and public meetings to inform the Chinese people. At first the movement forbade physical struggle, however, over time the officials looked the other way, under the orders of Mao Zedong. The Cultural Revolution ended in 1976 with the death of Mao Zedong and the arrest of the Gang of Four. It was a revolution that wanted to evoke changes in the social and economic areas of China.