||The Beginning of the Cultural Revolution (Oct, 1966)|
The Start of the Cultural Revolution
In October 1966, the Eleventh Congress was held in Beijing. Then "the Decision about the Proletarian Cultural Revolution" was accepted formally with the consensus of everyone present. But it was not a conclusion coming from the speeches by Mao and other persons like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping. Mao's statements were already a given "decision" and considered as "the best instruction". And what was emphasized above all was the doctrine of Maoism, and the need to learn to call it by this name.
"How can I make the Cultural Revolution spread everywhere in China?"
Mao found a solution. It was to support students and stir them up to go everywhere in China and to fan the fire of the Cultural Revolution. This was the "Red Guard" as the world came to know them. The Red Guards had already been born at the party in Beijing in early June 1966. In those days there was much debate about whether the creation of such an organization was correct or not in schools and society, so it did not develop very much. But the high value placed on the Red Guards by Mao made many students volunteer, and consequently the Red Guard campaign spread rapidly over all the cities and countryside in China.
They searched out Mao's enemies and violently dealt with those who opposed him, destroying the "four olds". But there was some resistance and opposition to the Cultural Revolution. Some of the Red Guard began to question the Cultural Revolution in its violent and excessive campaign. They linked the members of Red Guard all over the China together to resist the Authority of the Cultural Revolution. They marched in Beijing, shouting their battle cry and posting the battle cry on walls. This campaign infuriated the Authorities of the Cultural Revolution and the members were subsequently purged.
People and leaders resisted more and more, and the Red Guards were divided and embattled, and conflict between workers and peasants and Red Guards occurred in the countryside. Even under such conditions, the leaders of the Cultural Revolution didn't reflect over the rationality and justice of the Cultural Revolution. In fact it encouraged them for they jumped to the conclusion that everything was the fault of capitalist-roaders. They saw the capitalist-roaders as those who stirred the people to battle with Red Guards. In this way a new crime, of being "reactionary bourgeois authorities", was born.
This campaign spread all over the China. It provoked a boycott and revolution within party committees and the work of the party was suspended. In the congress held in October in Beijing, Lin Biao and Chen Boda advertised the necessity and meaning of the Cultural Revolution. Lin referred to the Cultural Revolution in this way; " The Cultural Revolution showed a standard for the world that has never appeared ever before". In addition, they criticized Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi as "reactionary bourgeois authorities" by name, saying that "they oppressed the people and objected to the Cultural Revolution".
The Cultural Revolution at Companies and in the Countryside
At first, the main target of the Cultural Revolution was the realm of culture and education and the organization of the party and the government. The Cultural Revolution at factories, traffic, companies, and in the countryside, had to be carried out deliberately and gradually, for persons like Zhou Enlai feared that the Cultural Revolution would affect the economy. Of course the Cultural Revolution was important, but production was important as well, and above all production was needed for China. So the Party had been declared that "in fall, a peasant's energy should be absorbed in harvesting, sowing, and business. So the activity for the revolution might be stopped during that".
But this ruling had been lost sight of during the criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities", and consequently all industry and agriculture had dropped into chaos.
In November 1966, on the basis of the Party's ruling, a congress was held, in which it was debated how best to carry out the Cultural Revolution in the realm of industry and commerce. Some members felt that the revolution at in industry and commerce should be forced forward deliberately and the relationship between production and the revolution should be dealt with correctly. The congress lasted for twenty days and participants criticized the radical expansion of the revolution suggested by the Authorities of the Cultural Revolution. It was a battle trying to limit the expansion of the Cultural Revolution.
But in the congress held by Lin Biao in December, the ruling that the Cultural Revolution should be pushed forward in commerce and industry was discussed and accepted. Persons like Lin Biao and Jiang Qing unjustly criticized the majority of the objections in the congress in November.
The ruling said that workers should continue to do their jobs for eight hours a day, and in the rest time workers should carry out the Cultural Revolution. Besides this, the spokesmen of the workers should go to schools, to talk to the students. In exchange, students also could go to experience work in factories or mine. This made the Cultural Revolution spread over the realm of industry, trade and commerce. And workers got to connect with students. The normal order of production was lost, and production in factories became confused.
At the same time, the Cultural Revolution was spread in through the countryside. In December the Party ruled that also in countryside Red Guard should be organized and developed, and the students could go to the countryside, where the peasants would communicate with the students through the experience of agriculture. In this way the Cultural Revolution was spread in earnest over the countryside all over China.
Criticism against high ranking leaders
It was high-ranking leaders that were targeted in the campaign of criticism against "reactionary bourgeois authorities". Lin Biao and Jiang Qing planned demonstrations everywhere, with battle cries of "down with Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi". And they stirred the Red Guard to swear at Peng Dehuai who had been appointed the second leader of construction work before the Cultural Revolution, and call him a "counterrevolutionary" and "warlord". He was led away to Beijing and confined there. Then he was brought to a kangaroo court, tortured, struck and badly injured. He was killed after he was found guilty in 1974. Such persecution against leaders was carried out by the Red Guards, instigated by Lin Biao or Jiang Qing.
Although Zhou Enlai managed to get the consensus of Mao, and protected leaders and scholars who were coming under being criticism,the efforts of Zhou couldn't fundamentally stop the purge against them. The Cultural Revolution had already developed a destructive power, which could not be halted.