Table of Contents
A. Plan of the Investigation 2
B. Summary of Evidence 2
C. Evaluation of Sources 4
D. Analysis 5
E. Conclusion 7
A. Plan of the Investigation
The Cultural Revolution is known as one of the most chaotic periods in twentieth century Chinese history, which took place from 1965 to 1968. This movement included the Chinese public including the youth fought to restore stricter rules of communism back to China as outlined by Chairman Mao Zedong. This investigation will look at the roles of the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution and how Mao Zedong used The Little Red Book in terms of utilising the Red Guards for his restoration of power through the revolution. Two of the sources used in the essay, Quotations from Chairmen Mao Tsetung by Mao Zedong, and China since 1949 by Linda Benson are evaluated for their origins, purposes, values, and limitations.
B. Summary of Evidence
Background of Cultural Revolution - Seeds of the revolution
The Great Proletariat Cultural Revolution also known as the Cultural Revolution was a three-year political movement launched by “Chairman Mao Zedong in 1966 which became a violent assault on those considered disloyal to Mao and communist movement” (Benson 125). As Mao stepped down from his position as head of state in 1958, two moderates Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping took a realistic and practical approach to the economic recovery of China after the failure of the Great Leap Forward (Benson 37). The new policies set by them were based on bureaucratic methods such as allowing private ownership and sales of extra crops on farmlands to give incentive to peasants to produce more (Tomkinson 155). In addition, Liu and Deng were keen on centralising the control of the government in the hands of authority and elites. Their regime supported the idea of a society with class which clashes with Communist ideology of a classless society (Breslin 101). The moderate’s methods proved to be more effective than Mao’s approach to modernisation, so party members started to support Liu and Deng’s regime while moving away from core of Communist ideology. Mao believed that many of the party members lost their revolutionary spirit and were leaning towards a more bureaucratic path (Lamb 2). According to Mao, revolution had to be a continual and permanent process that would prevent the bourgeoisie from rising again (Benson 37). Consequently, Mao Zedong decided to launch the Cultural Revolution.
Use of the Little Red Book
The Little Red Book, also known as “the Quotations From Chairmen Mao Tsetung” contains collections of Mao Zedong’s quotes (Benson 37). During the Cultural Revolution, this book was encouraged for the Red Guards and the Chinese public to carry and memorise, and it is referred as a “guiding bible” (Zedong b). This book was used when Mao tried to gain public support and to spread his cult of personality by the help of Lin Biao: head of the PLA (Train).
This book had the effect of making people to accept Mao’s words as a bible and his status became like a God. Building of Mao’s image as God allowed him to create a heroic image towards public which was utilised as a means to gain support to criticise the Party for betraying revolutionary struggle and Liu and Deng for assembling a bourgeois reactionary line that disparaged Maoist thoughts (Tomkinson 157).
For the Red Guards, the book showed the importance of their role in China. "Red Army is an armed body for carrying out the political tasks of revolution… to conduct propaganda among the masses, organize them, arm them, and help them to establish revolutionary political power” (Zedong 66).
Role of the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution
The Red Guards consisted of a group of people in their youths who fuelled the Cultural Revolution (Benson 128). The Little Red Book influenced the Red Guards to have faith in Mao Zedong and to support the Cultural Revolution to establish Mao’s aim.
By following Mao’s words in the Little Red Book, the Red Guards started simply with criticism of the capitalist ideology such as intellectual elitism through posters and propagandas. Then later torture became common, they basically became soldiers to oppose and use violence against capitalism, anyone who had contact with West, and old traditions of China which is referred as the Four Olds: old customs, old habits, old traditions, and old thinking (Benson 39). Furthermore, Red Guards began vandalising bookstores, libraries, churches, monuments; and breaking into private homes to destroy old books, Western-style clothing, paintings and art objects (Benson 40).
On top of that, the Red Guards pushed further towards the foreigners by physically assaulting foreign embassies and other countries like Hong Kong; which was ruled under the UK (Lynch 93). As a result, Red Guards brought a strong fear of Mao across the globe.
C. Evaluation of Sources
Zedong. M. (2006). Quotations from Chairmen Mao Tsetung: Editor’s collection
This is a primary source that contains Mao Zedong’s quotations from speeches and publications. This was handed out to many Chinese youth during the Cultural Revolution, and Mao forced them to study this book to make sure that the Chinese masses do not lose their Communist mindset and to bring his cult of personality. This source is very valuable since this book was actually used and handed out to Chinese masses during that time. Therefore, this source allows readers to learn what Mao actually said to spread his cult of personality and to influence the youths to participate in the Cultural Revolution. However, as this book was written before the Cultural Revolution actually began, it only provides readers with an anticipation of the events that would follow. Another problem is that, this book was originally written in Chinese and translated into English. In this book there would have been many words in Chinese that could have been limited to be translated into English. So, the quotations and descriptions within the book might not have been fully translated in English which can limit readers understanding of the Little Red Book.
Benson. L. (2002). China since 1949. Great Britain: Pearson Education Limited
This secondary source is a book that was designed mainly for students who study about Modern China. It analyses the important events and changes that occurred in China since 1949. Therefore, this book contains information on Mao Zedong as well as other leaders of China. This book also includes analysis of the major events that had emerged under Mao’s power such as the Cultural Revolution. Benson uses primary source documents from many historians and other books that focus on Chinese history from 1949, which helps to give a greater understanding of changes in China to the readers. So the source can be a real since the author could have gained the information through actual visits to China. Thus, there would be no censorship or fear for criticising any part of Chinese history. Therefore, author should have been free from any influence to make the book subjective. However, the published date for this book is almost 30 years after the event had took place and it is the published in Great Britain which is a far distanced from China. Therefore, it is possible that book’s information might be based on Western people’s view about China rather than Chinese people who actually experienced the history in China. In addition, since this book covers the whole history of China from 1949, it does not focus specifically on a single topic; therefore, it contains general information not in detail.
Chairman Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution in order to put China back on the path to socialism and to secure his power in China by bringing his cult of personality. Also, he strongly believed that continuation of constant revolution was necessary in order to prevent a bureaucratic ideology from emerging in Chinese society. To achieve those aims he needed support from the public, which the Red Guards played a major role in spreading Mao’s power around China. They travelled throughout China to visit schools, universities, and any institutions to spread the teachings of Mao and to encourage many youth to join the Red Guards. But, people who were against Mao or his ideology were labelled as anti-revolutionary or capitalists and treated violently (Benson 41). The Red Guards quickly spread and brought the fear of Mao by showing many violent attacks on people who had relations with the West or had a faith in two moderates, even the threat was expanded to foreign countries (Lynch 93).
But without the use of the Little Red Book, the Red Guards would not have been as supportive as they were for the Cultural Revolution. In Chapter 9: The People’s Army, Mao Zedong states the importance of the Red Guards within China, and says that they are not just people’s army but a weapon that could diminish the opposite political ideology and bring back the correct regime in China. “Without a people’s army the people have nothing” (Zedong 66). The word choices selected by Mao in his quotes make the Red Guards to feel very special and loyal about their status as an army which gives great incentives to take a role as the Red Guards.
Furthermore, in Chapter 6, Imperialism and All Reactionaries Are Paper Tigers, influences the Red Guards to follow the Communist regime by describing the U.S. imperialism as a threat to the world. “it has forcibly seized many colonies and semi-colonies and many military bases, and it threatens the peace with atomic war” (Zedong 51). Mao delivers the message that U.S imperialism must not be tolerated in anywhere including in China because it will be a constant threat, with those kinds of weapons mentioned in the quote, to many people around the world. On top of that, Mao quotes that “The longer the U.S aggressors remain in those places, the tighter the nooses round their neck will become” “the day is bound to come when they will be hanged by the people of the whole world” (Zedong 53). This quote states that, if people do follow the idea of capitalism that is led by western influences, result will be disastrous. So by labelling the U.S Imperialism as a threat influences the Red Guards to believe that they must follow socialism for people’s own and country’s security from a threat. Therefore, in order to get rid of the threat of the U.S Imperialism, it influences the Red Guards to support the idea of permanent revolution to oppress the rise of western influence in China.
In addition, in Chapter 5, War and Peaces focuses on the significance of war and violence. In the book it is defined as “is the continuation of politics” (Zedong 39) and “the highest form of struggle for resolving contradictions” (Zedong 39). Although war brings a huge number of deaths, for Mao, war is an event that must occur for development of the country and to create peace across the world. By spreading these words to the Red Guards, it makes them to believe that war is certainly needed, which inclines them to feel that violence is not a wrong action. As a result, throughout the Cultural Revolution the Red Guards use force to bring ceaseless terror towards any capitalist influences that occur within China.
Although this book is small and only contains Mao’s quotations from speeches and lectures, it promoted a variety of contents that clearly shows the way that Mao’s wanted China to be.
Mao’s Little Red book took an important role to successfully make the Chinese youth to participate in the Cultural Revolution for spread Mao’s influence around China. Without the use of the Little Red Book, Mao would have not been able to gain his power and support to convey his idea to strike against the anti-revolutionists. Furthermore, with the support of youth of China, Mao Zedong was capable of wide spreading the fear of his power throughout China and successfully continue his aim of destroying the bureaucratic ideology in Chinese society. Overall, with the use of both Little Red Book, and the Red Guards he was able to approach his aim to restore Communism through Cultural Revolution.
Benson, Linda K. China since 1949. Harlow: Longman, 2002. Print.
Breslin, Shaun. Mao. London: Longman, 1998. Print.
Lynch, Michael. The People's Republic of China 1949-76. London: Hodder Education, 2008. Print.
Mao, Zedong. Quotations from Chairman Mao Tsetung. Dubuque, IA: Synergy International of The Americas, 2006. Print.
Tomkinson, John L. Single Party States. Athens: Anagnosis, 2005. Print.
Lamb, Stefanie. "China's Cultural Revolution." Stanford Program on International and
Cross-cultural Education (2005): 1-3. Stanford Program on International and Cross-cultural Education. Dec. 2005. Web. 21 Dec. 2010. .
Train, Brian R. "THE GREAT PROLETARIAN CULTURAL REVOLUTION." THE
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