Monday, May 29, 2017

Mao's Cultural Revloution

The New York Times quotes Chen Xiaolu a leader of Mao's Cultural Revolution:
“I bear direct responsibility for the denouncing and criticism, and forced-labor re-education of school leaders, and some teachers and students,” Mr. Chen wrote in a blog post on his school alumni website in August that quickly circulated on the Internet. “I actively rebelled and organized the denouncements of school leaders. Later on when I served as the director of the school’s Revolution Committee, I wasn’t brave enough to stop the inhumane prosecutions.”

From the BBC:

The staff of the Heilongjiang Daily accuse an official of 'following the capitalist line'. His dunce cap announces his 'crimes'. 
 A collection of rare photographs from China's Cultural Revolution is on display in London for the first time since they were hidden for safekeeping nearly 45 years ago.

Li Zhensheng's work has been described as a "unique treasure trove of information" during one of the most turbulent periods of 20th Century history, a 10-year campaign of violence and chaos launched by Mao Zedong's feared Red Guards to enforce communism by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from society.

Millions of people were persecuted in a wide range of abuses carried out across the country, including public humiliation, arbitrary imprisonment, torture and seizure of property.

Because Li Zhensheng worked for a newspaper in the north-eastern Chinese province of Heilongjiang, he was able to take state-approved images of the revolution in his capacity as a working reporter. His job at the Heilongjiang Daily also left him in the unusual position of being able to record its violence and brutality.

"My work meant that I could take photographs of people being persecuted without being harassed," Mr Li told the BBC after the exhibition opened last month.

But in such a tinder box atmosphere, he fully realised that the sensitive nature of his images meant that it was only a question of time before he too would face possible recriminations.

So Mr Li took the precaution of hiding the negatives away under the floorboards of his flat...

Originally launched by Mao to rid the Communist Party of his rivals, it ended up destroying much of China's social fabric.

At its start, Mao and his supporters mobilised thousands of young, radical Red Guards who were ordered to destroy the "four olds" in Chinese culture - old customs, habits, culture and thinking.
Colleges were shut so students could concentrate on "revolution", and as the fervour of the movement spread, they began to attack almost anything and anybody that stood for authority.

Schools and temples were destroyed, their teachers and parents vilified and, in thousands of cases, beaten to death, publicly humiliated or driven to suicide.

While this was going on, Mao and his supporters - including his former film-star wife Jiang Qing - purged the party of thousands of officials.

The Cultural Revolution officially lasted until 1976. Although the fervour of the first two years was not maintained, some areas of the country became almost ungovernable. In the cities, only the army prevented a complete breakdown of law and order.

Following Mao's death in 1976, his wife and three other radicals were officially blamed for launching and orchestrating the Cultural Revolution.