Mao's Last Revolution

Mao's Last Revolution

Roderick MacFarquhar

Language: English

Pages: 752

ISBN: 0674027485

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Cultural Revolution was a watershed event in the history of the People’s Republic of China, the defining decade of half a century of communist rule. Before 1966, China was a typical communist state, with a command economy and a powerful party able to keep the population under control. But during the Cultural Revolution, in a move unprecedented in any communist country, Mao unleashed the Red Guards against the party. Tens of thousands of officials were humiliated, tortured, and even killed. Order had to be restored by the military, whose methods were often equally brutal.

In a masterly book, Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals explain why Mao launched the Cultural Revolution, and show his Machiavellian role in masterminding it (which Chinese publications conceal). In often horrifying detail, they document the Hobbesian state that ensued. The movement veered out of control and terror paralyzed the country. Power struggles raged among Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping, and Jiang Qing―Mao’s wife and leader of the Gang of Four―while Mao often played one against the other.

After Mao’s death, in reaction to the killing and the chaos, Deng Xiaoping led China into a reform era in which capitalism flourishes and the party has lost its former authority. In its invaluable critical analysis of Chairman Mao and its brilliant portrait of a culture in turmoil, Mao’s Last Revolution offers the most authoritative and compelling account to date of this seminal event in the history of China.

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party leadership to Liu. Mao seemed to take a major step in that direction in 1959 when he vacated the state chairmanship in Liu's favor, and from that time on, every National Day, the People's Daily printed the pictures of the two chairmen side by side and equal in size. Mao had also identified Liu as his successor in conversation with Britain's Field Marshal Lord Montgomery, and that personal commitment had circulated throughout the party leadership. In the end, none of this saved Liu from

the economy" they cited Mao's words from 1945: "In the last analysis, the impact, good or bad, great or small, of the policy and the practice of any Chinese political party upon the people depends on whether and how much it helps to develop the productive forces, and on whether it fetters or liberates these forces."28 In conclusion, they insisted that Mao's criterion of the productive forces was, and should be, "the only criterion that permitted one to distinguish real Marxism from sham Marxism,

soon be denounced as insufficiently focused on class struggle. Left to their own devices, students described a life and echoed sentiments that did not seem all that far removed from the May 4 era and its concerns with saving the nation and making it wealthy and powerful. At the end of a wet, dreary Friday in March, a Nanjing college student returning to campus after a day of semaphore flag practice on Lake Xuanwu recorded in his diary that "on the way home I entered a grocer's, and just as I

security concerns as his excuse, Mao did not go to Zhongnanhai, but took up temporary residence in the Diaoyutai compound on the western edge of the city.68 Created in 1959 to house foreign dignitaries-Khrushchev and the Korean leader Kim Il Sung among them-attending the PRC's tenth anniversary, Diaoyutai comprised fifteen Western-style villas in what had once been part of an imperial park.69 It was soon to become synonymous with the rapidly expanding CCRG, whose offices it housed during the next

whether, and under what conditions, the teams could be withdrawn. Deng Xiaoping declared himself ready to accept a partial withdrawal of some work teams, saying, "We have no experience with this kind of a movement, and neither do they. Let the bad work teams pull out first, while the good ones remain to carry out the work of the party committees."72 Liu later explained his own position on the eve of Mao's return: "I was still of the opinion, as I had been in the past, that the method [of

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