|Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (1966–1976). It began in 1966 and peaked in April 1969, yet its full fury was not spent until Mao Zedong died ten years later and the so-called Gang of Four was purged. In essence, the Cultural Revolution was a convulsion of ideological paranoia directed against several imaginary conspiracies—party, class, and foreign. Mao perhaps acted partly in conscious imitation of the long, extrabureaucratic tradition and style of China’s emperors, whose privilege it had been to occasionally shake up the ossified Confucian scholar-elite with deliberately erratic policies and behaviors. In any case, he encouraged gangs of young thugs—which ultimately became virtual armies, organized as Red Guards—to purge the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of pragmatists and all others who opposed his extreme egalitarianism, along with the few who dared criticize his many and colossal policy errors. Mao thus deliberately encouraged and engaged the natural cruelty and penchant for violence of children and teenagers, which had been further exaggerated and built to rage by his regime’s pervasive and insistent puritanism, to his own political ends. |
The policy also reflected factional quarrels within the CCP, mainly between ultra-Maoists and more conservative party members, but including a split between the Gang of Four and Lin Biao who was more interested in bringing
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Publication information: Book title: The Greenwood Encyclopedia of International Relations. Volume: 2. Contributors: Cathal J. Nolan - Author. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 651.
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