Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

By Yan Jiaqi; Gao Gao et al. | Go to book overview

Preface to the First Edition

TWENTY YEARS AGO, an extraordinary movement erupted in China. Known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the movement swept China with the force of a relentless storm. At that time, everywhere China witnessed criticism groups, struggle sessions (douzheng hui), practical work discussion units, and accusation meetings of all sizes. The country saw all kinds of big-character posters (dazibao) and slogans in government offices, schools, factories, and villages and looked upon frenzied youth in military garb with their hands raised high clutching little red books, shouting slogans and trying to engage in networking (chuanlian). 1

China also saw the formation of many organizations, accompanied by almost instantaneous struggles, quarrels, divisions, and even armed conflict among such groups. The country witnessed leaders of the Party and the State and countless honest, good people maligned, attacked, defamed, and destroyed. During that time, one could not understand why Liu Shaoqi, president of the republic, was not protected by the constitution and laws, all the while facing false accusations of being a traitor, a double agent, and a thief of labor and being robbed of all rights to defend himself. Why and how, indeed, did Mao Zedong's "closest comrade in arms" and "revolutionary successor" become overnight Mao's greatest enemy? The September 13 (1971) Incident touched off an unheralded movement of intellectual liberation at the height of the Cultural Revolution. The demise of Lin Biao brought doubt, surprise, glee, and excitement to the people, enabling them to see for the first time, even if in the pale light of dawn, the weakness in Cultural Revolution China. Increasing numbers of people began to think for themselves, searching for the reasons for the Cultural Revolution and weighing its consequences for the future of China. By its last years, more and more people came to realize that Mao Zedong had not turned China into a better world with the Cultural Revolution. Quite the contrary, the movement destroyed human nature, laid waste

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