Mao's Last Revolution

By Roderick Macfarquhar; Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

3
Confusion on Campuses

In a letter to his wife on July 8, 1966, Mao expressed his determination to create "great disorder under heaven" for the purpose of ultimately achieving "great order under heaven."1 To achieve this extraordinary end, Mao chose to employ extraordinary means. He had started the Cultural Revolution by letting Jiang Qing secretly supervise the production of a newspaper article attacking an intellectual in order to topple the boss of Beijing. Now, in phase two, he would manipulate a mass movement at China's educational institutions to unseat the head of state.

But while the first battles of Mao's Cultural Revolution raged out of public view in the Politburo and the criticism of Wu Han and his colleagues had yet to fully engage the intellectual elite on university campuses, ordinary Chinese still managed to lead ordinary lives. Politics was never completely absent, as evidenced in the diaries the CCP and CYL encouraged the young to keep. Pledges to emulate Lin Biao's self-sacrificing soldiers, the paragons of proletarian virtue; outrage directed at the latest atrocities of the American imperialists in Vietnam; disgust with Fidel Castro in Havana, who had recently compared the Chinese people's love for Chairman Mao to "superstitious idol worship"—a week if not a day never seemed to pass without an entry on such subjects, copied, one suspects, verbatim from the party media.2 Yet much of the time, the concerns of 745 million Chinese were with more mundane, private everyday matters, often of precisely the kind that would 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

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Mao's Last Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Salvos 14
  • 2: The Siege of Beijing 32
  • 3: Confusion on Campuses 52
  • 4: The Fifty Days 66
  • 5: Mao's New Successor 86
  • 6: The Red Guards 102
  • 7: Red Terror 117
  • 8: Confusion Nationwide 132
  • 9: Shanghai's [January Storm] 155
  • 10: Seizing Power 170
  • 11: The Last Stand of the Old Guard 184
  • 12: The Wuhan Incident 199
  • 13: The May 16 Conspiracy 221
  • 14: The End of the Red Guards 239
  • 15: Cleansing the Class Ranks 253
  • 16: Dispatching Liu Shaoqi 273
  • 17: The Congress of Victors 285
  • 18: War Scares 308
  • 19: The Defection and Death of Lin Biao 324
  • 20: Mao Becalmed 337
  • 21: Zhou Under Pressure 358
  • 22: Deng Xiaoping Takes Over 379
  • 23: The Gang of Four Emerges 396
  • 24: The Tiananmen Incident of 1976 413
  • 25: The Last Days of Chairman Mao 431
  • Conclusion 450
  • Glossary of Names and Identities 465
  • A Note on Sources 479
  • Notes 483
  • Bibliography 611
  • Illustration Credits 659
  • Index 661
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