Mao's Last Revolution

By Roderick Macfarquhar; Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview
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Shanghai's "January Storm"

Mao and Jiang Qing celebrated his seventy-third birthday, on December 26, 1966, by inviting six of their CCRG trusties—Chen Boda, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, Wang Li, Guan Feng, and Qi Benyu—to dinner in Zhongnanhai at what was known to the cognoscenti as Mao's swimming-pool house. Zhou Enlai and Tao Zhu, who had been striving to control the chaos unleashed by Mao and the CCRG over the previous seven months, did not make the "A" list; more surprisingly, neither did Lin Biao or Kang Sheng. In this congenial group, Mao felt able to speak freely, giving a toast "To the unfolding of nationwide all-round civil war!"1 The New Year editorial published jointly in the People's Daily and Red Flag, drafted by Guan Feng and finalized by Mao, echoed that toast in more circumspect language, predicting that 1967 would be "a year of nationwide all-round class struggle," in which "the proletariat will join the revolutionary masses in a general offensive on the handful of persons in power taking the capitalist road and society's monsters and freaks."2 The prediction was accurate, and Mao almost got his wish.

The CCRG Moves Center Stage

Crucial to the process of promoting "all-round civil war" was the seizure of power by radical elements. At the center, this was facilitated by the Chairman's fiat. From early in 1967, any document emanating from Mao himself went to a very short list: Lin Biao, Zhou Enlai, and "the comrades on the CCRG." Within the CCRG, the documents went to Chen Boda, Kang Sheng, Jiang Qing, Wang Li, Guan Feng, and Qi Benyu, and to Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan when they were in Beijing. PSC members Tao Zhu, Deng Xiaoping, Liu Shaoqi, and Chen Yun were excluded.3

Mao's creation of the Central Caucus after the Eleventh Plenum had in


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