Mao's Last Revolution

By Roderick Macfarquhar; Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

14
The End of the Red Guards

The attack on the May 16 group in the fall of 1967 was part of an attempt to bring the "nationwide all-round civil war" to an end by purging some of its alleged instigators. In pursuit of this aim, in October 1967 Mao called on "all revolutionary organizations to forge great alliances."1 These alliances were to form "revolutionary committees" to replace the old organs of state power. After a year of struggle and the purge of many "bad people," Mao was anxious to get on with establishing a new order by summoning the CCP's Ninth Congress.2 The People's Daily inveighed against anarchism and factionalism.3 Yet internecine violence continued, exacerbated by a nationwide campaign to "cleanse the class ranks," and Mao set a bad example for potential uniters by finally consigning Liu Shaoqi to outer darkness.


Revolutionary Committees

When the first revolutionary committees (RCs) were created, in early 1967, they were greeted with much anti-bureaucratic rhetoric and talk about copying the democratic mechanisms of the Paris Commune. In the end, the institutions of the new political order were less Utopian. Still, there were significant changes from the past. The old provincial structure had been formally composed of three nominally separate bureaucracies: departments under the party committee, departments under the provincial government, and the legal apparatus of the people s court and procurator. These were now replaced by a single bureaucracy under the revolutionary committees, made up of what were referred to as "functional groups."

These new groups were meant to be leaner and meaner than the departments they replaced. In 1969 the Liaoning Revolutionary Committee employed only 580 people, compared with 6,694 employed by the old provincial party com

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