Children of the Cultural Revolution: Family Life and Political Behavior in Mao's China

By Xiaowei Zang | Go to book overview
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6
THE UPPER CASTE MIDDLE CLASS

Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution to eliminate Liu Shaoqi and his supporters from the CCP. He also urged Red Guards and the masses to attack "bourgeois academic authority figures" and "white experts" in universities, research institutes, and state enterprises. Mao believed that high and middle intellectuals and professionals followed Liu Shaoqi enthusiastically before 1966 and should be taught a tough lesson. 1 With Mao's encouragement, Red Guards and "revolutionary rebels" attacked high ranking and middle ranking cadres and professionals ruthlessly. Government officials and the CCP cadres were hit equally hard by the Red Guard movement. 2

Overnight, many upper and middle class people were deprived of political and economic rights and became social pariahs. Some of them were overwhelmed by the sudden deprivation. They committed suicide either as a last resort to escape social disgrace, or as a final attempt to defend their innocence and protest the social dislocation that they had regarded as utterly unjustified. After the initial shock, they began to search for adaptive options for satisfying basic needs and standards under the new circumstances.

In this chapter, I examine the Cultural Revolution experience of deprived upper caste middle class children, children whose parents were middle ranking cadres and professionals with the "good class" origin.


The Early Stage of the Cultural Revolution

Children of the upper caste middle class were very enthusiastic about the Cultural Revolution in its initial stage. They put up wall posters, struggled against their teachers and paraded the "five bad elements". Their schools were full of actions, excitements and fun.

More importantly, they regarded themselves the Red Guards of Chairman Mao and considered it their sacred mission to participate in the Cultural Revolution and defend socialism. They agreed with Mao's warning that the restoration of capitalism in China was imminent if they did not act immediately. They also believed that they would suffer if capitalism returned to China since

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