Mao's Last Revolution

By Roderick Macfarquhar; Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

8
Confusion Nationwide

Mao was convinced that experiments like the Cultural Revolution had to be bold, even reckless, if they were to stand a chance of success. Speaking allegorically on his favorite subject of swimming, and flaunting some classical erudition in the process, he had once made this point by invoking the words of the philosopher Zhuang Zi: "If water is not piled up deep enough, it won't have the strength to bear up a big boat."1 The deeper the water, Mao explained, the better; swimming close to the shore for fear of drowning was simply not an option.2 Having hundreds of thousands of teenagers destroy the "four olds" in an orgy of violence and destruction was one experiment; tacitly supporting slightly more mature university students in a head-on conflict with the local state was another.

While the first wave of mostly teenage Red Guards fanned out across China in search of opportunities to exercise their new powers of "revolutionary destruction" and to "exchange revolutionary experiences," members of an older generation of students on the nation's university campuses turned their energies elsewhere. Concerned with what would happen to them upon graduation, when jobs would be assigned at least partially on the basis of their political performance and not merely according to scholarly excellence, they were eager to see whatever blots might have ended up on their records during the summer officially expunged. Having been labeled anything from "rightists" and "fake leftists" to "anti-party elements" and "troublemakers" for having resisted the local authorities (that is, the work teams) during the summer of 1966, their own rehabilitation was a number-one priority. Instead of seeking to "zap forth a new proletarian world" like their younger brothers and sisters, they joined forces behind rather more concrete goals. For example, the founders of the "East Is Red Commune" organization on the campus of the Beijing Geological Institute charged the ministry party committee that had dispatched the work team to their campus with

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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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