The Congress of Victors
Mao intended the CCP's Ninth Congress to be the watershed, between old and new, bad and good, pollution and purity, revisionism and revolution. It was to be the forum at which victory was to be declared, and indeed, the first public communiqué issued in its name announced that it was being held "at a time when the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution personally initiated and led by Chairman Mao has won great victory."1
But it did not work out that way. The congress in April 1969 has since become a transitional rather than a terminating event in histories of the Cultural Revolution. The final stages of the movement in which, according to the Peoples Daily, the "proletariat and the revolutionary people of the world who are fighting imperialism, modern revisionism, and all reaction "find" tremendous inspiration, bright prospects, and greater confidence in victory" were yet to be completed in parts of the country, and had not even begun in others.2 Mao admitted as much in one of his speeches at the congress, insisting that "this Great Cultural Revolution … has been quite thorough, judging from the looks of it. "But" the job of the Great Cultural Revolution is not yet finished. We still have to continue to grasp it in a meticulous, down-to-earth, and conscientious way."3 Whether because his timetable had been untenable from the start, or because Mao really did not have too clear an idea about what to do in a post—Cultural Revolutionary world, and hence preferred—consciously or not—to postpone its arrival indefinitely, his reluctance to give up made any form of real closure impossible for now.
Nobody was able to speak confidently in the spring of 1969 about what would happen next. A month after the end of the congress, the two great political theorists on the PSC, Chen Boda and Kang Sheng, tried to explain to a gathering of Zhongnanhai staff how to interpret the spirit of the Ninth Congress and Mao Zedong's most recent pronouncements about the future. Whatever Chen