During the Cultural Revolution, people were "rebelling," whereas before that
people were "making revolution." However, after the end of the Cultural Revo-
lution, people avoided talking about rebelling, or simply forgot that part of his-
tory. Everyone has become a victim of that great catastrophe known as the Cul-
tural Revolution and has forgotten that before disaster fell upon their own
heads, they, too, were to some extent the assailants. The history of the Cultural
Revolution is thus being continually revised. It is best that you do not try to
write a history, but only to look back upon your own experiences …
Furthermore, it is very likely that when people have forgotten about it, it will
make a comeback, and people who have never gone crazy will go crazy, and
people who have never been oppressed will oppress or be oppressed. This is be-
cause madness has existed since the birth of humanity, and it is simply a ques-
tion of when it will flare up again.
—Gao Xingjian, One Man's Bible (pages 151,195)
The Cultural Revolution ended as it began, with a coup against a gang of four. But the coups differed: in 1966, a political coup; in 1976, a military one. At the start of the Cultural Revolution, Mao was able to manipulate the party to ensure a procedurally correct condemnation of his enemies. By its end, the Chinese political system was so paralyzed by top-level factionalism that only the use of armed force could effect a change of leadership.
But Ye Jianying, Hua Guofeng, and Wang Dongxing could justify their action as likely to be widely, indeed wildly, popular, and in a confident break from precedent, they provided graphic evidence of their triumph. The November issue of Renmin huabao (People's Pictorial) published a photograph of the mass meeting in Tiananmen Square on September 18 in memory of Mao, at which the Gang of