Mao Zedong and Theories of the Cultural Revolution
The Lin Biao incident can be defined in two ways. In the narrow sense, the incident was what happened to Lin Biao and his family on the night of September 12-13, 1971. In a broader sense, the incident was the result of the events that developed between the Second Plenum of the Ninth Party Central Committee in August 1970, when the rupture between Mao and Lin began, and September 1, 1971. To understand Lin's unexpected fall, we should first examine Chinese politics during, and even before, the Cultural Revolution, an event that brought to the surface the fundamental problems and contradictions within both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and Chinese society. Lin's name, like Mao's, was closely associated with the Cultural Revolution. Mao's personal sponsorship allowed Lin to climb the political ladder after the revolution started. Lin rose from minister of defense to sole vice-chairman of the CCP in 1966 and was named Mao's designated successor in 1969. Only two years later, his sudden death can be seen as a metaphor for the total failure of the Cultural Revolution.1 Today, however, he and Madame Mao are officially singled out as responsible for Mao's second revolution, while most others who supposedly opposed Mao during the Cultural Revolution have been rehabilitated.
Although studies of the period have already covered many of the facts about the Cultural Revolution and revealed various possible origins of the event, one important question remains to be answered: why did Mao want a second revolution in 1966 that would paralyze the institutions established by the first revolution two decades earlier? In this chapter, I focus on the impact of Mao's personal views and political style on the decisionmaking processes of party and government institutions. By reconstructing some major events before and during the Cultural Revolution, I establish the connection between Mao's thinking and party theories, Mao's patterns