One searches in vain for an extended, systematic, and credible explanation by Mao Zedong himself of the goals of the Cultural Revolution. There is no master script to be found, no blueprint, no scenario, no game plan. All there is are random, scattered remarks--some spontaneous, others carefully hedged; some just possibly meant to be taken at face value, others almost certainly intended to obscure rather than elucidate. "Let us toast to the unfolding of a nationwide all-round civil war!" is what at least two guests remember hearing Mao propose on his seventy-third birthday, on 26 December 1966.1 Was that what the Chinese Communist Party Chairman had in mind? Or was his intention (as he was quoted as saying in the People's Daily a week later) to achieve "the greatest ever revolutionary transformation of society, unprecedented in the history of mankind"?2 Were the two goals possibly one and the same? Or one the means, the other the end? We have no firm answers.
The three texts in this section are from the autumn of 1966, a time when the buzz verbs of the Cultural Revolution were "down with," "drag out," "smash, burn, fry, and scorch," and the all-purpose "kill"; and the labels affixed to the movement's victims such creative dysphemisms as "ox-freaks and snake-monsters" and long and ugly "scientific" (so the Party Center insisted) designations like "the biggest handful of Party-persons in power taking the capitalist road." Helping Mao to keep the Cultural Revolution on course were his recently promoted deputy and "closest comrade-in-arms," Lin Biao, and the members of an ad hoc Central Cultural Revolution Group--a dozen or so____________________