The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

The Cultural Revolution: A Very Short Introduction

Richard Curt Kraus

Language: English

Pages: 152

ISBN: 0199740550

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

China's decade-long Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution shook the politics of China and the world. Even as we approach its fiftieth anniversary, the movement remains so contentious that the Chinese Communist Party still forbids fully open investigation of its origins, development, and conclusion. Drawing upon a vital trove of scholarship, memoirs, and popular culture, this Very Short Introduction illuminates this complex, often obscure, and still controversial movement. Moving beyond the figure of Mao Zedong, Richard Curt Kraus links Beijing's elite politics to broader aspects of society and culture, highlighting many changes in daily life, employment, and the economy. Kraus also situates this very nationalist outburst of Chinese radicalism within a global context, showing that the Cultural Revolution was mirrored in the radical youth movement that swept much of the world, and that had imagined or emotional links to China's red guards. Yet it was also during the Cultural Revolution that China and the United States tempered their long hostility, one of the innovations in this period that sowed the seeds for China's subsequent decades of spectacular economic growth.











associations of artists and other intellectuals meant that the Cultural Revolutionaries worked without the support system that had grown up during the Seventeen Years. Many intellectuals assisted the new regime. But dispirited artists were not compelled to write, paint, or choreograph. Other new initiatives, such as peasant painting, began only late in the Cultural Revolution. Such ventures developed slowly, in part because of the awkward need to use formally trained (but ideologically

poor Asian giants, India and Indonesia. All three nations faced similar problems and constraints in industrializing large agrarian societies. China grew somewhat less rapidly than Indonesia but about twice as fast as India. All three grew more slowly than Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong. These four smaller regions later became known as Asia’s “tigers” for their rapid growth (8–9 percent), following a formula that mixed foreign aid and investment with the export of consumer goods to

history begins only with his death, miss important dimensions of the rapid and penetrating social change that has occurred since the Cultural Revolution’s end. 1. Map of China. In contrast, this book draws out the connections between the isolated and beleaguered China of the 1960s and the newly risen global power of today. These two Chinas are not the opposites that we sometimes want them to be. Like other twentieth-century Chinese leaders, Mao wanted a strong, modern China; some Cultural

Mao on His Way to Anyuan by Liu Chunhua (1968). In 1995 Liu sold the painting to a bank, which now still owns it despite claims by the National Museum in Beijing and state recognition of the work as a cultural relic. Lei Feng, the model Maoist soldier, remains alive and respected in the public imagination. But he is not so respected as in the Cultural Revolution. The introduction of Lei Feng brand condoms scandalized many, and the brand was removed from sale in 2007. Two years later an actor

United Nations seat. 1972 U.S. President Richard Nixon visits China. Normalization between United States and China begins. 1973 Deng Xiaoping is restored to power. 1974 “Criticize Lin Biao and Confucius” campaign to protect Cultural Revolution. 1975 Second purge of Deng Xiaoping. 1976 Premier Zhou Enlai dies; Tiananmen Square demonstrations; Tangshan earthquake. Mao Zedong dies; armed forces arrest Jiang Qing and her associates, labeled as Gang of Four. 1977 National

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