16 May, 2006

40 Years Ago

It’s the 40th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution, and Howard republishes an item from the Times interviewing the woman who sparked years of death and terror.:

On May 16, 1966, the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, published a coded attack on Chairman Mao’s political rivals.

Ms Nie, then Communist Party secretary of Peking University’s philosophy department, said the attack inspired her to put up a poster charging that the elite school was under the control of the bourgeoisie. Mao then had the poster read out over national radio, effectively giving his blessing to attacks on those in authority and triggering a decade of chaos.

Students rose up to oppose “revisionists” bureaucrats, academics, officials, leaders. Radical students calling themselves Red Guards paraded their teachers and professors though the streets in dunce caps. Government ministers were forced to kneel as they were beaten


The party papers are, naturally, being quiet on the matter. Me Old China .:

 Web Myupload Image TeachersNews about the anniversary in the state press is, naturally, conspicuous by its absence. The essayist Ling Feng explains that there are several reasons why the current government is hoping to keep a lid on any commemorations. Simply put, the persecution of as many as 100 million Chinese people is the worst thing that the Chinese Communist Party has ever done, and to publicize these events would damage the fragile image of a ruling party already racked by dissent and discontent. Furthermore, the Party has already achieved “closure” of a kind, saying in its daintily titled 1981 Resolution on Certain Historical Problems since the Establishment of the Nation that the chaos was, erm, Mao’s fault, of course, but that his mistakes were “used” by a counter-revolutionary clique led by his appalling wife, Jiang Qing, and his second-in-command, the phobia-ridden megalomaniac Lin Biao. All correct discussions are restricted to the old formula that Mao was “70% right and 30% wrong” and had, in his dotage, been led astray by the Gang of Four, and anything that might draw attention to the fact that, well, if there was indeed a counter-revolutionary clique, then Mao was its undisputed leader, has to be forbidden, as it would undermine the very foundations of the Party’s right to rule, Ling writes.


Images stolen from Stefan Landsberger’s collection.

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by @ 9:29 pm. Filed under China, Asia, East Asia, Northeast Asia

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