China’s Cultural Revolution turns 50

May 15, 2016 by

Tom Watkins –

“A revolution is not a dinner party, it is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.” It was with these words the then leader of China, Chairman Mao Zedong unleashed the “Cutural Revolution” on his own people in 1966.

It was an epic, violent, internal, insurrection in China’s history. It stalled the fortunes of the country for a decade, creating chaos, even as hundreds of thousands, if not millions of his own people were killed and physically and psychologically wounded. It is silent scar on the nation that still oozes to this day. It was a time when a nation went collectively mad.

The Cultural Revolution certainly reminds us of Mao’s proclamation that “Even the smallest spark can create a raging forest fire.” He was responsible for lighting China a blaze during this tumultuous era.

Aided by his closest sycophants, including his wife, Jiang Qing, and defense minister Lin Biao, Mao wrought havoc on the party leadership and his fellow Chinese citizens as a means of asserting his authority and to appeal to “the masses.”

Mao Zedong came to believe that the party leadership in China was moving too far in a “revisionist” direction, with an emphasis on knowledge/expertise rather than on communist ideological purity. The Cultural Revolution set out to change the direction of the nation.

The stated goal was to reinforce communism in China by removing any traces of capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from Chinese society. But by Mao imposing his Maoist orthodoxy within the party and on the nation, he created instead pure bedlam, chaos and destruction.

Yet, like much of Chinese internal bitterness, today’s communist leaders ignore and cover up this stain.


Like many young people in the ’60s during the Cultural Revolution, teenager Xi Jinping, now president of China suffered, his education interrupted for seven years when he was sent to the countryside. Part of the fifth generation of Chinese leaders, Xi was born in 1953 — and sent to Shaanxi province, a poor region in northwestern China as part of his Cutural Revolution “experience.”

Source: Tom Watkins: China’s Cultural Revolution turns 50

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