In 1965 an article of criticism of a contemporary historical drama brought to the theatrical stage gave rise to a great movement that would have involved the whole of China in violent clashes for a few years. What was called the “great proletarian cultural revolution” began.
On the walls of the buildings appear the first ta – tzu – pao (or “wall papers in large print”), written by hand, which report criticisms of individual citizens or groups for or against one or the other line in which the Chinese Communist Party had been splitting for some time. Young people played a predominant part in the cultural revolution, and especially students, whose dynamic activism provoked on the one hand some repressive attempts by the group headed by Liu Shao-ch’i and on the other an exasperated radicalization of the political debate. Mao Tse-tung could not only attend, estranging himself from what was happening, but had his own ta – tzu – pao posted, with the controversial title “Bombing the headquarters”; it was a formal indictment against those who used the revolution to implement a reactionary policy; it was the directive against the forces defined as revisionists, which operated within the Chinese Communist Party and could, with the abolition of the class struggle and the rapprochement with pro-Soviet positions, distort its aims.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China published the “Sixteen Points on the Proletarian Cultural Revolution”, encouraging freedom of expression through the ta – tzu – pao, inviting the masses to speak and to exercise criticism, creating numerous committees and congresses of the cultural revolution at all levels, indicating as a guide for each action “the thought of Mao Tse-tung”. It is in this period that the expression “Maoism” is discarded and that of “Mao Tse-tung’s thought” (Mao Tse – tung ssu – hsiang) is adopted, and we will now speak of “Marxism-Leninism-thought of Mao Tse -tung “as of the official ideology.
During the proletarian cultural revolution in China, the “red guard” movement was born; thousands and thousands of students, wearing the red guard bracelet, which Mao himself will sometimes wear, and holding the booklet of “President Mao Tse-tung’s Quotes”, better known in the West as the “red book”, will travel all over the country to discuss, criticize, contest. The Red Guards movement is not a unitary movement, because they often confront each other. Nor does the proletarian cultural revolution see active only young people and students; in 1966 they are joined by the workers of the large urban centers and by now we are discussing and fighting for the struggle for power.
According to allunitconverters, China seems to be going through a moment of authentic chaos, due to the weakening of the communist party, the slowdown in production, the suspension of teaching activities with the closure of universities, and the danger of an imminent civil war. Numerous revolutionary committees arise with the aim of uniting the masses, party cadres and the army, the three forces on which China is based. After ups and downs, controversies and clashes, in 1968, the President of the Republic Liu Shao-ch’i was dismissed from any political office and also expelled from the party. Liu Shao-ch’i is not the only victim of the proletarian cultural revolution, but thousands of leaders, at all levels, are being removed and replaced in their posts.
Consequently, in April 1969, the IX Congress of the Chinese Communist Party met to sanction the great renewal of the leading cadres and to take note of the new situation; it is not yet the final victory of the Mao Tse-tung line, but a great step forward. An important role in the proletarian cultural revolution was played by the army, led by an old comrade in arms of Mao, Lin Piao; if one examines the list of members elected in the central committee of the Communist Party during the IX congress, one can see how numerous the military are. Lin Piao is officially designated as Mao Tse-tung’s successor, and the so-called “little red book” has its own preface, destined to disappear a few years later (1972). Apparently the internal struggle is over and China has the
In 1969, however, Chinese foreign policy was complicated by the worsening of relations with the Soviet Union. The dispute over border issues is rekindled between the two socialist countries; the Chinese claim large areas on the northern borders and in Central Asia, which once belonged to China, and which were taken from it at the time of the Far East expansion of Tsarist Russia. The dispute is not limited to filling the press of the two countries, but there are some armed clashes between the Chinese and the Soviets on the banks of the Ussuri River and in other border towns. The tension tends to increase; throughout the China there is talk of the possibility of a Soviet armed aggression, antinuclear shelters are built everywhere, the masses are ideologically mobilized. The tension will last bitter until 1973.