“War can only be abolished through war,

and in order to get rid of the gun it is necessary

to take up the gun.”

–Mao Zedong

 

The Cultural Revolution was brought forth by Mao in 1966. It is generally remembered as a period of political turmoil in China’s history. The movement was initiated in order to remove all the capitalist elements of society. There was also a genuine desire to transform Chinese society and to train a new generation of revolutionary leadership who could be relied upon to continue Mao’s revolutionary project. Had the Cultural Revolution only been about a political struggle at the top of the leadership structure, then it would have ended in 1966 after Mao had purged his opponents in the Politburo.

However Mao believed that the entire party structure had gotten complacent and corrupt, and that it would sooner or later need to be replaced by a new generation of revolutionary leaders. The way to “train” the new revolutionaries is to; of course, have them “make their own revolution” even if it is against the state and party he had built. It was also directed against the stagnation and corruption he perceived in both the party and society. The violence and chaos of the Cultural Revolution was, in other words, a way for the masses to carry out a second revolution on the road towards true Communism.

In an ironic way Mao was the last great Chinese conservative. He was probably the last person who wished to find a “unique” Chinese path towards modernization before Deng decided that the better path would be to follow the capitalism of the rest of the world.