China is a diverse country with a rich history spanning many centuries. The Cultural Revolution in China is also referred to as The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and lasted between 1966 and 1976 (there is some debate about the actual years). During this period of time the People's Republic of China was a communist country, although there was some divide within the country, which caused tension. There are many important aspects of the Revolution including it's leader, foundation, purpose, and effect.
The leader of the People's Republic of China was Mao Zedong. He is considered the founding father of the People's Republic of China. He was in control of the country until his death in 1976. Mao's interest in communism began in the early 1920s, and he quickly was fully immersed into the doctrine. During his leadership he launched several campaigns all of which resulted famine, suicide, and political persecution of tens of millions of people. Mao was considered a communism revolutionary and had great skills in guerrilla warfare, which came in use many times throughout his life, especially during the many wars that China fought throughout his lifetime. Mao also used extreme torture tactics during wars to get the results he desired. Mao was the leader of the People's Republic of China, which was formed in 1949. This only occurred after a couple of decades of civil and international wars. During the first few years of his leadership millions of people had been executed and others were sent to labor camps. Mao instituted execution quotas, which were always met and often exceeded. His explanation to the Chinese people was that the deaths were necessary to secure power. He also knew that there would be a power struggle after 1949, and had no interest in being overthrown. Mao also launched campaigns against the wealthy capitalists, rid China of them. Capitalism is an enemy against the communist party and one of it's strongest oppressors. During these times suicide rate jumped and driving people who were perceived as enemies of the party and Mao to suicide was considered patriotic. There was an air of untruthfulness in the air during the time Mao was in power. No one was safe from being ratted out on. Children would even rat out their own parents. The people that were seen as the worst offenders were killed. A similar situation occurred during the Cultural Revolution. Anyone that was perceived as an enemy should be tattled upon, or ratted out, so that person could be dealt with (this most likely resulted in death). Mao's leadership lead the Chinese into the Cultural Revolution.
The Cultural Revolution was a sociopolitical movement in the People's Republic of China. China was one of the most powerful communist leaders, alongside Russia. One of the biggest parts of communism is having the entire culture or country immersed into that way of life. This became a popular problem for several communist countries. The sheer size of China makes it difficult to have the entire country have one methodology with no deviation. In communism there is also a fear of capitalism coming in and invading, which the communists believe will be their next step in trying to change the society. This fear was present in Mao and one of the causes of the revolution. China's size attributed to Mao's plans. The revolution was a way to unify China under a common methodology. Mao knew that there was tension in the Communist Party and knew that the revisionist (those who wanted change) had to be dealt with. Mao also saw the changes that had occurred in Russia since Stalin's death and felt that they were not aligned with true communist beliefs. As far as Mao was concerned there was self-interest in communism, there was only concern for the collective and what was right for the party.
The purpose of the revolution was to rid China of any capitalist mentality and to embrace socialism. This movement also marked Mao Zedong's return to power. During the 1950s Mao had not exerted his power and so he seemed less powerful and seemed to have less authority. Mao's ambition was to turn China into what he thought of as a large school. Schools treated everyone the same, which is one of the principles behind communism. In this school every person would learn a new occupation. One of the problems that China faced was the poverty. In Mao's mind if everyone could learn a new occupation then the poverty problem could be solved. Prior to this revolution Mao had made other attempts, which had failed. This is especially apparent in The Great Leap Forward. It became clear after that attempt that Mao lacked knowledge in many key areas that would be necessary to create a better and stronger China, especially in the field of economics. Mao felt that anyone who had been exposed to western culture (and capitalism) threatened to overthrow the new China he was building. Mao was attempting to purify the party to the true form of communism.
The effects of the revolution were wide spread and felt through every walk of life. There were purges in the government of anyone who was deviating from the path of socialism. Mao's ambition was to get rid of any people who could possibly challenge him. Once Liu Shao-chi was expelled Mao had felt that he had accomplished something. Shao-chi was one of the strongest people that could have a voice against Mao, making it possible for him to stage a coup against Mao. Mao created a cult-like atmosphere. Young people in China created the Red Guard, which would spread into the military and the government and were the strongest supporters of Mao. The Red Guards were also responsible for the destruction of architecture, antiques, books, ect., specifically in the city of Beijing. The Red Guards were sent there by the government because there seemed to be revisionist in Beijing that threatened Mao's power. The relics were destroyed because they represented another way of life. That way of life could threaten communism and what Mao was trying to build. People in the large cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai were subjected to complete misery. Their artifacts and memories were destroyed. Many of the important leaders, such as authors and academics were killed. These people were educated in western ways and therefore stood in the way of Mao's dominance and they had been exposed to capitalism and that methodology was not to be brought into China. Anyone that tried to oppose Mao was expelled or killed, but even innocent people were killed in this path of destruction. Some people claim the end of the revolution was 1976 because that was the year Mao died. Prior to his death he had appointed a successor who kept all of Mao's policies in effect, making China stay in a communist dictatorship. One of the lasting effects was the strong military presence that had formed in China during these horrific events. In the end, Mao's plans were not successful and merely left and imprint of horror on many people's lives.
In conclusion, after the Cultural Revolution China has remained forever changed by the events in the ten year period of Mao trying show that he was still a dominant leader and that he could make China better than it was. Mao's desire to create a unified and stronger communist China has made him a dominant presence in China's past. He also became a symbol of Chinese and internation communism around the world. There are many important aspects of the Revolution including it's leader, foundation, purpose, and effect.