One of the most controversial times of all of China's thousands of years of history. This period took place in primarily the 1960's, during the uprising of General Mao Zedong and the Chinese Communist Party, along with their legions of 'Red Guards'. I pose a simple yet arcanely perplexing question. Did this have an overall positive of negative effect on the commonwealth of China? Was General Mao nearly as great, or as treacherous a man he is portrayed as?
The leader of this mass rebellion was Mao Zedong, but the portrayal of him differs so widely. To the world outside of the boundaries of China much showed him in a light as a murderer of millions of Chinese, which is true in a way. The revolution and his time of reign killed thousands, a breach of all human rights. The economic situation at the time worsened for China, their situation still recovering from the Opium War, and although a small class of people rose to riches, the social gap between rich and poor widened.
The Cultural Revolution was in a bid to throw away the customs of the old China and make way for progress, revolutionising the nation. Historical traditions, artifacts and sites were destroyed by the Red Guards, Mao followers and China was changed forever. While visiting China I saw many amazing historical sites maimed by the Cultural Revolution, the destruction of China's ancient traditions.
Equally enough though, I find it so puzzling that still, the peasants to this day which make up at leat 70% of China's population, worship General Mao like a god. What he offered was some alleged 'understanding' of these peasants and reached out to them. He glorified their way of life and through that, Mao gained his millions of followers.
Also from the Cultural Revolution, it opened ways from outside of China to enter and modernise. China is constantly growing looking at large cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou, and influences from mainly the West have become the norm in China. After the Cultural Revolution many opened their eyes to many things, and without an Imperial governship many were free to speak as they like. Even so, if we think of China now the government is that similar to Big Brother, the Communist Party contradicting just what they set out to do.
Why do I ask this question? Because I do not know myself. Despite everything I've learnt of it with my own research, the horrors that sprung from the bloodbath we call the Cultural Revolution, so many people still worship this man who brought it all, General Mao. His body is placed on display in the Forbidden City and I've even visited it myself. He was a hero, a saviour, and god to many Chinese people despite all the news from outside of China. Who was General Mao, and are his actions justifiable?
Out of my own family history, my great grandmother [mother's side] was an undercover Communist, and being the General Secretary of the Film Industry in China at the time, she performed underground for the Chinese soldiers while the Japanese were occupying. Her son joined the Communist Army and her daughter, my grandmother, became a doctor. So my family, on my mother's side, was quite involved in the rise of the Communist Party.
When my mother was young, about 10 or so, the Cultural Revolution came about. My great grandmother was retired and took care of my mother. When the Red Guards invaded their house in Shanghai, they burnt all her books from the Old China and destroyed much of the house. My father, on the other hand, was brought up in the countryside of a port city called Qingdao. During the Cultural Revolution he was in school, and the teachers taught the words of Mao and how to be a Revolutionary. They were supporting General Mao being the lower working class and learnt nothing but all these things how to become a Red Guard. My father and his friends were too young to join the army, but compelled by national pride, they set out on their own for the Cultural Revolution. They smashed antiques and anything relating to the past of China. To show their loyalty to Mao, they went on tramps walking endlessly for weeks.
The history of my family was so just amazing to me, compared to my life the hardships they struggled through. That is why it is so conflicting to me the Cultural Revolution. Did it really help China? Was General Mao indeed the hero or beast he is told to be? And what really happened during those dark years of China, how has it effected the billion people living in China?