The Cultural revolution of 1966-9 was an attempt by Mao Zedong to protect his own power and position rather than a genuine battle of ideas."To what extent do you think this is a fair verdict on Mao's Cultural Revolution?

The Cultural Revolution of 1966-9 was indeed a deliberate attempt by Mao to protect his own power and position. This is evident from the fact that it was brought about in response to the huge public debate that was taking place between the rightists and the Maoists over the course of action to follow. Mao while facing criticisms and in order to save the revolution that was his brainchild, started using his position to appeal to masses. It was through this appeal that he introduced the Cultural Revolution. As a result of this he was able to draw a huge mass of supporters especially among students. They were known as the Red Guards. They toured the country vigorously to argue Mao’s case and also carried Red Books containing Mao’s ideologies. Many young people were sent off to farms from schools and factories in order to work there and promote the revolutionary fervor. They were forced to say that they went there by will, which was not always true.
The student masses were aroused in such a manner that they later resorted to intolerance and violence against any authority. By 1967 these Red Guards were out of control and Mao himself had to call in the army to prevent the chaos and civil war like situation. Mao, while being blamed for the chaos did admit some mistakes made by him. But he instead clamped down upon his own followers by arresting and executing those Red Guard leaders who according to him ‘committed excesses’. Not only this, he also put the blame on his Defence Minister for wrongly arousing the group. He was successful in removing all blames on himself after the all party conference of April 1969.
The Cultural Revolution resulted in nothing but great disruption, ruined millions of lives and also held up China’s economic development for ten years. Therefore, the Cultural Revolution did not bring any positive results, which makes the intention behind it quite clear.

Question for UPSC Mains:
The Cultural revolution of 1966-9 was an attempt by Mao Zedong to protect his own power and position rather than a genuine battle of ideas.” To what extent do you think this is a fair verdict on Mao’s Cultural Revolution?

Published: March 20, 2017 | Modified:June 27, 2019

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