The Cultural Revolution was the greatest educational incident chronicled in the last hundred years and it took place from 1966 to 1976. Mao Zedong was the leader of the Cultural Revolution and he wanted to bring about the Cultural Revolution by setting goals to form a more affective bureaucracy. The Cultural Revolution was a time when Red Guards fought against a democratic society and the guards attacked an aspect called the “4 olds.” The “4 olds” were old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits.
Furthermore, many aspects of life were forbidden or simply done away with during the Cultural Revolution. Shopkeepers were not allowed to sell clothes that resembled western style clothes and hairstylists could not give western style hairdos or haircuts. Civilians were not allowed to drink strong drinks, smoke or chew tobacco, use perfumes, colognes, or beauty appliances. The sale of stamps, collectibles, and even flowers was forbidden. Many objects were also condemned during the Cultural Revolution. Every piece of literature that did not follow and agree with Mao Zedong’s teachings was burnt. Traveling in cabs, in citizen’s private cars, and on trains was even condemned because it symbolized a life of upper class citizens. In bookstores, the writings and teachings of Mao Zedong replaced novels, poems, and great works of prose. In galleries, portraits and pictures of Mao Zedong replaced paintings and landscapes. Aside from aspects of life being forbidden, ridiculous requirements were made. An example of this was that on traffic lights, the “green” meant “stop” and the “red” meant “go.”
The Cultural Revolution also affected citizens. The students attending universities were the first citizens to be affected by the revolution. The students question methods of teaching and learning, and the students wanted the school to be more accepting to the society by making peasants and workers feel welcome. Foreign affairs with other countries were also practically impossible during the Cultural Revolution because of the actions of the Red Guards. The Red Guards took over China’s Foreign Relation’s Ministry, and conquered the former Soviet Union Embassy. Furthermore, these young students invaded and set fire to the British Embassy. The Red Guards beat up and abused members of the diplomatic corps, and the Red Guards tore western style apparel off female personnel.
Moreover, the students were the first members of the Red Guards. The Red Guards were revolutionists who fought against the 4 olds. The Red Guards were pupils from China’s colleges and universities who were denied the ability to succeed academically. Their “supreme commander” was Mao Zedong, and Maoists called the Red Guards “little revolutionary generals”. The Red Guards went into citizens’ houses and threw out upper class and western style objects. The guards beat civilians up and shaved their heads. The Red Guards were not able to destroy museums and historic structures, because the buildings were blocked with guards to make sure art works would not be ruined. The Red Guards killed hundreds and perhaps thousands of artists, teachers, authorities, party rulers, and often their parents. During the Cultural Revolution some of the most honorable Chinese citizens were murdered or the citizens would commit suicide. Cannibalism was also an act performed by the Red Guards. The Red Guards ate some of the citizens that the Red Guards killed. During the later 1960s, over a hundred people were killed and eaten. An example of the cannibalism that took place was that school leaders were murdered by pupils, and then prepared and eaten. Another example of cannibalism that took place during the cultural revolution was in lunchrooms that were controlled by the government, dead bodies were exhibited from meat hooks and then served for lunch.
To stop the cannibalism and the Red Guards activities, work teams were formed. Deng Xiao-Ping, a general who wanted to stop the Cultural Revolution, sent the work teams into factories, countrysides, and universities. The work teams were established in 1966. The work teams strategically placed themselves in areas where suspicious movement needed to be controlled. Students rebelled against the work teams because the students said that the work teams were “counterrevolutionary.”
Furthermore, life was difficult to survive during the Cultural Revolution. Citizens were murdered or sent from their nice houses in the city to the countryside to live in horrible states. After the Cultural Revolution, important Chinese officials such as Deng Xiao-ping began rebuilding China. The officials set up capital businesses, factories, banking systems, and advertising markets. Land was distributed to the poor peasants and advanced school systems were created. The reconstruction of China was a success.
In summary, the Cultural Revolution was an upsetting aspect for all Chinese classes, but some of the classes fared worse than others. The end of the Cultural Revolution was looked upon favorably by many citizens, because almost every civilian hated the impact of the Cultural Revolution. During the Cultural Revolution, many aspects of life were forbidden. Any aspect that had to do with the west or an upper class connotation was done away with. Furthermore, the Cultural Revolution was a time when students joined the Red Guards army to fight against democracy. The Red Guards performed violent acts including cannibalism. The guards fought and attacked the “4 olds:” old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits.