Cultural Revolution - Phase 3
From the 10th Congress of the Party to October 1976.
Early in 1974 Jiang Qing, Wang Hongwen and others launched a campaign to "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius."
At first Lin was accused of being ultra-leftist, but later he was labeled as ultra-right and in 1973, Mao indicated that the criticism of Lin and his followers should be combined with a thorough criticism of Confucius. Lin's alleged treason was linked to its ancient supposed moral equivalent, Confucius's alleged attempt to roll back the tide of history by upholding the values of the Slave Society of Western Zhou.
Mao saw himself as a latter-day Qin Shihuangdi, who, as his example from antiquity did, opposed the modern-day Confucius: Zhou Enlai. The Legalists, and Qin Shihuangdi, were seen as the progressive forces, opposing the Confucians who were considered reactionaries.
Mao's wife Jiang Qing, a former political ally of Lin's, started a campaign, an extension of the then-current anti-Lin campaign, to criticize Lin and Confucius. Like many major proponents of the Cultural Revolution, Lin's image was manipulated after the movement. Negative aspects of the Cultural Revolution were blamed on Lin and he was never politically rehabilitated.
However, this widely publicized campaign was aimed at Zhou, for he allegedly possessed "unhealthy" ideas related to Lin and Confucius, though Zhou's name was never mentioned throughout the campaign. Zhou became the main rival for the power succession since the death of Lin. That is why while criticizing Lin, they attacked Confucius and made oblique criticism of Zhou, so-called "the contemporary Confucius", by criticizing Duke Zhou of the Western Zhou Dynasty.
Jiang Qing and the others directed the spearhead at Comrade Zhou Enlai, which was different in nature from the campaign conducted in some localities and organizations where individuals involved in and incidents connected with the conspiracies of the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao clique were investigated. Comrade Mao Zedong approved the launching of the movement to "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius." But the weary population was tired of so many campaigns that had proved useless or devastating, and were not too much interested in this one.
In December 1974-January 1975, Mao discussed the movement together with Gang-members and Zhou Enlai. Realizing that he had failed to oust Zhou, he turned his criticism on the Gang instead. Soon after Deng took over Zhou's responsibilities in 1975, the 'Criticize Lin, criticize Confucius campaign' was brought to a halt. Mao found that Jiang Qing and the others were turning it to their advantage in order to seize power, and he severely criticized them. He declared that they had formed a gang of four and pointed out that Jiang Qing harbored the wild ambition of making herself chairman of the Central Committee and "forming a cabinet" by political manipulation.
In 1975, when Comrade Zhou Enlai was seriously ill, Comrade Deng Xiaoping, with the support of Comrade Mao Zedong, took charge of the day-to-day work of the Central Committee. He convened an enlarged meeting of the Military Commission of the Central Committee and several other important meetings with a view to solving problems in industry, agriculture, transport and science and technology, and began to straighten out work in many fields so that the situation took an obvious turn for the better.
However, Comrade Mao Zedong could not bear to accept systematic correction of the errors of the "cultural revoluiton" by Comrade Deng Xiaoping and triggered the movement to "criticize Deng and counter the Right deviationist trend to reverse correct verdicts," once again plunging the nation into turmoil. In January of that year, Comrade Zhou Enlai died.
Comrade Zhou Enlai was utterly devoted to the Party and the people and stuck to his post till his dying day. He found himself in an extremely difficult situation throughout the "cultural revolution." He always kept the general interest in mind, bore the heavy burden of office without complaint, racking his brains and untiringly endeavouring to keep the normal work of the Party and the state going, to minimize the damage caused by the "cultural revolution" and to protect many Party and non-Party cadres. He waged all forms of struggle to counter sabotage by the counter-revolutionary Lin Biao and Jiang Qing cliques.
His death left the whole Party and people in the most profound grief. In April of the same year, a powerful movement of protest signalled by the Tian An Men Incident swept the whole country, a movement to mourn for the late Premier Zhou Enlai and oppose the gang of four. In essence, the movement was a demonstration of support for the Party's correct leadership as represented by Comrade Deng Xiaoping. It laid the ground for massive popular support for the subsequent overthrow of the counter-revolutionary Jiang Qing clique. The Political Bureau of the Central Committee and Comrade Mao Zedong wrongly assessed the nature of the Tian An Men Incident and dismissed Comrade Deng Xiaoping from all his posts inside and outside the Party.
As soon as Comrade Mao Zedong died in September 1976, the Jiang Qing clique stepped up its plot to seize supreme Party and state leadership. Early in October of the same year, the Political Bureau of the Central Committee, executing the will of the Party and the people, resolutely smashed the clique and brought the catastrophic "cultural revolution" to an end. This was a great victory won by the entire Party, army and people after prolonged struggle. Hua Guofeng, Ye Jianying. Li Xiannian and other comrades played a vital part in the struggle to crush the clique.
Despite the disastrous economic and social effects of his policies, Mao's ideas have seen a resurgence in recent years, particularly among the old and poor members of society who hold a certain nostalgia for the time when the state provided for them and society was more equal, glossing over the death and destruction.
"Either it's because people have forgotten the Cultural Revolution or are increasingly dissatisfied with social conditions, but since the mid-1990s these kinds of ideas have been gaining currency," Xu Youyu, a former Chinese Academy of Social Sciences researcher, told The Associated Press.
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