Why are so many Chinese nostalgic for the Cultural Revolution?

by Jun Mai/ 09 June, 2016 / by SCMP

Tens of thousands of Maoists marched in the Hunan hometown of late leader Mao Zedong on December 26 to mark the 122nd anniversary of his birth.

Beyond paying their respects to the atheist revolutionary with fireworks, flowers, music and the burning of paper money, many of those in Shaoshan also expressed their nostalgia for Mao’s era, which ended with his death in 1976, and the Cultural Revolution that marked the last decade of his life.

Dai Cheng, 62, led a group of 60 people from Changzhou in Jiangsu, 800km away, to sing revolutionary songs in Shaoshan’s main square that night, as the temperature dropped to four degrees Celsius.

“We will never forget the Mao era. He made us secure throughout our lives. We didn’t need to pay for medicines, education or housing. And there was no corruption,” he said, raising his voice to be heard above the fireworks.

Dai said it was the Cultural Revolution he missed most. That was when Mao asserted his personal authority over the first generation of communist revolutionaries, who Dai blamed for major mistakes before the Cultural Revolution, including the Great Leap Forward, despite Mao’s unchallenged dominance in the party.

“They started a coup in 1976 immediately after the death of chairman Mao,” Dai said. “They betrayed communism. They betrayed chairman Mao. They betrayed the Chinese people.”

As he went on, criticising Deng Xiaoping, the mastermind behind China’s post-Mao market economy reforms, some in the crowd applauded and cheered.

“The Cultural Revolution was aimed at uprooting corruption,” Dai said. “Anyone who opposes it is a supporter of corruption.”

May 16 marked the 50th anniversary of the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, which Mao reportedly hailed as one of his two biggest achievements but which the Communist Party declared more than three decades ago to have been a “catastrophe”. More than 1.7 million unnatural deaths occurred during the Cultural Revolution, according to official data released in the 1980s, and more than a million wrongful convictions were overturned in the eight years after it ended – most of them from that tumultuous decade. Read more…

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