[This article was originally published in the Bengali alternative media
Mongoldhoni and presents a certain appraisal of the Cultural Revolution.]
May 16, 2016 marked 50 years since the start of Great Proletarian
After the negative experiences of capitalist restoration in
USSR in 1956 (after Joseph Stalin’s death in 1953, revisionist Khrushchev
clique rose to power in the Soviet Union) and the initial negative
experiences in China, Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was launched under
the leadership of Mao Zedong . Millions and millions of people were
mobilized and engaged in a struggle against the forces within the Chinese
Communist Party that favored the restoration of capitalism.
The masses were given the ‘right to rebel’ against the specially privileged
bureaucracy within the party and within the state. ‘Bombard the headquarters’
became one of the main slogans. Cultural Revolution means communist party should
be closely interlinked with the masses. This is the mass line as formulated
by Mao Zedong.
In fact, New Democratic Revolution in China was a national, popular,
democratic, anti-feudal and anti-imperialist revolution, led by the
Serious debate was also carried out during 1956 in the Chinese Communist
Party. Revisionists like Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping wanted to consolidate
capitalism. But, Mao Zedong and his supporters opposed it and tried to go
forward towards socialism. After the Great Leap Forward, Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution was launched. Cultural Revolution prevented the
capitalist restoration in China for a decade and consolidated dictatorship
of the proletariat. The idea of putting politics in command was followed.
Instead of following the Soviet model which prioritized one-sidedly the
development of the productive forces – the Cultural Revolution stressed on
the importance of open-ended interrelations among and between the forces of
production, the relations of production, and the superstructure. People’s
democracy was also greatly expanded. Steps were taken to reduce differences
arising from the division of labour between town and village, manual and
mental labour, and management and employees. The participation of workers
in management and party cadre in productive labor was encouraged. Mass
supervision was also introduced during the Cultural Revolution.
Cultural Revolution tried to eradicate bourgeois ideology and foster
proletarian ideology. It took the initiative to thoroughly dig out the
ideological roots of revisionism and firmly implant MLM ideology. In the
course of the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong’s ideology emerged as the
third stage of Marxism-Leninism. Proletarian Cultural Revolution took
measures to clean up all the rubbish left over by the old society.
It aimed at breaking old ideas, customs and habits of the exploiting classes,
fostering new ideas, culture, customs and habits of the proletariat. In
fact, this revolution promoted the revolutionization of people’s minds.
Socialist construction was strengthened. Agriculture and industries
witnessed tremendous developments. Significant progress was also made in
the field of science and technology. It was an era when much infrastructure
was built. Health care and education were greatly expanded. Cultural
Revolution also helped in strengthening the struggle against revisionism in
various communist parties around the globe. But the revisionist,
reactionary and imperialist forces are still conducting disinformation
campaigns to distort and destroy the real history of Cultural Revolution.
During the Cultural Revolution, certain new institutions like Red
Guards (people’s militia) and people’s committees were also created in
order to expand people’s democracy. However, several different problems had
arisen. According to a section of communists, much more preparation was
needed for that revolution. It was necessary to build the institutions
appropriately. Too much dependence on the youth also led to more
complications. Moreover, there were tendencies towards ultra-leftism and
personality cult among some sections. As a result, it was blown out of
proportion in some cases. Rightist revisionists who were under attack, took
advantage to sabotage and organized fake Red Guards to confuse the people.
But during the period of Mao Zedong the Proletarian Cultural
Revolution was not always directly implemented. Mao Zedong was almost
bedridden, and immediately after his death in 1976 counter-revolutionary
coup d’état was carried out under the leadership of revisionists like
Teng-Hua. Capitalism was restored in China through the so-called ‘reform’
process. But it doesn’t negate the historic lessons of the Cultural
Revolution rather it reinforces Mao Zedong’s teachings that classes and
class contradiction exist in the entire socialist society.
So it’s necessary to continue the revolution under the dictatorship of the
proletariat through Cultural Revolution. Many Cultural Revolutions will be
needed on the path to communism by establishing and developing socialism in
At present, capitalism with Chinese characteristics is established in
China in the name of so-called ‘socialist market economy’. The most
negative environmental and socio-economic features of capitalism are now
manifested in the country. Poverty and inequality have reached shocking
levels. According to a new report of Peking University, one-third of
China’s wealth is owned by the richest 1 percent of households, while the
poorest 25 percent account for only 1 percent of wealth .
Unemployment and insecurity increased. Education and health care services
have deteriorated. The rate of workers’ wages is also very low. Both the
domestic and foreign big capitalists are taking advantage of this situation
to make arbitrarily large profits. But it is noteworthy that working people,
especially leftists are now using Cultural Revolution methods in their struggle
against the new capitalist rulers of China.
It is necessary to draw lessons from both positive and negative
experiences of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution and try to practice
them within the revolutionary parties and within the mass organizations. For
example, democratic centralism along with mass line should be properly
applied to cope with bureaucratic centralism. The policy of one divides
into two also applies to communist party. There is always a conflict
between proletarian and non-proletarian tendencies within every communist
party. So two-line struggle should be appropriately conducted with the aim
Imperialist aggression is currently underway in different parts of the
world. Neoliberal globalization is paving the way for brutal exploitation
and plundering of the world’s natural resources and labour power resulting
in social instability and environmental destruction.
Poverty and inequality have also reached high levels. According to figures from Oxfam,
the richest 1% now have more wealth than the rest of the world’s population
combined . Meanwhile, US imperialism and its allies are conducting war
and genocide in various countries. Reactionary forces are also fueling
divisions among the toiling masses.
Capitalism is in long-term crisis. The principal contradiction between
imperialism and the oppressed nations and peoples is intensified.
Consequently, the contradictions between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie
as well as the contradictions among the imperialist countries have also
been increased. In the meantime, the golden jubilee of Great Proletarian
Cultural Revolution is being celebrated in different parts of the world.
The toiling masses are struggling against imperialism, feudalism and
capitalism. Their radical section is drawing lessons from Cultural
Revolution and trying to use these experiences in a creative way in the
light of the specific conditions in their own countries while opposing both
revisionist and doctrinaire deviations. They are fighting in order to
advance the world proletarian revolution. This proves the contemporary
relevance of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.
 Dongping Han <http://monthlyreview.org/author/dongpinghan/>, ‘‘Farmers,
Mao, and Discontent in China: From the Great Leap Forward to the Present’’,
2009 <http://monthlyreview.org/archives/2009/> › Volume 61, Issue 07
 Shannon Tiezzi <http://thediplomat.com/authors/shannon-tiezzi/>,
‘‘Report: China’s 1 Percent Owns 1/3 of Wealth’’, January 15, 2016, The Diplomat
 Jason Hickel, “Global inequality may be much worse than we think”,
April 8, 2016, The Guardian