This month mark the fiftieth anniversary of the China’s Cultural Revolution. Here are five facts you should know about one of the darkest times in modern human history:
1. The Cultural Revolution — officially known as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution — was a social and political movement within China that attempted to eradicate all traces of traditional cultural elements and replace them with Mao Zedong Thought (or Maoism), a form of Marxist political theory based on the teachings of the Chinese political leader Mao Zedong, the Chinese communist revolutionary and founding father of the People’s Republic of China. Mao governed as Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976.
2. The beginning of the Cultural Revolution is traced to May 16, 1966, when Mao issued a document that included ‘indictments’ against his political foes. In what has become known as the “May 16 notification”, Mao claimed that, “Those representatives of the bourgeoisie who have sneaked into the party, the government, the army, and various cultural circles are a bunch of counter-revolutionary revisionists.” Although Mao unveiled his intention in May, it was not until August that the Communist Party issued the “Decision Concerning The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution,” which outlined the Chairman’s goals. The two primary institutions that Mao wanted to eliminate were education and religion, the main threats to Mao Zedong Thought.