11-6: Mao’s Cultural Revolution

cultural_revolutionCultural Revolution

The Cultural Revolution was Mao’s attempt to reclaim the spirit of the Communist Revolution in China. Encouraging people to learn revolution by making revolution, Mao created economic hardship and social chaos with his new policies. Eventually the Cultural Revolution was abandoned but it still serves as a stark reminder of Communism run amok. The following excerpt is from a memoir of a woman who observed Mao’s China. In this excerpt she is returning from British controlled Hong Kong to the Chinese city Shanghai.

When Li Zhen [a Chinese woman] returned to Shanghai, the city was suffering from a severe food shortage as a result of the catastrophic economic failure of the Great Leap Forward Campaign launched by Mao Zedong, in 1958. Long lines of people were forming at dawn at Shanghai police stations, waiting to apply for exit permits to leave the country. This was such an embarrassment for the Shanghai authorities that they viewed Li Zhen’s return from affluent Hong Kong to starving Shanghai as an opportunity for propaganda …. to help project an image of popular support for the Communist Party … The government granted members of this organization [the Communist Party] certain minor privileges, such as better housing and the use of special restaurant. –Life and Death in Shanghai, Cheng, 1986


Primary Source Document Questions:

  1. What is the main idea contained within this document?
  2. What is going on in the country/world when this document was written?
  3. Is this document a reliable source? Why or why not? (Is there bias?)
  4. Who said this? When did they say it?
  5. What are 2 facts that you have learned in class or on your own that you can connect to this document?
  6. How does this primary source contribute to our understanding of the time frame and/or history?