Cultural Revolution 

Chairman Mao during his last decade in power (1966-76) in an attempt to renew the spirit of 

the Chinese revolution set in place the Cultural Revolution of which there were four goals and

that include replacing his designated successors with leaders more faithful to his current 

thinking; rectifying the Chinese Communist Party; providing China's youths with a revolutionary

experience; and achieving some specific policy changes so as to make the educational, health 

care, and cultural systems less elitist. To set in motion the propaganda, Mao recruited large

number of youths, who came to be known as the Red Guards, a coalition of associates and

also help from his wife Jiang Qing. Other characters include Defense Minister Lin Biao, Mao's

longtime assistant Chen Boda, security men Kang Sheng and Wang Dongxing were task to 

carry out Mao's directives concerning ideology and security. Not forgettin! g Premier Zhou 

Enlai who played an essential role in keeping the country running, even during periods of 

extraordinary chaos. 

Mao formally launched the Cultural Revolution at the Eleventh Plenum of the Eighth Central

Committee in August 1966, encouraging Red Guards to attack all traditional values and

"bourgeois" things and to test party officials by publicly criticizing them. The movement

quickly escalated; many elderly people and intellectuals were not only verbally attacked but 

were physically abused. Many died. The Red Guards splintered into zealous rival factions, each

purporting to be the true representative of Maoist thought. Mao's own personality cult, 

encouraged so as to provide momentum to the movement, assumed religious proportions. The

resulting anarchy, terror, and paralysis completely disrupted the urban economy. Industrial 

production for 1968 dipped 12 percent below that of 1966. During the earliest part of the Red

Guard phase, key Politburo leaders were removed from power--most notably President 

Liu Shaoqi, Mao's designated successor until that time, and Party General Secretary  

Deng Xiaoping. 

With the death of Mao and the end of the Cultural Revolution (the Cultural Revolution was 

officially ended by the Eleventh Party Congress in August 1977, but it in fact concluded with 

Mao's death and the purge of the Gang of Four in the fall of 1976), nearly three million party 

members and countless wrongfully purged citizens awaited reinstatement. Bold measures were 

taken in the late 1970s to confront these immediate problems, but the Cultural Revolution

left a legacy that continued to trouble China. The resulting damage to that system was 

profound, and the goals that Mao sought to achieve ultimately remained elusive.