Posted on Fri, Jul 1, 2011 22:49 PM 475015
During the Cultural Revolution, Mao's already glorified image manifested into a personality cult that influenced every aspect of Chinese life. Mao was regarded as a God-like figure and the undisputed leader of China's working class in their 100-year struggle against imperialism, feudalism and capitalism, which were the three-evils in pre-1949 China since the Opium War.
At the 1958 Party congress in Chengdu, Mao expressed support for the idea of personality cults if they venerated figures who were genuinely worthy of adulation:
“ There are two kinds of personality cults. One is a healthy personality cult, that is, to worship men like Marx, Engels, Lenin, and Stalin. Because they hold the truth in their hands. The other is a false personality cult, i.e. not analyzed and blind worship.”
In 1962, Mao proposed the Socialist Education Movement (SEM) in an attempt to educate the peasants to resist the temptations of feudalism and the sprouts of capitalism that he saw re-emerging in the countryside from Liu's economic reforms. Large quantities of politicized art were produced and circulated — with Mao at the center. Numerous posters, badges and musical compositions referenced Mao in the phrase "Chairman Mao is the red sun in our hearts" (????????????) and a "Savior of the people" (??????).
Mao's personality cult proved vital in starting the Cultural Revolution. China's youth had generally been raised during the Communist era, which had taught them to idolize Mao. The youth were taught the "natural disasters and pressing of Soviet Union for payment of debts" caused the immense starvation and suffering during Mao's Great Leap Forward movement, and their thoughts of Mao were generally positive. Thus, they were his greatest supporters. Their feelings for him were of such strength that many followed his urge to challenge all established authority.
In October 1966, Mao's Quotations From Chairman Mao Tse-Tung, which was known as the Little Red Book was published. Party members were encouraged to carry a copy with them and possession was almost mandatory as a criterion for membership. Over the years, Mao's image became displayed almost everywhere, present in homes, offices and shops. His quotations were typographically emphasized by putting them in boldface or red type in even the most obscure writings. Music from the period emphasized Mao's stature, as did children's rhymes. The phrase "Long Live Chairman Mao for ten thousand years" was commonly heard during the era, which was traditionally a phrase reserved for the reigning Emperor.
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