The roots of the Cultural Revolution date back to the early 1960s. After the catastrophic Great Leap Forward, in which more than 20 million people died, Chairman Mao Zedong decided to take a lessactive role in governing the country. More practical, moderateleaders, such as Vice-Chairman Liu Shaoqi and Premier ZhouEnlai, introduced economic reforms based on individual incentitives. By allowing families to farm their own plots of land, contribution at an effort to revive the battered economy is achievable. Mao detested such policies, as they went against the principles of pure c o m m unism in which he so firmly believed. Nevertheless, China’s economy grew strongly during three particular years, from 1962 to 1965 with the more conservative economic policies in place. At the same time, Mao started to worry that local party officials were taking advantage of their positions to benefit themselves. Rather than resolving such cases internally to preserve the prestige of the Chinese Communist Party, Mao favored open criticism and the involvement of the people to expose and punish the members of the ruling class who disagreed with him; he framed this as a genuine socialist campaign involving the central struggle of the proletariat versus the bourgeousie..
When Mao encountered the world beyond his home village, he saw a China that had been sinking into an ever-deepening national crisis in the face of incursions by the Western powers and Japan. Like many of his contemporaries, Mao was eager to find ways to save China and make the country strong. But he was never simply a nationalist. In search of means to save China, he not only pursued insights from China's own rich intellectual tradition, but also exposed himself to knowledge from the West, demonstrating a keen interest in such Western concepts as liberalism, democratic reformism, anarchism, and individualism. With the emergence of the iconoclastic "New Culture Movement" in the mid-1910s, Mao became increasingly...
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