The hurricane winds of change are howling around the world. The human race seethes with unrest and rebellion.
Great Leap Forward Inafter China's first Five-Year PlanMao called for "grassroots socialism" in order to accelerate his plans for turning China into a modern industrialized state.
In this spirit, Mao launched the Great Leap Forwardestablished People's Communes in the countryside, and began the mass mobilization of the people into collectives. Many communities were assigned production of a single commodity—steel. Mao vowed to increase agricultural production to twice levels.
Uneducated farmers attempted to produce steel on a massive scale, partially relying on backyard furnaces to achieve the production targets set by local cadres. The steel produced was low quality and largely useless. The Great Leap reduced harvest sizes and led to a decline in the production of most goods except substandard pig iron and steel.
Furthermore, local authorities frequently exaggerated production numbers, hiding and intensifying the problem for several years. Food was in desperate shortage, and production fell dramatically.
The famine caused the deaths of millions of people, particularly in poorer inland regions. Forced to take major responsibility, inMao resigned as the President of the People's Republic of ChinaChina's de jure head of state, and was succeeded by Liu Shaoqi.
In July, senior Party leaders convened at the scenic Mount Lu to discuss policy. At the conference, Marshal Peng Dehuaithe Minister of Defence, criticized Great Leap policies in a private letter to Mao, writing that it was plagued by mismanagement and cautioning against elevating political dogma over the laws of economics.
Peng was replaced by Lin Biaoanother revolutionary army general who became a more staunch Mao supporter later in his career. While the Lushan Conference served as a death knell for Peng, Mao's most vocal critic, it led to a shift of power to moderates led by Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping, who took effective control of the economy following This moderate group of pragmatists were unenthusiastic about Mao's utopian visions.
Owing to his loss of esteem within the party, Mao developed a decadent and eccentric lifestyle. Sino-Soviet split and anti-revisionism Main article: Although initially they had been mutually supportive, disagreements arose after the death of Joseph Stalin and the rise of Nikita Khrushchev to power in the Soviet Union.
InKhrushchev denounced Stalin and his policies and began implementing post-Stalinist economic reforms. Mao and many members of the Chinese Communist Party CCP opposed these changes, believing that they would have negative repercussions for the worldwide Marxist movement, among whom Stalin was still viewed as a hero.
Relations between the two governments soured. Without pointing fingers at the Soviet Union, Mao criticized its ideological ally, the League of Communists of Yugoslavia. His approach was less than transparent, achieving this purge through newspaper articles, internal meetings, and skillfully employing his network of political allies.
In the play, an honest civil servant, Hai Ruiis dismissed by a corrupt emperor. While Mao initially praised the play, in February he secretly commissioned his wife Jiang Qing and Shanghai propagandist Yao Wenyuan to publish an article criticizing it. Peng, a powerful official and Wu Han's direct superior, was the head of the " Five Man Group ", a committee commissioned by Mao to study the potential for a cultural revolution.
Peng Zhen, aware that he would be implicated if Wu indeed wrote an "anti-Mao" play, wished to contain Yao's influence. Yao's article was initially only published in select local newspapers. Peng forbade its publication in the nationally distributed People's Daily and other major newspapers under his control, instructing them to write exclusively about "academic discussion", and not pay heed to Yao's petty politics.
Despite initial skepticism in the Politburo of Luo's guilt, Mao pushed for an 'investigation', after which Luo was denounced, dismissed, and forced to deliver a self-criticism. Stress from the events led Luo to attempt suicide. The Outline, sanctioned by the Party centre, defined Hai Rui as constructive academic discussion, and aimed to formally distance Peng Zhen from any political implications.
The conference, rather than being a joint discussion on policy as per the usual norms of party operationswas essentially a campaign to mobilize the Politburo into endorsing Mao's political agenda. The conference was heavily laden with Maoist political rhetoric on class struggle, and filled with meticulously-prepared 'indictments' on the recently ousted leaders such as Peng Zhen and Luo Ruiqing.
One of these documents, released on May 16, was prepared with Mao's personal supervision, and was particularly damning: Once conditions are ripe, they will seize political power and turn the dictatorship of the proletariat into a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.
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