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What led to the start of the Cultural Revolution?

The Cultural Revolution in China was initiated by Mao Zedong to reassert his authority and revive revolutionary spirit.

Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party of China, launched the Cultural Revolution in 1966. The primary motivation behind this was to reassert his authority over the Chinese government, which he felt was straying from the revolutionary vision. Mao believed that the current party leadership was taking the country down the capitalist road, which was in stark contrast to his vision of a socialist society.

The Cultural Revolution was also a response to the perceived stagnation of the Chinese Communist Party and the negative impacts of the Great Leap Forward. The Great Leap Forward, an economic and social campaign led by Mao, had resulted in economic disaster and widespread famine. This had led to a loss of faith in Mao's leadership within the party and among the populace. By launching the Cultural Revolution, Mao aimed to purge the party of his opponents and re-establish his ideological line.

Furthermore, Mao sought to revive the revolutionary spirit among the Chinese people. He believed that the revolution had become too bureaucratic and that the true revolutionary fervour had been lost. The Cultural Revolution was thus seen as a means to re-engage the masses in the revolutionary struggle. Mao mobilised the youth, forming the Red Guards, to criticise those who deviated from the socialist path and to destroy the 'Four Olds' - old customs, culture, habits, and ideas.

In essence, the Cultural Revolution was a power struggle within the Chinese Communist Party, with Mao using it as a tool to regain his authority and reassert his vision of a socialist China. It was a period of intense social and political upheaval, which had profound effects on the country's development.

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