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"IT'S RIGHT TO REBEL"(1966–69)

"We made a sacrifice for our ideals. If you are born in one time, you should do your part."
—Shanghai businessman


The Cultural Revolution started as an idealistic movement. Chairman Mao Zedong (1893–1976) had himself been a student activist. He urged students to create a new society through the destruction of the old. The guiding principle was "It's right to rebel."


The student Red Guards were the instruments of Mao's new revolution. Mao urged them to replace "poisonous" elements of the society with the revolutionary ideas found in his writings. The "Four Olds"—old ideas, old culture, old customs, old habits—would be replaced by the "Four News."


But when Mao mobilized idealistic youth, he unleashed forces that quickly escaped control. Government officials and intellectuals were attacked—both verbally and often physically—and objects of traditional Chinese culture were destroyed. From 1966 to 1969, the revolution spread throughout Chinese society. Revolutionary zeal was misused, diverted into factional battles and directed locally into personal attacks against innocent people. 

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This page last updated September 25, 2002

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