The Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966 – 1976 ) was a movement to “purify” communist China from those labeled as not communist enough. It was led by China’s most powerful leader Mao Zedong (1893 – 1976) and resulted in chaos across China. The Cultural Revolution failed, resulting in the most extreme communists within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) losing power.
Mao Zedong and his supporters within the Chinese government and CCP started the Cultural Revolution.
Mao Zedong’s power was weakening: Mao’s disastrous economic policies during the Great Leap Forward (1958 – 1960) led some in the Chinese government to question Mao’s decisions. A few began to openly advocate for new economic policies to grow the Chinese economy. The Cultural Revolution allowed Mao to create personal armies loyal to him and unleash them on his enemies.
In the short term, the Cultural Revolution led to extreme civil conflict in many parts of China as the Red Guard turned toward violence. After the movement failed, a new class of Chinese leaders rose to power and reformed portions of the Chinese political and economic systems.