The Failure of Chinas Cultural Revolution

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No generation in the People's Republic suffered more misfortunes than the Red Guards generation. In childhood they experienced the great famine of 1959-1961; in adolescence they endured the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) which closed schools and sent them to the countryside; in their twenties they were told to defer marrying and to have one child only when they did marry; in their thirties they were denied opportunities of career promotion because they lacked the college diplomas recently required; in their forties many of them were suddenly laid off by their employers (Dutton, 2004).


The Red Guards generation benefited from neither Maoist socialism nor Dengist reform. Mao's revolution abandoned them, sweeping them out of urban centers; Deng's reform left them on the sidelines when China moved to embrace the market.
In Mao's era the Red Guards generation were the poorest of all poor Chinese, living at the lowest income level. This poverty impeded their exploiting the opportunities of Deng's reforms. The increasing costs of economic reform often started with them, further diminishing their capacity for competing in the market. Mao's revolution made them poor, forcing them to live a terrible life without economic liberty or any chance of improvement. It was even more painful when Deng's reform left them poor while Deng's regime glorified the rich (Tsou, 1996).
Ever since they had been forced into society, they had been living on an income that only kept body and soul together. For those in the cities, working life began with an apprenticeship in factories, at 18 Yuan a month. ...
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