My Collection of Chinese Communist Souvenirs - Red Book of Mao
Notes about the "Little Red Book" :
The " Little Red Book ( of Mao) " is a relic of the period in Chinese History known as " The Cultural Revolution ". This period started in about the year 1962 and lasted until at least 1967, although there is no consensus about this since party politics, rhetoric and attacks would continue within the party for years , until Mao's death in 1976.
The "Cultural Revolution" was a period of Great Social and Political Upheaval in China at the core of which was Mao's declining standing within the party and its doctrine and the question of how to continue the "True" Revolution after Mao's death (he was now 70 years old). Once revered by the People of China as their True Leader, Liberator and Father of the Nation , the times of "The Great leap Forward" had put a different perspective on things for many Chinese. His support among the People, but also within the party leadership was declining. Important party caders were gaining in independence and sometimes criticizing Mao's policies. It is said that at this time Mao himself became a very paranoid person. At the very least it should be concluded that he was very worried about what could happen to his life's work, "his" Revolution and "his" true thought, the creation of a "New China (XinHua)".
In line with this he reportedly feared of reversing to "the Old Ways", moving back toward a age old culture of feudal landlords, enslavement of the people to higher cadres, corrupt favorism and others tendencies. This is generally what Mao called right-wing bourgeois revisionism. As this revisionism was a denial of the revolution and in Mao's (obsessed?) mind a threat to it, apparently Mao felt compelled take strong political actions.
What happened then is a very complicated story. In general though, it can be said that Mao and his allies within the party leadership (the "Gang of 4") used the younger generation of party cadres throughout the country to cleanse the party structures from political opponents and re-establish Mao's opinion as the main party line. Sophisticated propaganda was targeted at the right groups (among this the Red Book, which was issued to every soldier in The People's Liberation Army) (re-)establishing "Mao Zedong Thought" as the Party Ideal and Line. A new wave of "revolutionary activity" was inspired among the masses. Particularly among the Youthful, new generations of Chinese who had not played a part in the long struggle for "liberation of the motherland" from the Japanese (and some others) in the Great Ant-Fascist War. They were skillfully mobilized and played a large role in instilling "True Communist Values" upon the Chinese people, applying a new violent transformation upon Society. Soon, Identifying "Bourgeois revisionists" and other anti-revolutionary "right-wing elements" , learning how to be a good revolutionary were the measure. Old Revolutionary Heroes, men who fought in the earliest battles and were true pillars of the movement (among them Deng XiaoPing) were humiliated and removed from the party entire. Many, great and small were killed, or committed suicide. The movement of the "True Line" monotones all political thinking and brutalized anyone with real or imagined "other thoughts".
Calligraphy by Chairman Mao from the Red Book. It says ...
Listen to Chairman Mao's words, read Chairman Mao's books, do the things according to Chairman Mao.
Translation by "Comrade Daisy " , Yuan S.
In this brutal process Mao's Stature and Power within The Communist Party of China were re-affirmed. Once more he would reign with absolute power with the China Communist Party and after all these political clensings there would be no more discontent or threat to Mao's power and ideological line until his death in 1976. "Mao Zedong Thought" was thoroughly incorporated into the party philosophy as a center-piece of ideology.
Only after 1976 a different course became possible. The Gang of 4 were prosecuted for the sufferings they had put the Chinese People through. "Mao Zedong Thought" was somewhat degraded in stature and importance within the party. Finally and slowly much needed adaptations could start to be made to revive the destitute economy.
composed in 1964 by Mao supporter (General) Lin Biao , minister of defense at that time (Who later died in a mysterious aircraft crash), "The Little Red Book" has played a Central Role in re-affirming Mao's dominance over the Party Line and the stirrings of The Cultural Revolution. Brandished by Young Students and soldiers, -the so called Red Guards-, the Red Book was the Central Propaganda Tool used to influence the Younger Generations, to stir them up, have them compete for Cultural and Revolutionary Pure-ness, and later to carry their message across China, even into the outlying area's.
Since the "Cultural Revolution" -during which millions of students would greet Mao at Tiananmen Square, to wave their red books, armbands and banners- , the " Little Red Book " has been Legendary in Propaganda History, making Lin Biao into the Chinese Joseph Goebbels. Curiously, later, during the last days of Mao's life Lin Biao was implicated in an assassination attempt on Mao. The story never became entirely clear but the General was killed in an air-crash fleeing, allegedly, to Russia and from Arrest.
The example book shown is a First Edition of the Translation in English. Printed by the legendary Beijing Foreign Language Press, also publisher of the book " From Emperor to Citizen " , the autobiography of Aisin-Gioro
<-- Chairman Mao and General Lin Biao (Piao) at Tianan Men. Later the General would be implicated in an attempt on Mao's life. He was then killed in a mysterious aircraft crash, allegedly fleeing to Russia in a Chinese airforce plane. The General's (and others..) plan to succeed Mao had failed.