Power, Propoganda in Communist China

Propaganda in China during the Cultural Revolution took on many

forms; there were mass Red Guard demonstrations in Tianamen Square in

support of Mao Zedong, pictures of Mao were put up in every

conceivable location from restaurants to the wallpaper in nurseries,

and pamphlets and books of Mao's teachings were distributed to every

Chinese citizen. One of these propaganda publications Quotations from

Chairman Mao which later became known as the Little Red Book contained

quotes from Mao Zedong and was distributed to every Chinese citizen.

The history of the Red Book provides one of the best ways in which to

analyze Chinese propaganda during the Cultural Revolution and see the

ways in which the Chinese government was able to produce and

effectively indoctrinate the Chinese people with Mao Zedong Thought.

Official Chinese magazines from the period of 1967 to 1970 are filled

with many pictures of citizens holding, reading, and memorizing the

Red Book. This proposal will trace the rise and fall of images of the

Red Book in the official Chinese publication China Reconstructs. This

proposal will use a graphical analysis of pictures in this publication

from 1966 to 1973 to show that propaganda was not just a tool of the

Communist party but also a reflection of internal power struggles

within the party during the Cultural Revolution.

The Red Book was written several years before it became the

object of national adoration and a tool for the Cultivation of Mao's

personality Cult. The history of the Red Book and its meteoric rise

from a hand book for military recruits to compulsory reading for all

Chinese citizens, is closely tied to its developer Lin Biao's rise to

power. Lin Biao was born in 1907 and was fourteen years younger then

Mao; he joined the communist party in 1925 and until the communists

captured control of China was at various times in charge of resiezce

forces, and armies of communist soldiers. When the communists took

control in 1949 Lin Biao was behind Mao Zedong, Liu Shaoqi, Zhou

Enlai, Chen Yun, and Deng Xiaoping in rank (Yan and Gao, 1996: 179).

But eighteen years later during the height of the Cultural Revolution

Lin Biao by winning favor with Mao by publishing and championing the

Red Book and the Cult of Mao became second only to the Chairman in

power and position (Ming-Le, 1983: 80).

In 1959 Peng Dehua was dismissed as minister of defense and Lin

Biao was appointed in his place. At an armed forces meeting for high

cadres during September of that year Lin Biao, energetically started

promoting the Cult of Mao saying, "Learning the writings of comrade

Mao Zedong is the shortcut to learning Marxism-Leninism. Chairman

Mao's writings are easy to learn and can be put to use immediately.

Diligent work will pay dividends many fold." (Yan and Gao, 1996: 182)

His references to "shortcut" and "quick dividends" in his speech went

unnoticed at the time as few foresaw the effects of creating a

Cult around Mao. But looking back on the Cultural Revolution and Lin

Biao, we can see his using the Cult of Mao was indeed a shortcut that

produced huge dividends both for himself and for Mao.

Mao to the Chinese people was a symbol sovereignty and the

construction of socialism; to them praise for Mao was fitting with his

symbolic role in society. Starting in 1959 Lin Biao in front of

military audiences in order to help buildup support for the Cult of

Mao used such phrases as, "the dire necessity of acquiring Mao

Zedong's thought," "to study the writings of Mao Zedong with questions

in mind is to shoot arrows with target in sight," "we must arm our

minds with Mao Zedong's thought" (Yan an Gao, 1996: 181). Lin Biao's

goal of building up both himself and the Cult of Mao lead him in

September of 1960 to pass a resolution at the meeting of the Military

Commission, which called for more political education among the armed

forces (Yan and Gao, 1996: 181)

"Mao Zedong Thought is the compass for the Chinese people's

revolution and socialist construction, the powerful ideological

weapon against imperialism, and the powerful ideological weapon

against revisionism and dogmatism..... raise high the red banner

of Mao Zedong Thought, go further and mobilize the minds of all

officers and soldiers with Mao Zedong Thought, and resolve to make

sure that