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Cultural Revolution in China - Essay Example

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This paper examines Mao Tse Tung's motives for the Cultural Revolution in China. Some believe it was to consolidate his position as leader in China. Mao's peasant past will be examined because it mirrors some of his beliefs and behaviours during the Cultural Revolution…
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Cultural Revolution in China
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Cultural Revolution in China

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Mao Tse Tung was born into a peasant family in the Shaoshan Valley in Hunan province in China to a Buddhist mother and a hard working, well educated father. His name was more of a formality than a name to identify a person. Mao was his surname and Tse was given to all the boys of his generation. Tung was his personal name. Altogether his name means: "to shine on the east". Moa's formal name is impressive and was meant to represent the great aspirations of the parents for their son. But, it was his pet name, Shisan Yazi, which he preferred to be called thru adulthood1.
It is important to note that Mao had a name. Many peasant children did not receive a name per say but rather a description. At this point it's not so much that his name was important but rather the fact that he was given a name at all. This will be important to keep in mind when we explore his actions during the Cultural Revolution. Mao's mother was simply known as Seventh Sister Wen because she was the seventh girl born in the Wen clan2.
Mao lived with his mother's clan until he was eight. He moved back to Shaoshan to begin his schooling. He was a good student and had a good memory. Mao was an avid reader and whilst he was in power it was not unusual for him to share his bed with many books. He often had meetings in his room with him lying down while his politburo members sat in chairs around the bed3.
Moa was not a good student in the sense that he argued with his tutors and was asked on numerous occasions to leave and not return. Mao's father did not like Mao's laziness and often would strike (hit) him. Mao's father stopped paying for Mao's education and Mao had to work as a peasant.
It was during this time that Mao married (an arranged marriage). She, like many other peasant children was not given a name but was called Woman Luo after her clan. She died after a year of marriage.
Why is this background information so important
We often hear that children are products of their environments and as adults their behaviour is thus based upon how they were treated as children. Mao is no exception. Much of his adult actions are as a result of his beliefs developed in childhood. Because he was a peasant does not mean that he grew to feel for the plights of the peasants. It is quite possible he took his observations of the treatments of peasants to a greater level and treated the Chinese people as if all were peasants to be treated badly and without an identity. According to Jung Chang, in his book The Unknown Story of Mao, "Mao's peasant background did not imbue him with idealism about improving the lot of Chinese peasants"
Becoming a Communist.
Mao attended school in Changsa at 17. He never returned to his peasant past and had no sympathy for the plight of the peasants. During his days in Changsa he read the papers religiously and read about overthrowing the Emperor (Manchu). It was during this time that he became a communist. To please his father (so he would continue to send tuition money) Mao entered a teacher's college that was modelled after European schools. It was here that Mao learned about Marxism. It was during his time there that Mao developed the "I" attitude where he shunned any responsibility for ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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