The Four Olds or the Four Old Things (simplified Chinese :四旧; traditional Chinese :四舊; pinyin :sì jiù) was a term used during the Cultural Revolution of 1966–76 in the People's Republic of China to refer to the attempts of Communists to destroy elements of Chinese culture pre-communism. The Four Olds were: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. The campaign to destroy the Four Olds began in Beijing on August 19, 1966, shortly after the launch of the Cultural Revolution.
Simplified Chinese characters are standardized Chinese characters prescribed in the Table of General Standard Chinese Characters for use in mainland China. Along with traditional Chinese characters, they are one of the two standard character sets of the contemporary Chinese written language. The government of the People's Republic of China in mainland China has promoted them for use in printing since the 1950s and 1960s to encourage literacy. They are officially used in the People's Republic of China and Singapore.
Traditional Chinese characters are Chinese characters in any character set that does not contain newly created characters or character substitutions performed after 1946. They are most commonly the characters in the standardized character sets of Taiwan, of Hong Kong and Macau, and in the Kangxi Dictionary. The modern shapes of traditional Chinese characters first appeared with the emergence of the clerical script during the Han Dynasty, and have been more or less stable since the 5th century.
Hanyu Pinyin, often abbreviated to pinyin, is the official romanization system for Standard Chinese in mainland China and to some extent in Taiwan. It is often used to teach Standard Mandarin Chinese, which is normally written using Chinese characters. The system includes four diacritics denoting tones. Pinyin without tone marks is used to spell Chinese names and words in languages written with the Latin alphabet, and also in certain computer input methods to enter Chinese characters.
The term "four olds" first appeared on June 1, 1966, in Chen Boda's People's Daily editorial, "Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons", where the Old Things were described as anti-proletarian, "fostered by the exploiting classes, [and to] have poisoned the minds of the people for thousands of years".However, which customs, cultures, habits, and ideas specifically constituted the "Four Olds" were never clearly defined.
Chen Boda, was a secretary to Mao Zedong and a prominent member of the radical leadership during the Cultural Revolution, chairing the Cultural Revolution Group.
The People's Daily is the biggest newspaper group in China. The paper is an official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, published worldwide with a circulation of 3 million. In addition to its main Chinese-language edition, it has editions in English, Japanese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic, Tibetan, Kazakh, Uyghur, Zhuang, Mongolian, and other minority languages in China. The newspaper provides direct information on the policies and viewpoints of the Communist Party.
On August 8, the Central Committee used the term at its 8th National Congress. The term was endorsed on August 18 by Lin Biao at a mass rally, and from there it spread to Red Flag magazine, as well as to Red Guard publications.
The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is a political body that comprises the top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC). It is currently composed of 205 full members and 171 alternate members. Members are nominally elected once every five years by the unicameral National Congress of the Communist Party of China, though, in practice the selection process is done privately, and exclusively by the party's Politburo and its corresponding Standing Committee. The members have no essential decision making power. They ceremonially exercise their voting, to provide evidence to the nation that a decision has been made by the people.
Lin Biao was a Marshal of the People's Republic of China who was pivotal in the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeast China. Lin was the general who commanded the decisive Liaoshen and Pingjin Campaigns, in which he co-led the Manchurian Field Army to victory and led the People's Liberation Army into Beijing. He crossed the Yangtze River in 1949, decisively defeated the Kuomintang and took control of the coastal provinces in Southeast China. He ranked third among the Ten Marshals. Zhu De and Peng Dehuai were considered senior to Lin, and Lin ranked directly ahead of He Long and Liu Bocheng.
The Red Flag was a theoretical political journal published by the Chinese Communist Party. It was one of the "Two Newspapers and One Magazine"(两报一刊) during the 1960s and 1970s. The newspapers were People's Daily and Guangming Daily. People's Liberation Army Daily is also regarded as one of them.
Calls to destroy the "Four Olds" usually did not appear in isolation, but were contrasted with the hope of building the "Four News" (new customs, new culture, new habits, new ideas).The idea that Chinese culture was responsible for China's economic backwardness and needed to be reformed had some precedent in the May Fourth Movement (1919), and was also encouraged by colonial authorities during the Japanese occupation of China.
Chinese culture is one of the world's oldest cultures, originating thousands of years ago. The area in which the culture is dominant covers a large geographical region in East Asia with customs and traditions varying greatly between provinces, cities, and even towns as well. With China being one of the earliest ancient civilizations, Chinese culture is extremely diverse and varying, and it has a profound effect in the philosophy, virtue, etiquette and traditions of Asia to date.
The May Fourth Movement was an anti-imperialist, cultural, and political movement which grew out of student participants in Beijing on 4 May 1919. They protested against the Chinese government's weak responses to the stipulations of the Treaty of Versailles, especially it allowing Japan to receive territories in Shandong, which had been surrendered by Germany after the Siege of Tsingtao in 1914. China had fallen victim to the expansionist policies of the Empire of Japan, which had conquered large areas of Chinese-controlled territory with the support of France, the UK, and the US. This was finalized at the Treaty of Versailles. The demonstrations sparked national protests and marked an upsurge of Chinese nationalism, a shift towards political mobilization and away from cultural activities, and a move towards a populist base rather than intellectual elites. Many of the radical political and social leaders of the next two decades emerged at this time.
The campaign to Destroy the Four Olds and Cultivate the Four News (Chinese:破四旧立四新; pinyin:Pò Sìjiù Lì Sìxīn) began in Beijing on August 19. The first things to change were the names of streets and stores: "Blue Sky Clothes Store" to "Defending Mao Zedong Clothes Store", "Cai E Road" to "Red Guard Road", and so forth. Many people also changed their given names to revolutionary slogans, such as Zhihong (志红, "Determined Red") or Jige (继革, "Following the Revolution").
Beijing, formerly romanized as Peking, is the capital of the People's Republic of China, the world's third most populous city proper, and most populous capital city. The city, located in northern China, is governed as a municipality under the direct administration of central government with 16 urban, suburban, and rural districts. Beijing Municipality is surrounded by Hebei Province with the exception of neighboring Tianjin Municipality to the southeast; together the three divisions form the Jingjinji metropolitan region and the national capital region of China.
The Blue Sky with a White Sun serves as the design for the party flag and emblem of the Kuomintang (KMT), the canton of the flag of the Republic of China, the national emblem of the Republic of China and as the naval jack of the ROC Navy.
Mao Zedong, also known as Chairman Mao, was a Chinese communist revolutionary who became the founding father of the People's Republic of China, which he ruled as the Chairman of the Communist Party of China from its establishment in 1949 until his death in 1976. His theories, military strategies, and political policies are collectively known as Maoism.
Other manifestations of the Red Guard campaign included giving speeches, posting big-character posters, and harassment of people, such as intellectuals,who defiantly demonstrated the Four Olds. In later stages of the campaign, examples of Chinese architecture were destroyed, classical literature and Chinese paintings were torn apart, and Chinese temples were desecrated.
Big-character posters are handwritten, wall-mounted posters using large-sized Chinese characters used as a means of protest, propaganda, and popular communication.
An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking, research, and reflection about society, proposes solutions for its normative problems and gains authority as a public figure. Coming from the world of culture, either as a creator or as a mediator, the intellectual participates in politics either to defend a concrete proposition or to denounce an injustice, usually by rejecting, producing or extending an ideology, or by defending a system of values.
Chinese architecture demonstrates an architectural style that developed over millennia in China, before spreading out to influence architecture all throughout East Asia. Since the solidification of the style in the early imperial period, the structural principles of Chinese architecture have remained largely unchanged, the main changes being only the decorative details. Starting with the Tang dynasty, Chinese architecture has had a major influence on the architectural styles of Japan, Korea, and Mongolia, and a varying amount of influence on the architectural styles of Southeast and South Asia including Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam and The Philippines. Chinese architecture is typified by various features; such as, bilateral symmetry, use of enclosed open spaces, the incorporation of ideas related to feng shui such as directional hierarchies, a horizontal emphasis, and the allusion to various cosmological, mythological, or other symbolism. Chinese architecture traditionally classifies structures according to type, ranging from pagodas to palaces. In part because of an emphasis on the use of wood, a relatively perishable material, and due to a de-emphasis on major monumental structures built of less-organic but more durable materials, much of the historical knowledge of Chinese architecture derives from surviving miniature models in ceramic and published planning diagrams and specifications. Some of the architecture of China shows the influence of other types or styles from outside of China, such as the influences on mosque structures originating in the Middle East. Although displaying certain unifying aspects, rather than being completely homogeneous, Chinese architecture has many types of variation based on status or affiliation, such as dependence on whether the structures were constructed for emperors, commoners, or used for religious purposes. Other variations in Chinese architecture are shown in the varying styles associated with different geographic regions and in ethnic architectural design.
The architecture of China is as old as Chinese civilization. From every source of information—literary, graphic, exemplary—there is strong evidence testifying to the fact that the Chinese have always enjoyed an indigenous system of construction that has retained its principal characteristics from prehistoric times to the present day. Over the vast area from Chinese Turkistan to Japan, from Manchuria to the northern half of French Indochina, the same system of construction is prevalent; and this was the area of Chinese cultural influence. That this system of construction could perpetuate itself for more than four thousand years over such a vast territory and still remain a living architecture, retaining its principal characteristics in spite of repeated foreign invasions—military, intellectual, and spiritual—is a phenomenon comparable only to the continuity of the civilization of which it is an integral part.
The Cemetery of Confucius was attacked in November 1966, during the Cultural Revolution, when it was visited and vandalized by a team of Red Guards from Beijing Normal University, led by Tan Houlan.The corpse of the 76th-generation Duke Yansheng was removed from its grave and hung naked from a tree in front of the palace during the desecration of the cemetery in the Cultural Revolution.
Red Guards broke into the homes of the bourgeois and destroyed paintings, books, and furniture; all were items that they viewed as part of the Four Olds. [ citation needed ] The Chinese government stopped short of endorsing the physical destruction of products. In fact, the government protected significant archaeological discoveries made during the Cultural Revolution, such as the Mawangdui and the Terracotta Army.Many families' long-kept genealogy books were burned to ashes.
Many artists and other cultural professionals were persecuted by vigilantes, although some cultural advances came about because of the period, including the integration of "new" western instruments and ballet into Peking opera. Traditional Chinese medicine also advanced despite the Four Olds campaign, most significantly by the derivation of the anti-malarial drug artemisinin from the qinghao plant.
Upon learning that Red Guards were approaching the Forbidden City, Premier Zhou Enlai ordered the gates shut and deployed the People's Liberation Army against the Red Guards. After this incident, Zhou attempted to create a more peaceful code of conduct for the Red Guards, with the support of cadres Tao Zhu, Li Fuchuan, and Chen Yi. This plan was foiled by the ultra-leftists Kang Sheng, Jiang Qing, and Zhang Chunqiao. Although many of Zhou's other initiatives to stem the destruction failed because of their or Mao's own opposition, he did succeed in preventing Beijing from being renamed "East Is Red City" and the Chinese guardian lions in front of Tian'anmen Square from being replaced with statues of Mao.
No official statistics have ever been produced by the Communist party in terms of reporting the actual cost of damage. By 1978, many stories of death and destruction caused by the Cultural Revolution had leaked out of China and became known worldwide.
Starting in the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, there has been a massive rebuilding effort under way to restore and rebuild cultural sites that were destroyed or damaged during the Cultural Revolution. This has coincided with a resurgence in interest in, and demand for, Chinese cultural artifacts. Some have exploited this increased demand, producing counterfeit artifacts.
The Cultural Revolution, formally the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, was a sociopolitical movement in China from 1966 until 1976. Launched by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, its stated goal was to preserve Chinese Communism by purging remnants of capitalist and traditional elements from Chinese society, and to re-impose Mao Zedong Thought as the dominant ideology within the Party. The Revolution marked Mao's return to a position of power after the failures of his Great Leap Forward. The movement paralyzed China politically and negatively affected both the economy and society of the country to a significant degree.
The Gang of Four was a political faction composed of four Chinese Communist Party officials. They came to prominence as malefactors during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) and were ultimately charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The gang's leading figure was Jiang Qing. The other members were Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen.
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China. Zhou was China's head of government, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976. Zhou served under Chairman Mao Zedong and was instrumental in the Communist Party's rise to power, and later in consolidating its control, forming foreign policy, and developing the Chinese economy.
Jiang Qing, also known as Madame Mao, was a Chinese Communist Revolutionary, actress, and major political figure during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). She was the fourth wife of Mao Zedong, the Chairman of the Communist Party and Paramount leader of China. She used the stage name Lan Ping (藍蘋) during her acting career, and was known by many other names. She married Mao in Yan'an in November 1938 and served as the inaugural "First Lady" of the People's Republic of China. Jiang Qing was best known for playing a major role in the Cultural Revolution and for forming the radical political alliance known as the "Gang of Four".
The history of the People's Republic of China is often divided distinctly by historians into the "Mao era" and the "post-Mao era". The country's Mao era lasted from the founding of the People's Republic on 21 September 1949 to Deng Xiaoping's consolidation of power and policy reversal at the Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress on 22 December 1978. The Mao era focuses on Mao Zedong's social movements from the early 1950s on, including land reform, the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution.
Wang Hongwen was a Chinese labour activist and politician who spent most of his career in Shanghai. He was an important political figure during the Cultural Revolution (1966–76). He was the youngest member of the far-left political clique called the "Gang of Four." During the Cultural Revolution, Wang rose from a member of the working class to become one of the foremost members of national leadership of the Communist Party of China.
The Socialist Education Movement, also known as the Four Cleanups Movement was a movement launched by Mao Zedong in 1963 in the People's Republic of China. Mao sought to remove what he believed to be "reactionary" elements within the bureaucracy of the Communist Party of China, saying that "governance is also a process of socialist education." On August 19, 1966, the campaign to destroy the Four Olds began in Beijing.
"The East Is Red" is a song that was the de facto national anthem of the People's Republic of China during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. The lyrics of the song were attributed to Li Youyuan, a farmer from northern Shaanxi, and the melody was derived from a local folk song. He allegedly got his inspiration upon seeing the rising sun in the morning of a sunny day.
During the November 1978 to December 1979, thousands of people put up "big character posters" on a long brick wall of Xidan Street, Xicheng District of Beijing, to protest about the political and social issues of China. Under acquiescence of the Chinese government, other kinds of protest activities, such as unofficial journals, petitions, and demonstrations, were also soon spreading out in major cities of China. This movement can be seen as the beginning of the Chinese Democracy Movement. It is also known as the "Democracy Wall Movement". This short period of political liberation was known as the "Beijing Spring".
Red Guards were a mass student-led paramilitary social movement mobilized and guided by Mao Zedong in 1966 and 1967, during the first phase of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which he had instituted. According to a Red Guard leader, the movement's aims were as follows:
Chairman Mao has defined our future as an armed revolutionary youth organization...So if Chairman Mao is our Red-Commander-in-Chief and we are his Red Guards, who can stop us? First we will make China Maoist from inside out and then we will help the working people of other countries make the world red...And then the whole universe.
The Criticize Lin (Biao), Criticize Confucius Campaign was a political propaganda campaign started by Mao Zedong and his wife, Jiang Qing, the leader of the Gang of Four. It lasted from 1973 until the end of the Cultural Revolution, in 1976. The campaign produced detailed Maoist interpretations of Chinese history, and was used as a tool by the Gang of Four to attack their enemies.
Xie Fuzhi was a Communist Party of China military commander, political commissar, and national security specialist. He was born in 1909 in Hong'an County, Hubei and died in Beijing in 1972. Xie was known for his efficiency and his loyalty to Mao Zedong, and during the Cultural Revolution he played a key role in hunting down the Chairman's enemies in his capacity as Minister of Public Security from 1959–1972.
In the People's Republic of China since 1967, the terms "ultra-left" and "left communist" refers to political theory and practice self-defined as further "left" than that of the central Maoist leaders at the height of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (GPCR). The terms are also used retroactively to describe some early 20th century Chinese anarchist orientations. As a slur, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has used the term "ultra-left" more broadly to denounce any orientation it considers further "left" than the party line. According to the latter usage, the CPC Central Committee denounced in 1978 as "ultra-left" the line of Mao Zedong from 1956 until his death in 1976. This article refers only to 1) the self-defined ultra-left of the GPCR; and 2) more recent theoretical trends drawing inspiration from the GPCR ultra-left, China's anarchist legacy and international "left communist" traditions.
During the period of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) in the People's Republic of China, Mao Zedong identified groups that he considered enemies of the Revolution. The phrase Five Black Categories referred to the following five political identities. These groups were:
The Up to the Mountains and Down to the Countryside Movement, often known simply as the Down to the Countryside Movement, was a policy instituted in the People's Republic of China in the late 1960s and early 1970s. As a result of what he perceived to be pro-bourgeois thinking prevalent during the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong declared certain privileged urban youth would be sent to mountainous areas or farming villages to learn from the workers and farmers there. In total, approximately 17 million youth were sent to rural areas as a result of the movement.
Qi Benyu was a Chinese Communist theorist and propagandist, mainly active during the Cultural Revolution. Qi was a member of the ultra-left Cultural Revolution Group, director of the Department of Petitions and deputy director of the Secretary Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Qi also acted as head of the history department of the communist theory journal Red Flag. In 1968 he was arrested, stripped of all his positions, and sent to prison.
Liu Shaoqi was a Chinese revolutionary, politician, and theorist. He was Chairman of the NPC Standing Committee from 1954 to 1959, First Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China from 1956 to 1966 and Chairman (President) of the People's Republic of China, China's de jure head of state, from 1959 to 1968, during which he implemented policies of economic reconstruction in China.
The Red Guards were a fanatic student mass paramilitary social movement that were first mobilized between 25 May and 2 June 1966 in China. Soon after meetings were held in order to facilitate the expansion of the Cultural Revolution in Tibet and in August 1966 students began to form the Tibetan branch of the Red Guards.
May Sixteenth elements (五一六分子) were named after the so-called May Sixteenth Army Corps, ultra-left Red Guards in Beijing during the early years of the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976) who targeted Zhou Enlai with the backing of Jiang Qing. The name came from a May 16, 1966 notice (五一六通知) which Mao Zedong partially wrote and edited. However, Mao was concerned with its radicalism, so in late 1967 the group was outlawed on conspiracy and anarchism charges, followed by the arrest of most Cultural Revolution Group members. A nationwide campaign was later launched to liquidate "May Sixteenth Elements", which ironically created more chaos and anarchy.