Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
A poster from 1974 by Zhang Yan (张延). It reads "Criticize Lin, criticize Confucius - it's the most important matter for the whole party, the whole army and the people of the whole country."

The Criticize Lin (Biao), Criticize Confucius Campaign (simplified Chinese: 批林批孔运动; traditional Chinese: 批林批孔運動; pinyin: pī Lín pī Kǒng yùndòng) (also called the Anti-Lin Biao, Anti-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.

The campaign continued in several phases, beginning as an academic attempt to interpret Chinese history according to Mao's political theories. In 1974 the campaign was joined with another, pre-existent campaign to attack Lin Biao, who had allegedly attempted to assassinate Mao in a failed coup before his death in 1971. In early 1975 the campaign was modified to indirectly attack China's Premier, Zhou Enlai, and other senior Chinese leaders. In mid-1975 the Gang of Four introduced debate on The Water Margin as a tool to attack their enemies. The campaign only ended in 1976, when the Gang of Four were arrested, ending the Cultural Revolution.

Stages of the campaign[edit]

The events that occurred during the "Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius" campaign were "complex and often confusing", but can be identified as occurring through four main phases. The first phase of the campaign began after the 1st Plenary Session of the 10th CCP Central Committee, in 1973. Following this session, Mao encouraged public discussions focused on criticizing Confucius and Confucianism, and on interpreting aspects of historical Chinese society within a Maoist theoretical perspective. These initial debates focused on interpreting the issues of slavery, feudalism, and the relationship between Confucianism and Legalism according to the social theories published by Mao and Karl Marx.[1]

The second phase of the campaign began in 1974, when the attacks on Confucius merged with a pre-existent campaign to criticize Lin Biao. During this phase, Mao's image was identified with that of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang (an anti-Confucian Legalist). Hyperbolic praise was given to Qin based on his popular association with Mao.[2]

The third phase began after Zhou Enlai reorganized the State Council during the 4th National People's Congress, in January 1975. At the People's Congress, Zhou Enlai brought many cadres back to work who had been purged during the 1966-1969 phase of the Cultural Revolution. Because they had supported the purging of many career Communist Party veterans during the early Cultural Revolution, the Gang of Four opposed Zhou's efforts, and began to use the campaign to subtly criticize Zhou and his policies.[3]

The fourth and final phase of the campaign coincided with Zhou's illness and hospitalization, beginning in the summer of 1975. Deng Xiaoping then took many of Zhou's responsibilities, acting as premier in Zhou's absence until Deng was again purged, in 1976. During this phase, the Gang of Four introduced public debates on The Water Margin as a tool to criticize Zhou and their other enemies, notably Deng. After Mao died, the Gang of Four also directed the campaign against Hua Guofeng, who was named Mao's successor. The campaign ended with Hua's arrest of the Gang of Four, in October 1976.[3]

Theoretical focus[edit]

The Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius campaign was used as a political tool by the Gang of Four, but it did produce a genuine attempt to interpret historical Chinese society within the context of Mao's political theories. Maoist theorists attempted to use what they knew about the stone-age Dawenkou culture to produce evidence that a slave society had existed in Chinese history, just as Mao had described. These Maoist theorists used the recurrent patterns of peasant revolts, which have occurred throughout Chinese history, as evidence that the common people had consistently rejected both feudalism and the Confucian ideology that supported it. After their vitriolic denunciations of Confucianism, radical theorists attempted to interpret all of Chinese history as a long episode of conflict between the forces of Confucianism and Legalism, and attempted to identify themselves as modern Legalists.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hsiung 637
  2. ^ Hsiung 637-638
  3. ^ a b c Hsiung 638