Criticize Lin, Criticize Confucius

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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]

In late 1973 - early 1974 begins the second phase of the campaign, when as the main critics of Confucius were the masses. The universities were organized special courses, preparing a program of criticism of certain provisions of the Confucius used by Lin Biao. Tens of thousands of workers and peasants were trained in these courses, swelling the ranks of "Marxist theoretician."[2]

The attacks on Confucius merged with a pre-existent campaign to criticize Lin Biao. With the deployment of the campaign it became clear that "criticism of Lin Biao and Confucius" was directed not so much against the "enemies of the past," as against the "enemies of today." During this phase, Mao's image was identified with that of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang (glossed as an anti-Confucian Legalist). Hyperbolic praise was given to Qin based on his popular association with Mao.[3] In the article "What kind of man Confucius", published in the seventh issue of the Red Flag magazine in 1974, paint a portrait of the ancient sage who reminds the reader of Zhou Enlai.[4]

Based on People's Daily articles, Russian researcher Leo Delyusin believed that locals formally belonging to the campaign "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" sabotaged it. It was clear that Beijing was not satisfied with the progress of the campaign, and from time to time Beijing heard complaints and accusations at those who tried to change the direction of the campaign and give it a different shape, different goals. The attempts to disrupt and distort the meaning of the campaign against Lin Biao and Confucius combined with a formal public statement about the importance of the campaign, and in practice - curtail it and to address specific cases.[5]

Under the guise of criticism of the ideas of Confucius education, Tang Xiaowen in the article "I was popular educator Confucius?", attacked those who moved away from the installations of the "cultural revolution." He tried to prove that in the saying of Confucius' all "contained class meaning", and had a detrimental effect on the organization of the education system, serving as the basis of the revisionist line. Declaring that "Confucius harbored a fierce hatred of the social changes of the time," the author attributed his intention "to make all slaves China obedient and submissive." In his school, "he picked up the students with the intention to train "humane", "purposeful," "noble," "virtuous "men who adhere strictly to" the orders of the Zhou Dynasty, and having achieved success in their studies, would be officials and promoted to thereby restore the slave system of the Western Zhou".[6] In the criticism of the private schools established by Confucius, aimed at the restoration of the old order, the Chinese reader found the familiar features of the "reactionary political line in the field of education".

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. In comparison with the first stage of the "cultural revolution", the rehabilitated leaders led by Premier Zhou Enlai already had sufficient influence in the center. Feeling strong support from his supporters on 31 January 1974 at the enlarged meeting of the Politburo, he was able to strongly request not to involve the armed forces in a campaign "four great freedoms", namely, writing, free expression of opinions and extensive discussion, and general criticism. 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.[7]

The fourth and final phase of the campaign coincided with Zhou's illness and hospitalization. After the 1974 campaign "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" reached its climax, and soon subsided. Beginning in the summer of 1975 the Gang of Four deployed a new campaign, introducing public debates on The Water Margin and the "war on empiricism" as a tool to criticize Zhou and their other enemies, notably Deng, which sidelined "criticism of Confucius." Deng Xiaoping then took many of Zhou's responsibilities, acting as premier in Zhou's absence until Deng was again purged, in 1976. 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.[7]

In contrast to the Soviet Union, where militant atheism was taught several generations of citizens, China's Criticize Confucius a struggle lasted a total of not more than two years, and could not completely undermine the cultural core of Confucian civilization. When a few years Deng Xiaoping later returned to power, in search of ideological support for the planned reforms appealed to Confucian scholars, and met with understanding among the Chinese who retained the same faith in Confucian ideals.[citation needed]

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.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hsiung 637
  2. ^ Fractures LS Confucianism and Legalism in the political history of China. - M., 1981 - S. 263
  3. ^ Hsiung 637-638
  4. ^ Delyusin LP Campaign "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" in China (1973-1975 years) ... - M., 2004.- 158 pp
  5. ^ Delyusin LP Campaign "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" in China (1973-1975 years) ... - M., 2004.- 179 pp
  6. ^ Delyusin LP Campaign "criticize Lin Biao and Confucius" in China (1973-1975 years) ... - Moscow, 2004 .. - P. 164
  7. ^ a b c Hsiung 638