Learn from Dazhai in agriculture
The "Learn from Dazhai in agriculture" Campaign (Chinese: 农业学大寨; pinyin: nóngyè xué Dàzhài, or in Wade-Giles Romanization Tachai) was a campaign organized by Mao Zedong in 1963. The campaign encouraged peasants from all over China to follow from the example of the farmers of Dazhai village, Shanxi, by practicing self-sacrifice and upright political activity.
It grew in importance after the introduction of the Cultural Revolution, but Chen Yonggui and its other proponents were eventually eased out of power by Deng Xiaoping following the removal of the Gang of Four.
Slogans associated with Dazhai included: "Move the mountains to make farm fields," "Change the sky and alter the land," "Work bitterly, diligently, and with extra energy, and build our village into a Dazhai-like one in three years."
During the years until the downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976, particularly the Cultural Revolution, farmers from all over the country were organized to visit Dazhai, and well-trained tour guides took posts at important scenes to explain to visitors how the villagers in Daizhai made such achievements with their own hands. One of such scenes was the top of the Tiger Head Mountain where visitors could have a panoramic view of the farm fields, the major irrigation projects as well as the residential area of the villagers. Perhaps hundreds of millions of farmers visited the place during the period and the expenses on their trips were paid by the government.
At this time, farmers throughout China were expected to show their political zeal in following Mao Zedong's directive "Learn from Dazhai in agriculture" ("农业|学大寨"). They not only worked during the day, but at night as well, not only in the warm season, but in the depth of winter—a dramatic deviation from their age-old practice. In many places, the farmers literally—and blindly—moved hills (sometimes proclaimed as "mountains"), built reservoirs, tunnels, canals, and so on. As mental motivation, loud speakers were installed at work sites to broadcast music and songs and films were shown at night on the scene while the farmers took a break.
Meanwhile, a number of leaders of the village made dramatic advances in their political careers. Chen Yonggui, the patriarchal leader of the village, was put to the position of vice premier of the central government despite the fact that he was only semiliterate. (Zhou Enlai was the premier of the time.) Guo Fenglian, the Dazhai party secretary, was a favorite of Jiang Qing (the wife of Mao Zedong), and played a significant part in the Chinese political scene.
This campaign was as much political as it was agricultural, and it came to an abrupt end upon Mao's death in 1976. After the victory of Deng Xiaoping over Hua Guofeng, Chen Yonggui, and others following the removal of the Gang of Four from power, his economic reforms has caused Dazhai to become a figure of ridicule, since it was so closely linked to Maoist communal agriculture and socialist propaganda.
Today, Dazhai is a regional tourist attraction.