“Mao managed to light the fuse that would lead to that huge explosion, the Cultural Revolution,” wrote [Simon] Leys. The sequence of events he described that led to that upheaval makes the process sound methodical, but the rage and violence unleashed defy rational analysis. Roving mobs of Red Guards composed of teens and children murdered with impunity. Ancient statues, temples, and buildings were destroyed. All books, films, and magazines that predated the Cultural Revolution were withdrawn, and universities and schools were closed. Professors were harassed by the “Workers-Soldiers Propaganda Teams of the Thought of Mao Tse-Tung,” and were sent to factories or the countryside. “Proletarians” replaced them when the universities tentatively reopened in 1972. This policy did not prove to be successful. Re-educated professors were allowed to return to teaching, but only under the watchful eye of the worker-soldiers propaganda teams. The content of the classes was now predominantly political theory.
The traditional university entrance exam system was eliminated. Replacing it, Leys observed in Chinese Shadows, was an admissions system that was “tightly political: a candidate who is not the son of a worker or a poor peasant has practically no chance of admission
I note that Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying have read extensively about the Cultural Revolution (I have not). Do I need to have a “Cultural Revolution Watch” title ready for future blog posts?