Mao Zedong Thought II
The importance of Mao's Works reached its zenith during the Cultural Revolution, when each household had to have a "Precious Book Table". Here, copies of Mao's works, such as the four volumes of the Selected Works, were stacked. In some cases multiple sets were displayed, as free copies were handed out as rewards for diligent labor and other contributions to the revolutionary cause. The presence of the books did not necessarily mean that they were read. Like the "Little Red Book", they had become sacred, ritual paraphernalia, "the Word made tangible."
Despite their attempt at inclusiveness, the Selected Works were not the sole publications written by and dedicated to Mao. Under Lin Biao, who served as Minister of Defense from 1959 until his 'betrayal' of the revolution in 1971, a process of vulgarization of the Mao canon was started. Aside from the "Little Red Book" mentioned above, these vulgarized versions of Mao Thought included the "Three Constantly Read Articles", the Selected Readings from the Works of Mao Zedong (1964), the Selected Military Writings by Mao Zedong (1963, published for use by the People's Liberation Army), and various brochures with brief excerpts. As a result of the rote learning of these simplified versions of Mao's writings, most of the political discourse degenerated into rampantly and excessively used cliches, fixed formulas and empty sloganeering.
Due to the inner-Party struggle between the radicals, led by the Gang of Four, and the moderates under Zhou Enlai over the orientation of the revolution, the editorial work for the Selected Works came to a standstill in the period 1971-1976. After Mao's death in 1976, Hua Guofeng emerged as victorious. In order to present himself as the true protector of and heir to Mao's ideological bequest, he took on the responsibility of becoming the editor of the fifth volume, which embraced the years from the founding of the PRC to the end of the Hundred Flowers Movement in 1957. This 500-page volume, which appeared in 1977 and was seen at the time as that year's main literary event, established Hua as the officially legitimated interpreter of Mao's legacy.
When Deng Xiaoping had ousted Hua from power and had started a process of De-Maofication in the early 1980s, Mao's contributions were reassessed. In the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party Since the Founding of the People's Republic of China, adopted by the Sixth Plenum of the 11th Central Committee of the CCP, Mao Thought was no longer seen as the product of one single person, but interpreted as the crystallization of the collective wisdom of all of China's veteran revolutionary leaders.
More posters on Mao Zedong Thought:
Resolution on CPC History (1949-81) (Beijing: Foreign Languages Press, 1981)
Dennis Bloodworth, The Messiah and the Mandarins - Mao Tsetung and the Ironies of Power (New York: Atheneum, 1982)
Anita Chan, Richard Madsen, Jonathan Unger, Chen Village under Mao and Deng (Expanded and Updated Edition) (Berkeley, etc.: University of California Press, 1992)
Guo Jian, Yongyi Song & Yuan Zhou, Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Cultural Revolution (Lanham, etc.: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 2006)
Stefan Landsberger, "The Deification of Mao: Religious Imagery and Practices during the Cultural Revolution and Beyond", in Woei Lien Chong (ed.), China's Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution: Master Narratives and Post-Mao Counternarratives (Asia/Pacific/Perspectives) (Lanham MD, etc.: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., 2002), pp. 139-184
Kwok-sing Li (editor) & Mary Lok (translator), A Glossary of Political Terms of the People's Republic of China (Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 1995)
Helmut Martin, Cult & Canon - The Origins and Development of State Maoism Armonk, NY, etc.: M.E. Sharpe Inc., 1982)
Mayfair Mei-hui Yang, Gifts, Favors & Banquets - The Art of Social Relationships in China (Ithaca, etc.: Cornell University Press, 1994)
Selected Writings and Speeches of Chairman Mao Tse-tung [note: 'According to JPRS, these documents are "selected speeches, articles, essays, reports, letters, interviews, declarations, decrees, telegrams, poems, (and) inscriptions of Mao Tse-tung covering a multitude of subjects." In introductory notes, JPRS notes that "All articles signed by Mao Tse-tung, whether individually or jointly with others, are included." Further, "all unsigned articles which have been verified as his work are also available." Finally, JPRS indicates that "all works which have already appeared in the (Foreign Language Press) edition of Selected Works of Mao Tse-tung or Selected Readings of Mao Tse-tung's Works are not included."']