Chen Boda

Chen Boda

Detail from poster ‘Long live the victory of the proletarian revolutionary line...’, 1967

Chen Boda (陈伯达, 1904-1989) was born in a poor peasant family in Hui’an, Fujian Province. At an early age, he became politically active. He joined the Chinese Communist Party in 1924. From 1927-1930 he studied at the Sun Yatsen University in Moscow. After his return to China, he was arrested and imprisoned by the Guomindang. Upon his release, he taught at Beijing China University. He arrived in Yan’an in 1937. Until 1941, he served as Mao Zedong’s political secretary. He rose to prominence during the Rectification Movement (1942), and embarked on a career as news paper editor and propaganda worker. From 1958-1970, he was editor-in-chief of the theoretical Party journal Hongqi [红旗, Red Flag].

Long live the victory of the proletarian revolutionary line with Chairman Mao as its representative! Long live the victory of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!, 1967

Long live the victory of the proletarian revolutionary line with Chairman Mao as its representative! Long live the victory of Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!, 1967

As one the Party’s main theoretical workers, Chen (above, second from right) was instrumental in building up Mao’s personality cult. Joining Lin Biao and Jiang Qing, he became head of the Cultural Revolution Group in 1966. On Mao’s orders he wrote the editorial "Sweep Away All Monsters and Demons" in People’s Daily on 1 June 1966, which marked the official start of a huge purge during the Cultural Revolution, which swept the country, ‘dragging out’ and prosecuting all those ostensibly fitting the description. In 1970, at the Second Plenum of the CCP Ninth Central Committee, he supported Lin Biao and plotted against Zhang Chunqiao. This earned him the wrath of Mao, who singled him out as the leader creating chaos. Ten years later, he was accused of having been a member of the Lin Biao and Jiang Qing groups. During the trial in 1981, he was sentenced to 18 years imprisonment. He was released from prison due to poor health in 1988 and died a year later.

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