Voices of the Cultural Revolution


These People Were ThereHear Their “Lived Experience”

No, not everyone who lived through China’s Cultural Revolution thinks it was a “horror.” On the contrary, there are other voices with a very different understanding. But they generally do not get heard, precisely because these voices do not fit into and serve the dominant, anticommunist narrative.

Tens of millions of young people took active and conscious part in the Cultural Revolution. They joined a mass movement and struggle to combat capitalist restoration and to further revolutionize society. For many of these people, this was a profoundly transformative experience—a period of history, a time of their lives, that continues to inspire them.

Read the interviews with and view the talks given by these witnesses to and participants in the Cultural Revolution. These are people who took up the great debates, answered the call to go to the countryside to learn from and share knowledge with peasants, and who were involved in an unprecedented process to change society and thinking.

  1. —Learn about how the Cultural Revolution affected attitudes towards gender and how young women were being empowered to participate in society in an all-around way.

  2. —Find out about the revolution in art and culture.

  3. —Hear what it was like for a young peasant to participate in the Cultural Revolution at the grass-roots village level.

  4. And much more . . .

These participants in the Cultural Revolution are now scholars in the U.S. They convey not just their “lived experience” but the essentially liberating character of the Cultural Revolution. They uphold the Cultural Revolution, but have their criticisms as well. Their voices and scholarship challenge the widely promoted, anti-Cultural Revolution “memoir” literature that passes as historical fact and final verdict.

You need to hear these voices.

Listen to Dongping Han and Ann Tompkins, interviewed on KPFA-San Francisco by Peter Phillips of the Project Censored Show about their experiences in the Cultural Revolution in China.

Watch videos of their presentations at the major symposium on the Cultural Revolution, held in Berkeley, California in 2009, “Rediscovering the Cultural Revolution: Art and Politics, Lived Experience, Legacies of Liberation.”

Ban Wang

Professor of Chinese Literature and Culture,
Stanford University; author,
Illuminations from the Past:
Trauma, Memory, and History in Modern China
(Cultural Memory in the Present)

Bai Di

Director of Chinese and Asian Studies, Drew University;
co-editor of
Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up
During the Mao Era

Dongping Han

Professor of History, Warren Wilson College; author of
The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a
Chinese Village; farmer and manager of a collective village
factory during the Cultural Revolution

. . . and others bring their own experiences to life and discuss the meaning and international significance of the Cultural Revolution.

Read Their Interviews

Read excerpts from interviews with three individuals who grew up in the cities and in rural China, and who discuss the great achievements of the Cultural Revolution:

Dongping Han, Professor of History, Warren Wilson College: on his book
The Unknown Cultural Revolution

Bai Di, Director of Chinese and Asian Studies, Drew University: on growing up
in revolutionary China

Wang Zheng, Associate Professor, Department of Women’s Studies,
University of Michigan: “We had a dream that the world can be better than today”

Books by first-hand observers of the Cultural Revolution

Gao, Mobo C.F. Gao Village: Rural Life in Modern China. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawaii Press, 2007.

Han, Donping. The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008.

Xueping, Zhong, Zheng, Wang, and Bai, Di, eds. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era. Rutgers, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2001.

Back to Set the Record Straight Home



Bob Avakian interviewed on the Michael Slate Show, KPFK Los Angeles, February 1, 2013. on how it really is possible to have a liberated socialist society... and what he learned in a visit to revolutionary China in 1971 (at minute 13:45)