Debating the Cultural Revolution: Do We Only Know What We Believe?
Stimulated by his participation in two recent museum exhibitions concerning the Cultural Revolution the author of this article offers his contrarian views on the history and lasting significance of China's ten-year-long Cultural Revolution. Acknowledging that there was indeed senseless and brutal acts of violence from 1966 to 1976, the author asks whether the violence ever rose to the level of a "holocaust," as commentators inside and outside China have charged. He next explores the charge that the Cultural Revolution resulted in the deliberate destruction of Chinese culture and tradition. The picture the author paints of this turbulent period in China's history is one not often aired in academic circles or in public discourse. He closes by putting the violence of the Cultural Revolution in the broader context of violence that was happening elsewhere during that period, e.g., in Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.