Rehabilitating the Sixty-One
The rehabilitation of Cultural Revolution victims began as early as 1968 and continued well into the 1980s. There were peak years – 1973 and 1978 – and years in which the numbers dropped sharply, for example 1976.2 The question of who was eligible for rehabilitation was both a recurrent theme and a frequent cause of leadership conflict, but the principle of political rehabilitation was never invalidated, even by the most radical in the leadership. On the contrary the notion that a man’s political consciousness could be rectified and recharged despite his previous political record was an integral element of the Thought of Mao Zedong – as it was in traditional Chinese culture – and had been at the heart of almost every political campaign initiated during the Maoist era. Since political re-education was supposed to be more of a privilege than a punishment, the rehabilitated often referred to their period of detention or internal exile as a fruitfully ‘tempering’ experience – even if they returned to the fold after the accusations against them were proved false or unjust. This attitude served to obscure the Party’s role in an act of injustice and enhance its image as an educator.3
KeywordsChinese Communist Party Cultural Revolution Central Committee Party Committee Memorial Service
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