The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution was a mass movement launched in 1966, to remould society and reactivate Communist ideals. It was a ten-year period of extensive political prosecution involving all sectors of Chinese society. Ultimately however, it was little more than a power struggle between Mao Zedong, Chairman of the Communist Party and his political rivals. Deng Xiaoping and many other high ranking leaders fall from power. For many it signified a loss of tradition, and a loss of their career, hope and trust. Traditional education and the appreciation of traditional cultural values are disrupted. A huge number of historical sites, monuments and artifacts were destroyed. During the endless political campaigns many people suffered great hardship. Many people lost their lives.
The Four Olds were critizised:
Western suits, ties and dresses were confiscated and many owners were denounced and physically abused for their so-called bourgeois past. Many civilians wore khaki military clothing to demonstrate their revolutionary allegiance. The majority dressed in sympathy with the proletariat as concern with personal appearance was regarded as a sign of spiritual corruption and an expression of a bourgeois past. Many wore patched garments, some through necessity and others through political fervour.
Red Guards were young revolutionary activists - a powerful and destructive political force during the Cultural Revolution. They wore army-style uniforms, red armbands and carried a book of Mao's quotations. Between 1966 and 1968, under the guidance of Mao Zedong, they were dedicated to eliminating people who were perceived to deviate from his teachings. Houses were ransacked and gold, silver and art objects were stolen.>
On 27 July 1968 the army was brought in to disband the Red Guards and to attempt to regain control of the country. The Cultural Revolution officially ended in 1976. In 1981 the Communist Party of China denounced this period as a grave error.