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Taken as a means, there is a very close-knit connection between freedom of speech and freedom of opinion: without freedom of speech there is no freedom of opinion. Pascal, the French philosopher once said, 'the entire human dignity rests on the thoughts.' We can say that the oppression of freedom of speech is to equal the oppression of freedom of opinion; they are both a violation of human dignity. We also know that from human history that oppressing freedom of speech wills most certainly lead to forbidding people to express their true opinion while forcing people to support the preferences and ideas of those in authority.

Under such circumstances, people lose even their right to remain silent. For example, during the Great Leap Forward Movement, there was phenomenon in which people with different opinions to those that was officially sanctioned, was forced to self-examine or to express regret for their opinions. In the events during the years of the Great Leap Forward, the approach taken to press freedom of speech in China was principally by linking speech with any political problem or the class struggle in order to make the speaker face the threat of becoming a 'public enemy' or dissenter. Afterward, the authorities would mobilize the media and organizing rallies to generate criticism and to isolate the speakers, leaving them feeling helpless and deepening their fear (MacFarquhar, 2004). Finally, the leader of government would be presented as an icon, the personification of truth, and any speech that contradicted the leader's opinion would be regarded as an absurd mistake aimed at besmirching the Party and the perpetrator would suffer from the cruel criticism of the whole Party, and even of the whole nation. In fact, oppressing freedom of speech equals oppression of freedom of opinion and of conscience, and this is a violation of human dignity.


From the Anti-Rightist-Inclination-Movement in 1957 up to the Great Leap Forward Movement and the Anti-Rightist-Opportunist Struggle in 1959, several million people were accused of being against the Party. These people became socially stigmatized, and their families suffered insults, discrimination and rebukes for a considerable time. All the people who suffered unnatural deaths due to starvation lost their right to life, let alone their dignity. Therefore, freedom of speech is not only a means, it is also a goal; it is a statement of human dignity. In order to protect human dignity, a just society needs to treat freedom of expression as one of its goals and cannot allow any arbitrary limitation or deprivation of an individual's freedom of speech. Though the anti-rightist movement started as a campaign directed against the critical intellectuals of May 1957, it soon turned into a campaign against the entire professional intelligentsia. Their great sin was not simply deviation but conservatism. Thus, as the year 1957 rolled on, the anti-rights campaign turned into a movement to "oppose conservatism." Administrators, managers, and technicians were attacked, not only for critical expression during the Hundred Flowers period, but for lack of enthusiasm toward the mass line.

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The punishment that befell many of them was hsifang that is, being "sent down" to the front line of production, to peasant villages or to the factory work. The professional intellectuals were denounced for their technological fetishism, for their arrogant convictions that modern scientific and technical learning was only accessible to the educated (MacFarquhar, 2004). The "mass line" rapidly took on concrete content as simple peasants and workers were enrolled in "worker-peasant universities" and told that they too could participate in administration, accounting, designing, and scientific experimentation. Reducing the gap between mental and physical labor, an old Marxist dream, was taken seriously during the Great Leap Forward. The professionals were told to work with their hands and spend less time in classrooms and offices. Because until early June Mao had refused to confront the basic problems of the Great Leap Forward, disagreements within the Chinese leadership steadily increased.

Peng Dehuai's extensive inspection tours in March and April 1959 to Jiangxi, Anhui, and Hebei convinced him that the Great Leap Forward needed much grater revisions than Mao was willing to contemplate. However, these major criticisms at the Shangai Politburo conference in late March targeted Mao's personality cult. Li Rui, one of Mao's secretaries, followed up with a frank letter to his boss urging forceful revisions of the Great Leap Forward. Mao replied to the criticisms with a speech rejecting any "corrections" of his policies with the worn argument that "this would discourage the people." He concluded with another version of the Hai Rui story - "Hai Rui Dismissed from Office" - in which the Ming emperor imprisoned his official for writing, Mao's most loyal supporter in the city, Ke Qingshi, had operatically staged this particular version. Having achieved his initial purpose, Mao allowed the tensions with the United States to dissipate, but the crisis left a legacy of unease in Sino-Soviet relations.

The Soviet leadership was greatly concerned by the belligerency and unpredictability of Chinese policy, and sought to restrict the PRC's ability to undermine international stability. In 1959 the Soviet Union therefore abruptly reneged on a promise to provide the PRC with a prototype atomic bomb and took a studiously neutral position when a border dispute developed between China and India, which Moscow had been courting with military and economic aid (Goldman, 2004). However, arguably the greatest provocation was that it appeared to Mao that the Soviet Union was intervening to Chinese domestic politics. The occasion for this intervention came when the CCP leadership gathered at Lushan in the summer of 1959 to discuss the future of the 'Great Leap Forward.'

China's bid to achieve socialism had begun promisingly, but by the spring of 1959 it was clear that too many people were being diverted into infrastructure projects and rural industrialization and that greater control needed to be exerted over agricultural production. Mao himself was aware of these difficulties and therefore convened the Lushan conference to assess the situation. However, the conference did not go according to plan, for during its proceedings the minister of defense, Peng Dehuai, wrote to Mao criticizing the Great Leap'. While clear ideology and geostrategic divisions had opened up by the start of the 1960s, the Sino-Soviet Split was at the stage not irrevocable. Indeed, military co-operation continued and the polemical battle that erupted briefly in 1960 subsided in the following year. In part this arose from China's weakness after the failure of the Great Leap, which through arrogance, incompetence and indifference had led to more than twenty million deaths from starvation.  

In conclusion, the Great Leap's demise had the worse effect of forcing its main protagonist, Mao, to retreat from the political front line. This allowed the more moderate Lui Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping to set to work to repair the damage at home, but also had the effect of reducing Sino-Soviet animosity.

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