Phase 3: Interpreting Information
In Phase o, I evaluated the topic choices for my Inquiry Project and chose Wall Propaganda as my final topic. In Phase 1, I will be continuing my work based on the background research I have here. This is Phase 3, where I will be collecting information, explaining facts using local contacts, and finding their relevancy to the ten big questions I will create later in the process. All my research here is separated into four different categories.
Background Information (from Phase 1):
The Great Leap Forward was a campaign promoted by Mao Zedong between 1958 and 1960, to organize China's vast population and to transform China's land cultivations (farming) to a modern, industrial society - in five years. Chinese Communists hoped to develop labor-intensive methods of industrialization, which would emphasize manpower rather than machines and capital spending. Mao hoped to increase China's agricultural gross domestic product (GDP) by taking workers from agriculture and putting them into the manufacturing. He relied, however, on illogical Soviet farming ideas, such as planting crops very close together to allow the stems to support one another and plowing six feet deep to encourage root growth. These farming strategies damaged countless acres of land and ruined crop fields, rather than producing more food with fewer farmers. Mao also wanted to free China from the need to import steel and machinery. He invigorated people to organize backyard steel furnaces, where citizens could scrap metal into functional steel. Families who were desperate often melted items into their own pots, pans, and farm implements. The results were extremely defective, backyard smelters executed by peasants with no metallurgy training produced low-quality-iron that was completely worthless.
Regardless of the harmful agricultural renovations, the weather in 1958 was very favorable and the harvest seemed promising. However, the amount of labor diverted towards steel production and construction resulted in the majority of the harvests to rot uncollected in some areas. The exact number of famine deaths is impossible to determine, but estimates range from 30 million to 55 million people.
Despite the indications that the Great Leap Forward had failed to reach its objective, the movement continued through propaganda. The most appalling thing about the propaganda during the Great Leap Forward was the Communist party's unwillingness to take responsibility for the man-made famine inflicted on society. The political parties were in command, and regardless of the difficulties, propaganda artists proceeded on with making posters that expressed lagging industrialization and mechanism that could be overcome in a relatively short amount of time. The artists relied on human beliefs of difference. Chinese citizens were persuaded by the idea of Chairman Mao Zedong improving the country from an agrarian economy into a socialist society through industrialization and collectivization. Propaganda during that period had censorship distorts and concealed many accounts of China's great famine.
There is a particularly deceitful piece of propaganda from the Great Leap Forward with the message "争取更大的丰收献给社会主义“. In English, this message means "striving for a greater harvest for socialism". Socialism is made up of various political and economic theories advocating the means of production, distribution, and exchange that is regulated by the community as a whole. This message shows the government attempting to paint Mao Zedong's disastrous ameliorations as a roaring success, even when millions of Chinese starved to death in the countryside.
In 1966, China's communist leader Mao Zedong initiated what became known as the Cultural Revolution (known in full as the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution) in order to reinforce his authority over the Chinese government after the tragic failure of his Great Leap Forward policies. He believed that the current Communist leaders were guiding the people of China in the wrong direction. Mao called on the nation's youth to purge the "contaminated" elements of Chinese society and to revive the revolutionary spirit that brought China from a hardline socialist country to a capitalist nation. The People's Republic of China steadily embraced the tenets of capitalism, however, Mao was highly convinced that the current party leadership in China (as in the Soviet Union), was moving too far in a "revisionist direction, with an emphasis on expertise rather than on ideological purity".
During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong mobilized groups of devoted young people who called themselves "Red Guards" to carry out his program and to punish party officials and any other people who showed bourgeouis tendencies. He sought to enforce Communist principles and to cleanse the nation of the "Four Olds" which means old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas[4,5]. The first targets of the Red Guards included Buddhist temples, churches, and mosques, which were demolished or converted for other uses. Sacred texts, as well as Confucian writings, were burned, along with religious statues and artwork. The Red Guards also persecuted people regarded as "counter-revolutionary", which led to the guards conducting "struggle sessions", in which they abused and publicly humiliated people accused of capitalist thoughts (usually these were teachers, monks, or other educated people).
By February of 1967, China had descended into chaos but the one common thread was propaganda. The propaganda notices were designed with vibrant colors which brought life to a period remembered in black and white. The posters were widespread art that conveyed political ideas, despite their simplistic messages. For example, there is a piece of art propaganda showing Chairman Mao above an adoring crowd of Red Guards, soldiers, and workers. However, a lot of the propaganda during the Cultural Revolution was destroyed, since everyone was scared to keep printed works. The posters were and still are a witness and a reflection of turbulent Chinese history.
Information from 3 to 5's:
Information from local contacts:
Answers to Previous Questions (from Phase 1):
1. The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Great Leap Forward.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 20 July 2016, www.britannica.com/event/Great-Leap-Forward.
2. Szczepanski, Kallie. “Mao's Catastrophic Great Leap Forward in China.” ThoughtCo, www.thoughtco.com/the-great-leap-forward-195154.
3. History.com Staff. “Cultural Revolution.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 2009, www.history.com/topics/cultural-revolution.
4. Szczepanski, Kallie. “What Happened During China's Cultural Revolution?” ThoughtCo, www.thoughtco.com/what-was-the-cultural-revolution-195607.
5. Szczepanski, Kallie. “Who Were China's Fierce Red Guards?” ThoughtCo, www.thoughtco.com/who-were-chinas-red-guards-1954126.
6. Griffiths in News on Jan 3, 2013 1:00 pm, James. “How propaganda and censorship distorts and conceals accounts of China's Great Famine.” Shanghaiist, 3 Jan. 2013, shanghaiist.com/2013/01/03/examining_chinas_great_famine.php.
7. “Related Stories.” Art and politics|chinadaily.Com.cn, europe.chinadaily.com.cn/culture/2014-12/04/content_19018645.htm.
8. "Great Leap Forward." Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 18 Jan. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward.