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4 - The Scribblers Mafia

Radical Ideologues in Mao’s Coalition

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

Victor C. Shih
Affiliation:
University of California, San Diego
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Summary

Zhang Chunqiao helped Mao launch the Cultural Revolution and became a core member of the Central Cultural Revolution Group (CCRG). At the 10th Party Congress in 1973, Mao promoted him into the most powerful institution in the Chinese Communist Party, the Politburo Standing Committee, a rarely seen leap for a pre–Cultural Revolution vice-provincial-level official in the space of seven years. When his daughter asked him right after the congress whether he felt a sense of triumph, Zhang responded, “I don’t feel much. Which revolutionary base area did I build? Which army did I lead? Which battle did I win?” (Zheng 2017: ix) Despite his formal power, Zhang knew that since he was a writer and an ideologue instead of someone with faction followers throughout the party and the military, he had very little informal power. Given their limited political experience and narrow political networks in the party, why did Mao elevate Zhang and others in the scribblers mafia (笔杆子) into senior offices during the Cultural Revolution?

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Coalitions of the Weak , pp. 81 - 108
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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  • The Scribblers Mafia
  • Victor C. Shih, University of California, San Diego
  • Book: Coalitions of the Weak
  • Online publication: 26 May 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009022859.004
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  • The Scribblers Mafia
  • Victor C. Shih, University of California, San Diego
  • Book: Coalitions of the Weak
  • Online publication: 26 May 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009022859.004
Available formats
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Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • The Scribblers Mafia
  • Victor C. Shih, University of California, San Diego
  • Book: Coalitions of the Weak
  • Online publication: 26 May 2022
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009022859.004
Available formats
×