Safeguard the mighty achievements of the Cultural Revolution
Artist: Jian Chongming and Zhang Mingsheng
Publisher: Sichuan People's Publishing House
Size (mm): 531x768
Condition: Excellent, some light creasing, some discolouration to bottom margin
The banners in background read: chedi pipan Lin Biao fandang [jituan] (ruthlessly criticise the Lin Biao anti-party [clique])
henpi Konglao'er "kejifuli . ." (thoroughly criticise Confucius and the "restrain oneself and return to the rites . .")
"xue er you ze shi" shi fandong jie . . ("a good scholar can become an official" is reactionary class . . )
The banners strung up in the street behind the group of figures all refer to the Pi Lin pi Kong yundong (Campaign to criticise Lin Biao and Confucius), a political struggle from the later days of the Cultural Revolution that sought to bring about the downfall of Zhou Enlai.
In 1973 Mao had declared that when criticising Lin Biao, who had fallen out of favour with his 'anti-party clique', it was necessary to also criticise Confucius - whose thinking, with its accessions to nobility and slave ownership, was considered at the time as reactionary. Mao noted that Lin Biao was a great admirer of Confucius. The campaign to criticise Confucius was widely taken up by education departments and institutes of higher education, but drew criticism from Zhou Enlai. Using historical allegory, Mao Zedong then aligned himself with the ancient Chinese emperor Qin Shihuangdi as well as the Legalist school of philosophy, portraying himself as the progressive force opposed to the reactionary Confucian line supported by Zhou Enlai. Enthusiastically taking up the spirit of the debate, the People's Daily then printed an article on 28 September 1973 defending the 'progressive' actions of the Qin emperor in his measures to burn books and bury scholars.
By January 1974 a mass movement to criticise Lin Biao and Confucius was underway throughout the whole country. Using material prepared by Mao's wife Jiang Qing and her faction, while the movement was supposedly attacking Lin Biao and Confucius, the intended target was plainly the 'modern-day Confucius', Zhou Enlai. By the end of the Cultural Revolution, with Mao's health beginning to fail, he eventually realised that however committed Jiang Qing appeared to be in removing Zhou Enlai from power the oust had failed, and he switched sides to criticise the Gang of Four. By the end of the year the campaign to criticise Lin Biao and Confucius campaign had come to an end.
The lines in quotation marks referred to on the banners mentioned above in the background of the poster are quotes from the Analects of Confucius, believed to be written during the Warring States period (475-221 BC), that would have come under attack during the Cultural Revolution as examples of reactionary Confucian thinking. The reference on the middle banner to Confucius as Konglao'er (the second son of Kong), is a derogatory phrase used during anti-Confucian campaigns. The book in the pocket of the helpful female holding the paint pot has the title Pi Lin pi Kong wenzhang (article on the campaign to criticise Lin Biao and Confucius).