Note: This paper is meant to be read in conjunction with a paper presented to a conference held in Hong Kong in June 2006 on the 40
Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution.
This paper is titled “Chinese Foreign Policy During the Maoist Era and its Lessons for Today”—
How the Cultural Revolution Affected the Revolutionary Movement in the U.S.
Even before the Cultural Revolution was launched in the mid-1960s, many in theU.S. were surprised and inspired by the exam
ple of the people of the world‘s most
populous country successfully driving out the Japanese invaders and the U.S.-backedregime of Jiang Kai-shek. In the anti-war and Black liberation movements, politicalactivists learned of the mass movement of hundreds of millions of Chinese peasants thatcollectivized agriculture within several years. Comparisons between the advances made by socialist China and imperialist-dominated, poverty-stricken India were common
among ‗60s radicals. Moreover, students who rebel
led against being trained as white
collar bureaucrats and for ―ugly American‖ roles were attracted to the Chinese concept of being ―red and expert‖ because of this concept‘s insistence that revolutionary moral and
political commitments were not only compatible with developing professional expertise, but were essential to it.In 1963, weeks before the civil rights March on Washington, the revolutionaryBlack nationalist Robert F. Williams
was in China, where he called on Mao Zedong.At his request, Mao issued an important internationalist statement in support of the Afro-
American people‘s struggle, which concluded: ―The evil system of colonialism and
imperialism grew on along with the enslavement of the Negroes and the trade in Negroes;it will surely co
me to its end with the thorough emancipation of the black people.‖
Robert F. Williams (1925-1996) was a pioneer of the modern Black Liberation Movement andits
international ambassador. As president of the Monroe, North Carolina chapter of the NAACP in the late 1950s, he came under sharp attack from the Ku Klux Klan, local police andother reactionaries. When he urged the local Black community to take up arms in self-defense, hefaced death threats and false charges from local and state police
and he and his family went intoexile from 1961 to 1969. In Cuba, he continued his activism with a newspaper,
,and a radio program broadcast throughout the South,
Radio Free Dixie
. He then came under criticism and attack from both Communist Party USA members in Cuba and some CubanCommunists for his Black Nationalism, which they claimed was splitting the American workingclass.
―There could be no separate black revolt in the United States, the head of Cuban security
told Williams, because white workers must be the primary revolutionary force due to their
numbers.‖ (Timothy B. Tyson,
Radio Free Dixie
, p. 296). Williams then left Cuba for Vietnam,where he met with Ho Chi Minh, and traveled to China, where he was welcomed by Mao Zedong.