Rebellion of the Cadres: The 1967 Implosion of the Chinese Party-State

Accounts of the tumultuous initial phase of the Cultural Revolution portray party-state cadres primarily as targets of a popular insurgency. Cadres in Party and government organs in fact were themselves in widespread rebellion against their superiors after October 1966, and rebel cadres were a major force in the national wave of power seizures that destroyed the civilian state in early 1967. The rebellion was a form of bureaucratic politics in a setting characterized by rapidly shifting signals and high uncertainty, in which the rebels’ motives were generated after the onset of the Cultural Revolution. Cadres played a central role in the destruction of the political institutions to which their vested interests were inextricably linked.