Causes of the Revolution:

There were three main causes that led to the Chinese Cultural Revolution.  The three causes were the Great Leap Forward, the Great Chinese Famine, and the Four Clean-Ups Movement.

The Great Leap Forward:

When Mao first took power, he created The Great Leap Forward.  The Great Leap Forward was a five year social plan that was used to transform China’s economy from an agricultural one into a more modern and industrialized economy.  However, things went very wrong.  Mao also sought to utilize China's vast amounts of cheap labor to increase grain and steel production.  Peasants were ordered to make steel and using all of their resources to do so. The massive effort to produce for steal resulted in decreased crop production, which led to famine, and effectively no usable steel.  Due to the fact that Mao was trying to modernize China, he led China into a famine and an estimated death toll of 20 to 30 million, resulting in an ultimate failure. 

The Great Chinese Famine:

The next prominent cause of the Revolution was the famine, which lasted for three years from 1958 to 1961.  “The Great Chinese Famine” occurred because of the Great Leap Forward and the lack of farms and food.   The adverse weather patterns, including droughts and floods, also played a role in the famine.  The famine was a result of Mao’s plan to change from an agricultural economy to more modern and it was a failure which resulted in an estimated 20 to 30 million people.   When crop production decreased the death rate increased.

The Four Clean-Ups Movement:

Mao also had the idea of “Four Cleanups Movement”.   The goal of this movement was to purify politics and the economy.  Mao was not very fond of his long-time colleagues because they began to ignore him.  Mao also believed that his colleagues were becoming their own “privileged branch”, therefore he wanted to replace them with younger people.  Mao stated, ‘You learn to swim by swimming, you learn to make revolution by making revolution.’  The goal of the movement was to cleanse the politics, economy, organization, and ideology of China, and it was to last until 1966.  This movement led straight into the Chinese Cultural Revolution.