How Cultural Revolutions Die — or Not

Long Live CHAZ by Andrew E. Larsen is licensed under Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0
Unlike coups or political revolutions, cultural revolutions don’t just change governments or leaders. Instead, they try to redefine entire societies. Their leaders call them “holistic” and “systematic.”

Cultural revolutionaries attack the very referents of our daily lives. The Jacobins’ so-called Reign of Terror during the French Revolution slaughtered Christian clergy, renamed months, and created a new supreme being: Reason.

Mao cracked down on supposed Western decadence such as the wearing of eyeglasses, and he made peasants forge pot iron and intellectuals wear dunce caps.

Moammar Qaddafi’s Green Book cult wiped out violins and forced Libyans to raise chickens in their apartments.