Marching Poster

http://huntingtonarchive.osu.edu/Exhibitions/picturingPowerExhibit.html

 There is no direct link to the picture so I had to use this.  My poster is in the 1974-1975 section, in the third row, and is the poster second from the right in that row.

Titled “March Bravely Forward Along the Glorious Road of Mao’s May 7th Directive,” this poster was produced by the Chinese People’s Revolutionary Military Affairs Museum in Beijing.  Although reportedly published in 1975, the poster depicts the proletarian solidarity and collective unity that formed the foundation of Mao’s visionary idealism, expressed at the very beginning of the Cultural Revolution on 7 May 1966 in his first and perhaps most revolutionary directive.  Mao’s May 7th directive stipulates that the masses should diversify their activities and that there should be no specialization or exclusivity in the fields of work.  In the absence of war, soldiers should learn politics, engage in agriculture, and work in factories; factory workers should, in addition to their main industrial work, learn military affairs, politics, and culture; and communes, in addition to their main agricultural work, should also learn military affairs, politics, and culture.

The poster reflects this directive in several ways, as it shows a diverse group of hundreds and perhaps thousands of People’s Liberation Army soldiers, military nurses, factory workers, farmers, and national guards massed in formation and marching forward with determination across a field adjacent to a distant body of water.  They depict the vanguard of a movement and convey the uplifting activity of revolutionary practice; the solidarity, focus, collective unity, and diversity that Mao sought to achieve.  Soldiers occupy the primary position in the poster, but are seen carrying tools, such as shovels and hammers, normally associated with workers; soldiers are also seen carrying buckets and baskets that hang from yokes across their backs, normally associated with peasant farmers; alluding to gender equality, a woman is seen carrying a rifle normally associated with male soldiers; and they all appear to be happy, well-fed, energetic, and confident.  Strong and vibrant colors dominate the poster, from the brilliant red of the flags to the ruddy complexion of the marchers.  Several marchers are carrying a large red flag and the soldier in front proudly holds aloft the “Little Red Book” of quotations from Chairman Mao, a clear reminder of loyalty to his leadership.  The woman soldier in the background holds a placard that says “Conduct Revolutionary Big Criticism,” a clear reference to the Cultural Revolution’s attack on the privileged position of professionals and intellectuals as well as the symbols associated with the feudal past.

 The poster conveys strength, unity, diversified activity, determination, and happiness, and provides a clear visual link to Mao’s May 7th directive.  In a way, however, the poster hints at a sense of desperation on the part of the Chinese Communist Party.  Reportedly published in 1975, the poster urges the masses to “march bravely forward” to accomplish objectives established almost a decade earlier.  If Mao’s May 7 directive had produced positive results, it seems there would have been no need to urge the masses to bravely slog along nine years later

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