Gang of Four

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Posted by pompos 04/24/2009 @ 16:10

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Gang of Four

Flag of the People's Republic of China.svg

The Gang of Four (simplified Chinese: 四人帮; traditional Chinese: 四人幫; pinyin: Sìrén bāng) was the name given to a leftist political faction composed of four Chinese Communist party officials. They came to prominence during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) and were subsequently charged with a series of treasonous crimes. The members consisted of Jiang Qing, Mao Zedong's last wife and the leading figure of the group, and her close associates Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan and Wang Hongwen.

The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the Communist Party of China through the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, although it remains unclear which major decisions were made through Mao Zedong and carried out by the Gang, and which were the result of the Gang of Four's own planning. The Gang of Four, together with disgraced Communist general Lin Biao, were labeled the two major "counter-revolutionary forces" of the Cultural Revolution and officially blamed for the worst excesses of the societal chaos that ensued during the ten years of turmoil. Their downfall in a coup d'état on October 6, 1976, a mere month after Mao's death, brought about major celebrations on the streets of Beijing and marked the end of a turbulent political era in China.

The name was given to the group by Mao Zedong in what seemed like a warning to Jiang Qing during which Mao stated, "Do not try to begin a gang of four to accumulate power".

The group was led by Jiang Qing, and consisted of three of her close associates, Zhang Chunqiao, Yao Wenyuan, and Wang Hongwen. Two other men who were already dead in 1976, Kang Sheng and Xie Fuzhi, were named as having been part of the "Gang". Chen Boda and Mao Yuanxin, the latter being Mao's nephew, were also considered some of the Gang's closer associates.

Most Western accounts consider that the actual leadership of the Cultural Revolution consisted of a wider group, referring predominantly to the members of the Central Cultural Revolution Group. Most prominent was Lin Biao, until his flight from China and death in a plane crash in 1971. Chen Boda is often classed as a member of Lin's faction rather than Jiang Qing's.

The removal of this group from power is sometimes considered to have marked the end of the Cultural Revolution, which had been launched by Mao in 1966 as part of his power struggle with leaders such as Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Peng Zhen. Mao placed Jiang Qing, who before 1966 had not taken a public political role, in charge of the country’s cultural apparatus. Zhang, Yao and Wang were party leaders in Shanghai who had played leading roles in securing that city for Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

Around the time of the death of Lin Biao, the Cultural Revolution began to lose impetus. The new commanders of the People's Liberation Army demanded that order be restored in light of the dangerous situation along the border with the Soviet Union (see Sino-Soviet split). The Premier, Zhou Enlai, who had accepted the Cultural Revolution but never fully supported it, regained his authority, and used it to bring Deng Xiaoping back into the Party leadership at the 10th Party Congress in 1973. Liu Shaoqi had meanwhile died in prison in 1969.

Near the end of Mao's life, a power struggle occurred between the Gang of Four and the alliance of Deng Xiaoping, Zhou Enlai, and Ye Jianying.

It is now officially claimed by the Chinese communist party that Mao in his last year turned against Jiang Qing and her associates, and that after his death on 9 September 1976, they attempted to seize power (the same allegation made against Lin Biao in 1971). Even decades later, it is impossible to know the full truth of these events.

It does appear that their influence was in decline before Mao's death: when Zhou Enlai died in January 1976, he was succeeded not by one of the radicals but by the unknown Hua Guofeng. In April 1976, Hua was officially appointed Premier of the State Council. Upon Mao's death Hua was named Communist Party chairman as well.

An emergency session of the Politburo was to take place in the Great Hall of the People that evening. Their presence was required. Since Wang Dongxing had been their ally, they did not suspect him... As they passed through the swinging doors into the entrance lobby, they were apprehended and led off in handcuffs. A special 8431 unit then went to Madam Mao's residence at No. 17 Fisherman's Terrace and arrested her. That night Mao Yuanxin was arrested in Manchuria, and the propagandists of the Gang of Four in Peking University and in newspaper offices were taken into custody. All was done with quiet and superb efficiency. In Shanghai, the Gang's supporters received a message to come to Beijing 'for a meeting'. They came and were arrested. Thus, without shedding a drop of blood, the plans of the Gang of Four to wield supreme power were ended.

Beginning on October 21, nationwide denunciations of the Gang began, which culminated in the December releases of files related to the Gang's alleged crimes to the public. Celebrations were prominent but not limited to the streets of Beijing and other major cities.

Immediately after the coup d’etat, Hua Guofeng, who appears to be Mao's designated successor, Marshall Ye Jianying, and economic czars Chen Yun and Li Xiannian formed the core of the next party leadership. These three, together with the newly rehabilitated Deng Xiaoping and bodyguard cum coup leader Wang Dongxing were elected party Vice Chairmen at the August 1977 11th National Party Congress. At the politburo level, the membership of all four living marshals, 7 other generals and at least five others with close military ties reflects the deep concern for national stability.

In 1981, the four deposed leaders were subjected to a show trial and convicted of anti-party activities. During the trial, Jiang Qing in particular was extremely defiant, protesting loudly and bursting into tears at some points. She was the only member of the Gang of Four who bothered to argue on her behalf. The defence's argument was that she obeyed the orders of Chairman Mao Zedong at all times. Zhang Chunqiao refused to admit any wrong as well. Yao Wenyan and Wang Hongwen expressed repentance and confessed their alleged crimes.

The prosecution separated political errors from actual crimes. Among the latter were the usurpation of state power and party leadership; the persecution of some 750,000 people, 34,375 of whom died during the period 1966-76. The official records of the trial have not yet been released.

Jiang Qing and Zhang Chunqiao received death sentences that were later commuted to life imprisonment, while Wang Hongwen and Yao Wenyuan were given life and twenty years in prison, respectively. They were all released later. All members of the Gang of Four have since died; Jiang Qing committed suicide in 1991, Wang Hongwen died in 1992, and Zhang Chunqiao and Yao Wenyuan died in 2005.

Supporters of the Gang of Four, including Chen Boda and Mao Yuanxin, were also sentenced.

In the struggle between the conservative Hua Guofeng's clique and the one of Deng Xiaoping, a new term emerged, pointing to the four Hua's closest collaborators, Wang Dongxing, Wu De, Ji Dengkui, and Chen Xilian. In 1980 they were charged with "grave errors" in the struggle against the Gang of Four and demoted from the Political Bureau to mere Central Committee membership.

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Gang of Four (band)

Gang of Four performing in Bergen, Norway in 2007

Gang of Four are an English post-punk group from Leeds. Original personnel were singer Jon King, guitarist Andy Gill, bass guitarist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham. They were fully active from 1977 to 1984, and then re-emerged twice in the 1990s with King and Gill. In 2004, the original line-up reunited and stayed together until 2008.

Their musical work was heavily influenced by a university-funded trip to New York, where they saw Television and the Ramones at CBGB.

Gill's unique guitar sound had a forebear in the playing of Wilko Johnson, the frenetic guitarist with archetypal British pub rockers Dr. Feelgood. Gill's skeletal, staccato, aggressive guitar has proved an enduring influence in turn. Jon King's threatening on-stage dancing, while equally idiosyncratic, has proved less easy to imitate. Paul Morley described the band's music as "a kind of demented funk, incredibly white but also, because of political commitment and defiant sloganeering, very dark, and ultimately as close to the depraved edge of the blues and Hendrix." Critic Greil Marcus found his first viewing of the group's performance so shattering that he left after their set rather than risk having the impact of the deeply political Gang of Four's songs dampened by the pop-punk of Buzzcocks.

The Gang's debut single, "Damaged Goods" backed with "Anthrax" and "Armalite Rifle", was recorded in June 1978 and released on 10 December 1978, on Edinburgh's Fast Product label. It was produced by the Gang and the Fast Product honchos Bob Last and Tim Inman. It was a #1 indie chart hit and John Peel radio show favourite. This led to two outstanding Peel radio sessions, which, with their incendiary live performances, propelled the band to international attention and sold-out shows across Europe and North America. They were then signed by EMI records. The group's debut single with this label, "At Home He's a Tourist", charted in 1979. Invited to appear on top rated BBC music program Top of the Pops, the band walked off the show when the BBC told them that they must sing "packets" instead of "rubbers" as per the lyrics of the song, as the original was too subversive for this TV slot. The single was then banned by BBC Radio and TV, which lost the band support at EMI, who began to push another band, Duran Duran, instead. A later single, "I Love a Man in Uniform", was banned by the BBC during the Falklands War in 1982.

Critic Stewart Mason has called "Anthrax" not only the group's "most notorious song" but also "one of the most unique and interesting songs of its time". It's also a good example of Gang of Four's social perspective: after a minute-long, droning, feedback-laced guitar intro, the rhythm section sets up a funky, churning beat, and the guitar drops out entirely. In one stereo channel, King sings a "post-punk anti-love song", comparing himself to a beetle trapped on its back ("and there's no way for me to get up") and equating love with "a case of anthrax, and that's some thing I don't want to catch." Meanwhile, in the other stereo channel (and slightly less prominent in the mix), Gill reads a deadpan monograph about public perception of love and the prevalence of love songs in popular music: "Love crops up quite a lot as something to sing about, 'cause most groups make most of their songs about falling in love, or how happy they are to be in love, and you occasionally wonder why these groups do sing about it all the time." The simultaneous vocals are rather disorienting, especially when Gill pauses in his examination of love songs to echo a few of King's sung lines.

A troubled American tour saw the departure of Allen (who later co-founded Shriekback, Low Pop Suicide and The Elastic Purejoy); he was replaced briefly by Busta "Cherry" Jones, a sometime player with Parliament and Talking Heads. He left to work with The Rolling Stones and was replaced by Sara Lee, who was Robert Fripp's bassist in League of Gentlemen. Lee was as good a singer as bassist, and she helped give the band's third studio album, Songs of the Free, a more accessible quality. Although "I Love a Man in Uniform" from the album was the band's most radio-friendly song, it was banned in the UK shortly after its release because Britain was at war in the Falklands Islands. Lee later joined The B-52's to be replaced by Gail Ann Dorsey, later famous for her long time bass playing association with David Bowie. A year later, Burnham left the band after the release of Songs of the Free.

After the release of The Peel Sessions, Gill and King continued Gang of Four releasing Hard in 1983, Mall in 1991 and finally Shrinkwrapped in 1995.

The original lineup of Jon King, Andy Gill, Dave Allen and Hugo Burnham reformed in November 2004. In October 2005, Gang of Four released a new disc featuring new recordings of songs from the albums Entertainment!, Solid Gold and Songs of the Free entitled Return the Gift, along with an album's worth of remixes.

Gang of Four planned to release a new album in 2008; it would have been their first new material in over fifteen years.

On May 6, 2008, Dave Allen announced via his blog that he and Burnham had left the band. They are pursuing other interests and unable to focus solely on Gang of Four.

Like The Velvet Underground before them, the influence of Gang of Four on later musicians is far greater than their original record sales might suggest. Their angular, slashing attack and liberal use of dissonance had a significant influence on their post-punk contemporaries in the States. Gang of Four went on to influence a number of successful funk-tinged alternative rock acts throughout the 80s and 90s, although few of their followers were as arty or political. Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers has stated that Gang of Four were the single most important influence on his band's early music. Andy Kellman, writing in Allmusic, has even argued that Gang of Four's "germs of influence" can be found in many rap metal groups "not in touch with their ancestry enough to realize it".

While many musicians have been inspired by the band's groundbreaking punk-funk musical style, they have rarely emulated the Situationist-inspired socio-political observations in Jon King's lyrics. Nevertheless this side of the band is present in later bands such as Minutemen, Fugazi, Nation of Ulysses, Rage Against the Machine and Refused which while known for acid socio-political commentary in their lyrics as Gang of Four; they took a post-hardcore punk sound. Fugazi especially shares with Gang of Four a sometimes similar sound based on a rhythm section influenced by reggae and funk along with metallic staccato guitars.

In recent years the band has enjoyed a resurgence in popularity, initially due to emergence of new post-punk-influenced bands such as The Rapture, Liars and Radio 4, and then the rise of Franz Ferdinand and Bloc Party, which led to the renewed patronage of the NME.

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Mall (Gang of Four album)

Mall is the fifth studio album by Gang of Four.

Seven years after Gang of Four's breakup, founding members Jon King and Andy Gill reteamed for Mall. Slickly produced, with a heavy emphasis on synthesizers and ersatz funk rhythms, the lyrical focus returns the group to the political arena: as suggested by the title, Mall is laced with the usual examinations of consumerism and the economy, while the sample-heavy "F.M.U.S.A." is an essay on the Vietnam War. The album features a cover of Bob Marley's "Soul Rebel".

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Gang of Four (Harlem)

The Gang of Four was an African-American political coalition from Harlem whose members later ascended to top political posts.

The son of Basil Paterson, David Paterson, became Governor of New York in 2008 following the resignation of Eliot Spitzer.

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Gang of Four (Seattle)

Roberto Maestas 01C.jpg

In the politics of Seattle, Washington in the United States, "Gang of Four" (also, sometimes "The Four Amigos") refers to Bernie Whitebear, Bob Santos, Roberto Maestas, and Larry Gossett, who founded Seattle's Minority Executive Directors's Coalition.

All four were associated with radical minority rights activism in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and all went on to leadership roles. Whitebear founded the Seattle Indian Health Board and the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation. Santos is a prominent leader among Seattle's Asian Americans, director of the Asian Coalition; Maestas is the founder and director of El Centro de la Raza; Gossett founded the Central Area Motivation Program and went on to public office as a member of the King County Council.

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Source : Wikipedia