In the first days of January 1967, students and workers took to the streets of Shanghai in what is known as the January Storm. Under the leadership of Maoists and with the support of the Cultural Revolution Group, including Jiang Qing, they initiated a struggle against capitalist roaders in the Shanghai city administration. Shortly after the struggle began, the Cultural Revolution Group, State Council and Central Military Commission, congratulated the rebels. This Storm spread across China.

When the masses overthrew the old Shanghai administration, they decided to set up a new city rule based on the model of the Paris Commune. Yao Wenyuan, Zhang Chunqiao, and Wang Hongwen, all members of the "Gang of Four," played leading roles in the uprising and organization of the Shanghai Commune.

Although they were correct in rising up and throwing out the capitalist roaders, when the leaders of the Shanghai Commune went to Beijing, they were criticized by Mao: "The slogan of 'Doubt everything and overthrow everything' is reactionary. The Shanghai People's Committee demanded that Premier of the State Council should do away with all heads. This is extreme anarchism, it is most reactionary..." Mao added, "Communes are too weak when it comes to suppressing counter-revolution." Instead of a commune, Mao recommended the leadership of a revolutionary committee, which was a type of leadership being used throughout China at the time. This entailed a combination of leaders, the majority coming from mass organizations and the minority coming from the Party and army. Shanghai continued to be proletarian stronghold throughout the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.

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