This chapter will examine the origins of China’s most radical experiment to restructure the Chinese economy and society—the Great Leap Forward. In the early part of 1957, the movement to let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools of thought contend’ finally got off the ground, whilst, in the second half of the year, that movement was brought to a sudden end and policies of mass mobilisation were initiated. The reversal of policy in mid-year has given rise to much controversy both in China and among Western scholars. The dominant view of the current (1979) Chinese leadership, which has attempted to restore many of the policies and institutions of early 1957, is that mid-1957 marked the point where the Chinese revolution went off the rails. There was, therefore, a fundamental disjunction between the policies of the early part of the year and those of the later part. This view is shared by many Western commentators, who regard the former policies as more ‘liberal’ and the latter policies as more ‘radical’. Others, however, argue that one can see a continuity between the earlier policies and those which led to the Great Leap Forward. One cannot deny that an important watershed occurred in mid-year when criticism by intellectuals was brought to an end. It is argued, however, that the purpose of ‘blooming and contending’ had, all along, been to bring about a radical restructuring of society and, when blooming and contending did not work, other means were used with much more effect. At the root of the controversy, therefore, is an assessment of the purpose of the ‘hundred flowers’ and, as the last chapter showed, this is not altogether clear.