With the 40th anniversary of the outbreak of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution falling tomorrow, the deafening silence of the government and official media over what is officially termed '10 years of great calamities' speaks volumes. Beijing has not scheduled any official commemorative activities and has banned the official media from writing on the anniversary. Authorities also reportedly 'persuaded' academics from holding private events or participating in seminars abroad. The foolhardy logic behind the blanket ban reflects fears that any official commemoration of the anniversary could reopen 'old scars' in one of the darkest periods of Communist Party history and lead to more calls for political reforms. More importantly, the official ban points to a larger picture - the increased political repression on the mainland in the run-up to the 17th Communist Party congress in autumn next year. Despite the official silence, commemorating the anniversary matters a great deal these days. Under the leadership of late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping , the authorities came to terms with the disastrous consequences of the Cultural Revolution. The party admitted 'grave mistakes', denounced Mao Zedong for launching the revolution, and rehabilitated millions of cadres and ordinary people who had been purged. That ended the ideological debates and put the mainland on the healthy track of rapid economic development. But the party has failed to exorcise the ghosts by still revering Mao and keeping his body in the mausoleum on Tiananmen Square. It has since lived with the consequences. Leftists have used Mao as their spiritual leader to attack the mainland leadership's economic and political reform plans. The leadership's deliberate attempts to sweep this period of history under the carpet have also left younger generations largely ignorant of the consequences of calamities which caused the deaths of tens of millions and set back development by decades. That sadly explains why more and more mainlanders now revere Mao as a god-like figure. Even more mind-boggling is the fact that mainlanders, disillusioned with today's rampant official corruption and rising income gaps, have openly expressed a longing for Mao's equalitarian years. It goes without saying that the mainland leadership should hold a mirror over the dark period of the Cultural Revolution for mainlanders to debate, ponder and realise why it should not happen again. Learning to come to terms with the Cultural Revolution and drawing important lessons could help the party unite and forge a consensus on its future. But it is equally easy to understand why President Hu Jintao is not going to do that any time soon. Mainland leaders are already faced with an intense, prolonged debate over the direction and thrust of economic reforms, with leftists attacking pro-reform officials for deviating from socialism doctrine. Officials are clearly worried that any more debates over the Cultural Revolution could threaten political stability. And political stability is sorely needed as Mr Hu engineers a massive reshuffle of leaders at local and central government levels to make way for top party leadership changes next year. With officials jockeying for power, Mr Hu has tightened controls over ideology and media, and hardened crackdowns on journalists and academics critical of the party and government, as part of his political manoeuvring. The political controls will only get tighter in the months leading up to the 17th party congress, when Mr Hu is widely expected to consolidate his power. The lessons from the Cultural Revolution have been lost.