Erased History: Lessons from Mao Zedong’s ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’
- Posted by Renee Nal
- On July 24, 2020
- 3 Comments
- Amy Mek, CCP, Chinese Communist Party, Communism, Cultural Revolution, Fan Shen, Gang of One: Memoirs of a Red Guard, Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, Li Zhensheng, mao, Mao Zedong, RAIR, RAIR Foundation, RAIR Foundation USA, Red Guards, Struggle Session
“At the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966, young Red Guards went from house to house, seeking to eradicate all vestiges of what they called “the four ‘olds’ “–old ideas, old customs, old culture and old habits. Nothing better exemplified the four olds than books.” – Jim Mann of the Los Angeles Times, 1985
There are unmistakable parallels from Mao Zedong’s “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” and Marxist movements today across the West. The Cultural Revolution started with book-burning and quickly turned into tearing down statues and changing the names of places and “especially street names.” Then, the Red Guards would drag “enemies” out of their homes and publicly shame them during “struggle sessions.” Finally, the Red Guards would go from house to house, confiscating property and sometimes torturing and killing the people they considered to be against the communist revolution.
The Cultural Revolution was about purging non-communists. The effort came after forced collectivization during the “Great Leap Forward” from 1958 – 1962 led to massive famine “that cost more than 40 million lives.” In the wake of the horrific Great Leap Forward, Mao Zedong had to destroy those who started to shift from communist thought. On August 8, 1966, the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) explained:
“Although the bourgeoisie has been overthrown, it is still trying to use the old ideas, culture, customs and habits of the exploiting classes to corrupt the masses, capture their minds and endeavor to stage a come-back.”
In order to cling to power, the CCP explained that their objective:
“…is to struggle against and crush those persons in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic ‘authorities’ and the ideology of the bourgeoisie and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system.”
Mao had to suppress opposition, as all communists must to keep power after it is made clear that their disastrous policies wreak havoc on citizens. Mao’s Cultural Revolution claimed the lives of 7.73 million innocent human beings and spanned from May 16, 1966 until Mao Zedong’s death on September 9, 1976. Mao “unleashed the [Cultural Revolution] movement by urging young people to rise up against their parents and teachers”.
The feared Red Guards, who oversaw the vast destruction during that evil period in China, consisted of militant high school and university students who were tasked with “eliminating all remnants of the old culture in China” and “purging” party leaders deemed “insufficiently revolutionary.” The Red Guards were simply heavily indoctrinated teens used by Mao “to enforce communism by removing capitalist, traditional and cultural elements from society” and are reminiscent of Hitler’s Brown Shirts in Germany and Antifa in America and across the West today.
Citizens were only allowed to read from “The Little Red Book,” or “Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong” and other limited communist propaganda. According to the BBC, “[T]he Ministry of Culture aimed to distribute a copy to every Chinese citizen and hundreds of new printing houses were built in order to achieve this.”
The images below reveal the militant nature of the Cultural Revolution; featuring Red Guards tearing down Buddha statues, reading the Little Red Book and burning forbidden books.
During that reign of terror, nobody was safe from the Red Guards, who could, without warning or evidence, target anyone as being an enemy of Mao and drag you to a “struggle session,” where you would be humiliated and even tortured and killed for hours on end in front of audiences that came to witness the spectacle and who delighted in the mob’s rage. Or, they could just torture people in their homes.
Very little about that period is documented and today’s Chinese Communist Party strategically works to convince citizens that times have gotten much better since the time of the Red Guards. As communists do, they have attempted to erase the brutal era from history and maintain strict controls of any reminiscences from that period or of the great famine. RAIR Foundation read more