Why the Red Guard movement became so violent and disorderly

Some of the smaller reasons for why the Red Guard movement became so violent and disorderly

a) Some Red Guards used the opportunity for their personal interests

b) Different Red Guard groups had conflicting interests, so they fought

c) Red Guards were young and immature students who were more likely to be radical

Several factors supported Red Guard movement: 181

1. Socioeconomic divide and tension between class background and economic performance

2. Sense of excitement at being mobilized by Mao himself

3. Desire to take control of own destiny and change future

4. Freedom from academic responsibility by suspension of classes and admissions exams

5. Free transportation by rail to travel around country

6. Opportunity of sent-down youth to return to cities

The main reason why the Red Guard Movement became so chaotic was because Mao gave them too much power, allowing them to do as they pleased while also taking power away from other authorities. In fact, by refusing to take a complete leadership role in the movement and instead choosing to guide it through vague directives, Mao in a way also forfeited some of his own control over the red guards.

2. Background on the Cultural Revolution

Mao himself called for a wave of criticism against reactionary bourgeois ideology” in September 1965 Apparently angered at the weak response, and unable to get as wide a forum for his views as he had hoped because many journals were controlled by his opponents, Mao left Peking that November and disappeared from public view altogether. 570

It later emerged that he had moved to Shanghai, where a group of hard-line Communist intellectuals were assembled, determined to bring what they saw as socialist order and rigor back into the intellectual life of the country. 570

Mao declared that many party bureaucrats were taking the capitalist road even as they mouthed the slogans socialism.There were, too, Mao’s sense of his advancing age was now seventy-three and his concern that his senior colleagues were seeking to shunt him aside. 573

There was Mao Zedong’s view that the Chinese revolution was losing impetus because of party conservatism and the lethargy of the huge and cumbrous bureaucracy, which had lost its ability to make speedy or innovative decisions. 573

It was often through their paintings or literary works that opponents of government policies chose to voice their criticisms, using a measure of historical allegory or poetic allusion to get across negative to sarcastic that no one could dare issue openly. Lin Biao’s attempts indoctrinate the PLA with Maoist ideology and to control potential dissent through the broader institutional base he was forging made him a formidable force. 568

Jiang Qing became increasingly important, although she kept out of politics until early 1960s

“It was at this time, she later stated, that she became deeply disturbed by the “traditionalist” or feudal” content of much contemporary Chinese art, including the plays she saw in Shanghai in the early 1960s, and was eager to do something about the situation. 568”

Kang Sheng was third ally who believed that overly critical attitude towards Communist party and Mao was appearing in Chinese culture

Kang urged that Chinese literature and art return to a purer vision of revolution that would draw its inspiration from the ranks of the workers and peasants, and in turn encourage writers and artists to emerge from the ranks of the workers rather than from the old intellectuals who still seemed to dominate so much of the Chinese cultural world. Lin Biao’s use of Lei Feng’s life to inspire the masses fitted in well with that approach. 568

There could hardly have been a more suitable victim for these radical ideologues than the talented historian and writer Wu Han. An expert on the history of the Min dynasty, wu Han as a young man had used examples drawn from Ming history in order to criticize Chiang Kai-shek and the Guomindang during World War II. 568

In the midst of the Great Leap Forward, he was invited by Mao Zedong to write on the celebrated Ming official Hai Rui, who had fought stubbornly for the people’s economic rights against shortsighted and conservative bureaucrats. Wu Han concentrated in his first essay on the way that Hai Rui, though loyal to his emperor, criticized the monarch for wasting the country’s resources while the famished population was driven to the edge of rebellion. In September 1959 Wu Han published another essay on Hai Rui in the newspaper People’s Daily. 569

In 1965 both Mao and Jiang Qing were to seize on these essays as Wu Han’s attempt to link Peng Dehuai allegorically to the virtuous Hai Rui. However, these two essays were not publicly criticized at the time, and during the early 1960s Wu Han was one of a number of intellectuals who published short pieces in the Peking newspapers, using historical or other social themes that were obviously critical of many Communist government policies, and of Mao’s isolation from an accurate reading of public opinion. 569

The Three Family village writings and Wu Han’s play were but parts of a broad-based flow of allegorical and critical works that angered many leading political figures. These leaders were, however, about how to forbid the publication of such pieces, which often were carried in party-controlled newspapers and magazines. 570

They claimed that China, despite Mao’s achievement, was still “under the dictatorship of a sinister anti-Party and Anti-Socialist line which is diametrically opposed to Chairman Mao’s thought. This sinister line is a combination of bourgeois ideas on literature and art, modern revisionist ideas on literature and art and what is known as the literature and art of the 1930s.” 572

They branded Wu Han’s work as a perfect example of this politically erroneous writing, and warned that the Chinese cultural garden was overgrown with “anti-socialist poisonous weeds”. 572

In the late spring and summer of 1966, events moved to a swift yet unpredictable climax. In May the report of the Group of Five, calling for cultural reform, was repudiated by the Central Committee- clearly at Mao’s urging-and a purge of the cultural bureaucracy commenced. Peng Zhen was ousted, other key figures in the Ministry of Culture removed, and attacks launched against the writers of the Three-Family Village articles and against Wu Han and his family.” 573

Note: First line: active leadership of country, Second line: serving as top leader for general policy issues but not day to day administration

Mao and Liu Shaoqi set up two line system to facilitate transition of power and avoid repeat of Stalin’s tyranny during his last years as leader of Soviet Union

“For the past seventeen years there is one thing which in my opinion we haven’t done well. Out of concern for state security and in view of the lessons of Stalin in the Soviet Union, we set up a first and second line. I have been in the second line, other comrades in the first line. Now we can see that wasn’t so good; as a result our forces were dispersed.”

“I am in the second line, I do not take charge of day-to-day work. Many things are left to other people so that other people’s prestige is built up, and when I go to see God there won’t be such a big upheaval in the State. Everyone was in agreement with this idea of mine. It seems that there are some things which the comrades in the first line have not managed too well. There are some things I should have kept a grip on which I did not.”

Leaders of CRG sent representatives to Beijing colleges to raise support for Cultural revolution in mid-1966 173

Began with denunciations and dismissals of scholars and party officials

“But in the last fifty days or so some leading comrades from the central down to the local levels have acted in a diametrically opposite way. Having the reactionary stand of the bourgeoisie, they have enforced a bourgeois dictatorship and struck down the surging movement of the Great Cultural Revolution of the Proletariat.”

After GLF failure, China made economic recovery mostly in urban centres, resulting in increased consumerism and relaxation

Cultural Revolution Red Guards aimed to reduce consumerism, mainly operated in urban areas

Red Guards: Youth organization modeled after PLA becoming increasingly ruthless

Lin Piao refrain from using violence, instead use speech and reasoning

Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution (Sixteen Points)

1. Bourgeoisie tries to use four olds (old ideas, old customs, old culture, old habits) to reinstitute status quo. Proletariat must embrace four news in order to change mental outlook of society

2. There will be reversals in struggle between masses and those in authority who have permeated the Party, is good because it gives masses experience (revolutionary road is not straight)

3. Value daring above all else

4. Masses must liberate and educate themselves, do not control them or fear disorder

5. Party should seek out and rely on revolutionary left wing

6. Present facts, use reason, understand difference between contradictions between people vs between people and enemy

7. Guard against false charges

8. Most cadres are good, but right wing anti-Party cadres must be discredited and eliminated

9. Use new organizational forms to keep in contact with masses

10. Old school system must be transformed, bourgeois intellectual’s influence must be ended

11. Criticism of people by press must be approved by Party Committee

12. Scientists and technicians must obey rules of Party

13. Integrate cultural revolution with socialist education

14. Improve economic output (Tou, kuai, hao, sheng) in all areas

15. Cultural revolution should be carried out in accordance with Military Commission of Central Committee and PLA

16. Use Mao’s Thought as guide for action

The protests and criticisms spread throughout China’s university system. Nie Yuanzi, a radical philosophy professor at Peking University, wrote a large wall poster attacking the administration of her university. Attempts by Deng Xiaoping, onto the campuses to quell Liu Shaoqi, and others to send “work teams the disturbances backfired as more and more radicals among faculty and students turned on party members. 574

Turmoil spread swiftly to the Peking high schools, and squads of students were issued arm bands by the Cultural Revolution radicals declaring them to be “Red Guards the vanguard of the new revolutionary upheaval. 574

Back in Peking, Mao heated up the revolutionary rhetoric even further by declaring that Professor Nie’s “big character poster was “the declaration of the Paris Commune of the sixties of the twentieth century; its significance far surpasses that of the Paris commune.” 574

In early August 1966, the Central Committee issued a directive of sixteen points on the Cultural Revolution, calling for vigilance against those who would try to subvert the revolution from within. 574

3. In the early part of the Cultural Revolution Mao encouraged the Red Guards and gave the authority to attack the four olds, which they did. However, they mostly ignored his original intentions for the movement because he did not provide a strong enough incentive for them to attack most higher level Party officials, especially when it was in the interests of most of the early red guards to maintain the status quo.

Mass base composed of “disadvantaged” urban Chinese society became active in late 1966 159

Two policies exacerbated social tensions: 159

1. Reemphasis on class background for job assignment and education privileges

2. Part-time industrial employment program for urban lower-class

High school and college students were most active part of mass base 159

Idealism of young people was primary reason for participation in red guard movement 159

Young were more willing to accept Mao’s belief that stagnation, elitism, and inequality was rampant throughout Party 159

Students wanted to be involved in Mao’s campaign for sense of importance and power 160

Issues caused by educational policies in early 60s created tension among students 160

During recession government reduced funding for colleges and senior middle schools 160

Divide between elite middle schools and worse middle schools whose students were unlikely to obtain higher education 160

Middle school students not placed in universities or industrial enterprises sent en masse to frontier and rural areas by 1964-5 160

As result, students focused on standards for advancement 160

3 criteria determined education and job assignment (from most to least important): 160

1. Class background

2. Political behavior

3. Academic achievement

By mid 60s students divided between (ranked from most to least likely to reach university): 160

1. Students from cadre or military families (Average grades)

2. Worker and peasant families (Poor grades)

3. Intellectual and bourgeoisie families (Best grades)

Red Guards searched for signs of bourgeoisie culture within daily life 182

Fancy hairstyles, elaborate or overly stylish clothing banned 182

Forced business to change names from traditional to more revolutionary names, changed street names 182

Teachers and school leadership regarded as bourgeoisie, were harassed, beaten, or tortured to death 182

At Beida students searched homes of 100 faculty, books and personal items seized, forced 260 to work under supervision wearing placards listing crimes 182

Former industrialists or landlords rounded up and deported from cities, homes ransacked, art destroyed or seized, walls graffitied with Mao quotations 182

In Beijing

“Since August 20, the young Red Guards of Peking, detachments of students, have taken to the streets. With the revolutionary rebel spirit of the proletariat, they have launched a furious offensive to sweep away reactionary, decadent bourgeois and feudal influences, and all old ideas, culture, customs and habits.”

“Their revolutionary actions have everywhere received the enthusiastic support of the revolutionary masses.”

“During the past week and more Red Guards have scored victory after victory as they pressed home their attack against the decadent customs and habits of the exploiting classes. “

Red guards held street meetings, put up big-character posters and distributed leaflets

Shop signs which were believed to endorse feudal or bourgeois beliefs were removed

New revolutionary names given to streets, and institutions with names believed to be endorsing feudalism, capitalism, revisionism, or insufficient revolutionary significance

Revolutionary groups of workers and staff put up big-character posters in major thoroughfares, engaged in street demonstrations

‘Draping the many-storied front of the newly renamed Peking Department Store are gigantic banners with the words: “Resolute support for the revolutionary students’ revolutionary actions!” and “Salute to the young revolutionary fighters!”’

In Shanghai

“The show windows of the Wing On Co., one of the biggest department stores in the city, are plastered with big-character posters put up by the Red Guards and workers and staff of the store, proposing that “Wing On” (Eternal Peace) should be changed into “Yong Hong” (Red For Ever) or “Yong Dou” (Struggle For Ever). The posters point out that in the old society the boss of the store chose the name “Wing On” because he wanted to be left in peace for ever to exploit the working people. “For a long time now the store has been in the hands of the people and we are certainly not going to tolerate this odious name a day longer,” say the posters.”

“The revolutionary workers and staff of Shanghai barber shops have adopted revolutionary measures in response to the proposals of the Red Guards: they no longer cut and set hair in the grotesque fashions indulged in by a small minority of people; they cut out those services specially worked out for the bourgeoisie such as manicuring, beauty treatments and so on.”

Launching a fierce offensive against all old ideas, culture, customs and habits, the “Red Guards” in Peking, since August 20, have taken to the streets and have posted revolutionary handbills and big-character posters, held rallies and made speeches everywhere.

The “Red Guards” have also proposed to the revolutionary teachers and students that they speedily remove all school names which have no political meaning.

In addition, they have proposed to the revolutionary staff and workers in the service trades that they never again give outlandish haircuts and make and never again sell and rent out decadent books or magazines.

“Inspired by the “Red Guards” of the Peking No. 2, 15 and 63 Middle Schools, the revolutionary workers and staff of the Chuan Chu Teh (Collection of All Virtue) Restaurant, which specializes in duck, set out to make revolution and smash to pieces the Chua Chu Teh sign which has been hanging there for over 70 years, and they put up a new sign -Peking Roast Duck Restaurant. The old workers there said t the three characters – Chuan Chu Teh – were soaked with the blood and sweat of the working people who were exploited by the capitalists.”

“Since 1964 the workers and staff of the Handley Watch Shop have twice proposed changing the name but nothing came of their demand because of obstruction by the former Peking municipal Party committee. Now, encouraged by the “Red Guards,” they have named the shop The Capital Watch Shop after a collective discussion.”

‘A cadre in the manager’s office of the department stores in the East City said: “As early as a year and a half ago we revolutionary workers and staff of many department stores asked to remove all the old shop names left over from the capitalists, but the former Peking municipal Party committee would not allow us to do so. Our capital’s ‘Red Guards’ have done a good job this time. We give them all our support.”’

The leaders of the Cultural Revolution called for a comprehensive attack on the “four old” elements within Chinese society-old customs, old habits old culture, and old thinking- but they left it to local Red Guard initiative to apply these terms. 575

In practice what often happened was that after the simpler targets had been identified, Red Guards eager to prove their revolutionary integrity turned on anyone who tried to hold them in check, any one who had had Western education or dealings with Western businessmen or missionaries, and all intellectuals who could be charged with “feudal” or reactionary” modes of thinking. 575

In the autumn and winter of 1966, the struggles grew deeper and more bitter, the destruction and loss of life more terrible. With all schools and colleges closed for the staging of revolutionary struggle, millions of the young were encouraged by the Cultural Revolution’s leaders to demolish the old buildings, temples, and art objects in their towns and villages, and to attack their teachers, school administrators, party leaders, and parents. 575

The techniques of public humiliation grew more and more complex and painful as the identified victims were forced to parade through the streets in dunce caps or with self-incriminatory placards around their necks, to declaim their public self-criticisms before great jeering crowds, and to stand for hours on end with backs agonizingly bent and arms outstretched in what was called “the airplane position”. 575

With the euphoria, fear, excitement, and tension that gripped the country, violence grew apace. Thousands of intellectuals and others were to death, or died of their injuries. Countless others committed suicide. 575

Many of the suicides killed themselves only after futile attempts to avoid Red Guard harassment by destroying their own libraries and art collections. Thousands more were imprisoned, often in solitary confinement, for years. Millions were relocated to purify themselves through labor in the countryside. 575

4. Mao prevented authorities such as the army, cadres, party officials, and school administrators from trying to control or contain the red guards and labeled such actions as counter-revolutionary.

Nie Yuanzi led group of radical faculty at Beida (Peking) University to write big-character poster on May 25 criticizing university leadership for supporting liberal policies of February Outline and preventing mass discussion of cultural revolution 173

University administration supported by Zhou Enlai tried to suppress dissent 173

Mao had dazibao broadcasted and published nationally with favorable commentary on June 1, later reorganized entire university leadership 173

Spontaneous mass protest and inflammatory editorials in Renmin ribao legitimized 173

Students and faculty at universities and middle schools wrote wall posters about educational issues, as well as criticizing university leaders and officials 173

Authority on campus undermined, discipline among students and faculty disappeared 173

Liu Shaoqui concerned by rise of dissent and collapse of authority, enacted policies to demonstrate his commitment to anti-revisionism as well as to allow Party leadership to control student movement 173

Liu ordered universities to suspend enrollment for 1/2 year to organize reform 174

400 work teams (10,000 total members) sent to universities, schools, and bureaucratic agencies to criticize leaders, reestablish Party control over student movement 174

Demobilization of radical students and faculty, and against national policy, some stricter Party committees and work teams banned dazibao and rallies, expelled radical students from Communist Youth League, subjected others to struggle sessions, or sent them to countryside 174

Work teams managed to restore peace, but some students driven into opposition, creating secret red guards to resist work teams, despite criminalization by Liu 174

Remaining activists divided between supporting work teams or joining red guards 175

Tensions between CRG and Liu Shaoqi, Mao sided with CRG, believing that work teams were targeting lower level officials and masses instead of focusing on errors of higher officials 175

In July angry Mao arrived in Beijing, called meeting of regional Party members and members of CRG, called for withdrawal of Liu’s work teams, claiming they hindered movement 176

Beijing Municipal Party Committee announced all work teams would be withdrawn and replaced by CR small groups elected by students and faculty 176

Mao called for CC plenum in August to legitimize his vision of revolution against revisionism 176

Only half of CC members attended meeting, along with Party officials and representatives of revolutionary Beijing student movements 176

Rump session of CC made decisions about 3 areas: 178

1. Promotion of Mao supporters and demotion of his critics and dissenters (Liu demoted)

2. Liu’s report on policy matters overshadowed by Lin’s May talk on coups and letter sent by Mao to Qinghua Red Guards, otherwise communique endorsed Mao’s views on issues of early 60s, approving Mao’s promotion of revolutionary successors and class struggle theory

3. Adoption of Sixteen Point Decision on the Cultural Revolution (Wenge Shiliu Tiao) to change mental outlook of society

Driving force of Sixteen Points was to be masses and red guards, attempts to resist or control movement were declared improper 178

Due to divisions within CC, Sixteen Points were ambiguous on amount of disorder to be tolerated during CR, with Mao acknowledging that some degree of disturbance was to be expected 178

Called for dismissal of all capitalist roaders in authority, prohibited reprisals against students in high schools or universities who participated in movement 178

However, at behest of Zhou Enlai and Tao Zhu, several specific provisions added to Sixteen Points to moderate conduct of movement 179

Prohibited use of coercion or force, largely exempted ordinary scientists, technicians, cadres, and Party and govn’t agencies in countryside from full force of reprisals 179

Revisionists should not be attacked by name in press without approval of cognizant Party committee 179

Mao wrote dazibao outside CC meeting room criticizing leading comrades (Liu and Deng), plenum endorsed decision to demote 3 members of Politburo 179

Overall, main point of Eleventh Plenum was to legitimatize Mao’s attack against Party and intellectuals, through mass mobilization and political struggle 179

Initial plan of Decision involved establishing Cultural revolution committees elected by people (wenhua geming weiyuanhui), but were not expected to replace Party committees or administration 180

Modeled after 1871 Paris Commune with members selected through general election and subject to criticism and recall by constituents 180

Mao believed that CR committees would be ineffective because they still answered to Party leadership, would focus on local issues within unit instead of national policy, and would become partisan due to divisions between student body 180

Instead Mao believed Red Guards would be superior form of popular participation 180

Red Guards were more attentive towards discussion of national policy and criticism of higher-level leaders, easier to control by CRG 181

After Eleventh Plenum, PLA organized eight large Red Guard rallies in Beijing from 8/16 to 11/26, Red Guards unofficially became more significant than CR committees 181

Red Guards wore military uniforms, Mao wore Red Guard armband, indicating support 181

Red Guards given right to organize parades and demonstrations, use printing presses and publish newspapers, and post dazibao criticizing any Party committees by CRG 181

“Who are against the great Cultural Revolution? American imperialism, Russian revisionism Japanese revisionism, and the reactionaries.” But China would “depend on the masses, trust the masses, and fight to the end. 574

“Red Guard comrades of Tsinghua University Middle School I have received both the big-character posters which you sent on 28 July as well as the letter which you sent to me, asking for an answer.”

“The two big-character posters which you wrote 24 June and 4 July express your anger at, and denunciation of, all landlords, bourgeois, imperialists, revisionists, and their running dogs who exploit and oppress the workers, peasants, revolutionary intellectuals and revolutionary parties and groupings.”

“You say it is right to rebel against reactionaries; I enthusiastically support you.”

“Here I want to say that I myself as well as my revolutionary comrades-in-arms all take the same attitude. No matter where they are, in Peking or anywhere in China, I will give enthusiastic support to all who take an attitude similar to yours in the Cultural Revolution movement.”

“Commanders and fighters of the People’s Liberation Army in the capital have unanimously expressed support for the revolutionary students’ revolutionary actions, and the carrying of the great proletarian cultural revolution through to the end.They say that the great revolutionary actions of the revolutionary students in attacking bourgeois ideology, customs and habits is another instance of the great material strength that is generated by Mao Tsetung’s thought once it grips the revolutionary masses.”

“Pao Hsi-ming, of a P.L.A. Navy Air Force unit who won a combat citation, second class, for shooting down a U.S. made plane of the Chiang gang, told a Hsinhua correspondent that the revolutionary actions of the Red Guards were thoroughgoing revolutionary actions as the result of their following the teachings of Chairman Mao and acting according to his instructions. “They are doing right and doing fine,” he said.”

Red Guards of Peking No. 2 Middle School posted declaration on walls of main streets

“The former Peking municipal Party committee was deaf and blind to these things for 17 years, and even forbade any reforms. They took the revisionist and capitalist road. We take a road different from them. They did not care, but we do and we will deal with it thoroughly. We must block all channels leading to capitalism, we want to smash all the hot-beds that breed revisionism, and we are not going to be soft on these things.”

“If when you go back you do things according to the old system, maintaining the status quo, putting yourself in opposition to one group of Red Guards and letting another group hold sway, then I think things cannot change, the situation cannot improve.”

“Whoever wants to overthrow you? I don’t, and I don’t think the Red Guards do either. Two Red Guards said to Li Hsüeh-feng: “Can you imagine why our elders are so frightened of the Red Guards?””

“You are anxious and so am I. I cannot blame you, comrades, time has been so short. Some comrades say that they did not intentionally make mistakes, but did it because they were so confused. This is pardonable. Nor can we put all the blame on Comrade Shaoqi and Comrade Xiaoping. They have some responsibility, but so has the Center. The Center has not run things properly.”

“I say to you all: youth is the great army of the Great Cultural Revolution! It must be mobilized to the full.

“Some colleges had even had their gates shut. There were even some who suppressed the student movement. Who is it who suppressed the student movement? Only the Pei-Yang Warlords. It is anti-Marxist for communists to fear the student movement.”

“The Central Committee of the Youth League should stand on the side of the student movement. But instead it stands on the side of suppression of the student movement. Who opposes the great Cultural Revolution? The American imperialists, the Soviet Revisionists, the Japanese revisionists, and the reactionaries.”

“To cover over big-character posters which have been put up, such things cannot be allowed.”

“To oppose, especially to oppose ‘authoritative’ bourgeois ideology, is to destroy. Without this destruction, socialism cannot be established nor can we carry out first struggle, second criticism, third transformation. Sitting in offices listening to reports is no good. The only way is to rely on the masses, trust the masses, struggle to the end. We must be prepared for the revolution to be turned against us. The Party and government leadership and responsible Party comrades should be prepared for this. If you now want to carry the revolution through to the end, you must discipline yourself, reform yourself in order to keep up with it. Otherwise you can only keep out of it.”

“It will not do to set rigid standards for the masses. When Peking University saw that the students were rising up, they tried to set standards. They euphemistically called it ‘returning to the right track’. In fact it was ‘diverting it to the wrong track’.

“There were some schools which labelled the students as counter-revolutionaries. In this way you put the masses on the side of the opposition. You should not fear bad people. How many of them are there after all? The great majority of the student masses are good.”

5. After allowing bourgeoisie students to legally join the Red Guards, Mao had hoped that they would attack higher level officials, which they did, but they came into conflict with the red guard groups who wanted to attack the four olds, resulting in infighting and disorder.

Red Guards had not achieved goals set forth by Mao during fall 1966 182

Preoccupation with “trivial issues” (focused on rooting out four olds instead of criticizing leaders) 182

Divisiveness between red guards with dispute over prime targets of movement 183

Students from cadre or military backgrounds supported party leadership of movement, limited criticism towards Party establishment, instead tried to focus attacks on intellectuals, landlords, and bourgeoisie culture 183

Students from bourgeois backgrounds tried to end previous discrimination from 60s, used participation as was to demonstrate revolutionary conduct, and legitimately lodge grievances against Party 183

Initially composed largely of students from the elite schools, the Red Guard ranks were now swelled by other disaffected and frustrated students, and by those from the provinces drawn by the revolutionary rhetoric and their reverence for Mao as father of the revolution. 574

Under the direction of a small group of Mao’s confidants, along with his Jiang Qing and other Shanghai radicals, the party was purged at higher and higher levels until both Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were removed from their posts and subjected to mass criticism and humiliation, along with their families. 575

These factional fires were fueled by the anger of students frustrated over policies that kept them off the paths of political advancement because the students had the ill fortune to be born to parents who had had connections with the Guomindang, the landlords, or the capitalist “exploiters” of the old regime and were therefore classified as “bad” elements by the CCP. There as well millions of disgruntled urban youths who had been relocated to the countryside during the party campaigns of earlier years, or in line with the plans of Chen Yun and others to save the cost to the state of providing subsidized grain supplies for such city residents. 573

There were those within the largest cities, who were denied access to the tiny number of elite schools that had become, in effect, “prep schools” for the children of influential party cadres. (With the shortage of colleges in China, and the thickets of complex entrance examinations that still stood in the way to them, only education in this handful of schools could assure access to higher education). There were industrial workers who felt trapped in dead-end jobs and were excited by the possibilities for changing their fortunes. And finally there were those who felt that party positions were monopolized by the uneducated rural cadres of Mao’s former peasant guerrilla days and that these people should now be eased out to make way for newer, more educated recruits. 573

Reasons why Red Guard movement became disorderly, divided, and violent: 184

1. Restraints on mass movement in Sixteen points were not strong enough

2. Inflammatory speech by Party press and CRG

3. Use of red guards instead of original plan with CR committees resulted in rejection of Party control

4. Mobilization of immature young people in highly charged political atmosphere

5. Rejection of attempts to limit or control red guards as anti-revolutionary

6. Opposition/resistance of Party establishment to red guards, attempts of officials to disrupt, delay, control, or ban red guards for fear of reprisals (tried to form conservative mass organizations, Scarlet Guards)

Provincial and local cadres formed or supported conservative mass organizations called Scalled Scarlet Guards to oppose radical Red Guards 186

Recruited members through Youth Leagues and Party organizations in schools 187

Targeted students who wanted to maintain status quo, saw radical Red Guards as members of bourgeoisie who sought revenge on Party 186

By late September, Mao, Lin, and CRG began to realize issues with CR 187

Radicalization of CR, strengthening of CRG, weakening of Part establishment in early October 187

Speeches and editorials written by CRG on 10/1 criticizing cadres for resistance to CR, reaffirming legitimacy of red guards, and reemphasizing targeting of revisionists in Party 187

Also announced restrictions on membership would be overturned so that radical bourgeoisie students could legally join red guards 187

October 9-28 Central work conference held to try to overcome obstacles of CR

Originally Mao tried to gain delegates support by promising they would be safe from red guards if they would accept criticism 188

Mao submitted own self criticism acknowledging that emergence of revisionism was due to his retirement from day to day leadership 188

Delegates refused to accept Mao’s promises, eventually Mao began attacking officials who obstructed movement 188

Conservative mass organizations lost influence, were taken over, or submitted self criticism as result of conference 188

Mass mobilization produced divisions, Mao had believed red guards would act as unified force 192

Mao claimed that people should only obey party directives that agreed with Mao Zedong thought, thereby delegitimizing Party, resulting in chaos 192

1/6/1967 Shanghai mass rally dismissed municipal government, appointed new political organ to replace Party committee & government 192

1/22/1967 Renmin Ribao editorial encouraged radical organizations to rise up and overthrow Party committees, next day formal CC directive repeated command 193

In January and February all representatives of PLA and regional Party organizations dismissed from CRG, leaving only radicals 193

Mao called on students carry out cultural revolution, fearing they might otherwise accept revisionism 234

Deliberately sought criticism of Party from groups without previous investment in socialism 235

Used irregular procedures due to resistance from Party leadership, as result majority rule was subverted 235

Violated party traditions of 235

1. Allowing Party leaders to freely hold opinions on policy

2. Using mild sanctions to rectify instead of more severe measures

3. Keeping mass participation under Party leadership

Reasons for joining red guards: 236

1. Personal love for Mao (cult of personality)

2. Fear that following Soviet model would result in return to “ossification, inequality, and authoritarianism”

3. Specific grievances against particular cadres

4. Opportunities to take revenge against superiors for previous insults, vendettas, or abuses of power

Over time mass base began to shrink as more people became disillusioned with resulting violence and chaos, leaving only radicals 236

Mao was supported by PLA, organizers, mass media, and directors of mass movements 236

During the last months of 1966, battling factions of both student and worker Red Guards had managed virtually to paralyze Shanghai: the shipping of good on the wharves was completely disrupted; railway service was in chaos or, in some cases, stopped entirely when lines were cut; the city was jammed with millions of Red Guards, returnees, or fugitives from the countryside; and stores opened for shorter and shorter hours as food supplies fell to dangerously low levels. 578

“The result was a bewildering situation in which varieties of radical groups, not coordinated by any central leadership, struggled with party leaders and with each other.”577

Order restored with support of military in early February 578

6. Effects of the Red Guard Movement and the Cultural Revolution

Mao tried to prevent armed struggle and violence by authorizing central directives forbidding beating, house raiding, looting, incarceration, and destruction of personal property during height of CR’s most violent phase 239

Criticized divisions, called on revolutionary committees to include members of both radical, moderate, and conservative mass organizations 239

Emphasized that most cadres were good, protected certain high-ranking officials against attack 239

However, Mao failed to control factionalism and violence completely, refused to completely disown movement, did not reject members of CRG who were responsible for violence 239

Continued to believe that cultural revolution was good, did not try to regain control of red guards by criticizing movement 239

CR had only limited and temporary effects on agricultural and industrial production 241

Chinese theatre and film industry limited media to revolutionary films operas and ballets approved by Jiang Qing 241

Traditional and foreign literature banned, libraries and museums closed 241

Universities shut down in summer 1966, middle schools suspended in fall, resuming next spring, but colleges remained closed for next 4 years, limited class accepted in summer 1970 241

Policies after 1969 politicized curriculum, reduced length of training, required physical labor expectations, and selected students based on class background instead of academic performance 241

Red guards defaced or destroyed historical or religions sites and artifacts 242

Military appropriated college buildings for personal use 242

Indictment during trial of Gang of Four (1980-81) suggested following were falsely charged and persecuted (total 729,511): 242

2600 in literary and art circles

142,000 cadres and teachers in units under Ministry of Education

53,000 scientists and technicians in research institutes

500 professors in medical colleges and institutes under Ministry of Public Health

Jiang Qing had personally victimized some, had organized groups to confiscate letters and photos of her past in the 30s from homes of writers and artists in Shanghai 242

70-80% political purge at regional and provincial levels 242

4/6 regional first secretaries eliminated, 23/29 provincial first secretaries eliminated 242

60-70% political purge at central level 242

Survivors of political purge: 242

9/23 Politburo members

4/13 secretariat members

54/167 CC members

In Gang of Four indictment, 34,800 claimed to have been persecuted to death 244

3,000 in Hebei

14,000 in Yunnan

16,000 in inner Mongolia

1,000 in PLA

Estimated 400,000 deaths during CR 244

Source: Essay UK - http://lecloschateldon.com/essays/history/why-the-red-guard-movement-became-so-violent-and-disorderly/


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