This year has been one of the most disrupted times in at least the last half century, maybe longer. Global protests, covid-19, lockdowns, widespread rioting, looting, arson, homelessness, and destruction of property, including the tearing down of statues, has become the norm. This chaos is being facilitated by mayors, governors, and police chiefs who are unwilling to enforce the law. Those employing these means include Antifa, Black Lives Matter, and especially the “anarchist provocateurs” who adeptly turn peaceful protests into violent riots. But it’s nothing new.
A crucial tenet of China’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) was the Red Guards, estimated to have reached 11 million at some point. The first group was made up of children, ranging from elementary school age to university students. As the “Revolution” gained momentum, younger workers and peasants joined, many motivated by a commitment to the doctrines espoused by Mao, although some speculate that it was the rise in violence and contempt for the status quo.
Motivated by Mao’s encouragement to “target” existing culture, customs, habits and ideas of the past, the Guard, fancying themselves as revolutionary rebels, pledged to eliminate all remnants of the past. No one was safe – not even bureaucrats, party chiefs, politicians or the president himself. What began as student groups to debate bourgeois ideas in culture had become a nationwide movement demanding cleansing, rethinking and transformation.
As these young hooligans marched across China, they burned libraries, destroyed books, art, sculptures, decimated museums and temples, even the Temple of Confucius, as religion was considered a tool of capitalists. Historical landmarks were vandalized or destroyed. Education was singled out; as it was the way old values were preserved and transmitted.
Public security diminished as central figures removed restraints on violent behavior, enabling the Red Guards to target any individual they wished. Every day, there were people beaten to death on city streets. Chinese in foreign clothing, along with Catholic nuns and monks were targeted as were private home owners who were beaten and looted of their personal possessions. If you dared disagree and not fall in line, you would be swarmed, shamed, harassed, and beaten.
And just as Antifa and BLM have the drive-by media as cheerleaders, the Guard had the Chinese media granting legitimacy through propaganda techniques. That and personal support from Mao and the communist party made the Red Guard an unstoppable force.
For a year these militant students created what Mao called “great chaos under heaven.” By 1967 the Guard was overthrowing existing party and authorities in towns, cities and entire provinces, along with wreaking havoc on china’s social and economic life, which finally prompted Mao to authorize military action to suppress them.
Beginning in 1968 the “Down to the countryside Movement” was created to ship these young terrorists out of the cities and into the country to work on farms. Naturally Mao claimed it was to ensure that the Guard understood the roots of the communist movement but the real goal was to disperse them across the nation so that they could not continue to create so much chaos.
The intellectual roots of our revolution and China’s seem similar: the hate of the old, the need for unacceptable ideas to be disappeared in the name of social progress, intolerance toward dissent, violence to enforce conformity.
In America these are spreading outward from our universities so that everywhere today—movies, TV, publishing, news, ads, sports—is an Oberlin where in the name of free speech “hate speech” is banned, and in the name of safety dangerous ideas and the people who hold them are not only not discussed but canceled, shot down via the projectile of the heckler’s veto, unfriended, demonetized, deleted, de-platformed, demeaned, chased after by mobs both real and online in a horrible blend of self-righteousness and cyber bullying.
They don’t believe in a marketplace of ideas. Ideas to the mob are either right or wrong and the “wrong” ones must be banished. The choices to survive the mobs are conformity or silence. In China, you showed conformity by carrying around Mao’s Little Red Book. In America, you wear a soiled surgical mask to the supermarket.
History is not there to make anyone feel safe or justify current theories about policing. History exists so we can learn from it, and to learn from it, it has to exist for us to study, to be offended by and uncomfortable with, to bathe in, to taste it bitter or sweet.
When you wash your hands of an idea, you lose all the other ideas that grew to challenge it. Think of those as antibodies fighting a disease. What happens when they are no longer at the ready? What happens when a body forgets how to fight an illness? What happens when a society forgets how to challenge a bad idea with a better one?
Before you surrender to the carnage, remember that old adage: “you vote your way into socialism and communism, but you have to shoot your way out.”
Cultural Revolutions erase history, destroy infrastructure, vilify religion, remove hope, redistribute land and wealth, outlaw free speech and reverse prosperity for one goal: absolute power for those cunning enough to sell their movement to people who will vote for them, or to their groups of brown shirts and subversives who bring them to power through violent chaos. Robert Patrick Lewis
Source: China’s Red Guard and the Cultural Revolution , War History Online; Remember The Red Guards Before You Cheer The Woke Mobs by Peter Van Buren, the American Conservative