Mao Zedong’s Red Guards terrorized the nation of China during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. They were inspired by Maoist ideology and commanded to eliminate all opposition. Additionally, the police force was told to stand down and let the young students get as violent as they wished.
During the decade of 1966 to 1976 the Chinese Cultural Revolution resulted in 1.5 million deaths, making it one of the most deadly eras in Chinese history. That figure is tiny however in comparison to the deaths attributed to the failure of the 1958 Great Leap Forward.
Leader of the Chinese Communist Party, Chairman Mao blamed the failure of his ambitious economic campaign on the infiltration of the party by lackluster revolutionaries. This is where the army of students wearing red armbands, the Red Guard, came in to crush all dissenters once again.
Shaping public opinion to abhor any admission of supporting counterrevolutionary thought took the shape of the Chinese Struggle Session during the Chinese Cultural Revolution. These were intended to root out any opposition to Mao Zedong’s rule through public shaming and humiliation.
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Chinese Cultural Revolution
Chairman Mao espoused classical Marxist ideology where the rich ruling class, the Bourgeoisie, were the enemy of the working class, the Proletariat. To his followers Mao was an insider relaying important information to them at his own peril. This was far from the truth.
During Mao’s Land Reform Campaign peasants were incited to accuse land owners of being traitors, this helped secure public opinion to be in favor of the massive land seizures of private property.
Mao’s agrarian reform was not the end goal however, his eyes were set on modernizing the country. From 1958 to 1962 the Great Leap Forward was designed to bring industry to the countryside.
The Great Leap Forward was an abysmal failure, one which loyal Chinese Communist Party members were scared to report to Chairman Mao. Instead they blamed the failure on bad weather. An estimated 50-55 million people starved to death during this period.
A sad period in Chinese history, the Great Leap Forward actually caused the death rate to climb above the birth rate.
Classrooms became the center of revolution rallies, targeting a vulnerable young mind into believing everyone including teachers, neighbors, and even family were either traitors to Mao’s cause or sympathetic to its enemies.
The Little Red Book, “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung”, was widely distributed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Chinese Struggle Session
At the core of Marxist ideology is the spirit of the “perpetual revolutionary”. This idea that a single revolution to overthrow the Bourgeoisie was not enough, a revolutionary never stops waging his war.
Mao blamed the great failure of his Great Leap Forward economic campaign on the lack of true revolutionaries in the party. Thus, he once again set out to seize absolute power by eliminating all opposition in the nation.
The Chinese Red Guards came to Mao’s aid, combined with a police force who were ordered to give them free-reign. Violence against political opposition to the Chinese Communist Party became the law of the land.
The Red Guards even targeted the most peaceful of enemies, including the Panchen Lama in 1964. He was subjected to a Struggle Session, the People’s Republic of China’s Communist Party was no friend to the Buddhist temple in Taiwan.
First hand accounts show the often arbitrary conditions of the charges brought against an individual during a Struggle Session.
I was dragged to the office. Without any investigation, the officer assembled the entire camp to start a struggle session against me. In the session the officer suddenly asked me whether I had committed my alleged original crime leading to my 8-year sentence. I was stunned. It then dawned on me that this session was in fact prearranged. The parcel was only a pretense. Their real motive was once again to force me to admit all my alleged crimes. “I did not commit any crimes,” I asserted firmly. Immediately two people jumped on me and cut off half of my hair. The officer screamed again: “are you guilty?” I replied firmly again, “no.” Two people then used a rope to tie my hands back tightly. It was connected to a loop around my shoulder and underneath my armpits. It was knotted in such a way that a slight movement of my hands would cause intense pain. This struggle session lasted for two hours.
Margaret Chu, Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation’s Mindszenty Report in November 1998
By Phoenix7777 – Own workData source: National Bureau of Statistics of China: China Statistical yearbook 2014, chapter 2 Population. Stats.gov.cn.The data is no longer available in the China Statistical yearbook. See these articles which are citing the yearbook. p.615, , p.69, and p.12, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44618588
“A Catholic Voice Out of Communist China – November 1998 Mindszenty Report”. 2008-03-13. Archived from the original on 2008-03-13. Retrieved 2011-03-07.
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