Red Guards Revolution Mao

It had been argued that one of the many aims of Mao’s Cultural Revolution had been that of the “cleaning up” of the economic, political, ideological, and organisational impurities of the rural peasants and basic-level cadres. 1 The initial intention of the Social Education Movement was to restore collectivisation which was damaged by the disasters after the Great Leap. However, it was soon revealed that corruption among the grass-roots rural cadres was rampant, resulting in the shift of focus from one of collectivisation to that of the village leadership.

2 Mao had released a resolution titled, “Early Ten Points”3 which essentially subjected the Party to criticisms from non-Party mechanisms. The target of this program was at elementary and middle high school children (i. e. aged 12-14). It was most active from 1933 till 1966 and would later form the majority of the membership of the Red Guards. Such a movement which essentially comprised of the indoctrination of Mao’s ideas to young people especially those in the rural countryside areas allowed the Party to plant trusted students into the Chinese villages as spies to report on the various activities in the rural villages.

The Red Guard

This form of indoctrination manifested the idea of class struggles amongst the students in the rural areas and been so successful that the students formed the organisation called the Red Guards with Mao’s authorisation and had declared themselves as Mao’s “little generals”4, indicating that their sole loyalty to Mao. The Red Guards, most of whom were the teenage children from the countryside, would be carrying out the numerous purges in all levels of the Party and government throughout China.

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It could be seen from the early beginnings of the Social Education Movement that Mao had been trying to nurture an organisation which would assist him in his future political purges. The activation of the Red Guards in the second half of August 1966 marked a watershed in the course of the Cultural Revolution in the countryside as well as in the cities. The Red Guards made their first public appearance with a rally of a million in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in August 18, 1966. Battalions of youth, enlisting in the Cultural Revolution, marched by singing, “Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman.

” Mao Zedong had given his approval during his review of the students and put on a Red Guard armband, emblazoned with the three characters “Hong Wei Bing. ” 5 Mao signified his support of the Red Guards by being with them for the whole period that they were at the square. Mao’s support of the Red Guards meant a lot to the students. As mentioned previously, the personality of Mao had been so strong that any gifts from Mao himself would be worshipped and revered. A former Red Guard, An Xi Jiang, had admitted after the revolution that “people worshipped him as a god”6.

Hence the fact that their Chairman was at the Tiananmen Square with the youths, encouraging and wearing the Red Guard armband had significant impact on the youths. Mao’s encouragement of their enthusiasm and critical questioning in a way gave the Red Guards some form of unlimited power to “carry on the revolution within the revolution”7. Had Mao not given his sanction to the Red Guards, the latter might not had gone to such extreme measures in the ideological cleansing of the so-called “intellectuals” to remove the “bourgeois” influences.

Indeed, Mao encouraged the students to turn against their teachers, university professors. Most of these people were usually holding a position of authority and hence it would be reasonable to argue that the students were in effect a tool of Mao for his ideological purges of his opponents. Mao encouraged Red Guards to attack all traditional values and bourgeois items and to test party officials by publicly criticizing them. The officially sanctioned freedom of action of Mao’s migratory “little generals” gave them the virtual license to “destroy the four olds”.

The Red Guards, most of whom were from the poor and lower-middle peasants families, set up their own Red Guard detachment, attacking the former landlords and rich peasants living on the commune. In this way, the students could be used as a tool to help Mao test the members’ loyalty to him. Mao believed that this measure would be beneficial both for the young people and for the party cadres that they attacked. Religion and superstition was also targeted by the students.

The Red Guards went round smashing up the ancestral tablets, incense burners, religious icons, old books, old wall cloths, superstitious objects and the like in the countryside. Although the peasants eventually gave in the actions of the Red Guards, they did so out of fear of the repercussions of being labelled as counter-revolutionaries, rather than genuine enthusiasm. Mao had added in a personal letter: “It is right to rebel against reactionaries…. I offer you my warm support….

” Hence it could be inferred that the youth was being used by Mao as the tool against his opponents and in the class struggles between capitalism and socialism. One can conclude from this that the Cultural Revolution was indeed largely Mao’s initiative with the Red Guards being used as a force to get the rest of the country involved. One of the plausible explanations for the students’ obsessive following of Mao’s ideas had been the social indoctrination in the earlier period through the use of visual arts such as posters which had definitely appealed to the students.

Closely related to this was the brain-washing campaign that Mao had implemented on the students. The result of such activities would probably be that of a senseless following of Mao’s ideas. The fact that Mao was worshipped till such an extent inevitably had to be accredited to his indoctrination and brain-washing campaigns. As former Red Guard, An Xi Jiang admitted, “Thinking back, I think maybe we were brainwashed”8. One can thus see the extent of the brain-washing campaign which Mao had instigated during his term as Chairman in the Communist Party.

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Red Guards Revolution Mao. (2019, Dec 05). Retrieved from

Red Guards Revolution Mao
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