The Red Guards

1793 Words8 Pages
The Red Guard strove to remove and destroy the Four Olds, foreign influence, enemies of the Party and the current societal structure by persecuting those who supposedly perpetuated them. All vestiges of outdated customs, habits, culture and ideas were to be destroyed, since the movement represented “a triumph of youth over age, of ‘the new’ over ‘the old.’” To do so, the Red Guard wrecked thousands of art collections and the contents of libraries, and changed “reactionary” street signs. They persecuted members of the public who attempted to stop them or refused to give up the Four Olds. Those who had foreign ties, like businessmen, missionaries, or who had western education were also persecuted to prevent backwards or rightist…show more content…
At one point, the divide between the two groups was so great that it was suggested to divide society by class in full. Those considered to be from bourgeois backgrounds would be denied urban services and physically separated from those of truly “red” backgrounds, like the cadres and lower peasants. However, Mao later issued a statement in autumn of 1966 denouncing this belief, declaring that “one’s political devotion, not ‘natural redness,’ define[s] the true revolutionary activist.” The plans for physical separation were forgotten, but the tension still remained. Despite Mao’s attempts to smooth out the division already forming within the Red Guard, the seeds of factionalism had already been sown. By the peak of the Red Guard movement in January of 1967, it had broken down into warring factions and unleashed havoc across China. Because of the Red Guard’s lack of a unified mindset, they lacked common targets to remove as they purged local governments of officials. Groups of Red Guards would senselessly fight against Party leaders and each other, with no central goal. Some would work to initiate opposition and struggle against Party members whom they deemed too conservative, while others attempted to prevent the overthrow of the
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