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Red Guards

Sworn to protect Chairman Mao and his revolutionary line, the Red Guards [hong weibing] and other, older revolutionary rebels caused havoc and eventually turned on each other, resulting in great destruction and considerable loss of life. The Red Guards were re-enacting in miniature in the autumn of 1966 the 8,000 mile Long March of the Red Army in 1934 and 1935.

On September 15, 1966, the Third Great Mass Rally assembled a million “rebel revolutionaries” in the Plaza of Heavenly Peace. Lin Piao issued new orders. It was time to “bombard the headquarters". The Maoists had been frustrated time and time again by the most tenacious civilization and the most stubbornly conservative people on earth. The “vigorous attack” on the entire established order could not be mounted by youths in their native areas. The “revolutionary rebels” were still restrained by ingrained respect for officials, teachers, and parents who had brought them up.

The People’s Liberation Army, having organized the Red Guards, continued to oversee their peregrinations. Official reception centers were established in major cities under Army officers called “political advisers.” Transportation was assigned, as were quarters and rations at destinations. The chief railway station of Peking was reserved solely for the millions of Red Guards who attended the Eight Great Mass Rallies.

A campaign against the Red Guards was waged by those who opposed the Mao Tse-tung-Lin Piao leadership. Revisionism is as old as the revolutionary movement. Marx drew sharp lines between himself and the fakes of his day. Lenin ruthlessly criticized the revisionists that populated his scene. Maoists in China criticized those who “raise the red flag to oppose the red flag.” They charged that so-called socialists and communist were fake; they are revisionist. They raised the red flag to oppose the red flag.

Fighting between opposing Red Guard groups led to thousands of deaths. In 1966 reports said fights broke out between Red Guards and the factory workers, and therw were clashes between Red Guards and opposing groups in the countryside. By 1968 therew were reports of fighting with mortars and grenades be tween opposing Red Guard factions. Middle-school students who had been sent from Beijing to various provinces and regions to expand the movement clashed with their local counterparts. The opposition to the Red Guard movement was more serious than Communist Chinese leaders expected.

Once the Red Guards had served their purpose of overturning the old order, these restive young people were exiled from the cities to be re-educated by the peasants in the countryside. Many did not return to the cities until the late 1970s; some never did.



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