Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

By Yan Jiaqi; Gao Gao et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 4

"Declaring War on
the Old World"

Building an "Extraordinarily Revolutionized World"

At the Mass Meeting Celebrating the Cultural Revolution, Lin Biao exhorted the Red Guards to "defeat thoroughly all exploitative old thought, old culture, old customs, and old practices," and he exhorted the people to support the Red Guards in "their proletarian rebellious spirit of daring to storm, daring to do, and daring to overthrow." The prime movers of the Cultural Revolution made use of the simplicity, ignorance, curiosity, and impulsiveness of young students. In Beijing from August 19 on, they started an unprecedented Destroy the Four Olds (po sijiu) movement, which spread rapidly throughout the country. For a while the whole of China, just as Lin Biao said during the August 8 meeting with members of the Central Small Group, turned topsy-turvy with stormy struggles, causing insomnia for capitalists and proletarians alike. With such mottoes as making the world "extraordinarily proletarianized and extraordinarily revolutionized," the Red Guards began their Destroy the Four Olds movement.

The Red Guards of the No. 2 Middle School of Beijing were the first to paste up big-character posters announcing "A Declaration of War on the Old World." They shouted,

We are the critics of the old world; we want to criticize and we want to crush all old thought, old culture, old customs, and old habits. All servers of the capitalists such as barber shops, tailor shops, photograph studios, used book stalls are to be included. We want to zaofan the old world.... The torrent of the Cultural Revolution is now flooding in upon every stronghold of the plutocrats of the capitalist class. The warm beds of the capitalist class can no longer be maintained!

Odd hair styles such as "aeroplane" and "spiraling pagoda" and Hong Kong-style jeans and T-shirts, as well as pornographic pictures and publica

-65-

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