Mao's Last Revolution

By Roderick Macfarquhar; Michael Schoenhals | Go to book overview

7
Red Terror

The tragic side of the movement to "smash the four olds" began in the summer of 1966 with the searching of homes and the confiscation or destruction of property belonging to families of "bad" class background; in urban areas, this meant the bourgeoisie and petite bourgeoisie, in whose ranks many teachers and all former businessmen were classified.1 In August and September, the homes of 33,695 families in Beijing were looted by Red Guards or people claiming to be Red Guards.2 In Shanghai, 84,222 homes of "bourgeois" families were looted between August 23 and September 8; 1,231 were the homes of intellectuals or teachers.3 In Beijing, Red Guards in slightly more than one month confiscated 103,000 liang (about 5.7 tons) of gold, 345,200 liang of silver, 55,459,900 yuan in cash, and 613,600 antique or jade pieces.4 In Shanghai, in addition to large quantities of gold and jewelry, the Red Guards netted a great deal of cash: 3.34 million in U.S. dollars, 3.3 million yuan in other foreign currency, 2.4 million pre-Communist silver dollars, and 370 million yuan in cash and bonds.5 In an official document circulated for reference at the central party work conference in October 1966, the confiscation by Red Guards all over China of a total of 1,188,000 liang (about 65 tons) of gold was praised as the "confiscation of the illgotten wealth of the exploiting classes."6 After the Cultural Revolution, Shanghai set up a "Bureau for Sorting Looted Goods" to carry out an official policy of returning such items to their owners, but much of value had probably disappeared.7 One Red Guard leader claimed at the time that Zhou Enlai accepted the idea of Red Guards' using confiscated money and goods "to cover the expenses they incurred" in the course of carrying out the Cultural Revolution.8

In cities across China, those who thought themselves fortunate not to have been targeted looked on in shock and bewilderment. A lab technician working in what in a bygone era had been Shanghai's Oriental Dispensary wrote in his diary on August 26, 1966:

-117-

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Mao's Last Revolution
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Abbreviations xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • 1: The First Salvos 14
  • 2: The Siege of Beijing 32
  • 3: Confusion on Campuses 52
  • 4: The Fifty Days 66
  • 5: Mao's New Successor 86
  • 6: The Red Guards 102
  • 7: Red Terror 117
  • 8: Confusion Nationwide 132
  • 9: Shanghai's [January Storm] 155
  • 10: Seizing Power 170
  • 11: The Last Stand of the Old Guard 184
  • 12: The Wuhan Incident 199
  • 13: The May 16 Conspiracy 221
  • 14: The End of the Red Guards 239
  • 15: Cleansing the Class Ranks 253
  • 16: Dispatching Liu Shaoqi 273
  • 17: The Congress of Victors 285
  • 18: War Scares 308
  • 19: The Defection and Death of Lin Biao 324
  • 20: Mao Becalmed 337
  • 21: Zhou Under Pressure 358
  • 22: Deng Xiaoping Takes Over 379
  • 23: The Gang of Four Emerges 396
  • 24: The Tiananmen Incident of 1976 413
  • 25: The Last Days of Chairman Mao 431
  • Conclusion 450
  • Glossary of Names and Identities 465
  • A Note on Sources 479
  • Notes 483
  • Bibliography 611
  • Illustration Credits 659
  • Index 661
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