The Red Guards' Path to Violence: Political, Educational, and Psychological Factors

The Red Guards' Path to Violence: Political, Educational, and Psychological Factors

The Red Guards' Path to Violence: Political, Educational, and Psychological Factors

The Red Guards' Path to Violence: Political, Educational, and Psychological Factors

Synopsis

This book offers an in-depth look at the political psychology of China's Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution of 1966-1976. By probing the political, educational, and psychological factors influencing the Red Guards, Jing Lin sheds light on how teenagers and young adults were able to justify violence in the name of class struggle and human rights. This book provides insights to China's student movement of 1989, and is a valuable resource for students of Chinese history, revolution, political psychology, and education.

Excerpt

It is impossible to understand today's China without understanding the Cultural Revolution, which plunged China into chaos for ten years and which affected five generations of the Chinese people. Current thinking and behaviors of the Chinese people, their dissatisfaction with the government, their yearning and aspirations for democracy are all to be traced back to that massive movement. Having personally seen the Red Guards torturing, insulting, and killing people, having continuously heard the stories and read in depth about these most brutal violations of human rights and dignity, I have long felt the strong need to investigate this situation. This book is an attempt to examine political, educational, and psychological factors inherent in the Red Guards' thinking, particularly about class struggle, during the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) and to consider new alternative modes of thinking necessary if features of that traumatic event are not to be repeated. Here I attempt to bring an understanding of how the Red Guards, who were teenagers and young adults, could commit such brutal deeds as putting their neighbors in pig cages and throwing them around, tying up their teachers and ordering them to light the explosives they were forced to sit on, or forcing old men and women to kneel on broken glass and whipping them until they were too tired to raise their arms, declaring a total break with their parents and ruthlessly plunging their friends into piles of thorns. I try to reveal what brought the Red Guards to regard doing this as "conducting class struggle," "seeking liberation for the oppressed" and "being master of the country." The study focuses on the developmental process that fostered the Red Guards' aggression toward the so-called class enemies and their obedience toward the Chinese Communist leader Chairman . . .

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