Turbulent Decade: A History of the Cultural Revolution

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

Chapter 7

Currents of Boycott and
Resistance

THE TUMULTUOUS ACTION brought on by the political fever and "red terror" of the Cultural Revolution did not indicate unity of thought and action on the part of the people vis-à-vis the Cultural Revolution. As the Central Small Group waved banners and urged people to storm barricades, currents of boycott and resistance to the Cultural Revolution remained.


Debates surrounding the Couplet

By the end of July 1966, the Cultural Revolution had reached the point where the two highest cadres of any unit were to be struggled with as "black gang" elements. This Mao-supported anti-work groups struggle caused many old revolutionaries, who were by then occupying fairly high positions, to be attacked. The long history of cruel inner-Party struggle brought fear to many of them. Their children, who had yet to mature in their views and aspirations, also suffered. Children usually shared with each other the past glories of their individual families, and they now could not help but compare their awkward circumstances. On July 29, 1966, out of excited indignation, the cadre offspring among the students of Beijing Institute of Aeronautics Middle School produced a couplet that caught the public eye. The left portion of the couplet read: "If the father is a hero, the son is a brave man"; the right portion read: "If the father is a reactionary, the son is a good‐ for-nothing." The horizontal scroll in the middle read, "Basically it's like this." 1 Fervent debates ensued. The composers of the couplet remained steadfast in their view, maintaining the couplet should really be labeled "Striking fear in the hearts of demons."

During the night of August 1, 1966, students of the institute's middle school posted the couplet at the campuses of Beijing, Qinghua, and People's University and at other institutions of higher learning. Thus a couplet-writing move

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