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The Red Guard Generation and Political…
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The Red Guard Generation and Political Activism in China (Studies of the…

by Guobin Yang

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Professor Yang has enriched our understanding of the Red Guard movement by putting together his scholarly summary of interviews, journals, newspaper articles and other items that portray aspects of this cultural change and the attitude of its participants some forty or more years later. The Red Guard phenomenon was probably fermenting twenty years before its actual advent in the 1960’s. There were youth movements around the world in which young people filled with the idealism of the young were advocating change being moved by various ideologies. Youth in China were no exception. Mao and his writings were an inspiring force and propelled them as if on a sacred mission for the sake of revolution. The movement was a collection of factions who were often attacking each other. What ensued were social unrest, destruction, murder and the undermining of China’s cultural roots. Those who were “sent down” to poor rural villages were soon disabused of their revolutionary romanticism since they now had to contend with the same poverty and starvation rations of the villagers. Those sent to communes fared somewhat better. There was a real test to the Communist party when these same young people wanted to return to their cities bringing forth questions of employment and daily sustenance and social mobility or lack of it. Some of the survivors are now veterans of the Communist party apparatus and are not apologetic over what transpired in the past. This is a good read to broaden your viewpoint. My own viewpoint was previously framed by live discussions with some of my Chinese friends who were adversely affected young people at that time and the aftermath of the destruction I witnessed during several visits to China.

I was given an electronic copy in return for an honest review. ( )
  mcdenis | Jun 30, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0231149646, Hardcover)

Raised to be "flowers of the nation," the first generation born after the founding of the People's Republic of China was united in its political outlook and at first embraced the Cultural Revolution of 1966, but then split into warring factions. Investigating the causes of this fracture, Guobin Yang argues that Chinese youth engaged in an imaginary revolution from 1966 to 1968, enacting a political mythology that encouraged violence as a way to prove one's revolutionary credentials. This same competitive dynamic would later turn the Red Guard against the communist government.

Throughout the 1970s, the majority of Red Guard youth were sent to work in rural villages, where they developed an appreciation for the values of ordinary life. From this experience, an underground cultural movement was born. Rejecting idolatry, these relocated revolutionaries developed a new form of resistance that signaled a new era of enlightenment, culminating in the Democracy Wall movement of the late 1970s and the Tiananmen protest of 1989. Yang's final chapter on the politics of history and memory argues that contemporary memories of the Cultural Revolution are factionalized along these lines of political division, formed fifty years before.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 30 Jun 2016 16:40:29 -0400)

"A study of the unintended impact of the Red Guard movement and the sent-down campaign on the generation"--Provided by publisher.

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