When the protection of individual rights is replaced with vague and pious appeals to the “collective good”… things can get very ugly, very quickly.
The Cultural Revolution, was a social-political movement that took place in the People’s Republic of China from 1966 until 1976. Its stated goal was to purge all remnants of capitalism and traditional elements from Chinese society
In 1966, the Communist Party Central Committee passed its “Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.” This decision defined the Cultural Revolution as “a great revolution that touches people to their very souls and constitutes a deeper and more extensive stage in the development of the socialist revolution in our country.” China’s youth responded by forming Red Guard groups around the country.
Currently, our objective is to struggle against and crush those people in authority who are taking the capitalist road, to criticize and repudiate the reactionary bourgeois academic “authorities” and the ideology of the bourgeoisie (capitalist class) and all other exploiting classes and to transform education, literature and art, and all other parts of the superstructure that do not correspond to the socialist economic base, so as to facilitate the consolidation and development of the socialist system. —Excerpt from “Decision Concerning the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution.”
The revolution aimed to “sweep away all the monsters and demons”, that is, all the class enemy who promoted bourgeois (the “capitalist” class) idea within the party, the government, the army, among the intellectuals, as well as those from an exploitative family background or belonged to one of the “Five Black Categories.” Large number of people perceived to be “monsters and demons” (牛鬼蛇神, literally “cow ghosts snake spirits”) regardless of guilt or innocence were publicly denounced, humiliated, and beaten. In their revolutionary fervor, students denounced their teachers, and children denounced their parents. Hundreds of thousands of individuals were persecuted. Many died through their ill-treatment or committed suicide.
According to the documents for the prosecution of the Gang of Four, 142,000 cadres and teachers in the education circles were persecuted, and noted academics, scientists, and educators were sent to rural labor camps. Many survivors and observers suggest that almost anyone with skills over that of the average person was made the target of political “struggle” in some way. The entire generation of tormented and inadequately educated individuals is often referred to in the West as well as in China as the ‘lost generation’.
But doesn’t the success of Scandinavian “democratic socialism” prove that socialism can work? Doesn’t Denmark show that socialism doesn’t always lead to economic collapse, political oppression, poverty and starvation? Find the answer to that question here: Does Denmark Prove That Socialism Can Work?
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