17 May 2020
The new Red Guards
Just finished Wild Swans, over 700 pages of densely-packed print but a real page-turner nonetheless. It traces the experiences of a Chinese family spanning three generations up to the late nineties. The author's description of life during Mao's Cultural Revolution was particularly harrowing. And instructive because of the similarities between what happened then under the Red Guards and is happening now under the Woke Generation.
Guilt was no longer determined by the rule of law, the presumption of innocence (such as it was) abandoned. Replaced by mob denunciation arising from a perceived lack of ideological purity, or something you said a long time ago, or being once seen in the company of somebody now out of favour. Just like today in the West ritual denunciation was followed by grovelling confessions - which were never enough. In fact as we see with today's "liberals" such grovelling - for some reason - seems only to elicit even greater fury, fuelling demands for re-education but with no guarantee of rehabilitation. Humiliation was a powerful weapon, breaking the spirit of even the most resilient. And the more truthful and accurate the defence the more frenzied became the torment, reminding us of Orwell's "The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it".
Mao's stated objective was to destroy The Four Olds: Old Customs, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Ideas. Add in the systematic undermining of the family unit, religion and personal loyalty, the lack of privacy and an absolute adherence to the Party Line and his programme takes on chilling similarities to what we see now in our own countries. And worse is headed our way. Unless meaningful opposition arises. [To achieve world government, it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family tradition, national patriotism, and religious dogmas." - Dr George Brock Chisholm, who served as the first Director-General of the World Health Organisation (WHO) from 1948 to 1953]
I'll leave you with a final thought: Mao's main instrument of tyranny was not the police, the army or the intelligence services. He controlled the most powerful enforcer of all: The people themselves. The Cultural Revolution turned the Chinese people into the enforcers of their own repression. Neighbour ratted-out neighbour, even family members ratted one another out. Do I hear you say something about pandemic lock-down? The 17th Century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes saw even back then that absolute power comes less from an imposition from above and more through people willingly giving up their own freedom in the face of some real or imagined threat.at 23:00