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The Children of the Revolution

“Nobody is more dangerous than he who imagines himself pure in heart,” wrote James Baldwin, “for his purity, by definition, is unassailable.” This observation has been confirmed many times throughout history. However, China’s Cultural Revolution offers perhaps the starkest illustration of just how dangerous the “pure in heart” can be. The ideological justification for the revolution was to purge the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and the nation more broadly, of impure elements hidden in its midst: capitalists, counter-revolutionaries, and “representatives of the bourgeoisie.” To that end, Mao Zedong activated China’s youth—unblemished and uncorrupted in heart and mind—to lead the struggle for purity. Christened the “Red Guards,” they were placed at the vanguard of a revolution that was, in truth, a cynical effort by Mao to reassert his waning power in the Party. Nevertheless, it set in motion a self-destructive force of almost unimaginable depravity.

The Cultural Revolution commenced in spirit when Mao published a letter indicting a number of Party leaders on May 16, 1966. But it was a seemingly minor event nine days later that ignited the revolution in effect: a young philosophy professor at Peking University named Nie Yuanzi placed a “big-character poster” (a handwritten propaganda sheet featuring large Chinese characters) on a public bulletin board denouncing the university president and others in the administration as bourgeois revisionists. Mao immediately endorsed her protest, which set off a chain reaction of student revolt that swept through China.

That chain reaction was accelerated by “working groups” of ideologues sent to administer schools. Under their tenure, schools became centers of activism rather than learning. Students were encouraged to create big-character posters exposing their own teachers, officials, and even parents. The accused were humiliated in daily “struggle sessions” in which their students and colleagues interrogated them and demanded confessions. The viciousness of these sessions rapidly intensified. Students beat, spat upon, and tortured—in horrifically creative ways—their often elderly teachers and professors. In one case, students demanded their biology professor stare at the sun with wide open eyes. If he blinked or looked away, they beat him. Even middle and elementary school students participated in the struggle sessions, sometimes beating their teachers to death with sticks and belt buckles.

“Little Red Soldier” (Hong Xiao Bing) by Huang Jinzeng. The text reads “Position of Serious Criticism” (from the Helen May Schneider collection).

Students were also encouraged to turn on their classmates. As the sins of one generation passed to the next, a new hierarchy was born: the children of revolutionaries on top and the children of “landlords,” “capitalists,” and “rightists” at the bottom. These students were labeled “rotten eggs” and were fair game for the same treatment meted out to their parents. The current president of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping, endured this fate. He was only 15 years old when his father, a loyal Maoist and one-time propaganda chief, was purged, his sister executed, and his own mother forced to denounced Xi as a reactionary. Amid the hysteria, teachers, professors, and intellectuals did not dare to stand up to the students or defend their colleagues lest they suffer similar fates. But they could not escape by being bystanders. With every word and action becoming potential evidence of capitalist sympathy, teachers and intellectuals enthusiastically joined their students in the struggle sessions and screaming rallies.

Mao’s decision to use China’s youth as his vanguard was, by fortune or foresight, instrumental to the revolution’s initial success. The young may be pure in heart, but they are also high on emotion and short on life experience. Simply put, they are natural philistines. Still in their identity-forming years, China’s young had few barriers to a complete identification with the Red Guards. Conformity and intolerance of dissent followed naturally. When students were not attending rallies and struggle sessions, they spent endless hours studying and discussing Mao’s Little Red Book. As Lu Li’an, a former Red Guard, explained, “We were taught only about revolution so when we read the works of propaganda literature we really wanted to be at the head, at the vanguard of revolutionary history.” With undeveloped mental immune systems, their soft skulls were fertile ground for Mao’s secular Manichaeism. Manichaeism reduces society, with all the diversity and complexity of human experience, to a blunt dichotomy: light and darkness, good and evil, right and wrong, radical and reactionary. “There is no middle way!” became a popular slogan. Ideologies like these are intellectually and morally vapid, yet their simplicity and certainty are alluring, especially to the young. Thus, Mao’s child revolutionaries could—with youthful exuberance and clarity of purpose—chain a teacher to a radiator and bludgeon him to death with an iron bar, or force a teacher to eat nails and feces, among other tortures.

Red Guards place a placard around a man’s neck, accusing him of being a member of the “black class,” in 1966.

The Red Guards’ purity of mind—their youthful capacity for learning and openness to new ideas—also proved useful to Mao. Their plasticity was well-suited to the project of eradicating what was called “the Four Olds”: old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. The Red Guards would impose a new symbolic order on an old world without the clutter or caution of life experience. Sometimes the results were comical. Since red symbolized the revolution, and the revolution must not stop, Red Guards demanded that vehicles drive rather than stop at red traffic lights. More often, the results were horrific. Because pet cats, dogs, fish, and even crickets became symbols of “bourgeois decadence,” 1 they were slaughtered in their thousands. Eating human flesh became a macabre proof of loyalty. The Party’s own investigations tell of students in Guangxi province cooking and eating their teachers and principals. In some government cafeterias, the bodies of executed traitors were displayed on meat hooks, while their flesh was served and consumed. The blank slate, it seems, can also be a dark abyss. Indeed, the nature and scale of the harms caused by the Cultural Revolution, which I have only touched on here, almost defy comprehension.

Although educators and intellectuals were primary targets of the revolution, they bore some responsibility, by acts of commission or omission, for creating the conditions of its possibility. In the years prior to the Cultural Revolution, the Party had cultivated an environment of extreme political conformity. Political rallies and self-criticism sessions had become a regular feature of Maoist thought-reform campaigns.2 Ji Xianlin, a professor of languages at Peking, detailed how eagerly the teachers and intellectuals had supported these campaigns. In his memoir, The Cowshed, Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, Ji writes with regret of his own “aptitude in crowd behavior.” He had been a true believer in Maoism and willingly persecuted other intellectuals during the Socialist Education Movement in 1957. But his Party loyalty was no defense when the revolution eventually came for him. A year into the Cultural Revolution, he found himself denounced by friends, colleagues, and students. Already in his late fifties, he was imprisoned with other intellectuals in a cowshed with former students as his sadistic prison guards. He was forced to endure constant struggle sessions and beaten and tormented mercilessly by his colleagues and Red Guards.

Eventually, even Mao acknowledged that the situation was spiraling out of control. In 1967, the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was ordered to suppress the Red Guards, and they did so with great brutality. Many of the young radicals were killed in clashes with the PLA, while countless others perished in mass executions. But most were sent to labor camps in the countryside (including Nie Yuanzi, the young professor who had hung the first big-character poster at Peking University). After the Red Guards were contained, the intensity of the Cultural Revolution declined. It officially ended with Mao’s death in 1976. All told, the death toll is estimated to have been between 400,000 and several million people. Tens of millions more were injured in acts of extreme cruelty and depravity.

The word “revolution” connotes turning, cycling, revolving. Cycles (and perhaps revolutions) are inescapable in nature, the laws of which command, with unbroken precedent, that the young will succeed the old. The Cultural Revolution, however, was deeply defective. Led by young idealists and animated by the forces of purity and paranoia, the revolution could yield only mayhem. No society, no person, no thing can satisfy the platonic ideal of purity. Hence, its pursuit ensured no end to struggle. More insidiously, the target of purification—the enemy, the disease, the rot—was internal. External threats are visible. They announce themselves by flag, appearance, ethos, and the like. The internal threat is hidden. The enemy is at once nowhere and everywhere. Thus, everyone was suspect: teachers, friends, and even family members. Hidden enemies must be exposed before they can be purified. Therefore, self-criticism, re-education, and public confession are peculiar but necessary practices in the inward war. Show trials, struggle sessions, and inquisitions satisfy the ideology’s existential need for conflict by creating enemies out of comrades. In order to avoid persecution during the Cultural Revolution, many were quick to accuse others, thereby creating a feedback loop of ever intensifying ideological fanaticism and violence. Inevitably, the accusers became the accused, and the torturers became the tortured.

As each confession validated the Red Guards’ paranoia, the revolution mutated into something like an autoimmune disorder that attacks what it is meant to protect. This was, in fact, what the CCP’s Central Committee concluded about the Cultural Revolution in 1981. In a remarkably candid retrospective, the Central Committee acknowledged that “it was we and not the enemy at all who were thrown into disorder by the ‘Cultural Revolution’” which they judged responsible for “the most severe setback and the heaviest losses suffered by the Party, the state, and the people since the founding of the People’s Republic.”

The revolution’s descent into anarchy and violence calls to mind the first stanza of W.B. Yeats’ famous poem “The Second Coming,” which begins with the “Turning and turning in the widening gyre.” For the Cultural Revolution it reads like prophecy, a forewarning of what transpires when a people, united around a single unassailable vision, finds its enemies by turning inwards. With no competing visions or ability to self-correct, the turning continues, the gyre widens, and soon:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Much has been written recently about the excesses of political polarization and the prevalence of an “us versus them” mentality in politics. The Cultural Revolution, however, offers a chilling example of the dangers of an excess of political homogeneity. To be sure, Maoism preached the Manichean gospel of good versus evil. But all were agreed that Maoism was correct, even (sometimes especially) those who were purged. Conflicts were only over who practiced the purest version of the ideology, not over competing doctrines—because there were none. It was this lack of a distinguishable “us” and “them,” that drove the revolution to turn inward in search of enemies and impurities.

In liberal democracies, by contrast, purity politics may occur within factions and parties. But the real competition is between conflicting political values and ideologies, all of which provide the productive tension that drives social progress. Of course, liberal democracy is itself a political ideology, but it is uniquely structured around a conception of pluralism that can accommodate disparate visions of what constitutes the good life. Elections, among other things, act as self-correcting mechanisms: a party that purges its impure elements inevitably strengthens its competition. This limits the potential depravity and destructiveness of purity politics, which was not the case in China.

Nevertheless, the instinct to conform and to be accepted by our peers is strong within us all—especially the young. When the undercurrents of popular culture pull us towards conformity, democracy alone is no cure. Nor is it enough to preach tolerance: there must also exist a multiplicity of views to tolerate. When we tell ourselves and teach our children that “diversity is our strength,” it can sound a lot like dogma. Even so, it is a dogma worth supporting if it is intended to extoll diversity of thought and opinion; a diversity that rewards contrarians who reject the safety of the herd, and those who embody the spirit of dissent, nonconformity, and individualism. Nietzsche once warned that “the surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.” It is a warning we should heed.

 

James David Banker is an attorney and writer. He studied linguistics at Cambridge, law at Stanford, and philosophy in the Special Forces. You can follow him on Twitter @jdbanker1

References:

1 John Bowman. (2005) Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. p73.
2 Ji Xianlin, and Chenxin Jiang. (2016) The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. p18.

97 Comments

  1. Peter Schaeffer says

    Of course, all terrible history of the Cultural Revolution is entirely true. What is missing from this article is the aftermath. These days the Cultural Revolution is portrayed (in China) as a monstrous aberration. The book “Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China” by Jung Chang (who lives in the UK) contains a very bitter condemnation of the Cultural Revolution. The “The Three-Body Problem” by Cixin Liu (who does live in China) describes the Cultural Revolution in the harshest possible terms. In the “The Three-Body Problem” a (fictional) character decides to terminate human existence in protest over the Cultural Revolution.

    Contemporary China is dominated (too some degree) by a backlash against the Cultural Revolution. See “China’s Class of 1977: I took an exam that changed China” for how China turned its back on the Cultural Revolution and started to move forwards as a nation.

      • Not a significant spoiler, and not even the main inspiration for that character’s decision. Don’t let this keep you from a great and very original sci fi novel.

      • Peter Schaeffer says

        BD, As Pd points out below, there is a lot more to the “The Three-Body Problem”. A full-fledged spoiler would take pages and pages of text, not one sentence. Actually, the “The Three-Body Problem” is just the first of three books. The other two are “The Dark Forest” and “Death’s End”. All are highly recommended. They were are written in Chinese and translated into English by Ken Liu (the translations are excellent).

        These books are, perhaps, the greatest science fiction written in this century. Like Pd, I recommend them highly. You won’t find them “spoiled” by my comments.

      • Kenneth Eisenberg says

        Thanx muchly for your succinct comment! You must be truly woke: (sarcasm).

        • Tome708 says

          Of course the leftist philosophy prof loves the ban of someone else’s expression. Doesn’t adhere to his strict definition of what I’d allowed.
          @dellingdogthecensor. #vickispeechisnotviolence

          • dellingdog says

            I played no part in censoring her — the moderators decided she was a profane provocateur who detracted from the quality of the conversation. Speech is obviously not violence, but I don’t come to Quillette for sophomoric rants. If you miss Vicki’s brand of insults and slurs, you’re free to visit virtually any other politically-themed comment section on the Internet.

          • Joe Bob says

            Tome- if you enjoy reading slurs and curses against other commentators, I’m sure you won’t have a hard time finding it on the internet.

          • Angela says

            There’s a giant difference in banning someone because of their view points and banning someone because they’ve post hundreds and hundreds of comments harassing other commentators and otherwise just not making a lick of sense. You can believe in both viewpoint diversity and basic civility.

      • Angela says

        Hah did they really ban her? I dont know about banning her , but God she was bonkers. Her comments never had anything to do with articles.

    • Peter Schaeffer says

      Some westerners were complicit in China’s Cultural Revolution. Notably, the greatest female economist of her generation (perhaps any generation), was a notorious supporter of Mao generally, and more specifically the Cultural Revolution. That would be Joan Robinson (who died in 1983). See “A Fellow Traveller’s Tale – How Mao Cost a Cambridge Economist the Nobel Prize” by Julian Gewirtz. She remained devoted to Mao’s insanity to the very end and it cost her dearly. Quote from the article.

      “In 1979, Deng Xiaoping said plainly that his goal was to “turn China into a great modern and powerful country within this century.” The “one-way street” model that Robinson exemplified was no longer the order of the day, and the intellectual direction was one of which she disapproved. “It was deflating to be told that the Cultural Revolution is over and that the new aim of policy is modernization,” she reflected that same year. “We know only too well what it is like to be modern.””

  2. TarsTarkas says

    Hmm. Sounds very familiar. Like something going on on so many college campuses and on social media today.

    The SJW’s want to eliminate all competing ideologies (and their supporters) in favor of the one they prefer; Critical Theory intersectionality or some version of that (I can’t keep up with the jargon). Once they’ve dealt with the reactionary wrongthinking bourgeoisie and their ilk they can really go to town purging the not so pure from their ranks.

    This is a depressingly recurrent often blood-soaked theme in history. The Stalinist purges of the 30’s. The Great Terror of the French Revolution. The Puritan Revolution in England. The agony of the Hussites. Savonarola. The Almohads in North Africa and Spain and before them the Qarmatians. The list goes on and on.

    • Nakatomi Plaza says

      Right, overeager liberal academics are going to lead the next bloody revolution. How many millions will die because of the horrors of intersectionality? How many generations scarred by the cruel machinations of gender studies and feminist poetry?

      I’m not sure who is more pathetic and more difficult to take seriously, SJWs or people who are as scared of them as you seem to be.

      • Ned Flanders says

        Do you deny that the events in this article happened more or less the way they are described? If so, how would you distinguish between ideologically zealous western youth of today and the those in China in the years preceding the Cultural Revolution?

        I actually agree with you that we won’t experience major atrocities at the hands of the SJWs, but only because in western society there are too many other players to step in, especially with the communication technology that is now a part of life. But if you were to take the students and faculties of the humanities programs of a few universities and drop them off on an island and give them a decade to build their own societies, I think some pretty depraved stuff would go down.

        • dellingdog says

          Case in point. Hectoring Charles Murray is not equivalent to killing hundreds of thousands of people and engaging in cannibalism. The slope is not nearly as slippery as you think it is.

          • Tome708 says

            Yeah Delling Dog the censor is right. Nothing to see here. Speech is violence. Shutting people up is NEVER violent

          • Frankly I’ve come to believe the slope is quite slippery. I grew up in the 40’s and 50’s and for most of my life I found it hard, if not impossible, to understand the majority of a nation supporting Hitler’s or the emperor of Japan’s regime. Sadly, today, I find it quite understandable.

      • dellingdog says

        Exactly right. The anti-SJW snowflakes are absolutely terrified of overzealous college students. First step, trigger warnings and deplatforming of controversial speakers. Next step, concentration camps for ideological dissidents. The level of hysteria in these comment sections (about SJWs, Muslim immigrants, transgender activists, Trump critics, etc.) would be funny if it weren’t so sad. Deranged extremists on both ends of the spectrum provide fuel for each other. If only the supposedly objective anti-SJW ideologues could recognize that they’re the mirror image of the people they condemn …

        • dellingdog says

          Although it should be obvious, my “exactly right” comment was responding to Nakatomi, not Ned.

      • Stephanie says

        @Nakatomi, their flagrant anti-Semitism and embrace of Islam should disabuse you of the notion they don’t have it in them to be violent. Not to mention that Antifa is essentially already their brownshirts. I’ve known some Antifa types, and they are not the wimps you might be imagining.

        It won’t be the current academics who do it. Just like the article describes for the Cultural Revolution, it’ll be the zealous students. It seems far-fetched now, but these things always do right before they happen.

        • dellingdog says

          Antifa is beyond marginal. It’s absurd to claim that they serve as the “brownshirts” of social justice activists. They have the same relationship to progressives as the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville do to ideologues like you.

          • Stephanie says

            @dellingdog, I assume you’re talking to me, even though you don’t address me and are well aware that replies on this forum are confusing.

            Aside from the silliness of throwing the neo-Nazi slur at a Jew (what are you, a leftist? Straight out of their handbook), let’s look at what brownshirts were and what Antifa are. Brownshirts were an organised force who used violence and intimidation to silence dissenting opinions and achieve political goals. What are Antifa? Why, they are an organised force who use violence and intimidation to silence dissenting opinions and attempt to achieve political goals. It’s almost like the only difference between the brownshirts and Antifa is their success! Or, perhaps, just time.

            Bless your heart if you don’t think Antifa have broad-based support. You would be so distressed if you understood the extent to which the left is infested with these people.

          • Tome708 says

            Stephanie, He is a leftist “philosophy” teacher. He probably will deny it but his comments are consistent. Just above he celebrated a participant being “banned” because he disapproved of her “style”.
            Then resorts the “white supremacy” moral equivalence to the progressive leftist movement that is sweeping thru University/media/entertainment and now into the levers of power in government.
            Yeah. That is definitely equivalent to a couple dozen idiot carrying tiki torches. Idiots that are universally rejected by overwhelming majority of everyone. The usual moral equivalency argument.
            That’s why they have to keep expanding the definition of “white supremacy” and “alt right” and “extreme right” etc to everyone holds different ideas. To the extent of comparing a Jewish woman to the tiki “nazis” because she thinks a little. Bet he would be celebrated if you were “banned” because of your hate speech

          • DiamondLil says

            Dellingdog, I actually agree with you about antifa and the SJW, but I hope you are as clear and concise in your condemnation of comments that conflate conservatives in general (and Republicans in particular) with Nazis.

      • ADM64 says

        The issue is not that they are immediately about to run amuck but that they will graduate, move into positions of power, and then ram things down everyone’s throat. The ignorance many college students display is stunning. The indifference to constitutional protections and individual rights is on display daily. History provides too many examples to be complacent.

        • dellingdog says

          They’re not indifferent to individual rights; they prioritize them differently. For example, many (but far from all) college students think that people on their campuses should not be subjected to what they regard as “hate speech.” I disagree with that position — I think bad speech should be met with better arguments, not censorship — but it’s wrong to conclude that they’re proto-totalitarians. This piece offers a useful snapshot of student’s views:

          https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/12/us/college-students-free-speech.html

          • @dellingdog It’s not any reasonable definition of “hate speech” they are going after; it’s not “bad speech” at all. It’s redefined to mean anything that makes them uncomfortable.

            I agree with you that there is no need to panic. What the SJWs are doing doesn’t lead to good outcomes for anybody and it seems like the majority recognise that, so it’s doubtful they’ll gain much power.

            But it does seem necessary to continually show support to the people who stand up to them and get fired or uninvited to give speeches – they personally are paying the cost of challenging the SJWs. And not challenging them would be dangerous.

      • simplulo says

        Tarstarkas didn’t predict that millions will die, but some of the societies that experienced these murderous pogroms and witch hunts (e.g. Germany) could not have imagined them just a few years before. Anyway, even if the obvious harm is only 400 000 ruined careers instead of murders, it is excessive by modern standards, and the collateral damage is much greater.

          • Just do a bit of research on who Applebaum (and her globalist husband, the leftist former foreign minister of Poland) is before swallowing that rambling whiny piece in the left wing Atlantic wholesale. I’ve always found her to be equal parts smug, arrogant, self-absorbed, judgmental, and hypocritical.

            Gosh, the nerve of these far-right folks in Poland – allowing people with only ONE foreign language to enter the foreign service. Deplorable, isn’t it?

            Yes, the pendulum does swing back rather farther than one would care to see – but Applebaum’s sour grapes and tendency to ascribe to the “other side” that which her side has been (and is) guilty of, is so typical of the hypocritical left.

            Like most on the left these days, she is quite unable to understand the need to remove the beam from her own eyes before pointing out the speck in others.

        • dellingdog says

          “But it does seem necessary to continually show support to the people who stand up to them and get fired or uninvited to give speeches – they personally are paying the cost of challenging the SJWs. And not challenging them would be dangerous.”

          @Aux, I completely agree. I think supporters of free speech should stay focused on real problems instead of suggesting (absurdly, IMHO) that SJWs are on a slippery slope to revolutionary Maoism. This is the same style of fallacious argument used by SJWs against Trump-style conservatives: because they display some features of fascism (veneration of a charismatic leader, scapegoating of minorities, antipathy toward academics and journalists, etc.), therefore Trump = Mussolini. Hyperbole and hysteria are the enemies of clear thinking.

      • Cornfed says

        Seriously? SJWs have been literally ruining people’s lives simply for the sin of disagreement (in case you’ve been living under a rock and hadn’t noticed). The difference between them and the red guard is only one of degree. The mentality is the same, as far as I can see.

      • Recall the violent leftist enthusiasms of Jim Jones who forced his 900 followers to commit “revolutionary suicide” at his commune in Guyana. But recall especially, Jones’s strong links to many important Democratic Party politicians in California, including the sainted Harvey Milk and Diane Feinstein. Then note THIS GUY, active right now, and the expose on him in the Daily Caller (Revealed: Antifa Leader Relied On Anonymity To Push Radical, Violent Communist Agenda) of his history of enthusiasm for left wing violence to make a young Joseph Stalin glad. Note how the article describes his use of pseudonyms to work with and influence gullible liberal Democrats in Washington D.C.

        So, yes. There is a lot to be “scared” of when it comes to how advanced the SJW rot has penetrated the American body politic.

        • dellingdog says

          @Jim — yes, that guy is a left-wing nutjob who has been active in Democratic circles (perhaps he’s trying to subvert them from within). I’ve yet to see any evidence that Antifa has broad support among progressives in general or elected Democrats in particular. I’m sure there are white nationalists who have positions within the Republican Party. (Indeed, one ran for Senate in Virginia and another ran for a House seat in Missouri.) That doesn’t mean Republicans support a racist, reactionary agenda or the kind of violence advocated by far-right hate groups. Guilt by association is a dishonest tactic with an ugly history.

      • Perhaps you havenha heard of Evergreen college. SJW ideology in its purist form: hanging Bret Weinstein – a strong left winger, no less – out for the utopian student jackals.

        • dellingdog says

          Weinstein was treated terribly, but he and his wife left voluntarily with a $600,000 payout and have become famous as a result. Not exactly the same fate that befell the victims of Mao’s goon squads.

      • Peter Piper says

        You probably think that the cold war is over and that this is just a bunch of random occurrences of kids throwing tantrums huh? It’s people like you that think “how did we get here?!” as the bullet of the marxist revolutionaries enters your brain. Read the slightest bit about the history of communism/fascism and then reread your comment.

  3. George says

    This is the price we will pay if we continue to allow political ideology to be taught in schools. In Australia recently school children were mobilised to march on Paliament house to demand action on climate change. How long before they turn on their teachers? Alarmism drummed into kids in schools is a very bad idea.

  4. A shining new era is tip toeing nearer. “And where do we feature?” Just listen to teacher.

    The only reason you would point out these “facts” must be that you do not have empathy for the oppressed. Yes war is terrible but there is no limit to what must be done to bring about the utopia. If the potential upside is infinite—then any downside is worthwhile. See how much empathy I have? I am willing to kill on an unlimited basis because I love the oppressed so much. Are you? If not it can only mean that you hate the oppressed. It’s impossible to be unjust to the oppressors. And you aren’t really killing people if that which you kill is not human. lol.

    Those other utopias of course never can be as good as the one I will build. Stalin and Mao are amateurs compared to me. Amateurs! You’ll see. One day. Real communism has never been tried. I am so proud to be on the right side of history. Bigots.

    All of your story is capitalist propaganda. Capitalism killed more people than Mao. Everyone knows that. Women and people of colour and muslims are rising up against this patriarchal heteronormative imperialistic whiteness. They are waiting for a strong leader. They are waiting for me. I can hear their chants now. Oh yes. And isn’t it wonderful? We will finally take our rightful place. I am so angry even being made aware anyone disagrees with me. Because I define myself as good it is impossible for me to make any kind of error. Since all reality is a social construct, all limits are mere fiat.

    I know it’s unsordid but you’ll be rewarded when as last I am given my due. And injustice deliciously squared, be prepared….Stick with me and you’ll never go hungry again!

    • Tome708 says

      Scar, I got goose bumps. We are in real trouble, ain’t we?

    • The old Ranter catchphrase “All is pure to the pure” comes to mind.

  5. Don't Listen to Capitalist Apology says

    First, I’d like to acknowledge that we’re writing on stolen digital territory, and that the only reason I can type is that I have the privilege of working hands and fingers. Not even to mention my race – which is white, unfortunately – and all the intersections of privilege that have contributed to me being able to use this space. Others are not as privileged.

    All that being said, I disagree with the framing of this article, and would urge your followers not to listen to this capitalist apology.

    Don’t be fooled by those who have internalized their white supremacy, history is written by the victors.

    #amijoking? #dopeoplereallytalklikethis?

  6. Richard says

    This was a great article exposing China and today what is going on there? Communism still reigns and other views are not tolerated. The World buys nearly everything from them and even allows them to steal our technology and even influence ($) our Tech Companies to create their separate stand alone social platforms and internet to control the people and their thoughts. China is truly an enemy of the free world, well get in line with the rest of them I suppose and force regression.

    What a mad insane world we live in today.

  7. Martin28 says

    These people were just as bad as a Nazi concentration camp guard. Yet as far as I know, they have never been held accountable for their actions. How many murderers live normal lives in China today? This is not a trivial question. I was not aware of the horrifying details, partly, I guess, because there has been little public accounting.

    • Ned Flanders says

      All good points. Meanwhile, in the West, victimhood defines the descendants of survivors a century after an atrocity, and each generation has to confront the injustices of the past ad nauseam in the name of reconciliation.

      Which is better?

      • Martin28 says

        That’s a false dichotomy. Victimhood culture is awful. But there’s a difference between that and seeking justice for murder on a mass scale. I guess this is the business of the Chinese. However, I would like to see some of these people pay for their crimes, publicly. This would be a good lesson for today’s youth. People very much like them, given far more power, with more ideological uniformity, can be just as bad as the worst Nazi.

    • ga gamba says

      This is not a trivial question. I was not aware of the horrifying details, partly, I guess, because there has been little public accounting.

      Indeed it isn’t a trivial question. For all the volumes devoted to Nazism and Stalinism, there’s been much less written about Maoism. Yes, I suppose historians have less access to material, but this didn’t stymie them prior to the fall of communism in the USSR.

      Some of the best work I’ve read is by the husband-wife team of Jung Chang and Jon Halliday in their The Unknown Story of Mao, though some Sinologists disagree finding it biased. Chang has the benefit of being from a family of CCP insiders, she lived in China under Mao’s rule, and she was a Red Guard – her book Wild Swans covers this event. She often writes of the Chinese people being programmed by the state, of being practiced actors who would perform what was expected of them as if they lived a highly scripted life. This hyper ritualisation predates Mao; it certainly existed in the Qing and Ming Dynasties, and likely goes back long before that. Rebecca Karl’s Mao Zedong and China in the Twentieth-Century World is also very informative.

      One of the important points about Maoism, and how it differs from Leninism and Stalinism, is that it was the rural peasants and not the urban industrial workers, i.e. the working-class proletariat, who are the vanguard of the revolution. At first look this makes the Cultural Revolution, one lead by urban students often from party loyalist families, a peculiar event. Yet, the Great Leap Forward and the mass collectivisation of agriculture were not lead by or for the benefit of farmers either. No one who understood agriculture would have planted rice as was demanded by the party nor would they have unleashed a mass cull of birds which resulted in pests devastating the crops. For the benefit of the peasants were empty words; the peasants were treated like serfs bound to the land who served the ruling urban elite.

      I think when we hear of progressives talking about making everyone equal (through the equity movement) and ending class they are espousing Maoist ideas, though they may be doing so unknowingly – it’s become so normalised. The European communists focussed on economic equality, and Mao took this and expanded it to an all encompassing cultural equality. “Everything is political” is Mao. He was also the creator of the three-world theory: the first world being the capitalist states, the second being the USSR and its satellites, and the third being everyone else including China. After the fall of the second world progressives morphed this into the Global North and Global South. It isn’t that they disagreed with Mao that the third world existed, it’s simply the term offended their sensitivities because third is inferior to first.

      A commonly accepted characterization of Mao’s thought is ‘Voluntarism’, which is a social analysis and revolutionary strategy emphasising human will as the primary causative agent in producing desired social change. (I have strong reservations about the term because with a gun at your back you’re really not volunteering, are you?) Mao didn’t think it was the economic base, which could be objectively measured, that mattered. He was fixated on frameworks, superstructures – sound familiar? The subjective human effort of activist politics would prevail over objective economic forces to produce social change. From this, the war on the superstucture called the four olds made sense to its adherents. Shatter the old culture and the economy would flourish. This was an inversion of Marx’s dialectic which established the economic base as the measure of analysis. Since it was human will that caused social change it could be sped up as if on amphetamines. The name the Great Leap Forward makes sense. This differs significantly from Marx who wrote of stages.

      With the catastrophe of the Great Leap I’m sure people were scratching their heads. The Cultural Revolution was a ruse to cover Mao’s incompetence. It wasn’t that Mao was wrong, it was that the people failed to will progress into being because they hadn’t eliminated the old framework.

      For its many failings, the communism of the USSR and the East Bloc did have some success. The Soviet military was formidable. East Germany manufactured some appliances. And China under Mao? The military was inept and poorly equipped. And the state delivered almost nothing tangible to everyone. Sure, there were spurts as labour and resources were marshaled to accomplish a goal, but very little endured. The communes that exceeded their production targets were rewarded with teachers and doctors, but this flies in the face of the shared safety net for all. Only the urban elite consistently received the benefits of the Maoist system.

      If we look at the groups professing to be Maoist or inspired by Mao we find the Shining Path (Peru), the Naxalites (India), and Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge as well as the New People’s Army (Philippines) and Communist Party of Nepal. All incredibly violent. Even the French radicals Foucault (King Pomo himself) and Sartre were enchanted by Maoism. What attracted Sartre to the French Maoists of ’68 and later was their energy, anger, voluntarism, and moral outrage. That Maoist groups arose in the industrial West, where few were peasants, is very odd.

      How violent are the Maoists? Data collected by the University of Maryland’s National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism revealed that, as one would expect, the Taliban, ISIS, and Boko Haram are the three deadliest terror groups globally. And the fourth? The Communist Party of India (Maoist). Many other Maoist groups are on the list. Whilst Islamist violence is well known to us, and the mass media and academics have been hyping up the emerging threat of the right, the violent Maoists seem to operate off the radar. Why is that?

      Whilst writing this I wondered what, if any, Maoist groups operate in the West presently. There are many. For example, in Charlotte, North Carolina, there is the Red Guards Charlotte.

      They write in an essay titled Postmodernism Is Bourgeois Ideology And We Support Violence Against It:

      When a contradiction reaches antagonism, we must express that antagonism through violence. If we fail to recognize antagonistic contradictions as antagonistic, we have become revisionists….
      Postmodernists speak a different language than us but violence is a universal language understood by all. We do not support all violence uncritically, but we do support justified violence.
      It matters not that it’s violence in and of itself, it’s what class is behind the violence. (Bold emphasis mine.)

      Understand this. If you’re from the correct class, then you have carte blanche to perpetrate violence not only when are you antagonised, but simply when you are contradicted.

      Physically confronting someone who has for months tried to humiliate us for carrying out our lines, whether it came to our line on revolutionary sobriety, being too “serious”, who has run from even the smallest asks in practice, is justified. Destroying the property of someone who sabotages the revolution is correct. They were not going to take it seriously any other way.

      I think it behooves us to more closely scrutinise Maoism, study to what extent it’s infiltrated public life and institutions in the West, and determine what role the CCP has in propagating it abroad to destabilise rivals from within.

      • Martin28 says

        Fantastic post, ga gamba. I learned a lot reading it. And it’s an eye-opening essay that you quote. The Red Guards Charlotte, indeed. Thank you.

      • C Satwell says

        Or as Naomi Jaffee of the Weather Underground once said: “We felt that doing nothing in a period of repressive violence is itself a form of violence. That’s really the part that I think is the hardest for people to understand. If you sit in your house, live your white life and go to your white job, and allow the country that you live in to murder people and to commit genocide, and you sit there and you don’t do anything about it, that’s violence.”

        Of course she said that in the early 1970s, but maybe it’s just taken this long for the ideology to take hold. More Leninist than Maoist, and more Oedipus/Electra than truly revolutionary if you ask me.

  8. Tome708 says

    I would appreciate some feedback as a history novice. I began dabbling into WW1. This introduced me to the introduction and revolution of communism in Russia. I saw striking parallels to ideologies that are forming in our midst. I am in USA but I could say Western Cultures.
    I was completely ignorant to the rise of communism in China. Reading this article struck me again with current events and the rise of leftism.
    Here is my question. In both Russia and apparently China it is the professors and intellectuals that seem to be the early targets of the ideology.
    Is that where the parallels end in today’s world? It seems that now it is the intellectuals and professors that are leading this leftist/progressive ideology today. I can’t see that they would be the first ones turned on.
    I could see that the dissenting professors and intellectuals could be targeted, but in today’s atmosphere they are a tiny minority.
    Thanks for any input

    • Ned Flanders says

      Be careful dabbling into WW1. People tried that in 1914. They got bogged down for years.

    • derek says

      I wouldn’t try to look for exact parallels. The 20th century seemed to see evil come to full fruition in all it’s manifestations, in spite or even because of the spread of education, technological advancement and the widespread adoption of ideologies that purported to represent the interests and well being of people.

      China, Russia and Germany added industrial scale to the manifestation of evil.

      All these manifestations exist today in smaller or moderate scale, dampened by various things to keep the extremes toned down. By knowing and learning to recognize the patterns of thought and action that these historical events illustrated can make us aware of the same things today.

      And more importantly recognizing that these events were driven by often laudable motives in response to real problems or injustices. The cure was far worse than the disease. And that the awful results were predictable in spite of the wonderful rhetoric.

    • Better comparisons are found in the English Reformation and subsequent civil wars of the 1640s. The civil wars were as much religious as political struggles.

      The Soviet historians were fascinated by the Independent faction’s proto-socialist Diggers, street radical Levellers and the New Model Army. The Soviets had no trouble recognizing the Army Council and the Putney Debates a workers and soldiers soviet.

      Spontaneous awakenings and the associated impulse to make all things anew is a recurring theme in history. War and revolution usually soon follow.

  9. Tome708 says

    In the last paragraph he seemed to defend “diversity is our strength” mantra, but then defined it as diversity of ideas and thought. The problem today is that “diversity is our strength” specifically refers to superficial attributes as in race, gender, sexual choice. It never seems to be about diversity of ideology or thought

    In fact if you do not adhere to the acceptable ideology of this superficial “diversity is our strength” (and the accompanying progressive ideology) you are most certain the “un pure”
    I believe leading to the exact opposite reality than what he argued for in his last chapter defending this ridiculousness of “Diversity is our Strength”

    • Martin28 says

      That’s right, and the writer of this very good piece glosses over that point. The current worship of diversity is dogma, it is not about tolerating different points of view. To disagree is to be denounced as a racist, sexist, bigot. A worship of superficial diversity leaves little room for diversity of thought.

  10. Courtly love (ie. + romantic love) is the dominant Western narrative – way more popular than Communist China, Christianity and Islam combined, and it has at its ideological core the tenet of female purity… and feminism has dreamed that dream forward.

    We look everywhere for the purity revolution except right under our noses.

    • Tome708 says

      Elaborate please. This caught my attention. I have often sensed that much of leftism is what I call “feminization” I haven’t worked it all out yet, but sense you are referring to something similar.

      • C. Satwell says

        @Tome708–As Masha Gessen sees it: “In the current American conversation, women are increasingly treated as children: defenseless, incapable of consent, always on the verge of being victimized. This should give us pause. Being infantilized has never worked out well for women.”

        But their infantilization is surely a small price to pay for their greater purity?

      • Yes, gynocentrism is the taproot of the Left Tome. Intersectionalism and hysteria about minorities is a spin-off from the base gynocentric doctrines.

  11. Fickle Pickle says

    Referring to the very apt quote from Yeats one could very well say that his poetic statement very much applies to the political and cultural agendas and outcomes of the self-righteous zealots like Steve Bannon et al who via their very clever use of social media, especially Facebook, provided the necessary fear-and-loathing “drain-the-swamp” zeitgeist that resulted in the election of Donald Trump.
    Bannon wants to dismantle or even smash the administrative state, which if such a thing were accomplished, and even possible would definitely loosen mere anarchy on to the world stage.

    • derek says

      Funny, I see the unaccountable administrative state the manifestation of the Apparat in Soviet Russia. Self interested unaccountable bureaucrats who became the organized crime figures that have dominated the post Soviet era.

      I posit that every problem that the West faces now is fixing some cock up by government, and the first challenge to fixing the problem is overcoming the bureaucratic lethargy that sustains the problem.

      I resent the fact that during my lifetime my taxes paid the wages and pensions of those who ran the Indian Residential Schools program which is responsible in part for the catastrophic social breakdown among indigenous populations. Powerful and capable politicians challenged that bureaucracy many times, and it continues doing the same over and over again.

  12. Seeing the illustration of the little red guard from Huang, above, makes me think of the 15 yr old Scandinavian girl in Katowice with her accusation of us, adults, to do almost nothing on climate change and environment destruction. But Nietzsche needs some adaptation here: to esteem youngsters who think as we adults do is not the corruptive thing here, no in this case it’s hiding behind their innocence and giving them the floor to soften our complete inability to act properly.

    • Her name: Greta Thunberg, her mother a famous opera singer, that explains maybe a lot of her presentation as a so-called teen!

  13. Martin28 says

    What were the motivations of these young people to commit these horrifying crimes? We often assume ideology, but I think that provides cover for baser emotions. Probably some Red Guards were simply sadists, they enjoyed hurting people. Others were probably bullied as children by classmates, or siblings, or parents. To become a bully yourself is to get revenge. But for all, the power of the mob is intoxicating, especially if that is accompanied by feelings of nobility. To exercise tremendous power and to feel like you are absolutely doing the right thing, that must feel really good. What is one not capable of doing with that combination of feelings, especially if you consider yourself to be the true victim, not the person you are genuinely tormenting.
    Now we get to today’s social justice activists. They experience the same power to bully and attack, often damaging people lives and reputations, while at the same time feeling that they themselves are the victims, and they are fighting the good fight in defense of other victims. This is an intoxicating set of emotions. It allows them, very easily, to justify their own cruelty.

    • Psychologists have carried out experiments on how far just ordinary, nice and good willing people can do if asked to join a ” medical” experiment, in which obviously sadistic and cruel assistance was required. The results of this experiment were quite unbelievable and disgusting, but the truth, and led to much comments in the media on human nature by specialists and the public at large. The best thing to do here is: take notice of philosopher Hobbes on human nature, and avoid similar situations in real life and society, maybe, Mao knew all this, and just let it go because feeling his power was lingering.

  14. northernobserver says

    Some one should tell Jack Conte, Jack Dorsey, and Tim Cook.

  15. Harrison Bergeron says

    If you wish to see a chiiling present day example of this behavior go and check out videos of the student protests at Evergreen State. These look and awful lot like Maoist style struggle sessions.
    Also remember that Diane Abbot has said that Mao is a hero hers.

  16. Fickle Pickle says

    Of course the revolution, and even its possibility has now been cancelled because we are now Amusing Ourselves To Death as described by Neil Postman in his book with that title.

    The book is in some sense and extension of the prophetic (fictional) situation described by Aldous Huxley in Brave New World.

    His book Technopoly is also very relevant to todays situation. His basic thesis is that technological “culture” is inherently totalitarian in its intent and outcome.

    A quote from the 1963 book Culture Against Man by Jules Henry.

    “In western culture today one must make a distinction between the culture of life and the “culture” of death. In the minds of most people science (technopoly – my addition) has become synonymous with destructive weapons, i.e. with death … Where is the culture of life?
    The culture of life resides in all those people who, inarticulate, frightened, and confused, are wondering “where will it all end”. Thus the forces of death are confident and organized while the forces of life – the people who long for for peace and and well being – are, for the most part, scattered, inarticulate, and wooly0minded, overwhelmed by their own (seeming) impotence.
    Death struts about the house while Life cowers in the corner”.

    Meanwhile more than 50 years later the human fear-based world is saturated with weapons of all kinds including weapons of mass destruction (Trump’s “beautiful bombs)The fear-based human world is also populated by many groups both large and small that are full of murderously “reasonable” intentions. Most of whom are on the right side of the culture wars divide of their respective culture and religion.

    Which is to say that humankind is now collectively self-destructing, and will certainly do so unless the current momentum is stopped in its tracks.

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  18. Num num says

    A “feedback loop of ever intensifying ideological fanaticism and violence”.

    Something like that is virtually inevitable in western campuses as they purge the last vestiges of conservatism and classclas liberalism. Let’s hope violence isn’t part of it, but after anticipating antifa from the idea that words are violence (if so, then punching conservatives would be self-defense, then within a few months, love and behold, punching “Nazis” was a thing), I’m more inclined to listen to my intuitions and not presume our culture is somehow immune from pogroms.

    • Num num says

      “…within a few months, love and behold…”

      Meant.. lo and behold

  19. Sydney says

    Was glad to see this piece and some really good comments, as well. I often think we need to see and read more about the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Westerners (me included) lack a good grasp of the Chinese worldview. The CCR is recent and deadly, and its effects are present but not clearly so. Here in Vancouver, China’s culture, economy, history, government, and even its military are felt in many strains of everyday life. I have a slightly meandering anecdote to share, but it is on point:

    I just thought of the CCR last week, when the ‘white’ PhD-level music director of my child’s locally esteemed high-school music program (serving a mostly ethnic-Chinese student population) actually apologized for/trashed ‘dead white composers.’ He told the majority ethnic-Chinese class (many born in China) that the Western musical canon needs to be shelved in favour of ‘other’ music. I didn’t hear the virtue-signalling diatribe myself (wish I had!), but only through my child, who is in the program.

    I had thought the music director was smarter than that ‘Four Olds’-type comment, but clearly (and tragically) he isn’t. I can’t know where the pressure to disown Chopin, Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, (Stravinsky and Kurt Weill, too…?) came from: the far-left teacher’s union? His professional music union? The government curriculum-creating body, which comes from far-left UBC? UBC’s music program? Where is the anti-Western message coming from that is forcing him to recant?

    And I wondered how his bizarre comments sounded to the ears of these kids (who may or may not know anything about the CCR), to their parents, or to their grandparents, who certainly have living memory of it. Western classical music has become a high-status marker for Chinese people over the past few decades, and a disproportionate number of the world’s finest professional musicians are now ethnic Chinese. This is a respected city school music program that kids compete and audition for.

    What on earth do they think when they hear the Western director of a well-reputed education program denouncing and apologizing for Western classical culture in the post-CCR era? Do their minds reel? Mine did. it reminded me instantly of CCR, and I felt sick to my stomach.

    Should music students everywhere be exposed to music and music history from around the world? Yes, of course. But the timing here, coinciding with peak left-wing, anti-Western bias and hysteria is evident and awful.

    Strange times.

  20. Douglas B. Levene says

    I teach graduate law students in China. A year ago, when I described to them the events occurring at Evergreen State, they immediately saw the parallels to the Cultural Revolution and were appalled that such could happen in the United States.

  21. Avid Reader says

    @sydne Apparently there is a word “baizuo” (or something like that-please someone correct my spelling) that Chinese people have for the Leftists who spout hatred of the West and western canon. The word is not a compliment.

  22. Sydney says

    Thanks @Avid !

    I did a shallow dive into that and indeed it’s a thing. Sounds like our recanting, ‘Little Red Book’-waving, ‘throwing baby Bach out with the bathwater’ music director fits the description.

    Of course it’s difficult to understand the perspective of the China-native using the word, since they’re coming from their worldview; but this Westerner’s interpretation/comment in a random online conversation stuck me. It doesn’t touch on culture at all, but his explanation absolutely perfectly describes the current Canadian government:

    “The word “baizuo” is, according to political scientist Zhang Chenchen, a Chinese word that ridicules Western “Liberal elites”. The term has also been used to refer to perceived double standards of the Western media, such as the alleged bias on reporting about Islamist attacks in Xinjiang.

    Zhang Chenchen further defined the word “baizuo” with the definition “People who only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment” and “have no sense of real problems in the real world”; they are hypocritical humanitarians who advocate for peace and equality only to “satisfy their own feeling of moral superiority”; they are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”; they believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”; they are the “ignorant and arrogant westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baizuo

    I’m happy to learn this and pass it on to my kids (especially the music student). The comment I pasted doesn’t speak to the cultural component of the term, but I’ll keep diving and expect to see more.

  23. Peter Piper says

    Frankly I’m glad that leftists are no longer hiding behind the mask of tolerance, it’s accelerating our trajectory towards fascism and instilling respect for our culture, history, and ideals in all the people with guns. The only way we are going to clean up this country and control our border is by embracing these things and the means to defend them. Unlike in China, cambodia, russia etc these pathetic student marxists are incapable of winning, but they can inspire a great awakening as they did in Germany. I’m in no way calling for genocide, but what Hitler and the Nazis did to restore German pride, their economy, their architecture, their military power etc is miraculous and should be admired/imitated.

    • Sydney says

      @Peter Piper

      No. Unequivocal, clear, unambiguous, NO.

      NOTHING that Hitler and the Nazis did should EVER, in ten thousand years, be “admired/imitated.”

      NOTHING.

      EVERYTHING that they were, and that they did, should FOREVER be met with the absolute and unmitigated HORROR and REVULSION that they deserve.

      What a horrifying comment. My stomach is turning.

      Please start your reading with Jordan Peterson.

  24. TheSnark says

    A reckoning for the Cultural Revolution can only come after another generation has passed, if then. The Communist Party does not want to talk about it: the insanity that the Mao unleashed in the name of the Party almost destroyed the country and the Party. And since Mao is still their patron saint, so it’s best to say nothing.

    And the people who were involved are also reluctant to speak. Many of the victims were also victimizers. The ones who were primarily victims just want to get on with their lives…bringing a version of justice to the three quarters of your village, work unit, or school class that mistreated you is not easy. And those who were victimizers are often too embarrassed, once the insanity passed, to want to deal with their past. Again, best to say nothing.

    As for how this all applies to the current situation in the West, we can reasonably hope that will not get that bad. Open discussions disputing the orthodoxy were banned in China, but exist in the West (see this website). However, it seems that society forgets the lessons of the past every 3 or so generations. The only ones who remember the horrors the the 20th century are now in their 70’s or older. The younger generation assumes peace and prosperity are the natural order of world, so attacking the structures that make that peace and prosperity possible poses no risk.

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  26. Michael says

    Mao’s revolution is one of the best arguments ever for social media and free speech. Rather rivers of bile than of blood.

  27. Visi Guest says

    When the ends justify the means Anything is possible
    It’s not complicated

  28. Gman226 says

    I didn’t read all the comments but I wonder if anyone made the point that these totalitarian youths wouldn’t get very far in the U.S. because we have the 2nd Amendment. I don’t know for sure, but I imagine the right to keep and bear arms wasn’t a right before the Cultural Revolution if it was ever a right at all in China.

    • My thoughts exactly! Makes me grateful that my neighbors and I all have arms to defend ourselves. That keeps those who would have otherwise acted out, less inclined to do so.

  29. Mike van Lammeren says

    @Sydney, your reply to @PeterPiper is certainly passionate, and there can be no doubt that you oppose Nazism, but I doubt it that your comment is helpful in convincing Peter that Nazism should not be admired. Your reply neither addressed nor refuted Peter’s argument.

    First of all, Hitler and the Nazis did not restore German pride. Ultimately, their reign led to intense shame and guilt for their atrocities. Perhaps you are referring to the early days of Hitler’s rule? No pride there either, except for his small minority of supporters. Hitler came to power when he was invited to form the government after winning a minority in a democratic election, then maintained his power through terrorism, murder and backroom dealing. It was not a restoration of German pride that continued his reign.

    As to the economy, let us recall that NAZI is an acronym for National Socialism. Hitler came to power and inherited an advanced social democracy and welfare state, then proceeded to undermine that economy. Any improvement to the Germany economy under Hitler was largely due to the plunder and tribute collected as Germany invaded its neighbours. German wealth today is attributed to the free market that flourished under Allied rule of West Germany in the years following the war. (My Grandfather was a blacksmith in Holland when Germany invaded, and he observed that the German artillery was pulled by Polish horses.)

    @Sydney, I gather that you are a fan of Jordan Peterson. I am too, and encourage everyone to read his books and watch his videos. However, I think that the best book to read in order to start to understand exactly and precisely why one should oppose Nazism is The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. Your emotional reaction to @PeterPiper is correct, but that book will help you explain to others “Why”.

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