Throughout history, tyrannies have been built on a passionate youth searching for meaning through violence and dedication to a lethal cause. During the 20th century, totalitarian states started youth-led movements to carry out the aims of a dictator. These kids used force and intimidation against anybody who disagreed with their ideas. So, should young people today watch out for these same patterns?
How were the Russian revolutionary vanguard, Germany’s Hitler Youth, and Communist China’s Red Guards any different from the Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters we see today?
The Red Guards: A Primer
The Red Guards were millions of middle and high school students who were mobilized and directed by Mao Zedong during the first two years of the revolution in China. The communist dictator took advantage of the students to attack those who didn’t agree with their ideology.
One of the Red Guards’ early initiatives had been targeting the “Four Olds”: culture, customs, habits, and ideas. As these young people marched across China, they burned old books and art, destroyed museums and temples, and renamed streets after revolutionary leaders. The Red Guards could target any individual they wished. If you dared disagree and not fall in line, you would be swarmed, shamed, harassed, and beaten.
What’s worse is that the state-run media made these people out to be heroes. With personal support from Mao and allies in the state press, the Red Guards were an unstoppable force.
Ultimately, the question that needs to be asked is: Why does all this sound familiar?
In a separate conflict after President Donald Trump’s speech at the Republican National Convention, radicals shouted down Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), his wife, and Representative Vernon Jones (D-GA). The group demanded that Sen. Paul “say her name,” referring to Breonna Taylor, a black woman killed by police officers in March. If protesters had been paying attention, they would have known that Paul wrote legislation called “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act” that ends the practice of no-knock raids.
These are not isolated incidents, as social media has hosted thousands of videos showing the tragic nature of these protesters. Effigies, mock guillotines, property destruction – these are all par for the course of today’s Red Guards.