Throughout history, tyrannies have been built on a passionate youth searching for meaning, channeling that desire through coercion, violence, and subservience to a lethal cause. During the 20th century, totalitarian states spawned 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?
Are we witnessing eerie similarities between yesterday’s Russian revolutionary vanguard, Germany’s Hitler Youth, and Communist China’s Red Guards in today’s Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters?
The Red Guards: A Primer
A crucial tenet of China’s Cultural Revolution was the formation of the Red Guards. These were millions of middle and high school students who were mobilized and directed by Mao Zedong during the first two years of the paramilitary social movement. The communist dictator exploited the students to attack dissidents, expose right-wing figures in influential positions, and destroy historical symbols of China’s past.
He supplied them with a Little Red Book that contained a collection of his quotations and recommendations for leading a Red Guard life. A billion copies were made and distributed across the country. The indoctrination made its way to the school system. Maoism was in full force.
One of the Red Guards’ early initiatives had been targeting the “Four Olds”: culture, customs, habits, and ideas. As these young hooligans marched across China, they burned old books and art, decimated museums and temples, and renamed streets after revolutionary leaders. The Red Guards could target any individual they wished. Every day, there were people beaten to death on city streets. 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 lionized the campaign and granted the Red Guards political legitimacy through propaganda techniques. 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 skirmish following 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.