Vancouver Sailing Farm : Li Liming
Feng Daxing: a tragic example
Deng Xiaoping’s analysis at the end of this tragic episode was as follows: the greatest fault, committed over the course of those ten years, concerned education.
What did he mean by “education”? He may have meant moral education. The poison that the Cultural Revolution injected into China’s body politic consisted of the destruction of basic moral values in interpersonal relationships. It was the existence of such an environment, cut off from any moral compass, that allowed the creation of a Feng Daxing. Lan Yan
Feng Daxing was a promising student who robbed and killed. Although he said the killing was an accident, he was executed by firing squad. Was he a victim, one among many others in a lost generation?
During that time young people were told to love Mao and the party and to denounce and criticize their parents, teachers, friends, and any family members, even party members who were considered as being on the “wrong side”. The children were not allowed to show any affection for their parents or friends in public or to show sadness or tears in being sent to the countryside. They were told to wipe out all pests and vermin and to rebel is justified. There could be no construction without destruction. There was the destruction of works of art, books and people’s lives. Reminds me of Lu Xun’s quote, “Save the Children”.
With the schools being closed and proper education stopped, after 10 years many found themselves to be very far behind and had an urgent need to catch up. As well, the country fell behind. What about the ones who did not have that opportunity to catch up? Many of these young people never got a chance to return to their studies. Many accepted dead-end jobs.
What became of the ones who participated in the beating and killing of others? These young people were taught violence and they became nothing but bullies. Some still live with guilt and anger that Mao used them to strengthen is own party line.
I had read that back during the Cultural Revolution whenever someone answered their phone, they couldn’t say hello or ni hao, but had to quote a line from the Little Red Book and the person on the other end had to answer back with a line from the book.
*The “lost generation” who have missed out on college education are significantly less likely to believe that effort pays off relative to luck, even well into their 60s. They hold persistent grudges against the government for these lost opportunities, as they report significantly higher mistrust of government compared to later cohorts. Interestingly, this is especially true among those who are unsatisfied with their current income. It is not surprising to observe such persistent changes in beliefs. Adolescence and early adulthood are often considered to be formative years (or, impressionable years) in an individual’s life: experience during this period can induce effects that last for a lifetime. The experience of lost access to university for millions of young Chinese adults due to the Cultural Revolution would thus likely have quite a transformative impact on their beliefs.
Higher education was disrupted because it was suspected of transmitting bourgeois values.
Persistent grudges from members of the “lost generation.” Those who expected under normal circumstances to be able to go to college, but were born in the “wrong years” understood clearly that they were deprived of higher education opportunities due to political reasons, completely outside their control. It is thus no surprise that they blamed the government for their fate. (loosely referenced from a paper by Gerard Roland and David Y. Yang* August 9, 2017)*
Although officials declined to discuss the “lost generation,” they acknowledged that the group is a frequent cause of conflict. “Very many people have retained a rebellious outlook from those years and have very quick tempers,” said Wang Bingkun, a Peking official.
The party has failed to institute the political checks that would prevent another period of tyranny and chaos. Still, Chinese gained an acute political skepticism and would reject another call for mass, blind obedience. “Chinese people are wiser today. All they want is to be left alone to live in peace.” Zhang Guosheng from The Christian Science Monitor.
Confessions of a Red Guard, 50 years after China’s Cultural Revolution: Discomfort and guilt
At the height of the movement in 1968, people were publicly beaten to death every day during struggle sessions; others who had been persecuted threw themselves off tall buildings.
Nobody was safe and the fear of being reported by others – in many cases our closest friends and family members – haunted us.
At first, I was determined to be a good little revolutionary guard. But something bothered me.
When I saw a student pour a bucket of rotten paste over our school principal in 1966, I sensed something wasn’t right.
I headed back to my dorm quietly, full of discomfort and guilt, thinking I wasn’t revolutionary enough.
Later, when I was given a belt and told to whip an “enemy of the revolution”, I ran away and was called a deserter by my fellow Red Guards.
That same summer I caught a glimpse of Chairman Mao – our Red Sun – at Tiananmen Square, along with a million of other equally enthusiastic kids.
I remember overwhelming feelings of joy. It wasn’t until much later that I realized by blind idolization of Mao was a kind of worship even more fanatic than a cult.
My father, a former war correspondent with state news agency Xinhua, was framed as a spy and denounced. But behind closed doors he warned my brother and I to “use our brains before taking action.”
“Don’t do anything you will regret for the rest of your lives,” he said.
Slowly I began to hateMao’s wife Jiang Qing, who was a key leader of the Revolution, and I bowed grudgingly when my work unit had our mandatory daily worship ritual in front of the Chairman’s image.
My generation grew up drinking wolf’s milk: we were born with hatred, and taught to struggle and hate everyone.
Some of my fellow Red Guards argue that we were just innocent children led astray. But we were wrong.
It pains me that many of my generation choose to forget the past and some even reminisce about the “good old days” when they could travel the country as privileged, carefree Red Guards.
I do not confess because I committed fewer sins or experienced fewer hardships than others.
I bear responsibility for many tragedies and abuses, and I can only express my regret to those who lost their loved ones during the Cultural Revolution.
But I do not ask for forgiveness.
I want to tell the truths of the Cultural Revolution as someone who lived through the madness and chaos, to warn people of the spectacular destructiveness, so that we can avoid ever repeating it.
*Fifty years on, however, I am worried by the increasing leader-worship we see in state media, similar to the ideological fervor that surrounded Mao.
We must stay vigilant. We can’t have the gruesome brutality of the Cultural Revolution start again. Yu Xiangzhen.*
CNN’s Katie Hunt in Hong Kong contributed to this report.
Written of my thoughts and also compilation from the internet by Li Liming.
(The writer of the article is Canadian born, English name Dawn and Chinese name Li Liming. Dawn was married to a Chinese man whose family name is Li and lived in China for 8 years where she taught English.)
Editor : abbs
Posted by: Shuang