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5. What was the role of the Red Guards in Mao’s strategy?
About this Lecture
In this module, we think about the role of the Red Guards in the Cultural Revolution, focusing in particular on: (i) just how quickly Mao mobilises a very large number of people, culminating in a rally of more than a million Red Guards in Tiananmen Square on 18 August 1966; (ii) the age-profile of the Red Guards; (iii) the reason the Red Guards were such fervent supporters of Mao and the Cultural Revolution; (iv) factionalism within the Red Guard movement; (v) the extent to which the movement had spiralled out of control by 1968, and the means by which Mao was able to neutralise the threat; and (vi) the importance of youth movements in Chinese history more generally, including the Taiping Rebellion (1850-64), the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901), the May Fourth Movement, and the continued importance of student protests even today.
In this course, Professor Michael Dillon (Durham University) explores the Cultural Revolution in China through nine key questions: (1) What was the meaning of the name ‘Cultural Revolution’?; (2) Why did Mao launch the Cultural Revolution when he did?; (3) Is it accurate to describe the Cultural Revolution as the ‘decade of disaster’?; (4) To what extent were Mao’s motives ideological rather than political?; (5) What was the role of the Red Guards in Mao’s strategy?; (6) Why was traditional Chinese culture a prime target in the Cultural Revolution?; (7) What part did Mao’s wife, Jiang Qing, play in the Cultural Revolution?; (8) How important was Lin Biao in the Cultural Revolution?; and (9) To what extent was the Cultural Revolution a success?
Michael Dillon was founding director of the Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies at Durham University, where he taught courses on modern China, Chinese history, and Chinese language. He has also been a visiting professor at Tsinghua University, is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Royal Asiatic Society, and a member of the Royal Institute of International Affairs.
Cite this Lecture
Dillon, M. (2020, November 29). China – The Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 - What was the role of the Red Guards in Mao’s strategy? [Video]. MASSOLIT. https://www.massolit.io/courses/china-the-cultural-revolution-1966-76/what-was-the-role-of-the-red-guards-in-mao-s-strategy
Dillon, M. "China – The Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 – What was the role of the Red Guards in Mao’s strategy?." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 29 Nov 2020, https://www.massolit.io/courses/china-the-cultural-revolution-1966-76/what-was-the-role-of-the-red-guards-in-mao-s-strategy