Red August was effectively a series of politically motivated riots; however, the riots were not stopped by the police force of China. The Red Guards often received official protection from the police, who instead enacted harsh measures against anyone who dared to resist Mao’s Red Guards. Red August is generally considered the beginning of the Red Terror in China. Red Guards from Beijing No. 6 High School famously wrote “Long Live Red Terror!” on the wall with the blood of their victims.
It is easy to get bogged down in the various details of the Cultural Revolution, but it is the broader points that are most important. The Cultural Revolution was, at least ostensibly, wages against “the Five Black Categories:” landlords, rich farmers, counter-revolutionaries, bad influences, and rightists and “the Four Olds:” Old Ideas, Old Culture, Old Habits, and Old Customs.
Finally, it is worth noting the ferocity with which people were attacked for holding opinions that were until very recently uncontroversial. There was a massive, hysterical push to destroy symbols of Chinese history that had become unfavorable due to the current political climate. Those who were being persecuted by the government were, somewhat perversely, painted as if they were an oppressive class being uprooted by a revolutionary government that was going to equalize society by addressing historical injustices.
How Totalitarianism Rhymes Throughout History: Czechoslovakia, China, & Venezuela
[Does this sound familiar? Perhaps even “rhyme” with current events?
Take appropriate action.—Joe]