Monday, August 04, 2008


I've been reading about the Cultural Revolution ever since I learned the lyrics to "The Howling Song" last week. The most interesting article I read is about the persecution of teachers by their students:

It's a fascinating academic paper by Wang Youqin on a topic that doesn't seem to have been widely documented. The bizarre "ox-ghost and snake-demon" meme... huh, I forgot what I was going to write there. I totally lost my train of thought and forgot how I was going to finish that sentence.

Though she died after approximately two hours of torture, it did not satisfy the students. All other teachers in the "ox-ghost and snake-demon team" were forced to stand around Yu's corpse and take turns beating her...

After the Cultural Revolution started, the phrase "ox ghosts and snake demons" was frequently used to refer to those who should be struggled against. The editorial of the People's Daily on June 1, 1966 was entitled "Fiercely Sweep away All the Ox Ghosts and Snake Demons." This phrase, which was from a poem from ancient times and referred originally to characters in a masked parade, was not clearly defined as a criminal title. In fact, the ambiguity of the title caused many teachers to be beaten arbitrarily.

1 comment:

paula said...

One of the most intriguing things to me about the cultural revolution (and pol pot's regime in canbodia, and more recently in various civil strife in african countries) is how the young really, really became the ones to be feared. So the opposite of the US during vietnam and the general american ideas about youth and middle aged peeps.

Anyway, I haven't read much about that part of the world in some time. But I did read a great bio of Pol Pot (there is more than one ) called Brother number one. What freaked me out about him, was how connected he was, to royalty, and how he studied at the sorbonne in the sixties when communism was very fashionable, and my parents were both students there, part of the whole "radical" student thing there...