Why does the American leftist Woke movement look a lot like Mao's Cultural Revolution? Because they both come from Marxism.

Mao's Cultural Revolution and Woke in America

Since 2021 several individuals possessing firsthand experience with brutal Asian authoritarian regimes have spoken out courageously against what they see as similar ideologies and practices taking root in America. One of them, Xi Van Fleet, a Loudon County, Virginia, mother, experienced Mao’s Cultural Revolution (1966-1976).

Another witness, a North Korean defector named Yeonmi Park, fled her homeland in 2007. She endured unimaginable hardships, including being sex-trafficked and walking across the Gobi Desert to Mongolia, eventually coming to America and attending an Ivy League university. Seeing the same kind of indoctrination (or “brainwashing,” her term) and anti-American propaganda that she had grown up with, Ms. Park said bluntly, “You guys have lost common sense to [a] degree that I as a North Korean, cannot even comprehend.” (Apparently, preferred pronoun diktats had not reached Pyongyang.)

In recent years, indoctrination and anti-American propaganda has spread from numerous universities to public schools. The indoctrination of children in Loudon County schools under Critical Race Theory’s (CRT) influence in the last several years reminded Xi Van Fleet “of what she witnessed growing up in Mao’s China.” “The communist regime used the same critical theory to divide people,” she stated. “The only difference is that (they) used class instead of race. This is indeed the American version of the Chinese cultural revolution.”

Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) is among those legislators who have said the same, particularly regarding the woke Pentagon. In a letter to Secretary of Defense Austin in May 2021, Wicker stated: “CRT is a branch of critical theory developed in the 1970s and 80s with deep and explicit roots in Marxism.” While this new form of Marxism looks different from Soviet-era communism, “It still defines people fundamentally as either oppressed or oppressors, thus rejecting the founding premise of this country that all men are created equal.”

While a number of conservative writers have referred to Xi Van Fleet and the Maoist revolution whose indoctrination she endured, not many go beyond alluding in general terms to the destructiveness of the state-sanctioned movement that took or ruined the lives of tens of millions of unoffending Chinese. All that really mattered was maintaining the reputation of Mao, the god of the atheist People’s Republic of China.

In contrast, this piece draws on scholarly publications from the 1970s, the details of which may provide a better idea for many readers of that misbegotten crusade’s essence – and, shockingly, its all-too-clear similarities to post-George-Floyd America.

Some relevant Maoist practices began prior to the cultural revolution. In a 1973 article in Asian Survey, an academic journal published by the University of California, Berkeley (hardly a conservative stronghold then or now), the author described Chinese corrective labor camps’ methods of inmates’ “thought reform”: “Repeated minor problems can lead to cadre warnings and to a demand that the inmate in question write a self-examination essay (chien t’ao shu) confessing his failings.”

Who will deny that American universities and other institutions now practice this concept in the form of so-called “white privilege” and other exercises?

Martin King Whyte – later, a Harvard University sociology professor – continued, “Struggle meetings follow a format similar to such meetings in other organizations, with the ‘struggle objects’ standing in front of the audience while their errors are recited by camp cadres. Then other inmates, often small group heads and other activists briefed in advance, rise to denounce them from the floor.”

Who denies that struggle sessions are a feature on many American college campuses, should a conservative speaker dare to attempt to address the students in open forum?

Beginning in 1966, the cultural revolution was Mao’s attempt to revitalize the revolutionary ardor of a movement that had become lethargic as well as friendly toward pro-capitalist elements, values, and practices (this included much of the Chinese Communist Party’s own leadership). Particularly in the early months, the youth-dominated Red Guards comprised a valuable, destructive arm of Mao’s reform efforts.

[But all is not lost]

In all revolutions, it seems, ordinary people who simply want to live in relative peace and security eventually tire of the incessant decrying and destruction. This holds for Chicago as well as Canton, Portland as well as Peking, Seattle as well as Shanghai.

Even now, the decline in status – if not by other measures – of the global multibillion-dollar, racist, CRT-touting BLM enterprise suggests, once again, “the past is prologue.” The beginning of the end of all such fraudulent, hypocritical, and destructive ideological movements is when individuals – one here and another there – take to heart the ancient counsel: “The fear of man brings a snare.” Or, as Solzhenitsyn famously wrote, “Live Not by Lies.”

Individual courage is infectious. Try it.