Communists, Culture, and Cannibalism

This episode sponsored by "Up the Creek" PodcastA show that offers occasionally informed commentary on news, conspiracies, and culture.

The Communist Culture Revolution 


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So what was the culture revolution? 

Long story super short, China spent the first half of the 20th century in as much or even more turmoil than the European powers who were waging World Wars did. Internally China was grappling with the ideas of Marxism, and how best to orient its society and government in the wake of the Bolshevik Revolution of Russia, and its rising population and resources. The Chinese Communist Party led by Mao Zedong found itself in open conflict with the Chinese Nationalist Party led by Chiang Kai Shek. The Nationalist Party seemed to have the upper hand, and managed to drive Mao out of the urban areas. “The Long March” as its referred to saw Mao and his forces escape this persecution and make a 6000 mile trek all the way across china to escape, which in turn inspired many young and rural Chinese to join the cause. In the midst of this Civil War, Imperial Japan would invade China crippling a government at war with itself and further enflaming a sense of Chinese nationalism. But what did that nationalism really entail for a nation that was already fighting with itself over that very idea?

The Nationalist Party of china soon found itself on the hook, crippled by inflation, war, and the resulting destruction of the economy. All of which only made it easier for the Communist Party to rally the average person to their cause.


By 1949 Mao and the Communists had taken control of mainland China and the Nationalists were driven to Taiwan.


As the Communist Party finished consolidating its power, it undertook a project known as the “Great Leap Forward” which in the late 1950s sought to rapidly industrialize china using its massive population and manpower. People were relocated to communes whether they wanted to go or not and whether they succeeded or not. Ideological Purity, communist ideology that is, was emphasized over everything else.


The Great Leap Forward was a failure. Millions of people died of things like starvation, and disease brought on by poor resource distribution. This caused a rift within China, some blamed incompetent buracracy for the failure, and others blamed the idea itself as an ill-suited way to manage and produce capital. Now that last sentence is important, If you’re the group stressing pure communist ideology, you’re absolutely blaming people in control for merely mismanaging the situation, you aren’t about to argue that the premise of the Great Leap was flawed and that incentive and expertise are the engines that get an economy moving… 

Mao was a tyrant, and also fancied himself as more of purist than even the Soviets, the original Marxists, who were increasingly less and less of an ally. He was watching his beloved Communist Party drift away. So he began doing what all great and often terrible movements do, they target the youth, specifically young men of fighting age, High School and College aged, who were still young enough to be influenced. 


Gathering of Red Guards

The “Red Guards” as they were called. They were given jackets and Arm Bands, And their task was to root out people opposed their pure vision of Chinese Marxism as given by Mao. The youth embraced this new feeling of revolutionary importance and they numbered in the Millions. The Police and military were ordered to not get in their way. By the late 60s, the Red Guard was overthrowing whole cities and towns and purging politicians and citizens who were deemed ideologically impure, by threats and by force. In some places it got so out of hand that they had to be removed from certain areas and refocused on the countryside so the more industrial areas could get back to work….

And that is where this episodes main topic takes us, into the beautiful Chinese countryside of Guangxi in the midst of the culture revolution of the late 1960s as the Red Guards and their allies sought to purge the dissidents both real and imagined out of Chinese society and culture…


Guangxi is in southern China, and borders Vietnam. A not insignificant thing to note, as the Vietnam war was raging at the time. Rival factions of Red Guards were fighting for influence and control of the region, all the wile the people who lived there were trapped in the middle. I will link to a better description of this setting over at Lore and which you can get to by clicking the link in the episode description. And for much of what follows you will want to refer to the Book “The Scarlet Memorial” by Zheng Yi which details all of this!

For this episode I want to jump straight into the darkest most savage and most depressing thing of all, and the main issue addressed by Zheng Yi’s Scarlet Memorial, cannibalism. 


Go back to that word “Cult” the rigid beliefs and identity it instills in a group of people, also pile on this idea of brinksmanship,  and now imagine both of those finally spilling over the edge. 


What happens, is that your enemy is so dehumanized, and robbed of agency, that you can excuse virtually any wrong committed against them.


The fighting in Guangxi was brutal. And the culture war of the cults of communism had turned hot.  Landlords, wealthy peasants, people no on board with the revolution, and so called “Bad elements” were targeted beaten and killed in public. No one was safe, not even Drs at the local hospitals. And the slaughter wasn’t limited to individuals, often it would extend to whole families to just end the bloodline. And what better way to absolutely dominate your inferior opponent, than to eat their heart? 


Here is one such example paraphrased from Scarlet Memorial:


There was a young man named Deng Jifang of Shisao Village, he was the son of a former landlord. Sometime in the 1950s Dengs landlord father became a bandit hustling resources along with his two uncles, and he was eventually defeated by the Chinese Army and killed. But Deng, who was still a child, was sentenced to a mere 2 years in prison. 


Fast forward to the culture revolution, and Deng now resided in a nearby village outside Shisao and was adopted by a poor family.  Shisao Village was looking for people to persecute, but they couldn’t seem to find many people in shisao. 


Guangxi is in Red

But the Communist Party Secretary remembered the son of a former landlord who was living in a nearby village. Men were ordered to find and arrest Deng. Aware of what was happening, Deng tried to hang himself but was caught. As he was beaten on his way back to Shisao he refused to go any further, rather than kill him there, they tossed him in a cage and carried him back to Shisao village where he was hung from an electric line and beaten by a furious crowd who wanted revenge against what they perceived as the oppressive bourgeious class. When Deng passed out he was removed from the line and thrown on the ground, several people held him down on the ground when a man named Yi Wansheng cut open his chest, cooling off the hot blood with fresh water, and proceeded to cut out Dengs heart and liver one small piece at a time to a mob that was clamoring for any scrap it could get. 


In the Book, Author Zheng Yi catches up with Yi Wansheng who at the time of interview in the 1980s was 90 years old. Yi doesn’t at all regret his actions and instead frames the events as “Class warfare, kill or be killed! Isnt that what chairman Mao said!”

Think about the mindsets involved in this murder, viewing a young man as a threat simply because some actions of his dead father many years prior. And clamoring for scraps of meat after the brutal kill. 


In another story a young man who was previously arrested and served 7 years in prison for stealing a bag of rice as his family starved during Maos’ failed Great Leap Forward was arrested for these crimes again during the cultural revolution for being an undesirable, he held down and all the meat was cut off of his body as he was alive and carried off by random people in the crowd. 


On June 18th 1968 one of the more famous cases happened. A Geography teacher named Wu Shufang who at was viewed as a capitalist sympathizer. A group of armed students along with 3 of his colleagues held him down and cut him apart. Some of his meat was cooked right there in the cafeteria and served, some was taken by the murders. A witness to the event was none other than the school principle who recalls at one point holding the knife that would do him in, he couldn’t bring himself to do it so a student took the knife and reluctantly began cutting away. But the reasoning was that if they didn’t act then and there in favor of the mob, they would have been killed too.


The power of the mob ruled. And in another instance in July of 1968, 4 people were beaten to death in the streets during a “Criticism rally” and boiled in large pots right in the middle of the street. Some 30 people took part in the feast afterwards. 

Scarlet memorial is full of events like this investigated and recorded by Zheng Yi through a mixture of witness interviews, news articles, and official documents. It’s a sobering reminder of how violent political views can make usn when those political opinions become religious facts, and those who disagree with you become unsalvageable sub-humans. 


But keep in mind in this region of the world all sorts of odd things were said to have to strange properties. To this day rhino horn, shark fin, and lets not forget how easy it was for the powers that be to sell us the lie about Bat soup being an origin of Covid19 because of the stigma of odd culinary beliefs and practices. 

Infamous Bat Soup

One such case is alleged to have occurred in Mengshan County where an elementary teacher was convinced that the heart of young beautiful girl could cure disease. So he built up a narrative framing a 13yr old student as a dissident. She was eventually murdered for these political reasons, and after the fact, he got his heart. 


So was it something that was unique to China? At that scale it certainly seems so, It was also claimed that things like dried gall bladder could still be found in some obscure markets in China decades after the Cultural Revolution. But cannibalism is something that has happened all across the globe. From Wendigo Psychosis of North America a few historical I disucss in my “Skinwalkers and Wendigo’s” episode , and the notable African Cannibalism of the likes of General Butt Naked who is in the Vice Documentary Cannibal Warlords of Liberia.

Zheng yi, the Author of Scarlet Memorial, finished his research on this topic in 1986 and would go on to be involved in the famous protests at Tianamen square in 1989 before fleeing to the US. Scarlet Memorial was published in 1993. His research has been discussed and debated, and featured in places like the New York Times. And although the scale of cannibalism is contested by some, no one doubts that it happened. The nature of communist china is such that official records and investigation today is virtually impossible. And Zheng Yi documents that many many of those involved were lightly prosecuted or not prosecuted at all, and many more went completely unknown. Such is and was the way of Mao’s communist party, those who advanced his goals receive a pass. 


Author and Survivor Zheng Yi

This is a cautionary tale, of what can happen when logic and reason are sold out for blind political belief. Trading one tyrant for another and cheering as long as it’s your tyrant. And viewing the other side as barely more than a warm body….

Antifa anyone?

This episode sponsored by "Up the Creek" Podcast. A show that offers occasionally informed commentary on news, conspiracies, and culture