During the time I grew up in China, Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping were the number one and number two enemies of Chinese people. We were surrounded by seas of anti-Liu/Deng posters such as those in the above links. While the brilliant military Marshal Lin Biao was Mao’s “most loyal second hand”. We had to chant “Long live Chairman Mao! Long live Vice Chairman Lin!” every morning at the threshold of our kindergarten door in front of their giant portraits. Then one day, a shocking news came that Marshal Lin had tried to defect to the Soviet Russia and only had his plane crashed in the desert of Mongolia. (Though many people suspected that the plane was shot down by Chinese missiles.) It turned out that Lin was actually a deeply hidden counter-revolutionary after all. All his past brilliant campaigns against the Japanese, Chiang Kai-Shek, and the Americans were repudiated and erased from the text of the history book. A small red book of Quotations by Vice Chairman Lin disappeared overnight, and everything Lin had previously said was now taken under a new light.
Later, several other “rise and fall” incidents happened again and again. Deng would be reinstalled in 1974, purged in 1976, and then finally reinstalled again in 1978. There were also “Gang of four”, Hua Guofeng, Hu Yaobang, and finally Zhao Ziyang, who had risen and fell. Though none of these later characters had a fate as dramatic and horrifying as Lin Biao and Liu Shaoqi, who, as the Chairman of the People's Republic, were tortured to death by the Red Guards with Mao’s implicit endorsement during the Culture Revolution.
The phenomenon of first praising somebody to the sky and then turning the palm and denouncing them to be the worst enemy the second day had been very common throughout the history of the Communist Parties of both Soviet and China. The early Bolshevik theoreticians Nikolai Bukharin and Leon Trotsky come to mind. You may read about their fates described in Wikipedia in rather dry words, but it would be hard to appreciate the atmosphere in which those figures were first hailed as great as almost a god, and then were condemned to the lowest levels of hell in a blink of eye. And death were considered too good for them.
Thinking back, the only way that one could accept the Party’s ever changing versions about those people was to consider them not as a real living human being with flesh and blood, but as an abstract concept. A real human being will not change from an angel to a devil in one day, only an abstract being can.
Does what happened at SOLO bear any similarities to all of these? Perhaps only to a very small extent, and only in a sense that I haven’t seen anything that remotely resembles those phenomenons anywhere else in all my years in US. And those Communist Party histories are something that I am reminded of by the past and current events at SOLO.
(Edited by Hong Zhang on 5/06, 1:47pm)