The Red Guards generation benefited from neither Maoist socialism nor Dengist reform. Mao's revolution abandoned them, sweeping them out of urban centers; Deng's reform left them on the sidelines when China moved to embrace the market.
In Mao's era the Red Guards generation were the poorest of all poor Chinese, living at the lowest income level. This poverty impeded their exploiting the opportunities of Deng's reforms. The increasing costs of economic reform often started with them, further diminishing their capacity for competing in the market. Mao's revolution made them poor, forcing them to live a terrible life without economic liberty or any chance of improvement. It was even more painful when Deng's reform left them poor while Deng's regime glorified the rich (Tsou, 1996).
Ever since they had been forced into society, they had been living on an income that only kept body and soul together. For those in the cities, working life began with an apprenticeship in factories, at 18 Yuan a month. ...Show more