Scenes from the Cultural Revolution

In case you didn’t see this recommendation today by eswn, here you go. You will not want to miss these clips.



I’m reading a book now on how Pol Pot got as far as he did, and how he moved the common man to join him and happily commit unimaginable crimes against humanity. Watching these videos drives home the formula monsters like Mao and Pol Pot implement to achieve “utopia.” Mao could have been Pol Pot’s tutor.

The Discussion: 24 Comments

Here’s another good documentary.

January 5, 2008 @ 12:04 am | Comment

I went to Tuel Sleng and they display these brief bios of various people who joined the Khmer Rouge and explain what their motivations were. The recruits came overwhelming from Cambodia’s poorest provinces and the reason they joined is pretty simple: Being a guerilla meant better food and carrying an AK-47 was easier than farmwork.

In other words, the Khmer Rouge’s rise to power was driven by subsidies from China, not by Buddhism or Cambodian culture. Mao didn’t “despair” over Pol Pot’s “excesses.” The Khmer Rouge did to Cambodia what Mao wished he could do to China, if only Deng, Liu and the other “capitalist roaders” weren’t cramping his style.

Mao thought that a united Vietnam would be a threat to China, which why he forced Ho Chi Minh to agreed to a North/South partition back in 1954. At that time the French were pulling out, so there was no military force in the South capable of opposing of further communist advance. Around the time of the Tet offensive in 1968, it occurred to Mao that the South was in danger of falling and that he needed an ally the rear of the Vietnamese communists.

Sihanouk’s mistake was that he imagined that if he was anti-American and really fanatic about it, the communists wouldn’t bother him. He refused US military aid, so the Cambodian army had sunk into a pathetic state by the time the Khmer Rouge uprising began in earnest.

January 5, 2008 @ 4:34 pm | Comment

I’m reading Overy’s The Dictators which explains how the people allowed Hitler and Stalin to get as far as they did as opposed to simply providing another biographical sketch which I wish Jung Chang had addressed in her tome about Mao. Would be interested to read that book on Pol Pot.

January 5, 2008 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

Keir, do you recommend this bok? Sounds intriguing.

About the Khmer Rouge – yes, Mao and the CR were its inspiration. However, it would never have happened had the Cambodian peasantry not been radicalized by the three years of secret bombings carried out by my beloeved country. Just imagine how you would feel if some foreign country – Cuba, Iran, whatever – carpet bombed your hometown, incinerating your beloved ones and your lifetime belongings. This is one of those occasions where Americva truly and totally sucked, and where we were directly (if not solely) responsible in large part for one of history’s most sickening examples of mass murder and genocide (many ethnic Chinese and Vietnamese were butchered by the khmer, so it can safely be called genocide).

January 6, 2008 @ 2:59 am | Comment


you also forgot the overthrow of Norodom Sihanouk by the CIA to install a pro-US Lon Nol govt. Sihanouk of course would eventually be brought back to power as nominal King to create some stability for the pseudo-elected government. Since then he has passed the throne to his son.

Sihanouk, a filmmaker before all of this nonsense, is currently making a film of the Khmer Rouge revolution.

January 6, 2008 @ 9:52 am | Comment

If it wasn’t for US aid, the Lon Nol government would have fallen years earlier and the Khmer Rouge’s genocide would have gone on for longer. The US Congress cut off aid to Cambodia in 1974 and this led to the success of the final KR offensive the following year. None of the KR bios I read cite US bombing as a reason to enlist and only one cites Sihanouk’s overthrow. For all the others, it was strictly more food, less work, i.e. the rice and weapons that China supplied to the KR.

When the KR marched into Phenom Phenh, Chomsky and the hard left thought it a fine thing. The “bombing drove them crazy” theory arose only after the after skulls started pilling up. The bombing wasn’t a secret to the Cambodians. Sihanouk know all about it and never objected. He just didn’t want people to know that he was dependent on US assistance.

January 6, 2008 @ 10:57 am | Comment

Cultural revolution has its merits. Do not dismiss it so easily. Today, everything you hear about the cultural revolution is through filtered lenses. The CCP of today is controlled by rightists and compradors. CCP today tells you that the cultural revolution is a “dark period” in China’s history, it is “10 years of tragedy”, “a scar on the Chinese nation”, etc. And they paint everything in the cultural revolution with a dark brush. They already officially declared that Mao Zedong was wrong during the Cultural Revolution. Do you get to hear the other side of the story at all? In fact, today, if you praise the cultural revolution in public, you can be banned. This is just result of a tightly controlled state media.

January 6, 2008 @ 11:46 am | Comment

Tom, you’re right. Peter, as always, literally, you are wrong. I’d love to see how you’d respond to having your home (or shopping cart?) carpet bombed.

January 6, 2008 @ 12:18 pm | Comment

The US bombing in Cambodia was mainly in areas that had been already been cleared out as military zones by the Vietnamese communists. There was no “coup” against Sihanouk. He was deposed legally by a vote of the Cambodian parliament. He then formed an alliance with the Khmer Rouge, which shows that the man is unworthy to be a head of state. He came to power as the choice of Vichy France, not the Cambodian people. In order for him to become king in 1941, several more senior princes had to be passed over.

January 6, 2008 @ 1:47 pm | Comment

Yeah Peter, but that’s not what the two books I just read said. I’ve already learned that arguing with you is futile. You made similar idiotic statements in an earlier thread – “The war in Iraq is over and America won” – and when I confronted you with evidence you just went on to say more dumb things on the next thread. So I’m not going to try to work with you because you don’t want to learn or explore, just make blanket assertions that paint America as always right, always invincible, always good. America is many things, but there’s plenty of bad, especially in our covert foreign relations. Somehow you only see good – and you can even justify the crime against humanity that was the secret bombing of Cambodia which set the stage directly (among other factors, like the Mao support and many social/economic factors in combination) for Pol Pot. I repeat what I’ve said about you from the start: you’re here to fool around with people and you have no idea what you are talking about. I just read two books on this subject; nothing you say is even close to the truth.

January 6, 2008 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

richard, I don’t think you can say the Pol Pot saga was caused by the US bombings. It may have given further support to his campaign, but his rise to power would probably have happened anyway.

By the way, no offence, but I hate it when people say “I have read books” as if that makes them better able to discuss a subject than the next man. At the very least you need to say what books.

If I said “I have read literature on Chinese naval history” when discussing whether the Chinese made it to America in the 15th century, it sounds impressive. But if I then say the book I read was the piece of trash “1421” by Gavin Menzies, all credibility drops away. So it’s best to say what one has read at the start.

January 6, 2008 @ 7:59 pm | Comment

Raj, I said the US bombings were a cause “among other factors” of Pol Pot’s rise. I stick to that. Agree with your point about “I’ve read books…” It’s just that this guy Peter is really pissing me off. That said, I really did read the books, I really do believe the points that one of them made, and they directly and irrefutably contradict what Peter said. So once again, I’m right.

On a more serious note, I can go through these books and disprove what Peter says, as I’ve disproved all his other inanities, but it isn’t worth the effort, since, as I mentioned earlier, he then ignores the argument and bounces over to the next thread to stir things us.

January 6, 2008 @ 8:35 pm | Comment

richard, you said:

However, it would never have happened had the Cambodian peasantry not been radicalized by the three years of secret bombings carried out by my beloeved country.

That does suggest that even if they caused the Pol Pot saga only in part, they were a key factor. I was suggesting it would have happened anyway.

January 7, 2008 @ 3:25 am | Comment

I would disagree, but this is like arguing whether outlawing guns in the US would drastically reduce crimes and violence, or whether we should have stayed in Vietnam. In other words, there’s no way to prove one’s argument, and the topic can result in bitter arguments with no hope of agreement.

The book Why Did they Kill made it totally clear to me, for the first time, why the bombings were not just a factor but a key factor for the vast rural support for the Khmer Rouge. I can cite blocks of text, but I don’t think it will change anyone’s mind. No bombings, no Khmer Rouge. No American involvement in Vietnam, no Khmer Rouge. At least not as we know them.

January 7, 2008 @ 8:16 am | Comment

Madge, that was an excellent comment but I had no choice but to zap it. You understand.

January 7, 2008 @ 11:19 am | Comment

I’ve read “Pol Pot” by the same guy that did “Mao”. Great read, and truly sick.

January 7, 2008 @ 12:32 pm | Comment

MAJ, sorry, there’s no forgiveness when it comes to you. I tried in the past and each time it led to catastrophe. Please do not reply – it will be instantly zapped. You can never be credible again.

(For new readers, here’s the background.)

January 7, 2008 @ 1:19 pm | Comment

and in the vacuum left after the cultural revolution, a million other evils started flowing in from foreign countries- once again.

January 7, 2008 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

I took a look at the “Why Did They Kill?” book. It is a nuanced, scholarly tome on this subject. There are several paragraphs about the effect US bombing on Khmer Rouge, and I gather that it did make the poor dears angry. But they had quite a list of grievences and this is only one item. The book doesn’t argue that bombing was the root cause of genocide. Maoists are trained to be angry in struggle sessions. KR propaganda celebrated “burning rage” as a positive force in and of itself, quite apart from any external provocation. We should not be freting over the feelings of murderers or validating their victimhood narrative.

January 8, 2008 @ 12:25 am | Comment

In case you have never heard, the girl, named Song Binbin, who shook hands with Mao ecstatically on Tiananmen is the daughter of Song renqiong ( She is said to be told by Mao during the meeting that “binbin” (gentle and elegant in Chinese) was not so good as “yaowu” (willing to fight) and thus change her name to Song Yaowu until she emigrated to the USA in early 1980s.

And more, she was a red guard and is said to be directly responsible for the death of the then headmaster of “The Experimental High School Attached to Beijing Normal University”, Bian Zhonggeng who was insulted, paraded and beaten to death. She is rumored to be the culprit of a few other deaths too afterwards.

An author (Qian Jiaju) said she competed with another red guard who killed 6 people, by killing eight.

She later did a PhD in MIT and is the wife of (

January 8, 2008 @ 1:34 am | Comment

Your use of the phrase “poor dears” tells us quite a bit. The issues of the bombings comes up multiple times in the book and is a running motif that helps explain the question of the book’s title. I’d be shocked if you could read the entire book in less than 24 hours,

January 8, 2008 @ 7:37 am | Comment

“When the KR marched into Phenom Phenh, Chomsky and the hard left thought it a fine thing.” Peter Kauffner

Richard was right about you….I can’t remember what he called you though, only that I remember it wasn’t flattering.

“They [KR] are murderous thugs, but we won’t let that stand in our way. We are prepared to improve relations with them,” said the very humane Henry Kissinger, November 26th, 1975. (Puke**)

When 2,756,941 tons of American bombs finally stopped raining down on Cambodia on August 15th, 1973, Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge subsequently won an ongoing civil war and, in the space of a few years, was responsible for a million Cambodian deaths. Along with many of his contemporaries Chomsky has been alleged of being “beguiled”, supposedly supporting their cause during the civil war and denying solid evidence of genocide.Chomsky has never apologized for his statements on the subject, his statements since have been quite clear to the effect that there was, in fact, genocide, and the argument therefore is whether his statements at the time classify as “denial”, presumably in the fashion of deniers of the holocaust, of Pol Pot’s genocide.

“It doesn’t enrage anyone when I say this about enemies of the United States. Then it’s obvious. What outrages them is when I try to show how these patterns also exhibited in our own society, as they are. If I were talking to a group of Russian intellectuals, they would be outraged that I failed to see the idealism and commitment to peace and brotherhood of the Russian state. That’s the way propaganda systems function.”
–Noam Chomsk

January 9, 2008 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

While America is a favorite scapegoat the world over, there is really no direct correlation between US bombings and Khmer Rouge genocide… people are so complicated that it seems almost ridiculous to me to link the two incidents…. as if bombs fell and then they suddenly decided “hey, let’s go into psychotic year zero mode and kill millions of our fellow countrymen.” Perhaps if the US had bombed China, it could be blamed for the mass deaths of the Anti-Rightist Movement or the Cultural Revolution? Oh, perhaps Japan is responsible for those?
Maoism creates an “internal enemy” around which “the people” can be united and unleash aggressive instincts.
Whether or not Cambodia had been bombed, the demented ideology of Maoism would have led to the mass extermination of those deemed “enemies of the people.” Other considerations are, in my opinion, nothing but the employment of fashionable excuses (“the US did it!”) for the creation and reproduction of a victim narrative.

January 10, 2008 @ 5:39 am | Comment

This I agree: “the demented ideology of Maoism would have led to the mass extermination of those deemed “enemies of the people.”

“America is a favorite scapegoat the world over, ”

NO, it is NOT!!! The American People are the scapegoats, the weaker nations and the inhabitants of planet earth are the scapegoats.

“Whether or not Cambodia had been bombed,there is really no direct correlation between US bombings and Khmer Rouge genocide”

There is no buts about it, Cambodia was bombed , and by the USA, and covertly for 4 and half years. And yes, 500,000 to a million INNOCENT Cambodians, mostly Farmers were Killed – DIRECTLY by fire and brimstones falling from the sky out of the bellies of US bombers and the canons of jet fighters of the United States Airforce per Henry Kissinger’s advice and US President NIXON’s order.

January 11, 2008 @ 7:50 am | Comment

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