How the "Red Guards' Battle Song" Was Born
By Red Guards of the Middle School of the Central Conservatory of
China Reconstructs, March 1968 (pp. 36-37)
We are Chairman Mao's Red Guards,
We steel our red hearts in great winds and waves,
We arm ourselves with Mao Tsetung's thought
To sweep away all pests.
LISTEN! The dynamic melody and rhythm of the "Red Guards'
Battle Song" resounds across our great socialist
Listen! This song bursts forth as group after group of daring Red
Guards, wearing shining Chairman Mao badges and carrying red
quotation books, pour into the streets to destroy the "four
olds" of the exploiting classes and promote the "four
news"* of the proletariat!
Hear the Red Guards sing it as they board trains for every part of
the country to spread the flames of revolutionary rebellion far
Hear the Red Guards sing it as they charge forward in the battle
to "fight self, repudiate revisionism", mercilessly
attacking the "self" in their own minds and raining
annihilating blows on the handful of Party capitalistroaders in
"The Red Guards' Battle Song", a revolutionary marching
song of the proletariat, was born in the life-and-death struggle
between the proletarian and bourgeois headquarters, between the
socialist and capitalist roads, between the proletarian
revolutionary line and the bourgeois reactionary line.
Red Guards of Chairman Mao
In June 1966 our great leader Chairman Mao himself launched the
great proletarian cultural revolution, a revolution unprecedented
in history. Revolutionary teachers and students responded at once
and rose up to rebel against the capitalistroaders, exposing and
denouncing their crimes. For 17 years, in the literature and art
world and in our school, these traitors had tried to create public
opinion for the restoration of capitalism in China by protecting,
fostering and spreading decadent, bourgeois and revisionist
literature and art, and opposing Chairman Mao's revolutionary line
on literature and art.
China's Khrushchov and his followers were by no means willing to
take defeat. They tried to put out the first flames of the
cultural revolution by sending out work teams to suppress the
growing mass movement. One such work team came to our school. But
after a short while we felt there were things seriously wrong with
it, so we stuck up dazibao (big-character posters) against it. The
work team promptly retaliated by branding us
"counterrevolutionaries." We were only a tiny minority,
but we were confident that this was only a temporary situation,
that the capitalistroaders could not crush revolutionary fighters
armed with Mao Tsetung's thought.
When our struggle was the toughest, we drew strength from these
lines of Chairman Mao's poem:
Only heroes can quell tigers and leopards
And wild bears never daunt the brave.
Plum blossoms welcome the whirling snow;
Small wonder flies freeze and perish.
Chairman Mao also says: "The world is yours, as well as ours,
but in the last analysis, it is yours. You young people, full of
vigour and vitality, are in the bloom of life, like the sun at
eight or nine in the morning. Our hope is placed on you."
How profound these words are! Our revolutionary forbears gave
their blood and their lives to win this state power for the
proletariat. Can we young people allow criminal revisionism to
trample it down? Can we allow our red state power to change its
colour in our generation? Never! We must become successors to the
revolutionary cause of the proletariat. After we have studied
Chairman Mao's teachings, our minds are illuminated, our eyes grow
sharper, we are firmer in our stand and stronger in our strides.
We swear never to leave the field of battle until we have wiped
out every poisonous vestige of the sinister line on literature and
art, until we have thoroughly repudiated and discredited China's
Chairman Mao had not been in Peking when China's Khrushchov began
suppressing the revolutionaries in the early part of the cultural
revolution. He returned in July, and the bourgeois reactionary
line of suppression went bankrupt. The black clouds lifted, and
once again we saw the glorious rays of the sun. With the warmest
support from our dear Chairman Mao, the great Red Guard movement
rose. It's right to rebel! In this spirit we organized the first
Red Guard group of the Central Conservatory of Music on August 2.
We swore to defend Chairman Mao, to defend the red state power and
to be Red Guards for ever faithful to Chairman Mao.
Taking Up Our Weapon
How should we express our boundless loyalty, love, veneration and
faith in our great red commander Chairman Mao? What could we use
to help inspire the Red Guards in our struggle against the class
enemy? We recalled what Chairman Mao had taught us, that we must
"ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole
revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as
powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for
attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people
fight the enemy with one heart and one mind". We are music
students — our weapon would be music, a battle song for the
We concentrated on studying Chairman Mao's brilliant work, Talks
at the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art, and other related
articles, and this helped clarify our task. Into the stanzas of
the song we wrote the revolutionary rebel spirit of the Red
Guards. The revolutionary composer, Li Chiehfu, helped us set the
words to music.
We had many discussions. We all agreed that the first line of each
stanza should begin with "We are Chairman Mao's Red
Guards" because Chairman Mao is the reddest sun in our hearts
and Mao Tsetung's thought is our guiding light. It was Chairman
Mao, with the true spirit of a great proletarian revolutionary,
who discovered the Red Guard organization when it was first born,
praised it highly and supported it firmly. This is our greatest
pride and joy. The second sentence is "We steel our red
hearts in great winds and waves". Chairman Mao teaches us
that successors to the revolutionary cause of the proletariat must
steel themselves in the teeth of winds and waves. We are now in
the midst of a great storm of class struggle. We must, in fighting
against the bourgeoisie, forge red hearts completely dedicated to
serving the great majority of the people of China and the
The first stanza we emphasize: "We arm ourselves with Mao
Tse-tung's thought to sweep away all pests." Mao Tsetung's
thought is living MarxismLeninism at its highest in our era, the
era in which imperialism is heading for total collapse and
socialism is advancing to worldwide victory. We will wield the
invincible weapon of Mao Tsetung's thought to wipe out the
imperialists, revisionists, reactionaries and human pests of all
In the second stanza we stress, "Marching on the
revolutionary road of our forbears, we shoulder the heavy task of
our age". Chairman Mao teaches: "In China the struggle
to consolidate the socialist system, the struggle to decide
whether socialism or capitalism will prevail, will still take a
long historical period." Will the socialist system be
consolidated or not? Will China turn revisionist or not? It is our
generation which will decide these lifeanddeath questions. Not
only will we overthrow China's capitalist roaders, we will wipe
out U.S. imperialism. We will help the world's revolutionary
masses overthrow all the forces of reaction. This is the heavy
responsibility of the era which we must shoulder.
In the third stanza, "We unite with the masses and together
plunge into the battle to wipe out all monsters and demons"
expresses our determination to follow Chairman Mao's teaching to
unite with all the people that can be united in our struggle; to
unite with all revolutionary peoples to sweep away every ghost and
monster from the face of the earth!
In the refrain we write: "Dare to criticize and repudiate,
dare to struggle, never stop making revolutionary rebellion! We
will smash the old world and keep our revolutionary state red for
ten thousand generations!" Yes, we Red Guards will always put
daring to the fore. We dare to criticize and repudiate any aspect
of the "four olds" that is not in accord with Mao
Tsetung's thought. We are determined to rebel against all
revisionist counterrevolutionaries. No matter who he is, how high
his position, how famous his name or how great his seniority, as
long as he dares to oppose Chairman Mao and Mao Tse-tung's
thought, we will overthrow him without mercy and trample him
underfoot, never to rise again.
Today, singing this battle song, we have smashed the plot of
China's Khrushchov to restore capitalism, defended the
dictatorship of the proletariat and Chairman Mao's revolutionary
line. Tomorrow, singing this song, we will plunge into the final
great struggle of the world's people to smash the system of
exploitation and realize communism throughout the world. The
future is ours. The all-illuminating thinking of Mao Tse-tung will
inevitably win a whole bright red new world!
Red Guards’ Battle Song (Hongweibing Zhan Ge)
We are Chairman Mao’s Red Guards,
We steel our red hearts in great winds and waves.
We arm ourselves with Mao Tse-tung’s thought
To sweep away all pests.
We are Chairman Mao’s Red Guards,
Absolutely firm in our proletarian stand,
Marching on the revolutionary road of our forbears,
We shoulder the heavy task of our age.
We are Chairman Mao’s Red Guards,
Vanguards of the cultural revolution.
We unite with the masses and together plunge into the battle
To wipe out all monsters and demons.
Dare to criticize and repudiate, dare to struggle,
Never stop making revolutionary rebellion.
We will smash the old world
And keep our revolutionary state red for ten thousand
*The "four olds" means the old ideas, culture, customs
and habits; and the "four news" means the new ideas,
culture, customs and habits.