Why did Chinese youths support Mao so enthusiastically during the Chinese Cultural Revolution in the 1960's?
What convinced them to support Mao? I looked through my textbook and on the Internet and I couldn't find any explanations...
The youth of China supported Mao largely out of the idealism and zealousness that can often come with youth. In the West, we had youths doing things like becoming hippies and trying to change the world in that way. In China, idealistic youths of the time, stirred up by Mao and his people, turned to the Red Guards and promoted the Cultural Revolution.
Young people in general tend to be idealistic. They tend to think that they can change the world if those older than them would only listen. In China, youths were being encouraged to think in this way. They were being told by Mao and his supporters that they needed to rise up and cleanse their country of the negative influences of the older people above them who were not sufficiently revolutionary.
So, the Chinese youth were encouraged in a direction that they were already inclined to go. They were encouraged to indulge in their propensity toward idealism and zealotry.
The massive outpouring of violence from Chinese youths, who enthusiastically supported Mao during the Cultural Revolution, could be attributed to a backfiring of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) educational campaigns. Youths in China had been increasingly taught to live a revolutionary life but they had no chance to do so in the post-war era, when the CCP had already attained control. Such deep frustrations pushed them to participate actively in the Red Guard movement - the Cultural Revolution provided an opening for their revolutionary fervour to be unleashed. The personality cult the CCP had created for Mao was also effective in instilling loyalty amongst the impressionable youth, who put his ideals to practice, often to the extreme. The Little Red Book, a collection of Mao’s personal teachings became the de-facto “religious” book of the Red Guard movement and all prerogatives from Mao were strictly followed by all who considered themselves as revolutionaries.