Believe it or not, the growing number of stores being looted in America might be best understood through the lens of China. The number of stores being looted throughout every major city in the US is astronomical. Business Insider estimates that in 2023 alone, there are as many as 3,193 stores set to close across the US.
Big stores like Target, Nike, Starbucks, Lululemon, Footlocker, etc are expecting to close many more before the end of next year. A National Retail Federation just reported that ‘theft’ is costing stores around $112.1 billion dollars in retail losses.
Americans are watching this on the news and many feel that the root of the problem is lack of police or strict anti-crime policies, but the history of China might tell us that the answer is not really so simple.
What many people don’t know is that the rise of Communism in China targeted young people and created a socialist agenda that made them feel entitled to the belongings of the ‘rich.’ In China, the beginning stages of socialist ideas and violent looting are closely intertwined. Looting created the unstable environment that the Communists needed to gain power. When the Cultural Revolution was in full swing, between 1966-1976, an all out war was launched by the ‘people’ against the establishment. The country was divided into the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots.’
Chairman Mao Zedong pushed a massive movement called “Destruction of Four Olds Campaign” where the young people were led to destroy all the traditional values of Chinese culture, teachings, and family. The Destruction of the Four Olds Campaign set out to destroy old customs, old culture, old habits, and old ideas. These “Four Olds” were responsible for the holding back of China’s development. The traditional ideas of men and women being different needed to be abolished. The ancient concept of children belonging to their parents needed to be thrown out. The old teachings of property ownership had to destroyed.
These socialist teachings led to strong passionate feelings of entitlement among the young people and mass looting followed. They didn’t have large department stores like Target and Walmart in 1960s China, but missionary homes were attacked, hospitals looted, and private property stolen. In many cases, the things that were stolen were not stolen from the rich, but middle-class people who were perceived to have items valuable enough to steal. Target, Nike, and Starbucks are not stores that cater to the rich, but provide daily services to middle-class, every day people.
The Communist Party strategically painted the middle class as a wealthy scapegoat to mobilize the less fortunate and the working-class and led them to destroy the structures of a free market and put the financial and economic power into the hands of a self-selected few.
The looting now resembles many of the same hallmarks of the looting then. The more we learn about the rise of socialism in China in the 1960s, the more we can understand the events that are unfolding today.