Archive for December 26th, 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Oh Come All Ye Faithful: Mao Zedong’s 119th Birthday

In Shaoshan, countless people sang “The East is Red” together to mark Comrade Mao Zedong‘s 119th birthday, notes People’s Daily online. Another activity on December 25 was a fitness marathon, in reply to Mao’s call to “develop sports to strengthen the people’s physical shape”. Nearly ten-thousand people from provincial departments colleges and universities, and from all over the province (i. e. Hunan Province) reportedly participated.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Follow the star over Shaoshan town.

Another lot of countless people probably didn’t care, unless they absolutely had to. And the article in question was written by a fairly productive (judging by search results) trainee, or an intern.  To her glory, the short article is carried by many mainstream websites, too.

How can a party that claims have been the faithful inheritor and advocate of the outstanding traditional Chinese culture from the day of its establishment celebrate a barbarian mass killer?

There may be many reasons, but two seem to come to my mind. For one, they have to celebrate him. To admit that he had been a liability through most of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s would call the party’s legitimacy into question. After all, they enabled him.

And secondly, because maybe, Mao isn’t that much of a liability when it comes to party rule. Under the Great Helmsman’s correct leadership, 70-percent-correct leadership or whatever kind of leadership, the Communists showed the people what they were capable of. No, I’m not thinking about literacy statistics here, but about shock and awe. When a younger generation became somewhat forgetful, only twelve or thirteen years after Mao’s death, they got another – comparatively small – reminder of what the CCP can do for them.

And many people inside and outside China keep saying that the Tian-An-Men massacre in 1989 was a “necessity”.

But these two reasons alone basically seem to guarantee that China can’t develop genuine “soft power”. There may be soft power over some of our elites in Europe, for example, especially when they are tired of the cumbersome business of democracy – especially elections.

But no “ordinary people” in their right minds can subscribe to concepts like those.



» Convivial Diplomacy (2009), Febr 20, 2012
» Message to a Barbarian, June 26, 2011


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