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View Diary: China’s Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution – The Origins of Ultra-Left Ultra-Violence (pt. 1) (113 comments)

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  •  You're a little late for that. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lotlizard, Old Lefty

    China's present system is 中国特色社会主义 [(market) socialism with Chinese characteristics].

    Really it is.

    Last vestiges of the Marxist Communist system were smashed with a sledge hammer during the Jiang administration.

    No more iron rice bowels to be found. Some of the gold-plated variety, but not iron.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 04:06:28 AM PDT

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    •  It is still a totalitarian (0+ / 0-)

      state, and not open politically.

      The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

      by fladem on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 04:55:39 AM PDT

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      •  I wouldn't call it totalitarian (7+ / 0-)

        I worked with mid level Chinese bureaucrats on an environmental project in the mid to late 1990s. On my first day there, at my first meeting my jaw was hanging open at the level of criticism I was hearing. The level of critical discourse in China is higher than in the US.

        The difference is that in China there are red lines you cannot cross. But before those red lines there is a free fire zone.

        I don't pretend to understand China, but I would just say that whatever you think you've learned about the country from the western media is wrong.

        It's hard to describe. It's its own thing -- a completely unique economic and political system that is not capitalist, not communist and not totalitarian -- but also not completely free,

        •  I cringe (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dustin Mineau, KJG52

          when I hear democrats talk about how efficient the Chinese bureaucracy is.

          My point is still right - there has been no opening of the archives because the same party is still in power.

          The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

          by fladem on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:13:34 AM PDT

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          •  Not sure what you mean (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Old Lefty, glorificus

            I didn't argue that China's bureaucracy was "efficient" and I'm not saying it's a democracy.

            But "totalitarian" has a very specific definition and it doesn't fit China today. I would agree it's authoritarian, and in economic matters also exactly what the government says it is, which is a socialist market economy, with comprehensive economic planning, public ownership of all land and the "commanding heights" of the economy, and a vast array of cooperatives.

            Politically it's much more open than is portrayed in the West.  In evaluating one party states, we need to look at how much democracy there is within that one party. I remember reading a NY Times article about Tanzania when it was a one party state and how more members of parliament were tossed out of office through intra-party elections than in the US Congress.

            But as I said above in terms of speech, there are red lines you cannot cross.

      •  Authoritarian, not Totalitarian. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bozmo2, lotlizard, Old Lefty

        In fact, the party is more fragmented than you imagine.

        The last two vestiges of the totalitarian system are the one child policy and the Hukou (home registration) system, both of which are gradually being abandoned because they are more problem than solution, but not as easy to deconstruct as to construct given the social implications.

        Politically, we have a de facto one party system but with increasing wiggle-room in local politics.

        The problem for the party is how to adopt greater democratic process without losing control, a bit of a contradiction unless you understand "Chinese characteristics" as they define it.

        In fact, the government is hyper-sensitive to public opinion which suggests a degree of fragility at the core, and this is the crack in the wall that keeps getting wider.

        Students of Chinese policy will note how the public discourse and unofficial official response factors in reform, a two steps forward, one step back proposition.

        Ultimately, we the people stand on our Constitution. Like most, it's full of useful concepts and statements that could be applied in various fashions. Devil in the details.

        I like the idea of any government being put on the spot to justify its existence; fundamentally healthy situation regardless of the name, form and rhetoric.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 06:53:02 AM PDT

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        •  To restate my initial argument (0+ / 0-)

          the Communist Party is still in power, and has not and will not open the archives the way that was done after Communism fell in the Soviet Union.

          The past is not open in China.  Nor is much else.

          The bitter truth of deep inequality has been disguised by an era of cheap imported goods and the anyone-can-make-it celebrity myth - Polly Toynbee

          by fladem on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 07:12:04 AM PDT

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          •  China is more open than you think (7+ / 0-)

            And in some unexpected ways, good and bad. Things change so fast here.

            In fact, some areas of China resemble the wild-west.

            Actually, there is a lot of discussion of these issues in academic circles and society (diarist mentions this), but a lot of it is contained within bright lines or codified, and as I mentioned, often constrained with respect for the living which we tend, as a culture, to manifest as silence. In fact, we tend to believe some things you should know and not speak.

            Difficult to say what would be found in archives, particularly from the Cultural Revolution era where so much was destroyed.

            As the diarist noted, much of the history is verbal so how much gets passed down in what form will write future history, much as it always is.

            Chinese will come to terms with this eventually, on our own terms. On a personal level, many people have, myself included; I have a child to raise and can't change what happened before, just take lessons and try to raise the next generation to think differently. The most important thing I can do to change the world is be a good parent, the is my direct sphere of influence.

            And a lot of this is ancient history compared to what we are doing here and now that will more greatly impact the future, that's what my sig-line question is about. I want to ask myself that question everyday and hope others do too.

            When I look at all the foolish conflicts and stupidity that are perpetuated across generations all over the world because we can't let go of the past, sometime I wonder if we would be better off to forget history and focus more on what is in front of our eyes since the "lessons" of history never seem to stick when we need them, or we take the wrong lessons.

            "The sins of the father visited on the sons". Or the grandsons.

            If I have to look in only one direction, I chose forward. Lots of people feel that way.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 09:00:53 AM PDT

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            •  I sympathize (0+ / 0-)

              History is a long and bloody scroll, one not limited to China.

              However, while the impulse to bury the past in the name of looking towards the future is seductive, it is illusory. Without a comprehension and appreciation of the past there is no future, merely endless repetition.

              I would think that the experience of the GPCR would underline this point.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Wed Mar 27, 2013 at 12:23:26 PM PDT

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              •  Depends how you process it. (0+ / 0-)

                The thing about history is it never goes away, even when we wish it would. Even when the weight drags us down or poisons the wells we drink from. Look at the mid-East.

                The ideal is the so-called "truth and reconciliation" process, whether that is national and public or personal and private.

                But it seems not to be as simple as it sounds for either and takes some time.

                After all, a majority of Americans have difficulty processing the historical fact the US committed a nuclear holocaust purposely targeting civilians to terrorize an adversary into submission; they will even call it a humanitarian act that save thousands of hypothetical lives.

                So is it really so strange other people and governments struggle to recognize the truth?

                But in case you are so doubtful about China and Chinese desire to do this, you can read these two recent articles from a trusted liberal Western source:

                Mr Zhang's regrets

                Mr Xu's models

                I think this is how it will be done.  We don't need great stone memorials or big proclamations, just let people do what they wish, we each find our path.

                What about my Daughter's future?

                by koNko on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:04:53 AM PDT

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                •  Your point about use of the A Bomb (0+ / 0-)

                  is well taken but too limited. The policy of terror bombing of civilian populations in both Germany and Japan preceded the A bomb and was responsible for a larger number of deaths.

                  While it's true that there are those who argue that use of the A Bomb was a military necessity and that its use prevented enormous casualties both civilian and military that an invasion of the Japanese home islands would have entailed, I've never heard it described as a "humanitarian" act. I'm not so naive as to imagine such a claim, however obscene, couldn't have been made but to my knowledge it has never been widely considered, much less accepted, as such.

                  However, one needn't look to acts in foreign wars for moral parallels with the GPCR. For that one need only consult the domestic history of the US.

                  I don't know how much you know about our history but I imagine you are aware that the economic foundations of the US were laid upon the institution of slavery, that a bloody Civil War was required exterminate that institution.

                  What, perhaps, isn't so well appreciated is that for nearly a century following the end of legal slavery a terrorist regime was imposed in the former slave states for the purpose maintaining the oppression and exploitation of the former slaves. Of necessity this regime also targeted all members of the non slave population who dissented. Consequently, this regime had many features in common with the GPCR:  The suppression of free thought, inquiry and expression by the demand for submission to a rigid social, political and economic orthodoxy, imposed by public humiliation, intimidation,demagoguery, mob violence, torture, murder and a policy of terror both official and unofficial. The number of it's victime will never be known. Particularly if we include those who were worked to death as convict labor. This regime endured not for ten years but five generations before it was effectively challenged. Even then it would not have fallen without the intervention of national authority.

                  Please excuse me for going into such detail but this is the part of the US that I come from. My ancestors owned slaves and took up arms in defense of the slave system. As for the post war period, the least that can be said is that they were complicit in the imposition and maintenance of the terrorist regime described.

                  I tell you all this to make it plain that I don't imagine that I am speaking to you from some higher moral plane. To the contrary, I view both of us as unwilling heirs to the legacy of a criminal past. Neither do I imagine that I am fit to instruct you as to the specifics of how you should deal with that legacy in the context of your own country and culture. I can only offer a caution that, sooner or later, it must be dealt with. The longer that reckoning is postponed, the less likely it is that our children, or our children's children's children, will thank us.  

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Fri Mar 29, 2013 at 11:40:17 AM PDT

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        •  Thank you (0+ / 0-)

          for your insightful observations. Simply fascinating to hear from personal experience.

          •  Mostly second hand (0+ / 0-)

            I was a young child then, but certainly it affected my circumstances and society as a whole, and is still unresolved in many ways.

            My eldest sister and mother, who now live together, faced a lot more than me, and this is a bond between them and something they discuss occasionally.

            Once my sister remarked to me, "There are too many secrets". I understood. Some things you can know and not say. That's OK.

            What about my Daughter's future?

            by koNko on Thu Mar 28, 2013 at 11:12:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

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