Plucky 'Mouse' Takes on Left

Writer Liu Di critiques the 'collective thinking' in China's 'society of differences.'
2012-10-19
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A riot policeman directs protesters in Chengdu as they march carrying an anti-Japanese banner and a Mao portrait, Sept. 16, 2012.
AFP

Beijing-based writer Liu Di, known by her former online nickname "Stainless Steel Mouse," rose to fame in 2002 after being sentenced to a year jail for blogging about China's internet restrictions as a university student. Since then, she has continued to write online about Chinese society.

In the following extracts from her commentary piece that aired recently on RFA's Mandarin service, Liu takes issue with left-wing Maoist nationalism after a high-profile Beijing professor slapped an elderly man in public for questioning the value of Chairman Mao during an anti-Japan rally last month:

Recently, the well-known Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics "Mao left" professor Han Deqiang slapped an elderly man during an anti-Japanese rally, for being "anti-Mao," causing a public outcry.

As he was hitting the old man, Professor Han Deqiang shouted: "To insult the Chairman at the time like this, in a place like this, you must be a traitor! You must be a Japanese mole!"

After the incident, Han Deqiang told the Rule of Law Weekly: "Chairman Mao is a core symbol under which the Chinese people come together in unity. There would be no Communist Party without Chairman Mao, and there would be no New China without the Communist Party."

Emile Durkheim believed that traditional societies were like an integrated piece of machinery. In such societies ... people tended to live together, and it was easy for them to fall into collective ways of thinking, a social consciousness. Such ways of thinking promoted social order and benefited good social governance, according to [Beijing University professor] Zhou Jie.

Unlike a traditional society, modern society is more organically integrated. There is ever greater differentiation in the division of labor, in people's awareness, and in their beliefs.

But society hasn't collapsed, and people are not divided. This is because ... the division of labor has meant that everyone in society has to depend on everyone else to consume what they need.

In a modern society which is organically integrated, the division of labor has superseded collective consciousness and values, reinforcing new social bonds. An organically integrated society is a society of differences.

Collective thinking

The Maoist left hope to return to a sort of tribal past, to a closed society that comes along with, and which relies on, a collective mentality.

For them, it doesn't really matter who Mao was, because he's just a totem for their tribe. For the Maoist left, to offend Mao is to offend their collective values; a heinous crime indeed.

Closed societies have a collective mentality, and the Maoist left want their collective aims to drive everyone's individual aims. Closed societies eliminate anything from the outside, so that the Maoist left believes that to do business with foreigners makes you a traitor to the Han people.

The Maoist left flaunts itself as progressive, but actually they represent a rotting layer in society and a reactionary force, as shown by their habitual opposition to scientific advances. Their belief in traditional Chinese medicine and their opposition to genetically modified farming techniques gives a glimpse of this.

Collective thinking is a basic human instinct. We all evolved out of an ancient tribe of just a few dozen people. But our current civilization is based on individualism and the division of labor and trade. Human thought develops along with human civilization.

The thinking of the Maoist left is still stuck in collective consciousness, at the level of instinct, and there is now an urgent need for it to evolve to the next level.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.

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Wales

Mouse makes a persuasive argument that xenophobic and tribalist Maoists are actually trying to take the country back in time to an era of imaginary purity. This is a hallmark of genuinely fundamentalist thinking, which is a variety of reactionary thought, and is reminiscent of many relatively extreme religious fundamentalists in the West. The demand for conformity in worshipping a supposedly infallible late leader such as Mao Zedong is part of this tribalist syndrome.

Oct 21, 2012 10:04 AM