Wednesday, January 7, 2009

"Let a hundred flowers bloom."

The subject of politics has never been a major interest of mine, though I do consider the study of politics to be extremely important. I have just recently enrolled in my fourth year of study with two courses in my major (psychology) and three (though soon to be two), in other areas. For two years straight, I have packed my schedule with all courses to do with my major, on my first day in my criminology seminar, I actually fee al bit unnerved being in a 300 level lecture, that isn't my forte. This sense of daunt however, soon surpassed when I started engrossing myself with researching for materials in preparation for my first assignment.

The class focuses on crimes in contemporary society, thus naturally the assignment is going to revolve around case studies of recent social injustices committed by a person whom received just a bit too much media coverage --- the infamous Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy and such. Much to my surprise, we were informed that the extend of our research can stretch beyond the "legendary" ones; it can be about petty individuals wrong doings such as cases of vandalism, or roaring mass movements such as riots. The thought of the case of the Tiananmen Square protest on June 4th of 1989 immediately came to me, thus I dove straight into Wikipeida for a quick glance at the event. As I delve deeper and deeper into the case, I realize that I was not prepared for what was found. After hours of gasping in disbelief, my curiosity broadened even further; I wondered about the origin of the fight for democracy, on that fateful day.

Communism! We all have heard of it, but the ideology itself is still a mystery in terms of its functionality and I am no different. I know nothing of the intricacy that this particular socioeconomic system embodies but I think to understand China, and the problems associated with it, one can start by approaching it from a political stance. With that being said, I think my next pursuit for knowledge will be on the teachings of communism, perhaps I can proliferate from there and start to understand the science of politics.

Here are some Chinese propagandized images and literature that were spread around during the Cultural Revolution to promote a sense of "togetherness" and well...socialist ideas.

This is a typical example of "Red" art that was popular during the Cultural Revolution of the in the late 60's. The quote reads "Smash the old world/ Establish the new world", and it depicts a worker smashing what seems to be crucifix, Buddha and Chinese texts (Wikipeida, 2005). This poster symbolizes the idea of moving forward in and abandoning the "old ways of thinking" in building a society that is more modern and less conservative. The only sad thing about this "change" is that during this period, a great deal of ancient historical artifacts and literature were destroyed and ancient religious practices were banned.

This poster depicts a farmer holding the book of Quotations from Chairman Mao Zedong. The bottom quote reads, "tremendous support for agriculture" which symbolizes the Great Leap Forward movement which was aimed at transforming the traditional agrarian economy into a modern, industrialized communist system. Ironically, in an attempt to better the economy, the country was faced with severe depression and ravaged by famine.

Ahh...the "little red book", this quote book by chairman Mao to the people of China was the equivalence of the holy bible to devout Christians. It was one of the few "pro-revolution" literature and everyone must have a copy, and anyone caught disrespecting this "sacred document" will be "criticized and denounced" (punishment for being "anti-revolutionary"). In fact, I remember my father telling me about a particular incident in his childhood, during the Cultural Revolution that a woman he knew of, one day accidentally dropping this book in the commune toilette. This was later discovered by others and immediately penalized by being subjected to public "criticizing and denouncing", because they think she purposefully disgarded the book and thus was an "anti-revolutionist". Furthermore, this book glorified Mao so much that it is criticized to promote a cult of personality because Mao uses this medium as a media for mass media and painted himself to be a heroic figure. Again, the irony exists within the notion that this book being a major item during the Revolution promoted tyrannical behavior in Mao, he became a dictator while preaching about communism, an egalitarian notion where a despot would not exist.

"Long live! Chairman Mao --- the people of the nation praise chairman Mao"... As you can see, he was kind of a big deal. You'd be surprised how how many people ate this all up during the Revolution.

1 comment:

Isabel said...

Yeah, fascinating! I learned all about this in a 20th C. History I took last semester.