4 Notes on Communism

1. At a lovely party in the expat suburbs, I chatted with a Taiwan-born mom interested in venturing out of the expat bubble, maybe by taking a class at my (or one of the neighboring) universities in this district. All that’s on offer, though, seems to be English, and she’s totally fluent. I also mentioned that people attend Communist political education classes.

“They still do that?” she asked.

2. Chinese Communism’s impact on a family is the subject of a new hit play in Beijing, according to one of my student’s recent asisgnments, a theater review: ” ‘This is the Last Fight’ is a clash between values in the past, and written or unwritten rules at present, the war between the haves and have-nots, and the debate between believers and people who refuse to believe.

…”Disguised by the festive atmopshere of New Year’s Eve, a family’s conflicts are quietly underway. Mr. and Mrs. He are an old Communist couple. …Their second son had serious problems with Communism and always pissed the old man off. Their youngest son planned to abscond with public money. As for the old Commie himself, Mr. He had been through wars and revolutions, and suffers from haunted memories.”

3. From another student, I learned that one of the most downloaded e-books in China in October was by a writer posthumously becoming a cult figure among young people (he died at just 45). He seems best known for his critiques of Chinese Communism. She wrote: “[Novelist and essayist] Wang Xiaobo, a sharp and unique critic of society, is now being heatedly discussed again fourteen years after his death. … When the Cultural Revolution began to sweep the mainland of China in 1966, he was only 14. As a child born in an intellectual family, he was sent to Yunnan, a border province of China, to be trained as a laborer and receive Communism education. At that time, people were deprived of their basic rights—-the freedom of speech, to write and publish, and even the freedom of independent thinking. Everybody was fighting in the dark… But Wang was not tamed …”

4. Ethan, in his 8-year-old way, has some emerging views about Communism. I had a pen on hand and took this down the other day.

“Communism’s good, in a way. I think everyone should get healthcare. They should have a place to live. But they shouldn’t be all the same. There needs to be a better balance. There should be the good parts of Communism, and the bad parts separated out.”

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