Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Moderately Well-Off Society

The Communist Party in China is shopping for some new ideological duds. They got rid of Marxism-as-we-know it in the late 1970s. They got rid of Mao suits in the 1990s. The Party gave the people one commandment, "Make as much money as you want, but leave politics alone." Then it sat back and watched the population spring into action.

Isn't it amazing what people will do once you stop making them wear their pajamas to work? And you stop seizing their property, threatening them with jail, and forcing them to attend re-education camps?

China is not an economic miracle. It is an example of what happens when individuals taste a little freedom. And that's exactly what worries the Party: where will all this stop?

In an effort wrap itself in a new ideology of authority and control, the Party is turning to China's great sage, Confucius. The Economist reports that Confucius is experiencing quite a revival in respectability and popularity, with the Party's blessing. The magazine reports:

"Since becoming China's top leader in 2002, President Hu Jintao has promoted a succession of official slogans, including “Harmonious Society” and “Xiaokang Shehui” (“a moderately well off society”), which have Confucian undertones."

When powerful governments stop talking about getting rich, and start talking about harmony and being moderately well-off, it is because they are threatened with imminent and overwhelming social change. This will be the next Chinese revolution.

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