What Americans Need to Learn from the Chinese
I grew up in China during the Cultural Revolution. Back then, we needed permission from the government for every aspect of life: How much food we could have. (For my family, it was one pound of meat per person per month, and we were the lucky ones.) Where we could live. To which school we could go. Where we could work. When we could get married. When we could have children. How many children we could have - only one per couple. The government had its say in every aspect of life. Every adult had an identification booklet in which his or her class affiliation was recorded. You needed it for traveling, booking a hotel, getting rations, getting married, and on and on and on...
We were slaves. Yet, none of us knew that. We thought that we lived in the best country in the whole world. They said we were lucky to live under the greatest savior in human history, Chairman Mao. Our purpose in life was to realize the Communist Utopia and liberate the proletariat in capitalist countries from exploitation.
How did the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) manage to enslave more than one billion people for more than 70 years? Below are some of their tactics, but the CCP did not invent them. They just followed the blueprint of Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin.
Control all media outlets.
Every media outlet had at least one political officer. Their job was to make sure every piece of news fit the party’s narrative. They were loyal party members, and most of them were not journalists. But they knew how to toe the party line. The tricky part for them was to know which faction in the party leadership to follow.
Every year we were told we had a better harvest than the previous year, even though I could see some people in my small town were starving. They told us that Chairman Mao was generous to other small Communist countries, like Albania and North Korea. He sent them food and coal for free.
Every report about America was negative. Blacks were dying in the inner-city ghettos. Black children had to work in factories or cotton fields. Tons of milk was dumped in the sewer to keep the price high. The nice houses the Americans had were owned by banks. So were their nice cars. They had to pay all kinds of taxes. We Chinese workers don’t pay any tax!
In addition, we got free housing, free education, free daycare, and free medical care (though it wasn’t even as good as a Walgreens clinic). Chairman Mao was our great father, and he loved us more than our own parents.
Once in a while, they would parade a Western journalist who praised Mao and told us that we were free from capitalism, imperialism, and colonialism. Of course, they were happy to go back home to liberate their folks.
Present a false sense of choice.
We had many media outlets. You could choose the People’s Daily, the Workers’ Daily, the Liberation Daily, etc., at the national level, and many newspapers at the local level. But they were all controlled by the party. Every newspaper had to take cues from the People’s Daily.
So we had a false sense of diversity and thought. Since every one of them said something was true, it must be true. Pretty soon, people didn’t even care about what was true. What mattered was what the party thought was true. Not following the party narrative had dire consequences.
Control education and use it to serve the party.
As soon as the CCP took power, it outlawed all private schools and provided free pre-K to college to every citizen. Since most Chinese people at that time were poor and had little or no access to education, they were grateful for this policy and supported the CCP.
Both of my parents had to work and had no time for my siblings and me. I was taught that my purpose in life was to spread Communism worldwide. The political officers told us that we had to raise our class consciousness. We were encouraged to report on grownups, including our parents, who might say something different from what the CCP taught. They told us that since the adults grew up in Old China, their ideas, culture, habits, and customs had to be purged through reeducation.
Everything was about class struggle. We children of the Red Five - revolutionary soldiers, revolutionary officials, workers, poor peasants, and lower peasants - were against children of the Black Five - former landowners, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, bad elements, and the rightists. But you had to be careful all the time, lest you become a counter-revolutionary. For example, you dared not to say Chairman Mao would die one day. So, when he died in 1976, it was a huge psychological shock to all of us. We felt the world was going to end.
Keep telling the people that they are the masters.
We did not know we were slaves because they kept saying we were the masters. We children sang songs with the lyrics like “The Future Masters Must Be Us.” The Chinese anthem started with, “Rise up, you who don’t want to be slaves.” “The Internationale,” the Communist anthem, was blasted from loudspeakers every evening with, “Arise, you starving and frozen slaves.” Because the CCP claimed that their mission was to liberate every slave in the world, we thought we lucky Chinese must not be slaves.
You dared not say something had been better before 1949, when the CCP had taken power. That would automatically put you in the counter-revolutionary class. You dared not say that you are not a master. That would classify you as the enemy of the people.
Every official wore a button that said, “Serving the People.” They called themselves “People’s Servants.” But if you wanted to be served, you had to prove that you were not an enemy of the people. You really didn’t know what could get you in trouble. So you’d better not get served.
It became a society where the people’s servants lived much better than the people.
Silence dissenting voices.
The CCP had very effective ways to silence any dissenting voice. If you were not careful and said something different from the official narrative, you had to take reeducation training and apologize for your mistakes. Otherwise, you would be classified as a counter-revolutionary and get reeducated through hard labor. Your children and spouse would denounce you and sever any relationship with you. Otherwise, they could experience all kinds of hardship. It was a matter of mere survival.
When I was in elementary school, the school administration found a so-called counter-revolutionary slogan in a school bathroom. All of the students had to turn in their homework so the administrators could make comparisons. Every one of us was very scared. The CCP called this kind of thing the Red Terror.
Make everyone dependent on the government.
There were no private companies during the Cultural Revolution. Everyone worked for the government. The lucky families lived in government-assigned apartments. Several families had to share one bathroom with only one or two toilets.
There were no private marketplaces. You bought meat, vegetables, rice, flour, etc., from government-run stores. Everything was rationed. You could not survive without the government.
Promise free stuff.
So, why did the Chinese people become slaves in the first place?
Simple. They took the bait and believed that the government would take care of them from cradle to grave. That it would provide you with free daycare and free education. That it would provide you with a job and an apartment and free medical care. Once you took the bait, you were hooked.
The Chinese people are not alone in this. The Italians fell for it and surrendered their liberty to Mussolini. Under him, the trains ran on schedule and people had jobs.
The Germans fell for it and made Hilter their Fuhrer. He gave them jobs and raised German pride.
Trading Liberty for Security
They all traded liberty for security.
Totalitarianism started out as a good word, as a model of a society where the state provides all the above-mentioned benefits. Its bad connotation resulted from the results of its practice in every country, without exception.
Friedrich Hayek in his famous book The Road to Serfdom argued that socialism would lead to totalitarianism. He made this observation:
Few are ready to recognize that the rise of Fascism and Naziism was not a reaction against the socialist trends of the preceding period but a necessary outcome of those tendencies.
He saw what happened in Germany and Italy, and he was worried that England and America would follow the same route.
Is America on the road to serfdom?
In 2016, Bernie Sanders, a self-proclaimed socialist, almost won the nomination to be the standard-bearer for the Democratic Party, even though he was not a member of the
Party. The Congressional Progressive Caucus is the largest ideological caucus in the Democratic Party and the second-largest ideological caucus overall, with Bernie Sanders as its first chair and socialist Pramila Jayapal its current chair.
A 2019 Gallup poll found that nearly 50% of Millennials and Gen Zers had a positive view of socialism.
Will they end up suffering the same fate as the Germans, Italians, and Chinese of the past and Cubans and Venezuelans today? Only God knows the future, but the trends do not bode well for them or their children.
- Free at Last: Born into Chinese Communism, I Found Christ and Freedom in the West
- My Education During China’s Cultural Revolution: Are Your Children’s Schools Following a Similar Script?
grew up during China's Cultural Revolution and immigrated to the US in 1995. He became a high school math teacher after having worked as an engineer for 20 years. Disillusioned with the current schooling model, he became an independent math teacher/tutor in 2018. He writes mainly on education and culture.• Get SALVO blog posts in your inbox! Copyright © 2023 Salvo | www.salvomag.com https://salvomag.com/post/how-the-chinese-communist-party-enslaved-one-billion-people-with-their-consent