Over the weekend, the New York Times published a story about student protests going on in China and the subsequent crackdown.
Now, this isn’t really anything too new if you’re familiar with the history of China’s party and its rather gleeful use of the truncheon on any sort of protest or disobedience.
Lest we forget, a woman in Shanghai “vanished” in Orwellian fashion for videotaping herself splashing ink onto a picture of President “for Life” Xi Jinping and taunting him to arrest her for protest, according to the Hong Kong Free Press.
This is scarily reminiscent of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, something I’m pretty sure the world won’t forget despite the Chinese government’s hopes.
But this time was a bit different and it had me laughing at its absurdity.
The students protesting were, as the article penned it, “Young men and women steeped in the ideology of the Chinese Communist Party,” and some were even reported to be protesting while holding pictures of Chairman Mao and singing socialist songs.
These are protestors demonstrating some of the core concepts of Communism, such as workers’ rights and even gender equality, and they’re getting arrested. These are the ones they’re cracking down on.
One of the quotes in the article from a senior student at Renmin University in Beijing, Chen Kexin, was particularly poignant. “What we are doing is entirely legal and reasonable. We are Marxists. We praise Socialism. We stand with workers. The Authorities can’t target us.”
Of course, that wasn’t the case, with China being China, but this strikes at the heart of the issue of the Communist/Socialist bugbear we have in society – the boogeyman we blame when talks about raising the minimum wage and social issues come to the table.
Maybe it’s not the right boogeyman.
If the communist students, the ones taking mandatory ideology courses at the university level, are – as writer Eric Fish calls it – “sticking their necks out,” over the government’s mistreatment of its populace and its workers, then are they really the bad guy here?
Are they the big bad communists that the West has championed against for years?
Is the Chinese government even Communist?
I mean, they’re not, being such an economic force on the world stage, but can we even pretend they are the Communist or Socialist boogeyman anymore?
Are the students really saying anything outlandish? Especially considering our country’s own issues of wealth disparity and government corruption that’s starting to bubble up more frequently.
We really can’t casually throw the blame and fear onto Communism or Socialism anymore. China’s is something else, some sort of mutated offshoot of Mao Zedong’s horrifying work, and we need to think of it as such.