Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Whose birthday is it anyway?

One of the things that pisses me off most about the current holiday (apart from the fact that it is still going on...) is that to me it really seems to have very little to do with China or the Chinese people.  The Chinese nation is a lot older than 60 years. What we're celebrating here is the creation of a particular system of government in China.  I don't think the French made anything like such a big deal of the 50th anniversary of their Fifth Republic last year (there probably were public celebrations of some form, but I can't readily imagine either the French government or the French people treating it as a matter of very great importance).
Older, more self-confident nations don't need to make such a big fuss of commemorating their foundation (in the UK, we can't easily point to our origin on a particular day or even a particular year; the nation and its political institutions evolved gradually over a very long period).
In fact, it's only autocratic one-party states like China that need to do this - to bolster the identification between government and nation in the public mind, to glorify the supposed achievements of the regime and thereby prolong its grip on power.
What we're "celebrating" here is 60 years of Communist rule in China.  And I don't see that as a big cause of happiness.  The first half of that period, at any rate, was an almost unremitting succession of appalling catastrophes.
And in many ways things haven't really got that much better since the late '70s.  The country might be modernizing and getting richer, but the regime is very nearly as flawed and oppressive as it ever was.  Ultimately, the Chinese Communist Party can only maintain its position of control through the use of force - hence, abuses of human rights are endemic.  It cannot cope with dissent - hence, citizens' rights, the free flow of information, and the independence of the media are all suppressed, and the rule of law (despite some, very slight progress) continues to be a joke.
So, what are we celebrating??
60 years of self-interest and self-enrichment for the cadres
60 years of contempt for the common man
60 years of abysmal health & safety standards
60 years of man-made disasters
60 years of living in fear - of the police, the army, the neighbourhood committee....
60 years of clinging to an anachronistic and discredited ideology
I'm sorry - I just don't feel the joy, I don't feel the love.

1 comment:

stuart said...

Grumping at its finest.

It occurs to me that if the 'celebrations' get strung out a little further they'll eventually merge with serfs' emancipation day. It's one way of including Tibetans I suppose.