Posted On: Wednesday - January 25th 2023 3:35PM MST
In Topics:   Commies  University  China  Americans  ctrl-left
This post was in the back of my mind since the writing of The Chinese people fight Covid~Zero and the Totalitarianism of Xi on the anti-Covid~Zero protests in China back in November that caused the mighty CCP to "STEP OFF!" Brave Chinese university students were a big part of this, as they were part of the big anti-CCP protests in Tiananmen Square (and elsewhere) way back in June of 1989.* Yes, I mean "brave" both times, as the CCP doesn't mess around. Even if it's not being taken away to not be seen again by one's family, the CCP/Government of China can ruin one's future easily enough**.
What have American university students been fighting against these days? I'd say "absolutely nuthin', huhhh, say it again..." What I'd like to do here is compare the student activism in these 2 far apart countries during 2 eras far apart in time, 6,000 miles and 50 years, respectively.*** As usual, Peak Stupidity won't give a long list of examples with stats from somewhere. We'll just compare the general situation in both times and places.
We all know about the crazy 1960s in America, with lots of the turmoil going on at the universities. However, most Americans even today, but more so in the 1960s, didn't know what crazy stuff was going on in China during roughly this same time frame. There was no Tik-Tok, Instagram, and Telegram, or course. Never mind calling California, international phone calls cost serious MONEY, and then, how many people in China had a telephone? With icy relations between our 2 countries from the start of Communism there in 1949 till Nixon's visit in '70, even the newsmen didn't know very much about that big dark hole known as Red China.
Well, it WAS a hole, as Communism had done a number on the Chinese population, with the worst of it being that "Great Leap Forward" of '58 to ''61 (causing the starvation deaths of 30 million). Number 2 in the list of big idiocies there was the Cultural Revolution, not very long after that "Leap Forward", only about 5 years, come to think of it. It lasted for a whole decade.
The American years of extreme ctrl-left stupidity were arguably from '64 through '71, though some may pin it down as ending a year or two earlier. In China, the stupidity lasted from '66 through '76, the year Mao Tse Tong graciously died. It's funny to ponder that hardly a one Chinamen could have imagined the drug-taking, rock-and-roll playing, protesting, university-administration-building-inhabiting, hitchhiking, and bell-bottom wearing of the students in that manufacturing economic powerhouse and biggest military power in the world going on at this time. Likewise, Americans at the time knew that "people were starving in China (so eat your vegetables!)", but could not have imagined the crazy Big-Character-poster-writing, pig-blood-pouring****, parent-harrasing, Manchurian pig-farm-exciling, Little-Red-Book™-perusing in the huge mass of poverty-"stricken" humanity that was Red China going on at this time.
After that digression of sorts, let me mention Chinese university students of that half-century ago era first. Well, that's if one call call them "students". At that time, once Mao and his Commie gang got the young population riled up about the "Capitalist Roaders" and other enemies of what should have been should have great Communist utopia, except for those meddling Roaders, there was no longer much studying going on. University students were sucked into the MOS (Maelstrom Of Stupidity, and, compared to trying to study, it became a better use of one's time to rail against the enemies of Communism, quote the passages from the Chairman's Little Red Book, and rat out and implicate those that needed a good implicating. Intellectuals were sent to do "the people's work" and learn a thing or two about life. (That sounds tempting, though, doesn't it? More on this...)
From what I've read, about a decade ago in about a dozen books on the Cultural Revolution, this was a lost decade as far as higher learning went. You weren't likely go get away from the fun staying holed up in your organic chemistry lab. All intellectuals and even ACTUAL smart people were bad, as Chairman Mao thought about it. They had been the ones flushed out in the '58 "Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom" program (and sequel "Then, Mow them Down") Perhaps some of them, the ones not killed or ruined last time, spoke and wrote about how Chinese Communism wasn't all that great.
Some of those Chinese university students, before the Cultural Revolution put the kibosh on studying and intellectualism, would have been called "Liberals". However, that would have been in the sense of "Classical Liberal", as in, Libertarian. They wanted to be able to speak out against the worst of the stupidity of Communism, though I guess coming out against Communism itself was out of the question. The hard-line Maoists were as actual left-wing as one could be. (We call it the "ctrl-left" here, to jibe with the term "alt-right" on the keyboards.)
Now, some would say that the American universities were full of Liberals at the time too. However, that was NOT really in the classical sense, though there was pretension about this. After all, if they get you off the charges of occupying buildings and setting off pipe bombs, those Constitutional rights can be a pretty cool hand. No, they had some legitimate beefs, such as about the Vietnam War, but in general, the protesting and rebelling American university students of a half century back were the ctrl-left, starting the Long March through the Institutions here, while the Long March in China was bearing its bitter fruit 20-30 years after completion (depending on whether you mean the actual march - ending in '35 - or the official beginning of Red China in '49).
While the actual Liberals in China back then were being sent to pig farms and such under the heavy hand of the Chinese Gov't/CCP, the American so-called Liberals had it easy. They were a massive cohort of young people. Though the Baby Boom peaked in the late '50s, the great number of births from 1946 on meant that the later '60s especially had tremendous numbers of young people in college (withy extras compared to normal to avoid the draft too) Being18 to 22 y/o in the late 1960s meant being born from '46 to '51. Society bowed down to this crowd. Sure, the Institutions were Conservative still - even the Universities were until the end of this period. However, Conservatives gave the ctrl-left the benefit of the doubt and respected those Constitutional rights that the ctrl-left availed themselves of... until nowadays when that document is no longer are of use to them.
In Round 1, we see that Chinese university students were basically forced under Communism to join up in a decade long bout of extreme stupidity that in many ways resembles the situation in American universities today. (That is, except for that the Americans join up more willingly.) During that same time, the American university students instigated their part in the Long March to turn American Institutions Communist.
The university students didn't have much choice to resist getting caught up in the craziness half a century ago. In a poor-ass country like 1960's-'70s China, you did what you had to do. It sucked for everyone. Those in those crazy times at American universities DID have a choice to stay Conservative or at least study and get through it all. Yet, on the whole, the students assisted the Long March through this one important Institution, paving the way for Round 2 here.
Round 1 goes to the Chinese students.
One might be tempted, as I wrote above, to understand Chairman Mao's (and later Pol Pot's) wish to be rid of those pesky intellectuals. However, we don't do it that way here, as much as I see his point more as applied to today's American university students. That will segue us into Part 2: American versus Chinese university students in the modern era. Really, that was supposed to be THE post, but I got carried away in the past.
* Peak Stupidity had 3 posts on the 30th anniversary of the events - Freedom in China? On the Tiananmen Massacre 30 years ago. - - Freedom in China, Tiananmen Square, and Freedom in America, and Tiananmen Square and the American Press.
** The one personal account I know is of a promising Electrical Engineering student who supported the Tiananmen Square protests, but only through words and writing, not actively on the streets of Peking. (He was at a university in a far-away province.) He was kicked out of college and not let to re-apply elsewhere. He was a TV repairman down in Canton, last I heard. (And no, he doesn't repair classic Camaroes, sorry.)
*** That 6,000 miles is the great circle route distance from Berkeley, California to Peking China, probably the epicenters of activism. If one takes Columbia Univ. in NY City as one end, it's only 800 miles longer of a distance. (The route from NYC to Peking goes nearly over the North Pole.)
**** The movie Carrie did come out in '76, the last year of the Chinese Cult-Rev, but that was more about hot prom chicks than Capitalist Roaders.