Friday, March 04, 2022

Small-town nerds and Maoist thought: my intellectual journey

 


(Translator's preface: This is the 23rd and final chapter of a 2020 research study of contemporary Chinese workplaces. I've only previously put up one of the chapters (here: 
servethepeople: Day in the Life of a Chinese Telemarketing Company (mike-servethepeople.blogspot.com)) and hope that one day the entire work can be posted somewhere. The image is the front cover of Life Weekly, a mainstream Chinese publication which, whilst recognising the existence of the problem of "small town nerds", tries to convince them that there are solutions to their problems.  Its caption reads: "Small town nerds: how to stand on your own two feet".)

Chapter 23: Small-town nerds[1] and Maoist thought: my intellectual journey

Editor's note: This article is very well written. Firstly, it is good in that it is highly representative and typical; secondly, it is good in that it is logically clear and draws out a narrative of how the children of the proletariat wake up from the delusion of education to change their class; finally, it is good in that the author bravely points out that the way out for the small-town question-makers lies in returning to the proletariat.

The author of this article is a "small-town nerd", that is to say, he comes from a poor background, relies on his own efforts to get into a prestigious school, but after entering society, he finds that the prestigious school does not change his fate. He is struggling in the cracks of the class, but society does not stop beating him because of his struggle. It is against this backdrop that the author comes across the writings of Chairman Mao. Reading Chairman Mao's writings gave the author new tools to observe and analyse society. The author finally realised the nature of the current higher education, "essentially the bourgeoisie, in order to ease the class contradictions, has deliberately taken out a little resource to distribute to the highly educated people, creating a belief system for the proletariat to obtain a high income by acquiring a high degree ...... Under the poison of highly educated beliefs, the proletariat at large has pinned its hopes on its next generation, given up its rights and interests, and its sense of struggle has been constantly weakened. And the highly educated next generation they have so painstakingly nurtured, the few who have tasted the sweetness of capital and are rapidly turning around to oppress the proletariat, while the others who are struggling for the scraps they have sought but not received, are the small-town nerds."

What is even more rare is that the author not only recognizes the nature of higher education, but also recognizes that the proletariat is the real friend of the small-town nerd: "The real friend of the small-town problem nerd is the proletariat that has painstakingly nurtured itself, just like the frog that has climbed to the mouth of the well, its friend is always the others of its kind who are still struggling at the bottom of the well. Chairman Mao said that the intellectuals are the hair and the proletariat is the skin; if the skin does not exist, how can the hair be attached? The real enemy of the small-town nerd is the bourgeoisie, the people who forge highly educated beliefs. We should not be grateful for this access; on the contrary, this access was forged by the bourgeoisie with the blood and tears of our fathers and should be acutely aware that those who built it are the real enemies."

The author concludes by talking about the confusion of small-town nerds and Marxism, parts of which I don't agree with. For example, the author says, "As the number of students from humble backgrounds who can get into prestigious schools gradually becomes smaller due to the Matthew effect on educational resources, the number of small-town nerds will also decrease, and the group of people who can quickly understand Marxism will shrink. But in the long run, when access is completely closed, more people are bound to take up the arms of Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought (they just won't understand it relatively quickly)." In fact, it is possible that the bourgeoisie will expand its intake in order to ease the pressure of employment, and although the friends being expanded are not the so-called prestigious schools of 985/211[2], the numbers are huge and groups like the small-town nerds will only grow. In addition, it is not only some of the small-town nerds who have gone to the working people, but also some of the children of urban middle class families who are bravely moving forward in the pursuit of truth, which is something that needs to be seen.

Our friends are all over the world, and our songs are spreading in all directions. As social tensions become more pronounced, there will only be more and more of such people.

I. The confusion of a small-town nerd

I am a small-town nerd from a working-class family, and I was once as confused as most people in this group. It was only after coming into contact with Mao Zedong Thought that I realised that the plight of small-town nerds was mainly the result of a failure to recognise their own class, and that only by relying on the proletariat could they have a real future.

I was born in 1996 in a rural village on the south-east coast that has since developed into a small town. My parents, both post-65, were poorly educated and worked at the lowest level of manual labour. My father was a construction worker whose smell of masonry and concrete accompanied me as I grew up, and the long hours of heavy physical labour left him with injuries and illnesses. My mother was an electronics factory worker, working an assembly line job with two days off a month and more than 11 hours a day (sometimes more than 11 hours, and only the excess was considered overtime), and with a piece-rate wage that left her with little rest. Under such working and living conditions, they spared no effort to belittle their own work, apart from hoping that I would study hard and get into a good university, so that I would never be like them.

Under the influence of this philosophy, I worked tirelessly for my university entrance exams and finally got into a 985 university. However, there was no one to tell me what to do after I went to a good university. I had nothing but problems for the previous ten years and there were people in my new environment who were better at it than me, plus I was bored with the science major I was in and even less motivated to study.

A consequence of my high-pressure state before the entrance exams, was that I began to indulge myself. I found that I had lost even my previous nerd-like skills when I graduated. I had failed two exams, had no glamorous resume, and watched many people who were not as good at swotting as I had been in the past go on to graduate school. Perhaps out of jealousy, I began to doubt my past pursuits and began to think seriously about what the aura of high education really meant. When I hit the biggest low point in my academic career, I thought of revolutionaries who had also hit low points in their lives in the past, and I wanted to understand that period of history and how Chairman Mao had come out of his low point in life. Therefore, I bought a set of Mao's Selected Works and was instantly fascinated by it.

II. Mao Zedong's thought has caused a change in my mind

In fact, every Chinese is no stranger to the life and thought of Chairman Mao, but the impression is mostly that of textbooks with their running biographies and grand political declarations, like a mathematical problem for which the answer is given directly and the middle process is omitted, which is somewhat offensive. Chairman Mao explains in detail, in plain language, how he refined his ideas step by step during the revolutionary struggle. Both of my examinations ended in failure, but they did allow me to take to heart famous historical events of the modern era, and I was quickly surprised by Chairman Mao's conviction as I knew exactly the revolutionary situation that corresponded to the writing of each essay in Mao's selection. Chairman Mao's most outstanding characteristic was not his wisdom or literary skills, but his consistent belief in the power of the people, regardless of whether the objective situation of the revolution was at a low ebb, and his confidence in the people was never at a low ebb. I was strongly attracted by Chairman Mao's ideas, which drove me to learn more about his deeds and Marxist ideas, and to start thinking about my own life and the current state of society.

In July this year, I joined a manufacturing central enterprise, along with several other undergraduates and postgraduates who graduated from 985 and 211. Shortly after joining the company, the leaders (who have a PhD) organised a welcoming wine party and forced the newcomers to drink baijiu[3] and to play the game (that is, to have a drink with each person at the table), and I could barely cope with it. After the drinks had been consumed, the leaders started to gather around the only female employee in the room and started to "educate" us newcomers that the company would focus on training us, that we should adapt to the workplace as soon as possible, and that we should learn to say appropriate things to liven up the atmosphere at the drinking party. Perhaps in the past I would have taken these "teachings" as true and aspired to be a leader, but after learning about Mao Zedong's thought, I realised that in the past I was only after the high income and social status represented by a high degree, whereas Chairman Mao was a minister of the Guomindang at the age of 33, but gave up his high position for the sake of the people at the bottom. I have since changed my past pursuits and become a committed Marxist.

With the explosion of small-town nerds, I also learnt online that many people come from similar backgrounds to me and have the same troubles. After reading Mao I knew that there must be a deeper reason for this social phenomenon and I began to try to analyse the plight of the small-town nerd in terms of Mao's thought.

III. Looking at the small-town nerd in the light of Mao's thought

It seems to me that the 5 volumes of Mao's Selected Works are about two issues throughout, one is how to distinguish between friends and enemies; the other is how to unite friends to defeat enemies. These two issues are not isolated but interlinked; as events develop, old enemies are destroyed and then new ones are created, and these new enemies may also be former friends who need to be distinguished again. These two issues cover the whole course of history from individual to national development. I used to think that by going to a prestigious school I would be able to make more friends with the upper echelons of society, thinking that all prestigious students were like-minded friends. But when I realised the gap between myself and the rest of my classmates, I was thrown into doubt. For the small-town nerds, getting into a top school is like frogs that have climbed so hard towards the top of the well that most need to stop and rest and marvel at the size of the world, and hardly know where to go next right away; whereas those with social resources are like a bird resting at the well, having seen the world beyond and knowing exactly where they are going to fly. The biggest delusion of the small-town nerds and the people around them is that frogs that have reached the same height as birds can naturally fly. I thought it was easy for students from famous schools to understand each other, so I shared my experience of studying Mao Zedong Thought with my new colleagues from the same famous school. As a result, they were dismissive, and one of them even said that I had been brainwashed. I really couldn’t imagine a CCP member who graduated from 985 graduate school, who would denounce Mao Zedong Thought as brainwashing. At that time, I realized that frogs and birds can never be the same.

So according to Mao Zedong's thought, who are the friends and who are the real enemies of the small-town nerds? In the past, high education represented high quality and the assumption of more social responsibilities, but nowadays high education is linked to high income. In essence, the bourgeoisie, in order to ease class conflicts, has deliberately taken out a little resource to distribute to the highly educated people, creating a belief system for the proletariat that acquiring high education will lead to high income, which I call the highly educated belief. Under the poison of highly educated beliefs, the proletariat at large have pinned their hopes on their next generation, given up their rights and interests, and their sense of struggle has been constantly weakened. The highly educated next generation they have painstakingly nurtured, a few of whom have tasted the sweetness of capital, are quick to turn around and oppress the proletariat, while others are struggling for the scraps of food that they have not yet received, and these are the small-town nerds. But they generally despise the manual workers and few, if any, turn back to the proletariat that nurtured them.

Unlike Hinduism, which emphasises the reincarnation of nothingness, highly educated beliefs still have a very small chance of success, but those who do succeed invariably betray the proletariat. Under the influence of highly educated beliefs, more and more parents are sending their children into this only avenue, and with the downturn in the world economic situation making the bourgeoisie reluctant to put up the resources they had originally parted with, the avenue is narrowing, a phenomenon some call “involution”.

It follows that the real friend of the small-town nerd is the proletariat that has painstakingly nurtured itself, just like the frog that climbs to the mouth of the well, its friend is always the rest of its kind that is still struggling at the bottom. Chairman Mao said that the intellectuals are the hair and the proletariat is the skin; if the skin does not exist, how can the hair be attached? The real enemy of the small-town nerd is the bourgeoisie, the people who forge highly educated beliefs. We should not be grateful for this access; on the contrary, this access was forged by the bourgeoisie with the blood and tears of our fathers and we should be acutely aware that the people who built it are the real enemies.

In my opinion, small-town nerds are people who can understand and accept Maoist thought. Firstly, we have a certain stock of knowledge and the ability to learn, we know the history of the revolution and can understand and digest the theoretical knowledge of Marxism; secondly, the increased difficulty of acquiring wealth and status for small-town nerds has forced us to re-examine the highly educated beliefs built by the bourgeoisie; finally, small-town nerds are able to understand the condition of the working class, their families of origin are either proletarian or other underclass groups, who are naturally on the side of the proletariat.

We have a strong desire to change the situation of our fathers and mothers, and we should and must extend our sympathy for our parents to the working class and working people as a whole if we are to have any hope.

Opposing highly educated beliefs does not mean that one should give up high qualifications, but that one should not pursue them for material gain. On the contrary, the proletarian ranks need highly educated and qualified people, and they need someone to study in-depth knowledge of Marxist theory. The old generation of revolutionary leaders basically had a solid theoretical background. Small-town nerds should actively study and spread Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought in the present day. However, there are still many small-town nerds who dismiss these theories as "brainwashing". For this reason, Marxist-related courses in universities are largely to blame. The content of textbooks nowadays is always geared towards examinations, and the questions in examinations are simply about what Chairman Mao did and what ideas he put forward at what time. Apart from being boring and dogmatic, such content is also filled with a heroic view of history. Although there are phrases such as "Chairman Mao relied on the people to achieve victory", there is no explanation of the role played by the people, and the constant repetition of such phrases only reflects the role of Mao Zedong alone. The heroic view of history can stifle human initiative, erase the contribution of the people in history, and make people think that revolution is only the business of one or two leaders. Throughout his life, Chairman Mao devoted himself to mobilising the power of the people and raising their consciousness. The language of Mao's Selected Works is so approachable also because Chairman Mao tried so hard to pass on his ideas to his readers, and he wanted everyone to carry on his cause: "The spring wind blows amid profuse willow wands, Six hundred million in this land all equal Yao and Shun"[4].

IV. The present difficulties of small-town nerds and other Marxists

One is the influence of negative paternal thinking. Under the influence of highly educated beliefs, parents devalue the manual labour they perform, while having a weak sense of rights and struggle, and this thinking more or less affects the next generation. For me, the mud-covered workers were my parents, the group I knew and was closest to, while the well-dressed capitalists in the city skyscrapers did not interest me even if they earned more. And there are many small-town do-gooders who are influenced by their parents and their highly educated beliefs to look down on manual labourers and to be willingly exploited by capitalists.

Secondly, because of the Matthew effect on educational resources, the number of students from humble backgrounds who can get into top schools will gradually become fewer, and the number of small-town nerds will also decrease, and the group of people who can understand Marxism quickly will shrink. But in the long run, when access is completely closed, more people are bound to take up the arms of Marxism and Mao Zedong Thought (they just won't understand it as quickly, relatively speaking).

Thirdly, society as a whole has a mindset that emphasises science over literature. Science and engineering education strengthened people's understanding of the natural sciences and promoted scientific and technological progress. But it has neglected thinking about social issues and the cultivation of the humanities. Except for a few highly qualified scientists, the vast majority of people trained in science and engineering will become a screw in the service of capital operations, a product of the alienation of labour, thus neglecting to think about social humanity. I was also disgusted with my undergraduate major because I understood that the prospect of the major was to spend day after day in a lab, and felt that life was meaningless, when for some people this kind of work is the only opportunity for upward mobility. This is one of the reasons why I went from small-town nerd to Marxist.

 



[1] "Small town nerds", is a new item of online vocabulary, and refers to "young students who were born in small towns, study hard, and are good at taking exams, but lack a certain vision and resources."  “Small town nerds” originated from a group of more than 50,000 members on Douban.com. The group stated in its introduction that the main function of the group is to "share failure stories" for "failed students" in "985" and "211" universities. They are part of the same generation whose dissatisfaction with social competitiveness has led to the phenomenon of “lying low”.

[2] See Note 1, chapter 4.13

[3] Baijiu is a colourless spirit usually distilled from sorghum, but may have other grains as well. It can range from 35-60% alcohol by volume and is usually consumed in quite small glasses at banquets and meals. Probably the most famous baijiu by brand name is Maotai.

[4] Lines from Chairman Mao’s poem Farewell to the God of Plague written on July 1, 1958. Yao and Shun were legendary monarchs in ancient China, believed to be saints and wise leaders of the people.




Saturday, January 15, 2022

Qian Changming: How to Achieve "Let the People Supervise the Government"? –On the question of proletarian democracy.

 


Qian Changming - 2022-01-06 - Source: Original

(Translator’s preface: Another careful piece by Qian Changming which avoids criticising the capitalist-roaders running China today, but which certainly damns them particularly through the quote from Mao: "We cannot understand the question of the rights of the people to mean that the state is run by only a section of the population, and that the people enjoy the rights to labour, education, social security, etc., under the administration of these people." The wording on the image above reads “Mao Zedong’s “big democracy” and “small democracy” and shows workers utilizing the big character poster format to speak out freely and supervise the Party and government.)

In July 1945, Chairman Mao said in his "Cave Conversation"[1] on "Breaking the Cycle of History": "We have found a new way, and we can jump out of this cyclical law. This new path is democracy. Only by letting the people supervise the government will the government dare not relax. Only when everyone stands up and is responsible will there be no 'death' of the new regime”.

By "democracy", Chairman Mao undoubtedly meant "us" - the proletarian democracy that was introduced under the conditions of the Communist Party taking power.

In October 1949, when New China was established, under the leadership of the Party, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), which represented people from all walks of life, was set up; immediately afterwards, the National People's Congress (NPC) was elected by democratic universal suffrage, and the government was organised, establishing a people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class and based on the alliance of workers and peasants. This is the political system of proletarian democracy.

In theory, the purpose of a proletarian democratic political system is to "serve the people", and as long as this system is perfected, proletarian democracy can be fully developed and the people can become the masters of their own house. However, as a matter of fact, proletarian democratic political institutions are also made up of human beings, and human beings can make mistakes; moreover, due to historical limitations, even in socialist countries, bourgeois right still existed for a long period of time, which inevitably led some cadres to become bureaucratic and even "alienated" into a bureaucratic class. This requires that "the people should supervise the government", that "everyone should be held accountable", that a certain balance be maintained in the relationship between "the government" and "the people, to ensure that the people's power will never be "alienated" or degenerated.

Chairman Mao was undoubtedly the first person to implement proletarian democracy.

As early as March 1949, in his report to the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, Chairman Mao warned the Party to be on guard against the corruption of power. He stressed: "We have criticism and self-criticism, the weapons of Marxism-Leninism. We are able to remove the bad style and maintain the good style." In April 1950, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China made another decision on the launching of criticism and self-criticism in newspapers and publications.

In order to "let the people monitor the government", the people must be allowed to speak. Only when the people are allowed to speak through various channels can there be "supervision" by the people.

To let the people speak, the bureaucracy cannot be allowed to suppress mass criticism.

In January 1953, Chairman Mao launched a struggle within the Party against "bureaucracy, commandism and lawlessness". He gave instructions on one of the materials that "suppressing criticism will lead to expulsion from the Party or a public trial by the people", which led to one case of retaliation against someone who suppressed mass criticism. Huang Yifeng, a veteran revolutionary who joined the Party in 1925, was severely punished with "expulsion from the Party and withdrawal of all administrative posts", which greatly educated all Party members.

"The handling of the Huang Yifeng case was a manifestation of Chairman Mao's idea that Party members must be openly supervised by the people, regardless of their position, in order to prevent them from being corrupted by power.

In order to "let the people supervise the government", Chairman Mao encouraged the people to write big-character posters to expose problems as early as 1958, realising the "Big Speaking Out, Big Airing of Views, Big Character Posters and Big Debates". Later on, these "four major" rights of the people were written into the 1975 Constitution.

Chairman Mao has repeatedly stressed: "In short, let other people speak out. The heavens will not fall and you will not be thrown out. If you do not let others speak, then the day will surely come when you are thrown out." (Speech at the Enlarged Central Working Conference, 30 January 1962)

To "open the door to the Party" and let the non-Party people judge Party members together is also a manifestation of "letting the people supervise the government". The proletarian democratic political system is led by the Communist Party, and supervision of the Communist Party is, in essence, supervision of the government.

Chairman Mao not only implemented proletarian democracy in practice, but also perfected it from a theoretical point of view. from December 1959 to February 1960, when he gathered several Party comrades in a collective study of the Soviet Textbook of Political Economy, he made a profound observation on the question of perfecting proletarian democracy.

"We cannot understand the question of the rights of the people to mean that the state is run by only a section of the population, and that the people enjoy the rights to labour, education, social security, etc., under the administration of these people." "The right of workers to manage the state, to manage the army, to manage all kinds of enterprises, to manage culture and education, is in fact the greatest right, the most fundamental right, of workers under the socialist system. Without this right, the workers' rights to work, to rest, to education, and so on, are not guaranteed."

This is the deepening of the idea that "only when everyone rises up and takes responsibility will the government not be destroyed". How can the people directly exercise their rights as "masters" and supervise the government by "everyone rising up and taking responsibility"? In the final analysis, it is the people themselves who must participate in the management, otherwise it will not be put into practice.

How can we achieve direct participation of the people in the management of state affairs, and how can we realise that "the people must manage the superstructure themselves"? Obviously, this is a brand new subject, which depends on the exploration and practice of proletarian democracy. In fact, this exploration and practice can begin with the implementation of the electoral system of the Paris Commune.

The comprehensive electoral system of the Paris Commune had several major features: firstly, all leaders were directly elected by the people; secondly, elected leaders had to be accountable to the people and subject to their supervision; thirdly, the electors could remove the elected at any time; fourthly, all elected public officials received only a salary equivalent to a worker's wage and all privileges enjoyed by bourgeois state officials were abolished.

On the basis of the introduction of the electoral system of the Paris Commune, the concrete practice of direct participation by the people in the management of state affairs and all areas of the superstructure should be further explored. This should be a long process of practice and only persistent exploration will bear fruit.

To perfect proletarian democracy, the central question has always been: how best to let the people speak and "let the people supervise the government"!

钱昌明:怎样实现让人民来监督政府”? ——兼谈无产阶级民主问题 - 乌有之乡 (wyzxwk.com)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] The “cave conversation” refers to a conversation about democratic China between Mao Zedong and Huang Yanpei in the cave living room of Mao Zedong's residence in Yan'an in July 1945. Asked by Huang Yanpei how to change the law of the dynastic cycle, according to which a dynasty existed until it lost the mandate of Heaven and was replaced by a new dynasty, Mao Zedong said, "We have found a new way, and we can jump out of this cyclical law. This new path is democracy. Only by letting the people supervise the government will the government dare not relax. Only when everyone stands up and is responsible will there be no 'death' of the new regime”.

 


Sunday, January 09, 2022

Day in the Life of a Chinese Telemarketing Company

 


(Translator's preface:  This is one section of a 170-page report prepared two years ago under the title "Chinese Society Survey Research" and looking at the conditions faced by different sections of workers in China. Its editors are quite clear that a restoration of capitalism has occurred in China and that workers are exploited and denied the rights due to them in a socialist society. I have added several footnotes to explain some of the words and phrases used by the worker who is relating this particular section. The graphic above is from the Chinese website 是小资,还是脑力劳动无产者 | 少年中国评论 (youngchina.review) and an article there titled "Is it the petty-bourgeoisie or the brain-power proletariat?")

Editor's note: This article gives a brief overview of the basics of a 50-person sized telemarketing company. Through this article, we can get a general idea of the problems of this type of small sales company that exists in large numbers: long working hours, severe oppression, widespread illegal matters, and a class consciousness that has not yet been awakened in most employees.

It is common for service workers, brainwashed by success stories, poisoned by chicken soup texts[1] and bound by consumerism, to be somewhat less aware and less organised than manufacturing workers, so the awakening of class consciousness among the employees of such companies tends to come later. However, it is clear that the author of this article possesses a clear class consciousness, which also suggests that even in such industries, advanced proletarians are beginning to emerge gradually.

I. Basic information

I am a native of Henan, living in the countryside since I was a child, an only child, and my parents are engaged in farming.

After I graduated from college in 2013, my first job was as a down-loader in a machinery factory in my hometown, mainly cutting, bending and punching steel plates. I was not satisfied with the 2,000 yuan salary in the machine shop and hoped to earn more money to change my family's plight. Soon after, I quit my job and moved to the big city to look for a way out. I joined a telemarketing company in Guangzhou because I had heard people say that sales could make a lot of money. It was a small company, and in this company, I felt the pressure of capital on us.

The size of the company was more than 40 people, including the boss, and there were four business groups, each with a team leader who was responsible for coordinating about ten people under him. The company's business was very simple. The boss distributes telephone resources to each group, and each group member gets a list of names and makes telephone calls to contact customers and sell products. The team leader assists the team members by teaching them sales techniques, helping them to upgrade and maintain their customers, enlivening the atmosphere, etc.

Initially there was some novelty when I started working at the company, but after a few days I fell into a boring repetition of work.

Every day the work is a repetition of a boring process.

I arrive at 8.30am for the morning meeting, where the leader rewards and punishes the work done yesterday. The rewards and punishments were simple and brutal: those who completed their tasks were given money directly, those who did not were criticised and hung, and there were even corporal punishments, such as push-ups for boys and squats for girls. The internet often reveals all kinds of strange corporal punishment, such as slapping each other and learning how to crawl, which are not uncommon in this industry.

After the corporal punishment, the team leader routinely gives everyone a chicken blood injection[2] and pours chicken soup texts. This kind of stuff was a little refreshing at first two times, but then there was nothing left but disgust.

The job started at 9 o'clock and consisted of making phone calls to customers to sell products. Out of a hundred calls, ninety or so are rudely disconnected, and the fragile mind is constantly broken. The whole morning was spent on the phone constantly. It was hard to get through to 12 o'clock, so we were happy to leave work for lunch, followed by a rare lunch break of one and a half hours.

The lunch break ends at 1.30 and the whole staff play games or do a group dance, which is done to wake us up so we don't slack off. At two o'clock the afternoon officially begins, still making phone calls to clients. Repetition after repetition, dull and boring. There was no skill involved and the whole thing became an appendage to the job.

In the afternoon, you have to keep calling from two o'clock to six o'clock. Imagine what kind of torture it is to be on the phone all day. Dinner was served at six, and after a short break, the party started at seven. At the party, the leaders take us through a summary of the day's takeaways, with those who have achieved sharing their success stories and learning to exchange sales techniques. At around 7.30pm, we start the evening work and continue to call and sweep customers. At 9:30 pm, those who have completed their tasks can leave work, and those who have not completed their sales tasks work overtime until 11:00 pm.

Such is the life of a day, from 8.30am to 9.30pm (or even 11pm), all the time on the phone, apart from meals, meetings and a few breaks. And all the calls, the vast majority of them, were hung up on. Boring, dull and torturous. It is rare to have a happy moment in a day, and perhaps the happiest time is when you go for a late dinner with your colleagues after work.

II. Pay situation

In such a boring life, our salary is also pitifully low. We are paid a base salary plus commission, with a base salary of 3,000 and a commission of ten points on sales performance. The company team leader is also paid a base salary plus commission, with a base salary of 5,000 and a commission of three points of the team's overall performance. If the team leader also does business himself, he also has 10 points of commission for his own business.

As for overtime pay, that is a matter of legend, in law but not in reality. Apart from overtime pay, there are many things that companies do that are illegal. In fact, this is often the case with such small companies, where violations are everywhere, and I will list them roughly as follows: (1) The source of telephone numbers is usually obtained illegally by the owner through certain channels. (2) No labour agreement is signed with the employee, and no social security is bought for the employee, and the employee is usually also made to sign a waiver of social security agreement. Based on an average salary of 4,000 yuan per month, the company can make an illegal profit of 800 yuan per person per month by paying less social security, which is 40,000 yuan for 50 people, or 480,000 yuan a year. (3) Cash wages are generally given to employees as a means of tax evasion. (4) Corporal punishment and even verbal abuse of employees is common. (5) All that is needed to dismiss an employee is a word from the boss or team leader, and there is no compensation for dismissing the employee, and the employee's performance commission or even normal salary is not paid after dismissal. In this way, the company deducts the hard-earned money of the employees every year.

However, although the law is serious, labour disputes are not much, because in the telemarketing industry, employees generally do not have a strong sense of rights, the general staff will not have any disputes with the company.

III. Preliminary analysis

Inside the company, the boss has absolute authority and is the ruling class (bourgeoisie) of our company. The team leader pleases the boss at the top and oppresses the staff at the bottom. His salary is a bit higher than the ordinary staff, but it is also difficult to buy a house and settle down, and he belongs to the middle class which is dependent on the bourgeoisie. I think they are actually the proletariat, but their consciousness is brainwashed by the boss. We, the employees, are at the bottom of the pile and tend to go against the grain. It doesn't matter if the staff are united or not, most of them still have a good relationship in private, but there is no sense of rebellion. One reason is the status quo of the industry, the default unspoken rules, and the second is that we have been brainwashed by the corporate culture of these companies, and our class consciousness has not awakened. They have never thought of using legal means to protect their rights, because the jobs they do are not particularly bright jobs, and they are harassed during the phone calls rather than directly at work. The employees themselves are actually disgusted with the work they do, but in order to make quick money, they are greedy for comfort, and they are not willing to get steady and reliable jobs to make real money.

Employees like us, who save money every month, can only live at the bottom of the ladder.

I was doing very well because I was doing well personally and I got over 7,000 a month. Every month after I got paid, I would send home 2000 to my parents. The rest of the money, rent 700, daily meals 900 (30 per day), smoking 300 per month (10 yuan a box per day), other expenses almost nothing. Because I'm frugal and want to save up for the future. I spend very little on socialising and only go out for a meal with friends once a month, spending a few hundred dollars at most. I don't buy a lot of household items, and when I do, I try to buy cheap ones, a few dozen a month. Basically, the monthly fixed expenditure is more than 4,000 yuan (including 2,000 yuan for my parents). In a year, I can save about 40,000 yuan (not including the amount given to my parents).

There are actually not many employees like me. Firstly, many colleagues do not earn a high income, basically a base salary; this part of the people resigned or don’t dare hand in their own resignation. Staff mobility is particularly large, in a few months they will be replaced by a group of fresh blood. In addition, many colleagues will go to KTV, bars and bathing centres to spend money after they are paid, especially those with good performance in that month. Some of them will also buy things they like, such as designer clothes, etc. In this way, many colleagues cannot save much money in a year, and some even have to borrow money for the New Year.

Such small companies exist in large numbers in China, and many of them are in the grey areas and on the edge of the law, not only exploiting the rights of their employees, but also defrauding their clients. The company instils in us a wolfish culture, consumerism and hedonism, which leads to employees losing their sense of morality by any means in order to perform, losing their sense of rights in the general competition, becoming numb in the illusion of getting rich, and becoming penniless in the atmosphere of hedonism, with the end result that employees become more dependent on the company.

 

 

 

 



[1] “Chicken soup text” is an internet buzz word for articles designed to inspire people, but which often leads to a mind-numbing outcome.  They are often seen on popular platforms like QQ. Many of those who do pyramid schemes or disguised pyramid schemes also give very positive speeches, but their content is false and misleading.

[2] Chicken blood is an expression of behaviour that is used to satirise the person's sudden emotional exuberance towards a particular person or thing. It originated in the 1980s from a health care method called "chicken blood therapy", in which the blood of a year-old rooster was drawn out and injected into a person. It was popular among the old cadres. People who had chicken blood injected into them had a red face and were said to be mentally and physically stimulated.

Thursday, January 06, 2022

Mao Zedong repeatedly blocked his image from being printed on the RMB

(Translator’s preface: Mao Zedong set a great example of personal modesty and plain living.  During the Cultural Revolution, personal worship of Mao was taken to ridiculous lengths.  He was eulogised everywhere as “Great Leader, Great Teacher, Great Helmsman and Great Commander-in-Chief”, but said he hated this and wanted to be known only as a teacher, a profession he trained for and worked as in his early years.  During his lifetime, he forbade the printing of his image on the nation’s currency. It is a great irony that following his death and the restoration of capitalism, the currency that accompanied the emergence of billionaires by the dozen carried the image of this great Communist. The images of the currency have been sourced by me, and the italicised notes with them are mine.)

2020-10-6

The yuan used in China has accompanied the establishment and growth of the People's Republic for nearly 60 years of trials and tribulations. It was born under the fire of the Liberation War and developed during the booming period of socialist construction and reform and opening up, with a total of five sets issued in succession. The head of the founding leader and great man of the century, Mao Zedong, was finally solemnly emblazoned on the RMB in the fourth set, which was printed and issued from 1987 to 1992, and in the fifth set, which was issued on the 50th anniversary of the National Day in 1999. It would have been possible for Mao Zedong's portrait to be on the currency to meet the long-awaited people much earlier. This is because Mao Zedong had firmly refused to have his image printed on the RMB several times during his lifetime.

In April 1947, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China appointed Dong Biwu to prepare for the establishment of the People's Bank of China and to organise the design and printing of the RMB at the same time.

The People's Bank of China was originally scheduled to be established and issue RMB on 1 January 1949. However, in view of the prospect of victory in the People's Liberation War, it was decided to bring forward the official opening of the bank by one month, i.e. 1 December 1948, and at the same time to convert the eight currencies of the various base areas into RMB at a uniform rate.

The design of the new currency was entrusted to Wang Yijiu and Shen Naiyong of the Jinchaji Border Area Printing Bureau. During the design process, the designers, initially full of reverence and in accordance with Chinese and foreign currency design practices, unanimously decided that the head of Mao Zedong, the founding leader of the Republic, should be placed on the face of the RMB, and submitted the design along these lines to the Party Central Committee for approval.

However, after seeing the draft submitted for review, Mao Zedong said in a very serious and strict manner a thought-provoking statement, "The RMB belongs to the state and is issued by the government, not the Party, and I am now the Chairman of the Party, not the Chairman of the government, so how can my head be printed on it?"

The design had to be changed because Mao Zedong's words were so eloquent and his subjective consciousness so sincere and disciplined, justified to the point of being impeccable. On the advice of Nan Hanchen, General Manager of the People's Bank of China, the final design was to reflect the masses of workers and peasants in the liberated areas and the construction of production. All the Chinese characters on the currency including "People's Bank of China", were written in standard block letters by Dong Biwu, who was the Chairman of the North China People's Government at the time. The RMB was printed by the Jiamusi Dongzhao Bank printing factory. The first batch of RMB was issued in Shijiazhuang, Hebei Province, at 9am on 1 December 1948, in the form of three types of banknotes: the five yuan, two yuan and one yuan.


(Above: the 12 denominations of the first issue ranged from 1 to 50,000 yuan, reflecting the inflation inherited from the defeated Guomindang regime).

The first set of RMB was printed and issued in 12 denominations and 62 editions from 1 December 1948 until December 1953. This set of notes from the early years of the country's existence focuses on reflecting the party line, policies and the will of the people at the time. Of these, 23 plates show the theme of establishing industrialisation, 20 plates reflect the theme of developing production, and four plates show the theme of the workers' and peasants' alliance. Due to Mao's strong principles and ample powers of persuasion, the history of his head on the currency had to be deferred.

On October 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China was proclaimed. Shi Lei, then head of the issuance section of the People's Bank of China, asked the governor of the People's Bank of China, Nan Hanchen, "Now that Mao Zedong has become the chairman of the central government, is it possible to print the image of Chairman Mao on the RMB?" Nan Hanchen nodded approvingly and said, "I have never forgotten about this. Let's think of it together." Nan Hanchen then shook his head a few times and said with deep regret, "It's just that the Chairman, the old man[1], still refuses to do so. The other day, when I went to Zhongnanhai for a meeting, I took advantage of the break between meetings to ask the Chairman for advice face to face. The Chairman was very resolute and told me with a solemn face, 'I have become the Chairman of the Government, but I cannot print it even if I am the Chairman of the Government, because we had a decision at a meeting before we went to the city. This decision was made at the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee held in March 1948, which stipulated that it was forbidden to give birthday wishes to party leaders and to use the names of leaders as names of places, cities, streets, buildings and factories, so as to prevent some comrades from becoming complacent, singing praises, greedy for enjoyment and not seeking progress because of their victories, and to enable comrades to maintain their style of hard work and wholehearted service to the people ." Shi Lei nodded his head in conviction and said yes. For, as he had truly heard, the Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Party had indeed made a ban on birthday celebrations for Party leaders and the use of the names of Party leaders as place names, as proposed by Chairman Mao Zedong.

In April 1950, Luo Gongliu and Zhou Lingzhao, renowned art professors, began work on the design of the second set of RMB in accordance with the decision of the Central Government. Based on international conventions, and in view of the uniqueness and anti-counterfeiting nature of the leader's portrait, they considered that the Soviet ruble had the portrait of Lenin, the American dollar had the portrait of Washington and Lincoln, the British pound had the portrait of the Queen, and so on, and it was logical that the new Chinese renminbi should bear the portrait of Mao Zedong, the leader who had established immortal feats for China and was much beloved by the Chinese people. They then carefully designed several sets of different images of Mao Zedong: a 5 Yuan note with ethnic minorities carrying a portrait of Mao Zedong; a 1 Yuan note with the portrait of Mao Zedong on the front of the Tiananmen Square; and a 20 cent note with a locomotive with a striking portrait of Mao Zedong.

When the above preliminary proposal was submitted to the Central Committee for approval, it was again met with the strong veto of Chairman Mao Zedong. Once again, Mao Zedong took a strong stance and firmly opposed the printing of his image on banknotes and repeatedly pointed out in all seriousness: "The Second Plenary Session of the Seventh Central Committee of the Party has a rule that one, we should not make birthday parties; two, we should not give gifts; three, we should give fewer toasts; four, we should clap less; five, we should not use people's names as place names; and six, we should not list Chinese comrades on a par with Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin. In order to stop the traditional phenomenon of singing the praises of virtue, the Party resolution must be observed, that my image must not be printed on the RMB."


(Above: the second issue in 1955 had a conversion rate between the first and second series of 1:10,000, so the value of the existing 10,000 yuan note fell to one yuan.  It reflected the victory of bringing inflation under control).

It is evident that Mao Zedong always kept a clear head and a sensible understanding that Mao's attitude was not a momentary modesty. He was taking the lead in implementing the initiative of "making sure that comrades maintain a modest, prudent, not arrogant, not impatient style, and making sure that comrades maintain a style of hard work", which was put forward at Xibaipo on the eve of the victory; he took the lead in seriously practising the principle of "catching up" from Xibaipo to Beijing "We will never be Li Zicheng, we will get good results in the examination"[2].

With such a firm attitude and orders from Mao Zedong, those responsible for the design and production of the second edition of the RMB and the specific staff had no choice but to comply with the orders. The good thing is that Premier Zhou Enlai was extremely responsible for the design of the notes and carefully reviewed them one by one, giving a series of instructions and making specific comments.

One day in 1953, Wang Wenhuan, director of the Printing Bureau, approached the governor of the People's Bank of China, Nan Hanchen, with the layout of 11 types of banknotes that had just been revised, to ask for further instructions for review. Wang Wenhuan pointed out the layout and said, "The 1 yuan note is Beijing Tiananmen Square, the 2 yuan note is Mount Baota in Yan'an, and the 3 yuan note is Longyuankou in Jinggang Mountain. The 5 yuan note and the 10 yuan note use the image of national unity and the alliance of workers and peasants, reflecting the foundation of our country. The whole set is complete and unified in design, with an outstanding national style." Nan Han Chen nodded in satisfaction. In this way, the second set of RMB 20-cent notes, originally designed with a small head of Mao Zedong embedded in the locomotive of the Mao Zedong, were eventually replaced with a five-pointed star. Other items such as the portrait of Mao Zedong on the Tiananmen Square Tower on the 1 Yuan note, and the portrait of the Chairman in the parade scene of people of all ethnic groups holding up the portrait of Mao Zedong on the 5 Yuan note, were also all cancelled.

The original draft of this set of notes underwent repeated revisions, adjustments and additions by the designer, and was written in Chinese wei-style characters by Mr Ma Wenwei, a researcher at the head office. It was then printed and issued in 11 denominations and 17 editions from 1 March 1955 until 20 April 1962. The plan to have Mao's portrait printed on the second set of renminbi fell through again when Mao Zedong again unceremoniously blocked it.

When the third set of RMB was designed and issued, the printing of Mao's head was not mentioned again because of the two previous instances. However, during the Cultural Revolution, there was a ludicrous and thought-provoking episode related to the printing of Mao's head. The story goes like this: some people from the banknote printing factory cabled the head office of the People's Bank of China, saying that they wanted to raise the great red flag of Mao Zedong's Thought, that there was something wrong with the RMB 1 yuan note being printed, and that the printing should be stopped immediately, claiming that they wanted to print notes with the Chairman's head on them, and that the head office should make a clear statement. The head office promptly reported this to the Central Committee, and when Mao Zedong learned of it, he again firmly opposed it and asked Zhou Enlai to convey the opinion that "the Chairman does not agree to his image being printed on the RMB." Thus the matter came to an end.

Premier Zhou Enlai was equally concerned about the design of the third set of banknotes, providing strict control and careful guidance, and proposing three specific amendments. This set of RMBs was printed and issued from 20 April 1962 until 15 April 1980. In this way, the third set of RMBs still did not have the portrait of Mao Zedong on them.


(Above: a note from the third series which continued to feature the masses rather than Party leaders).


( Liang Jun, China’s first female tractor driver and the banknote on which she features. Below, the photo on which the engraving for the note was based.


The fourth set of renminbi was designed in 1983, after the end of the Cultural Revolution and the new period of reform and opening up that followed the smashing of the Gang of Four. By this time, Mao Zedong and other major leaders of the first generation of the Chinese Communist Party had passed away.


(
Above and below: the one yuan denomination features images of Yao and Dong minority nationality women. As a 16-year-old,  Shi Milkin was photgraphed in Guizhou Province by one of the currency designers.  Her family was poor, she had not read a book, and she couldn’t speak Mandarin, but she graced the one yuan note issued in the early 1980s.)



The design of this RMB was still undertaken by the design team headed by Luo Gongliu. The initial design proposal was still for a maximum denomination of 10 yuan. However, with the development of the commodity economy, this small denomination became increasingly unable to meet the needs of the market, especially when it came to buying valuables, it was inconvenient to carry large amounts of cash and the general public wanted a larger denomination of RMB to be issued. For this reason, the People's Bank submitted to the State Council on the one hand to print additional large denominations of RMB 50 and RMB 100, and on the other hand to assign new tasks to the design team.

Inspired by the touching scenes of the crowds holding portraits of the leaders in the past National Day parades, Luo Gongliu was inspired to reflect the glorious images of the first generation of major leaders of the new China. At the same time, it was also a beautiful wish that had been deep in everyone's hearts for many years. So, after thorough research, the designers agreed that the four leaders - Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Liu Shaoqi and Zhu De - should be placed in relief on the 100 Yuan note to scientifically summarise that "Mao Zedong Thought is the crystallisation of the collective wisdom of the Chinese Communist Party".


(Above: Hmmm, Mao Zedong and Liu Shaoqi on the same banknote? Even though they were separated by Zhou Enlai, Liu's reappearance signaled the victory of his and Deng Xiaoping's decision to follow the capitalist road.)

Although Mao Zedong was adamantly opposed to the printing of his head in the past, with the changes and developments of the times, it was imperative that the heads of the great men are printed on the face of the note. In this way, it is not only a way to remember and permanently frame the great achievements of the older proletarian revolutionaries, but also an effective channel to educate the younger generation on revolutionary traditions.

In view of the fact that banknotes in many countries are generally exchanged once every seven or eight years, and our country’s fourth set of renminbi had been in circulation for more than 10 years, it was time to gradually exchange new edition currency. Therefore, on September 30, 1999, Premier Zhu Rongji issued the State Council Order No. 268, instructing the People’s Bank of China to issue 100 yuan, 50 yuan, 20 yuan, 10 yuan, 5 yuan, 1 yuan, and 5 jiao and 1 jiao[3] notes. The fifth set of renminbi with eight denominations was mixed with the fourth set of renminbi. This was a major event in the construction of our country’s currency system and a great gift on the 50th birthday of the Republic.

(Above and below: the fifth series. The capitalist-roaders are adept at hiding behind this great Communist's image).

When people who were immersed in the rich, warm happiness of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the country saw the head of Mao Zedong at the beginning of the founding of the country stand out as the main scene on the front of the fifth set of RMB 100 large notes, it was like a gust of spring breeze pounding in their faces and a wisp of fresh fragrance refreshing their hearts, and they were in an extraordinarily joyful and relaxed mood. The enlarged head of Mao Zedong is very pleasing to the eye, very kind and benevolent, fulfilling the long-standing wish of hundreds of millions of people to venerate and remember the founding leader, which has profound historical significance.

Chinese original accessed at 毛泽东屡阻在人民币上印他的像_马院网|红色故事Mayuan.wang - Powered by Discuz!



[1] The term “laorenjia” (“the old man”) is highly respectful in China.

[2] This remark was made to Zhou Enlai as he and Mao prepared to leave Xibaipo in rural China for Beijing. Li Zicheng was leader of a peasant rebellion that invaded Beijing and, in 1644, toppled the Ming Dynasty. Even though he overran Beijing, the would-be emperor failed to keep power because he and his colleagues alienated the masses by adopting an aristocratic lifestyle. His rule lasted less than a year. The reference to the imperial exams, which were taken in Beijing, was to the test that Party cadres would have to take in facing the sugar-coated bullets of the bourgeoisie once they had entered the cities.

[3] One jiao is equal to ten fen, or ten cents.

Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Mao Zedong: "You can't be more special than others even when you're Chairman"

 

(Above: Mao in Yan'an)

(Translator’s preface: Given the extravagant and wasteful consumption of China’s arrogant new rich, many citizens are remembering the example of modesty, thrift, plain living and identification with the masses set by Chairman Mao.  I have been to the Shaoshan Memorial Hall mentioned by the author in this article and seen the patched clothes, sandals and receipts kept by Mao. No wonder he is so loved by so many.)

By Zhu Bolin 

Chairman Mao always advocated a simple and frugal style of living, and he himself took the lead and practised what he preached, seeing himself as an ordinary member of the people and never using his position and power for any personal gain.

During the anti-Japanese war, a patriotic Chinese gave the party leader two small cars, and it was agreed that the Chairman should be given one first, as he was the leader of the party and most busy with his official duties. However, the Chairman strongly disagreed, suggesting, "First, we should consider the needs of military work, and second, we should take care of the older comrades." So, according to the Chairman's opinion, one car was allocated to Zhu Laojun, who was in charge of the military, and the other car was allocated to the "five old men" (Xu Teli, Dong Biwu, Xie Juezai, Lin Boqu and Wu Yuzhang). On one occasion, when returning from a meeting in Zao Yuan, the Chairman was injured when his horse was frightened and he fell off the horse. Zhu and the "Five Elders" both offered to let the car go, and even drove it to the Chairman, but the Chairman insisted on asking them all to take it back.

During his life, Chairman Mao was very simple and never took the initiative to add to his clothes, and the clothes, shoes and socks he wore were often patches on top of patches. Shortly after the peaceful liberation of Beiping[1], the Chairman once prepared to visit Zhang Lan[2] at the Beijing Hotel and felt that he should wear a decent outfit to show his respect. The Chairman had always lived a simple life, and as he had been in the war years for a long time, there was a shortage of household items, so his coat was also patched at the time. Li Yinqiao, the chief guard, picked through all of the Chairman's clothes, but could not find a single one without patches. So, the Chairman had to visit Zhang Lan in his patched clothes without any apologies. Later, the Chairman also met with Shen Junru, Li Jishen and other democrats in patched clothes.

Winter in Beijing is extremely cold. One night in November 1949, when the Chairman was tired of working and went for a walk in the courtyard, a cold wind came up and made him shiver. Li Jiaji, a guard, offered to get a pair of woollen trousers to add to what the Chairman was wearing. When he returned to the house, Li Jiaji took out the only pair of woollen trousers that the Chairman had been wearing since the Long March and found that the patches were on top of each other, and they were already torn beyond recognition, so he said to the Chairman, "Chairman, your woollen trousers are really unwearable. I'll go to the management section and get you a new pair." The Chairman shook his head and said, "No, I’ll wear the woollen trousers underneath and the others over the top. I'd rather trouble you to mend them for me." Li Jiaji continued, " Chairman, you see, these trousers have been mended many times, so it is impossible to mend them again, so it is better to get a new one. You are the Chairman of the Central Committee of the Party, so it is only right to ask the Management Section to buy you a new pair of woollen trousers. Faced with the guard's strong suggestion, the Chairman sat on the sofa, slowly lit a cigarette, pondered for a while, and patiently explained to Li Jiaji, "We are serving the people, we are the people's orderlies, and being the Chairman cannot make you more special than others, nor can we be detached from the masses. Now things in our country are very difficult, many people still can't afford to eat or wear clothes, they don't even have old wool trousers like me! Better ask you to mend them for me, don't spend money on new ones." Seeing this, Li Jiaji had no choice but to take out his needle and thread and mend them carefully. The Chairman wore these woollen trousers until the winter of 1956, when there was no way to mend them, and only then did he buy a new pair.

The Chairman's shoes were also mended again and again. A pair of leather slippers that had been mended many times is on display at the Comrade Mao Zedong Memorial Hall in Shaoshan. The slippers were worn by the Chairman on his first visit to Moscow in the winter of 1949, when he first visited the Soviet Union and had to travel by train for ten days or so, so in order to reduce his fatigue on the journey, the train staff prepared a pair of leather slippers for him. The Chairman was so pleased with the slippers that he took them home. From then on, whether at home or on an expedition, the Chairman always took these slippers with him. In the early 1960s, the Chairman once visited Hangzhou and stayed at the guest house of the Zhejiang Provincial Party Committee. The waiter at the guest house saw that the slippers were too old and worn out, so he replaced them with new ones from the guest house, and was prepared to keep the old leather slippers as a souvenir. When the staff around the Chairman noticed it, they immediately stopped it because they knew that they could not change anything without the Chairman's consent or they would be criticised. On another occasion, when the Chairman was visiting Wuhan, the leather slippers suddenly broke off their uppers because they were too old, and the staff rushed to a shoe shop to have them repaired. When the shoe repairer saw the leather slippers, he was very surprised: "They are already so worn out, what is there to repair?" No matter how much the staff pleaded, he refused to mend them. The staff had to find a piece of suede from a car to mend it themselves.


 


 

During a visit to Hunan, the Chairman stayed at the Rong Yuan Hotel in Changsha. The guard on duty saw this pair of tattered leather slippers in the corridor of the Chairman's residence and, not knowing that they belonged to the Chairman, threw them away as rubbish. When the Chairman returned from his trip, he was ready to change his slippers, but the staff could not find the leather slippers, so they asked the sentry on duty and found out the reason. Seeing this, the sentry was very puzzled and aggrieved: "Who would know that such a tattered pair of leather slippers belonged to the Chairman? Even ordinary people would have already thrown them away." In June 1966, when the Chairman returned to Shaoshan and stayed at the Dripping Water Cave, his slippers were again thrown away as rubbish. It took the staff a lot of effort to get them back. One day, the Chairman's slippers were broken again, but no master could be found in Shaoshan to fix them, so the staff had to send them to Changsha on the way. In Changsha, as soon as the shoe repairer saw the slippers, he shouted, "What's the point of bringing them in to be repaired when they're in such a state? It took a lot of persuasion to convince the shoe repairer to fix the slippers. From then on, the staff never dared to take the slippers out for repair again. When the slippers sometimes broke, the staff had to do it themselves, and the patches on the slippers, which were of various sizes, were the "work" of the staff around the Chairman. In the 1970s, no matter how hard you tried, the slippers really couldn't be repaired. It was only then that the Chairman agreed to say goodbye to his "old friend" who had been with him for more than 20 years.

Not only was he not fussy about what he wore, but Chairman Mao was also not fussy about what he ate. During the three years of hardship[3], Chairman Mao insisted on sharing the hardships with the whole nation. He said to his staff, "Many places in the country are suffering from disasters, and many people are starving, so should we stop eating meat and drinking tea? Shall we take the lead?" "People are forcing debts (referring to the Soviet Union's broken contracts), let's eat a little less meat and try to pay off our debts in three years." The year 1960 was the most difficult year, when the Chairman did not eat a single morsel of meat for seven months. Due to the lack of nutrition for a long time, the Chairman, like many other people, got a swelling disease and the muscles of the back of his feet and calves lost their elasticity, and the muscles could not recover for a long time. Seeing this, Premier Zhou urged again and again, " Chairman, have a bite of meat, for the sake of the whole party and the whole nation!" The Chairman shook his head and said, "Aren't you also not eating? Let's all eat and tide over the difficult times together." Led by the Chairman, the whole nation scrimped and scrimped and struggled hard to tide over the difficulties.

The Chairman liked to smoke, which was the only "luxury" in his daily life, but he never used a lighter, he always used matches. The Chairman's habit of rubbing matches was also different. While most people use matches by rubbing the phosphorous on both sides of the match, the Chairman intentionally rubbed from both ends of the phosphorous, so that after a box of matches is rubbed, the middle part of the phosphorous may still be as good as new. At this point, the President asked his staff to buy loose matchsticks from the Beijing Match Factory and refill them for further use. An empty matchbox was often used many times in his hands until it was completely unusable before it was thrown away.

Chairman Mao once said, "If the conditions aren’t right, don’t worry about it; this is easy to do. It is difficult to do when conditions are right, and we Communists are the ones who have to do the difficult things!" This is what Chairman Mao said, and, even more so, this is what he did.

 

from the red culture network website (www.hswh.org.cn)

 

 



[1] Beijing (“northern capital”) was known as Beiping (“northern peace”) during the Guomindang era.

[2] Zhang Lan (1872- 1955), a scholar in the late Qing Dynasty, and a great patriot of China. An activist, a well-known democratic revolutionist, educator, one of the country’s highly respected leaders, the founder and leader of the China Democratic League, and a close friend of the Communist Party of China. In September 1949, he attended the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Central People's Government. In 1954, he was elected as the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the Vice Chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. On February 9, 1955, he died in Beijing at the age of 83.

[3] During 1959-1961, there was famine in some parts of China.