The Post-Postmodernism Issue

Socialism Versus Capitalism

Capitalism is very good at creating a void in people's psyches.
Mao Spank
Image by John Ritter - ritterillustration.net

Bai Di grew up in socialist China (before capitalism was brought back after Mao’s death in 1976) and participated in the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). She is a coeditor of the book Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era and is the director of Chinese and Asian Studies at Drew University. Revolution correspondent Li Onesto interviewed Bai Di in February of 2009.

Li Onesto: What did the Cultural Revolution accomplish and what did it mean to grow up in a socialist society?

Bai Di: I always had a purpose. That was what education was about. And we didn’t have to worry about the financial crises that capitalism will always have periodically. We never had that much – two sets of clothes – but we never felt we should have more. You don’t have that kind of crazy desire for everything, like the need to go shopping all the time. I feel that capitalism is very good at creating a void in people’s psyches. It will teach you that the only way to feel okay is to want more. It is so consuming. When I grew up, I did not put much time at all in material stuff. So we had energy to do other things for the greater good. We studied all kinds of subjects, and we thought our presence was very much a part of the future. Yes, we were very future oriented and our focus was also wider than only China. It was about the whole of humankind. It is what inspired us. That’s what I feel education has to be about.

Some people believe in individualism. But if you think that you are the most important, then that really is a boring life because your existence is irrelevant to others; that is how I feel. You can’t survive that long. You have to put yourself into human history. Then your life, your existence, will carry some meaning. That is what Chairman Mao said. In his memorial to Doctor Norman Bethune he said everyone has to die. But the meaning of death is different. Somebody dies a worthy death so that death is as weighty as Mount Tai. Some other’s death is as light as a feather. And because Bethune put his life into this communist cause, we all remember him – his death was weighty. We were all trained this way. You feel that you become part of something. And this makes your life and death more meaningful. Now to think about it, we were pretty profound as teenagers. We were already coping with the existential questions for all humankind: life and death.

I had never lived in a capitalist society then so I didn’t know how to compare it to socialism. But looking at things now both in China and the US, I feel that back then there was an optimism always in the air. We were always optimistic. People didn’t complain. Right now everyone is complaining even though they already have so much. Under capitalism there is desire for all kinds of things. Right now when I go back to China everyone is complaining and it’s just money, money, money. But back under socialism, the purpose in life was not money. As Lei Feng said succinctly: “We cannot live without food, but our lives are not for food. It is for making a better society.” That pretty much sums up the spirit. Lei Feng was an ordinary soldier in the People’s Liberation Army and died manning his post. He spent his short 22 years of life helping other people. And Chairman Mao called on the whole nation to “Learn from Comrade Lei Feng” in 1964.

The whole interview is available at revcom.us. For more information about the Cultural Revolution in China, go to Revolution newspaper at revcom.us and Set the Record Straight Project at thisiscommunism.org.

66 comments on the article “Socialism Versus Capitalism”

Displaying 61 - 66 of 66

Page 7 of 7

Also Anonymous

"I think im done visiting adbusters due to this."
- Anonymous

So am I. And this was my first visit. At least I didn't waste a lot of time here.

Also Anonymous

"I think im done visiting adbusters due to this."
- Anonymous

So am I. And this was my first visit. At least I didn't waste a lot of time here.

LeilaB.

Not that i'm a socialist, nor am i pro-capitalism either..however, it must be known that if it wasn't for Mao, China would be among the most poorest of nations today..just to clear that up. Yes, he was a terrible man for the coersive actions, and he killed millions, but don't tell me that rulers under capitalism haven't done the same thing to get where they are now. Who do you think created the Western world? It was by killing off the indigenous peoples, stealing their land, making Africans slaves, using foreigners only for cheap labour. How many corrupt leaders were set up by the United States to benefit them at the expense of the citizens of those countries? Also, don't ignore common day American imperialism. Do you know how many people have been marginalization, killed, put into poverty through various sectors that work to make Westerners happy?
Also, some have broughten up "dictator"..Mao, Ahmedinejad...where's Bush? Do not even think about not including him onto this list just because he was president of a "democratic" nation. In fact..we can put quite a few American presidents on that list.
I'm not saying that Mao was right, but i think that his actions were done more recently in history which has caused people to be more angry. Plus, communism has been shoved in Americans faces as enemy number 1, so it's understandable how you think communism is so evil and his actions were terrible, and what he did was horrible, no doubt. The problem is though that people tend to ignore how industrialized countries have come to be, and how they remain. People have die and remain poor to keep you in a wealthy country. Don't ignore the actions of the First World overseas.. and how cruel and deadly global capitalism really has been.

LeilaB.

Not that i'm a socialist, nor am i pro-capitalism either..however, it must be known that if it wasn't for Mao, China would be among the most poorest of nations today..just to clear that up. Yes, he was a terrible man for the coersive actions, and he killed millions, but don't tell me that rulers under capitalism haven't done the same thing to get where they are now. Who do you think created the Western world? It was by killing off the indigenous peoples, stealing their land, making Africans slaves, using foreigners only for cheap labour. How many corrupt leaders were set up by the United States to benefit them at the expense of the citizens of those countries? Also, don't ignore common day American imperialism. Do you know how many people have been marginalization, killed, put into poverty through various sectors that work to make Westerners happy?
Also, some have broughten up "dictator"..Mao, Ahmedinejad...where's Bush? Do not even think about not including him onto this list just because he was president of a "democratic" nation. In fact..we can put quite a few American presidents on that list.
I'm not saying that Mao was right, but i think that his actions were done more recently in history which has caused people to be more angry. Plus, communism has been shoved in Americans faces as enemy number 1, so it's understandable how you think communism is so evil and his actions were terrible, and what he did was horrible, no doubt. The problem is though that people tend to ignore how industrialized countries have come to be, and how they remain. People have die and remain poor to keep you in a wealthy country. Don't ignore the actions of the First World overseas.. and how cruel and deadly global capitalism really has been.

Anonymous

Look at all these people commenting here! They are totally brainwashed by the US propaganda and they think they know everything in China without being there, understanding its history. "They do not know that they do not know"--- the result of capitalist media.
They keep using the words "terrible", "horror", "no freedom"--all copying each other and from the media. Very sad indeed.

Anonymous

Look at all these people commenting here! They are totally brainwashed by the US propaganda and they think they know everything in China without being there, understanding its history. "They do not know that they do not know"--- the result of capitalist media.
They keep using the words "terrible", "horror", "no freedom"--all copying each other and from the media. Very sad indeed.

Pages

Add a new comment

Comments are closed.