Back in the 1970’s, a popular TV commercial for 7-Up referred to the clear soft drink as the “un-cola.” Apparently the update to this idea is the new un-communism being rolled out by Chinese President Xi Jinping. The leader has, according to Reuters, ordered a crackdown on government bloat. By his decree, waste and extravagance are to become extinct.
The only problem with this initiative is its contradictory nature to the essence of communism. Declaring an end to Big Government in a communist state is akin to a mob boss ordering his minions to discontinue all illegal activity. Communism is by design a top-down system of oppression. You take all the fun out of it if by suggesting that the top needs to lose weight. So be skeptical when you hear about any de-communizing of communism.
The reporting on this development undermines the idea that Xi is standing on a hill, holding a little candle and teaching the world to sing a new song as they did in another famed ‘70’s ad, this one for Coke. Advertising analogies are highly applicable here, because it all seems staged. For example, the military-looking uniforms that Chinese leaders sported in Mao’s time have been replaced by business suits. But the softer look doesn’t mean a softer outlook. In Xi’s case, his hair gives him away. It is a widow’s peaked mass resembling black plastic. If he were trick-or-treating, no one would ask him what he was supposed to be. Dracula is all too obvious.
And what of the terminology being used by reporters to describe Xi’s alleged new direction? If someone is liberalizing something, the word crackdown doesn’t usually surface. Nor does a “Central Commission for Discipline Inspection” that administers “internal party punishments” for breaches of the crackdown. Think about that name. Doesn’t it amount to using a huge bureaucracy to penalize people for being too bureaucratic? I can’t escape the feeling that the term “internal punishments” is a nice way of saying “hanging by their thumbs.”
Another reason we have for suspecting that Xi’s initiative may be a phony is the fact that he’s supposedly punishing people for being mediocre. If he were serious about this, he would topple his whole system. Communism thrives on mediocrity, and communist officials survive by being mediocre. As Alexander Solzhenitsyn reported in The Gulag Archipelago, communist officials who stand out make themselves targets for the next purge.
There’s one thing we can believe about what Xi is saying. Take it for gospel when he promises to go after “high flying tigers” and lowly “flies.” The wheels of the crusher appear to be rolling again. There’s no need to worry then that in this dysfunctional world even communism isn’t working right. Just ask those who have been ‘internally punished.’ Of course no answer may be forthcoming because as the old totalitarian saying goes, dead men tell no tales.