Mao with money

The October 30 issue of The New Yorker has a piece on Xi’s China called “China’s Age of Malaise.” While the mainstream media continues to promote the idea that China has become a wellspring of creativity and economic competition, the reality is that China is retreating into the rigid, sclerotic political dogmatism that characterized the Mao era and that brought down the Soviet Union. The money grafs:

“Early this year, the Party launched a campaign to educate citizens on what Party literature habitually refers to as “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.” All manner of institutions—laboratories, asset-management firms, banks, think tanks—are expected to make time for regular lectures, followed by the writing of essays and the taking of tests. Some business executives report spending a third of the workday on “thought work,” including reading an average of four books a month. A microchip engineer at a university lab told a friend, “Going to meetings every day literally eats away at the time for scientific discoveries.”

“The over-all effect is a revival of what the late Sinologist Simon Leys called the “lugubrious merry-go-round” of Communist ritual, and a culture of deliberate obfuscation that he likened to deciphering “inscriptions written in invisible ink on blank pages.” The return of disappearances and thought work on this scale has made clear that, for all of China’s modernizations, Xi is no longer pantomiming the rule of law; he has returned China to the rule of man. At his core, a longtime observer told me, Xi is “Mao with money.””

China’s Age of Malaise