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China: Mumblings from Marxists and mortgage owners

After more than twenty years of Socialism with Chinese characteristics, education and health care remain prohibitively expensive for the majority of the population, privatisation in many sectors has left millions unemployed, independent labor unions are outlawed and capitalist hyperdrive has pushed the gap between rich and poor close to the breaking point.

While Marxism remains a relevant ideology for the hundreds of millions of Chinese still classified as peasants, for the Chinese government it's become a target for censorship on the internet—evidenced by the forced closure earlier this year of several of China's largest labor websites.

Individual blogs, however, are helping to keep the discussion flowing. On Wu Zuolai's Sina blog we see some of that sentiment expressed:

我曾编过民间故事方面全集,发现民间故事中穷人普遍仇恨富人,穷人致富人于死地似乎是天经地义的事情,可以没有法律也不顾人性。

I once edited a collection of amateur stories and I noticed that a lot of the poor folk in these stories tended to hate the rich, as if it were perfectly justified for poor folk to have a death wish out for rich folk, regardless of the law or humanity.

马克思主义为什么在中国或在穷苦的国家极具市场与生命力?因为马克思将富人划分为一个阶级,一个被穷人名正言顺地仇视的阶级,一个可以推翻的阶级,一个剥削人民压迫人民的阶级,一个吃人肉不吐骨头的阶级,一个为自己制造掘墓人的阶级,一个腐朽的必将灭亡的阶级。

Why is there such a vital market for Marxism in China and other poverty-stricken countries? Because Marxism puts the rich into a class towards which it is perfectly justifiable for the poor to be hostile, to overthrow; a class that exploits and oppresses the people, that eats people but doesn't spit out any bones, that makes one one's own gravedigger, a decaying class sure to perish.

-snip-

中国的穷人因此是可悲的,因为他们不致力于建设一个公平的社会,一个博爱的社会,而是致力于打击富人,打击富贵,不打击造成不公平社会的制度。新的国家建立起来了,不还是一部分人掌握着社会财富,不还是一些利益集团在获取分配权与掠夺权。只不过不叫什么蒋宋孔陈四大家族,而改叫什么中国电信中国石油中国铁路人民银行中国房地产中央电视等等带中国字头或人民字头的集团了,以前是一个家族现在是一个集团,这些集团与过去的集团本质上没有什么变化,一是用国家权力意志来实现他们集团的利益,二是对社会对人民没有公平没有博爱,人民对他们没有发言权。

China's poor are really quite pitiful, because instead of working towards a fair and humanitarian society, instead of striking out at the system which creates this unfair society, they strike out at the rich. A new nation has been built. We still see a small number of people grasping society's wealth, and we still see a small number with the power to decide what to distribute and what to plunder. Only now it's not the four large Jiang, Song, Kong and Chen families, but China Telecom, Sinopec, China Rail, People's Bank, China Realty, China Central Television, such corporate groups prefixed with a ‘China’ or a ‘People's’. Before it was a family now it's a corporate group. There isn't much difference between these groups and the group of the past: one uses state power and will to realize its benefits and the other gives no justice or humanity to the people, nor allows them a voice.

Several responses follow, all anonymous—

一切改进的行为需要执政者作出,也就是说执政者决定着我们的命运。如何影响执政者,是当前最重要的命题。当我们思考这个问题时,却发现能够影响执政者的每一条道路都被他们封的死死的……老吴,你说该怎么办?请回答

A complete improvement of behavior needs to come from those already in power; by that I mean those now in power decide our fate. How we can influence them is the most important question at present. As we consider this question, though, we see that every path that could be taken to influence them has already been closed. Wu Zuolai, what is one supposed to do? Please answer.

中国的财富与权力一样,是被放纵的。放纵的权力与财富就成了一股动物的力量,野蛮的力量,为恶的力量,当然会造成人人得而诛之的社会思想。当代中国最大的问题是权力与财富正在合成强大的力量,左右着社会做病态的畸形的高速的发展!

Wealth and power in China are the same in that they're both overindulged. Self-indulged power and wealth have created a monster, savage and evil. Naturally it has created a society with a mentality of kill or be killed. Contemporary China's biggest problem is that power and wealth have come together to create something extremely powerful. Everywhere you look you can see the diseased and freakish high-speed development society is going through!

如果怀疑富人致富的原因,我只会去找政府,而不会去怪罪富人—-

If I suspected the ways in which the rich become rich, I would only look to the government, not blame the rich themselves…

—except for one, the longest, from Qian Shuiwan (浅水湾) who, incidentally, once had an MSN Spaces blog , until the company shut it down:

撅取财富的手段不外两种性质:正当和不正当,这相对不同的社会状态而言,正常状态下的正当和非正当是顺向的,而非常状态下的正当和非正当却是反向的。今天的中国社会,包括港澳台三地处在多种状态下,所以中国人的财富分配是极其复杂而多样的。

There are two ways to gather wealth: just and injust. What this depends on are differences between societies. Under normal circumstances just and injust run side by side. Under abnormal circumstances just and unjust should be reversed. Today's China includes Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, three places with their own situations, that's why the wealth distribution of Chinese is rather complex and diverse.

但不可否认的一点是整个中国人社会里,对财富的急速占有欲望都达到了令人难以置信的地步。所以才有赌场越开越旺,超女一夜成名,在香港,从合法途径,靠买六合采和赌马,每周都有几个百万富翁产生,前两年一家电视台有台节目就叫《百万富翁》,每期造就一个百万富翁。这就我们的社会现实,正是这种非常致富,给人们很多幻想,也有很多不平和仇视,过去我们佛教讲认命倒给一些以宿命的安慰,今天破除宿命,也就留下革命的种子。

What cannot be denied, though, is that the desire to rapidly acquire wealth in the whole of Chinese society has already reached the realm of the incredible. That's why we see more and more casinos opening and prospering, supergirls shooting to fame overnight and in the case of Hong Kong, millionaires being made every week off legal lotteries and horse betting. Two years ago there was a television show called Millionaire, which created a new one with each episode. Such is the reality of our society, where these various chances of striking it rich create many fantasies, but unfairness and hostility as well. Where the Buddhism of the past told us to accept our fates, and consoled us of our fates, today it destroys fate and leaves seeds of revolution.

A look at major Chinese portal site and blog host Sohu, we see a related post at Sheng Yuwen's blog on the recent and increasingly discussed issue in China of ‘mortgage slaves'—urban homeowners finding themselves trapped economically by stagnant wages and volatile property prices. While China's rural majority may not consider this a major issue, those that do have an equal amount to say:

亚里士多德在其所著《政治学》中给奴隶下了一个定义,很精辟,引在下面:

Aristotle, in his well-known work Politics, gives a definition to the word slave, as follows:

(1) 任何人在本性上不属于自己的人格而从属于别人,则自然而为奴隶;

(1) Any person whose being does not belong to himself but to another person is therefore a slave.

(2) 任何人既然成为一笔财产(一件用品),就应当成为别人的所有物;

(2) Any person having since become a piece of property (intended for use), should then become another person's possession.

(3) 这笔财产就在生活行为上被当作一件工具,这种工具是和其所有者可以分离的。

(3) This piece of property in life and behavior shall become a tool, a tool which can be segregated from its owner.

照这个说法,房子应该成为了我们的主人,那房子的主人是谁呢,就是我们的房产开发商.这个时代我们已经成为我们的开发商的奴隶,能用这样的词语来进行自我嘲讽吗?我们中国从西周开始已经消灭了奴隶制度,经历的文明的封建时代,也没有听说有房奴之说,到了更加文明的今天,返祖现象又出现了,这不能不说是历史的倒退.

According to this our houses should become our masters. Who are our houses’ masters? None other than our real estate developers. In these times in which we've already become slaves to our real estate developers, could such words and expressions be used for self-mockery?

China abolished slavery as early as the Western Zhou dynasty. Up until the civilized feudal times, one never heard talk of such ‘mortgage slaves.’ Only in all the more civilized today do we see the reappearance of such backwardness, which can only be said is historical regression.

记得我小时候听说,中国十亿人口,八亿农民,现在我应该说中国人口总数的小数点前面的是穷人也就是他们所说的房奴,小数点后面的是富人也就是他们所称的奴隶主.买不起房子的叫奴隶,买的起房子的也叫奴隶,我们奴隶含义的泛化已经让我们感觉到中国富人时代的到来,也为我们感觉到中国两极分化的加剧.

I remember hearing when I was young that China had a population of one billion people, eight hundred million of which were farmers. I should say that of China's total population today, the number in front of the decimal are the poor, those said to be mortgage slaves, while the number behind the decimal point is of the rich, who they call the mortgage masters.

Can't afford to buy a house and you're a slave to your house. Even those who can are still slaves to their mortgages. The pervasiveness of those we call slaves shows us that the time for China's rich has already arrived, and lets us feel the intensified polarization in China.

现在是社会主义,把穷人套在奴隶的身份上未免是对我们中国无产阶级的嘲弄,也是对我们人民当家作主的嘲弄.难道几个开发商就能在遥控我们的无产阶级专政的主人地位,我们都是他们的奴隶,我觉的中国13亿的人都应该清醒了!

Today's social democracy resigns the poor to the status of slaves and makes a mockery of both our proletariat and those people who would have a home of their own. It's hard to believe that a few developers can control our proletariat as though they were masters of a dictatorship. We're all their slaves. I think it's time for China's 1.3 billion people to wake up!

A sample of comments left:

资本主义时代,大部分人是金钱的努力,社会大变革的今天,谁安全霸占的越多,越有可能成为奴隶主,共产党的官僚阶层是最容易成为奴隶主的

In capitalist times, the majority of people will struggle for money. In today's ever-changing society, the more people need force maintain their safety, the more likely it is that they'll become masters of slaves. The most likely to become slaveowners is the Communisty party bureaucratic class.

我们不是奴隶,更不是房奴,而是社会主义制度和改革给于我们的福利。试问:将购买房子人,定性为房奴,说此话之人,用心何在?

We're not slaves and definitely not mortgage slaves. The socialist system and reforms have given us well-being. I question the motivation of those who buy condos and call themselves mortgage slaves.

从来都是无产者革资产者的命,革命本身会造成社会的动荡,但唯有彻底的革命资源才能重新分配,才能打破旧的制度社会才能得到进一步发展,历来的武装革命都是因为社会没有民主制度以及相应的社会资源分配不均衡所导致的唯一的也是必然的选择,然而如今虽然政府也在大力发展民主政治,但可以看到收效不大,从政府官员到平头百姓都在为眼前利益奔忙,谁管什么民主,民主离我们太远了!要等到那一天不知社会已经经历了几场革命,历来的统治者都是在这种进退两难的处境中被推翻的,所以如何进行一场不见硝烟的彻底的变革才是确保我们改革成功的关键!

It's always been the fate of the proletariat to overthrow the capital and property holders. While revolution might create turbulence in society, it is only through revolution that resources will be redistributed, that the old system of society will be struck down, that further development can be obtained. Armed revolutions of the past have always taken place because society had no democratic system, as well as the corresponding imbalance in distribution of society's resources. Despite the government's current effort to develop democracy, one can still see the results have not been great. From government officials down to flat-headed common folk, everyone's working hard to get a piece of the pie. Who cares about democracy? It couldn't have less relevance to us! Who knows how many revolutions society will have to go through until we reach that day. Rulers in history finding themselves in this sort of dilemma have all been overthrown. That's why the most important factor in ensuring a successful and thorough reform is how to keep the transition a bloodless one.

房奴只是一些记者写出的哗众取宠的名词。我买房了,贷款买房了,但是我的生活并没有受到太多影响,因为我量力而行,买了自己能买的起房子。

‘Mortgage slave’ is just a term journalists have come up with to wow and win favor from their readers. I've got a mortgage on a house, took out a loan too. It hasn't affected my life much because I only took on what I could and bought a house I can afford.

你是什么人,是不是普通的人,你自算一下,一个房子要多少钱,普通的人(80%)的人能买得起吗!!

Just who do you think you are? Are you an ordinary person? Think about it. How much does a house cost. Is that something ordinary people (eighty percent) can afford?!

2 comments

  • A chinese

    China’s poor are really quite pitiful,because instead of working towards a fair and humanitarian society,…. Please do not just blame China’s poor,thinking about it in deep lever.The key point is Chinese Culture,Chinese Histroy and Chinese custom,which has been lasting thousands years.
    People used to have a emperor in their life for thousands years. Only few people feel uncomfortable,and who are very hard to form a kind of force that could have influence on those majority. short-sight is not just for China’s poor,even for some intellectuals.
    People in 1980 years never forget that news paper and others media always talked about how bad treatment of chinese intellectuals at the begining of implementing reforming policy. Now, nobody talking about treatment of chinese intellectuals. Why? They are rich now or have chances to make money at least.
    So,those intellectuals just shut up their mouths in order to dig up more money for themself.
    It’s so ease to buy chinese intellectuals why not those China’s poor. What’s problem? Perhaps confucianism is a problem?
    if not, Chinese race is a problem?
    Culture revolution is a good example. Of course Mao must be responsible for all deaths and other tragedies, full responsibility?
    But what about those elites and intellectuals who supported Mao until Mao really became an emperor of so-called new China?
    And then Mao took them down to the hell in the end.
    Now, these elites think Mao took fully responsibility for the tragedies of Culture revolution.
    Is this a right way to learn this lesson to prevent the event happening again?

  • […] In fact, I have a lot of admiration for Chinese culture and dissidents. I do not admire at all a country in which dissidents are forbidden to have a lawyer -even if they have been illegally detained, in which education and health care are prohibitively expensive for most of the population, and who has tightened even more the freedom of expression. You only have to look at the founder of Communist China to know why I do not admire this country but his people, who keep on fighting for freedom (Ht: Barcepundit) and against corruption: […]

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