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02/01/2006

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Date Posted: 17:50 04/02/2005



Down with feudal superstition

A series of articles in China Youth Daily might be the prelude to another crackdown


IF THERE were any justice, Running Dog would of course rule the whole world. Thankfully, there isn't any justice, but if we were suddenly granted authority over the whole planet, we would - after a certain grace period to allow for the solving of world poverty, the curing of all diseases, and the banning of golf - soon turn our attention to eradicating superstitions of all kinds.

And so, it is with a certain guilty pleasure that we read about the Chinese government's efforts to stamp down on pernicious, feudal ideas such as fengshui, and we only hope that their authority stretches to the sort of new-age fraudsters currently earning large amounts of money overseas by pretending that the relocation of a sofa or a wardrobe will somehow get one closer to the qi, or whatever the hell it is supposed to do. There are already enough work-shy cheats making a fortune on the back of dodgy Chinese cults (are you listening, Li Hongzhi?), and we do not need anymore, thank you very much.

Today's freshly-neutered China Youth Daily has a special report on the effect of superstitions on the nation's youth, relating - in aghast tones - that 85% of China's middle school students have actually had their fortune told. One of its reporters also interviews a young student currently applying to Beijing University. The student - one of 13,000 registered members of a fengshui website - says that he is full of confidence about his application because 'I have already found the best fengshui position for recruitment'.

The reporter also says that when he typed the words 'practice divination' into a Chinese search engine, he received 2.35 million pages in response. It is good to know that Chinese hacks are using search engine results to buttress their dodgy copy as much as their western counterparts.

Of course, classical Marxism has always set itself up as a modern, scientific theory dedicated to overthrowing feudal superstitions. Unfortunately, it has not always been that way. Some people believe that the central idea of Communism - involving an inevitable class struggle that will culminate, dialectically, in the triumph of the proletariat and the essential End of History - is superstitious in itself. Going still further, Chairman Mao was as superstitious as they come, and even had a spiritual guide who drew up a spurious family tree proving that he, Mao, was the descendent of a famous Ming warrior. A Daoist guide also told Chairman Mao later in his life that his yang was degenerating, and thus required replenishing with yin, which was facilitated through the onerous task of bedding young virgins.


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