Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Chinese government will force artists to live in rural areas - is this as bad as the Western press says it is?


Most Chinese would say that one of the most horrible periods of time in 20th century Chinese history was the "Cultural Revolution". This was when Mao Tse Tung used force to try to take away privileges that educated and wealthy Chinese people might have gained from their parents or families.

So if a person had a university education, Mao basically said, "You got your education only because your family was able to make money under the previous capitalist system. There were many people who were not as lucky as you. So now you will have to live the type of life that those unlucky people had to live!"  Many educated Chinese were forced to work at jobs that did not require their high level of education and this greatly harmed Chinese society and the Chinese economy.

Now there is a story that the current leader of China will be forcing Chinese artists to live at least one month per year in the countryside.  The reason for this, according to the government, is to help Chinese artists create more meaningful art work.  The perception among government officials seems to be that Chinese artists are adopting Western 'art market' attitudes and that art is no longer being used in a socially relevant way in China.

Some members of the Western press (journalists) seem to feel that the current leader of China is repeating some of the mistakes of Mao's Cultural Revolution.   

Yet, it also seems apparent that the Western press is using this decision by Xi to create anti-Chinese propaganda. (Propaganda is a story meant to make a country look better or worse than it is - it seems that western news sources are using this story to attack the Chinese government and make the government seem as bad as Mao's was during the Cultural Revolution.)  For example, the BBC classifies this decision by Xi as an attempt at 're-education.' In the West, re-education means 'brainwashing' or forcing people to believe what a government wants them to believe.  So the BBC is not presenting an 'objective' or fair story by using a headline which uses the word "re-education".  This is obvious anti-Chinese propaganda (propaganda against China). The government of China never used the word 're-education.'

Indeed, someone could argue that American artists should be forced to spend time among America's poor, since American visual art is often meant to be consumed by wealthy patrons (buyers) and does not seem to be exposing terrible social problems like racism, government corruption and poverty.  We have a terrible racial situation in the USA and artists in the USA seem to be ignoring it. Initially, I felt the Chinese government was doing something wrong; now I'm not so sure. 

So what do you think about the Chinese government's decision?

The article:


Vocabulary to help you understand the article:

re-education - 're' means again. re-education means that one has to go through a new type of education. Often 're-education' means 'brainwashing' or forcing a person to believe something a government wants him/her to believe

a heyday - a successful time, a time of prosperity

the masses - the people

an echo - you hear the same sound twice

well-trodden - to trod is to walk on; a well-trodden path is a path that many people have walked on before

wayward artists - artists who are not presenting the type of art the government wants them to present

recruits - people chosen

deemed - considered

drafted - selected and brought into the program

media watchdog - the agency that monitors or watches what is being done by the media

the stench of money - the smell of money

dissent - when someone disagrees with the government

censorship - when the government prevents someone from expressing him/herself freely

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