Helen Raleigh was born in China. Her father was 9 years old when the Communists took over. When Helen reached college age, her father managed to get the money together to help her get to the U.S. for college. The reason she is really interesting is that she looks at the Mao period (and the period she lived through) with the eyes of complete skeptic.
I’ll just put a few quotes from her book here:
Chairman Mao, who ruled China, had to be respected. So:
…my mother told me when she went to the grocery store, the store clerk would say:“ Chairman Mao said ‘People of the world, unite and defeat the U.S. aggressors and all their running dogs!’ What can I get for you?” My mother would answer: “Chairman Mao said ‘never to forget class struggle.’ Can you give me a bottle of soy sauce, please?” My parents told me these crazy-sounding practices took place all over China.
She says of Mao’s policies:
Millions of people perished and their voices were never heard; it is difficult to find any traces of them inside the government-sanctioned history books.
You may remember the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. I remember that the young people there raised a Chinese version of Statue of Liberty, but I did not know that:
They also read out a translated version of America’s Declaration of Independence. Like millions of Chinese people, it was my first time hearing those magnificent words of the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
The Chinese government saw this whole protest as a threat, because it was an ideological challenge, among other things. So, according to History.com:
Chinese troops and security police stormed through Tiananmen Square, firing indiscriminately into the crowds of protesters. Turmoil ensued, as tens of thousands of the young students tried to escape the rampaging Chinese forces. Other protesters fought back, stoning the attacking troops and overturning and setting fire to military vehicles.
Many Chinese today don’t even know what happened, because the ruling party prohibits public discussion and 1989 is banned from textbooks and Chinese websites.
So its down the memory hole, just like the untold stories of the millions who died previously.
And that is one problem with totalitarian systems of government. The masses of people are denied knowledge of major inconvenient truths.
Helen notes something else:
Vladimir Lenin, the founder of the Soviet Union, once explained the totalitarian worldview this way: “We recognize nothing private.” Mao certainly implemented this view to its fullest extent. Why do the communists hate privacy? Because they want to have absolute control of people, and the only way to gain that is to control people’s intimate thoughts and behaviors.
I include that quote because in my experience, American criminals don’t see privacy as a barrier either. My story is horrible, and ongoing, but I’ll skip it here. My point is that this is an interesting link between ideologues and criminals.
To continue: Helen also goes into some gripes she has about the USA:
It concerns me deeply that one of the most obvious unintended consequences of the welfare policies in the U.S. is the collapse of marriages and families. A single woman with a child receives more welfare benefits than if she gets married. How could a low-income young man compete against the all powerful state? Is it any wonder that back in 1963 (before LBJ initiated the Great Society program), only six percent of children in the U.S. were born out of wedlock; yet today, that number has increased to 41 percent— and 53 percent for children born to women under thirty?
That strikes me as very correct. Two examples: My brother told me about a Jewish woman he knew, who was single, not able to attract men, and who wanted a baby. So, she found a male to sleep with, and voila – she was a single mother. Her child will be brought up by herself and the state. Selfish, no?
A male friend of my brother complained to him that he can only afford one child, but when he goes to the local McDonalds, he sees single-mothers with their many children, all paid for by welfare. And, he adds, “they are MEAN to their children!”
Helen gripes again:
While people in other parts of the world shed blood for individual rights, some people here in the United States have lost the kind of convictions the Declaration instilled, and they blame others for their misfortunes. They turn needs into demands, demands into rights, and rights into entitlements.
I would add that the Western countries have plenty of problems. So there is a valid question which type of system will do better in this century – Democratic – or ideologically authoritarian. Say what you will about the dictatorships of the Muslim world, but they do have children, and unlike the USA, 40 percent of those are not born to single mothers.
An authoritarian country like China does not have problems with terrorism, at least not the way we do. It is also a powerhouse of engineering, and a “factory to the world.” Its military gets more powerful by the day.
So who will survive – China – or Europe, which to quote one statistic, in total has less missiles than Hezbollah in Lebanon (an Islamic army)?
I’m not saying Helen Raleigh is wrong about the plusses of democracy and free-enterprise I’m just saying the jury is out on which system will survive.
Raleigh, Helen. Confucius Never Said (pp. 198-199). Kindle Edition.