Those of us unfortunate enough to have been state educated will remember the appalling torture of sharing a book with an illiterate fool who took about an hour to read a paragraph. Before you accuse me of being catty about stupid folk, let me point out that they were more than able to stand up for themselves. Ah yes those happy days of having ones head bounced off walls for being a 'pure swot' or reading at a normal speed as it's generally known.
I often wonder what on earth happened to these folk, haunted as I am by the fear of running into one of them. Anyway I am delighted to report that their spirit lives on. Only today I was browsing the Internet when I came across what I think might be the most stupid thing I've ever read in my life (Councillor Kelly excepted). It's not so much stupidity that upsets me but the complete refusal to admit that one might not know everything and compulsion to attack anything that remotely challenges one's view of oneself or the wider world.
Imagine if you will a Chinese woman writes a book which is less than flattering about Chairman Mao. You might decide to read the book, you may be indifferent, you might read a few extracts in a Sunday paper intend to buy it and forget, you might buy it and use it as a doorstop, you might draw attention to some alleged inaccuracies in it. All of those would be sensible and normal reactions.
However as ever the moronic community have their own unique way of dealing with this outrage. Witness the behaviour of the staff of Revolution Books at a visit from Jung Chang and Jon Halliday to discuss Mao: The Unknown Story to Berkeley in the USA.
'It's just outrageous," said Gary Miller, a volunteer at Berkeley's Revolution Books, as he leafleted the authors' event on campus. "A lot of people look with a great deal of affection at the Mao years because China's been turned into one giant sweatshop.'
Isn't it hilarious! As if all the workers earned a fortune and danced the day away under Mao. I wonder if Gary Miller has ever reflected just how long his job at Revolution Books would last under the dear old chairman? Mind you it strikes me that Gary might have a wee touch of Chairman Mao about him; 'It's just outrageous' -what writing a book and answering questions about it in front of an audience? Good God where will such 'outrageous' conduct lead?
I'm also curious to who these folk are that look 'look with a great deal of affection at the Mao years' are because other than the people at the very top of of the Chinese Communist Party everyone seems to have had a miserable time and to be fair more than a few of the top boys were treated appallingly. Honestly what sort of maniac looks back on picnics like The Cultural Revolution with 'a great deal of affection'? It certainly won't be the poor Chinese proletariat who suffered unbearable horror despite being the supposed beneficiaries of a society purged of bourgeoisie elements. It certainly won't have been anyone with an appreciation of art, literature or their cultural heritage. It won't have been the peasant farmers who were given the gift of skinny teenage workers more suited to looking wistful at a window than tough farm work. In fact I'd say that anyone who looks back with 'great affection' at The Cultural Revolution and Chairman Mao is a wicked barbarian and only just worth shooting or sending to the countryside for re-education.
As a distraught fifteen year old I was all for communism but even I thought countries like China were a bloody nightmare. At the time I thought this was just because they'd done communism wrong and if the right set set of folk were in charge it would be champers for the workers all the way. These days having met enough people to know better my view on communism can be best be summed up by this quote from the movie Ben Hur 'Balthasar is a good man. But until all men are like him, we must keep our swords bright!', only I would add, our tills ringing and government in it's place.
None of which is to imply that China is now heaven on earth. It's far from it. Conditions there would provoke an uprising in Britain but it's better than it was and I'm appalled that some pampered American oaf who's worst experience is being marketed at would seek to prevent a woman who lived through the affectionately remembered rule of Mao from speaking her mind or are all the goodies of democracy the sole preserve of the west?
I merely require information.