At the Chinese New Year celebration in San Francisco, Iris Chang spoke to me in a dream.
With noisemakers blaring and dragons writhing serpentinely, she spoke of the memorization and mastery of Chinese classics which served as a safe outlet for the subjugated Han people of the Qing Dynasty. As harmless*, hissing children’s smoke bombs rolled down the steep inclines of Chinatown, Iris whispered to me about the most talented, ambitious young men diverting their youthful energies into activities which would perpetuate the reign of the rulers from Manchuria. Permitted pursuits.
The Han, with their braided queues of humiliation trailing behind their burdened, heavy heads**, could not afford to openly question or challenge the system in any way. Suffocating parameters served as quite the efficacious implement! And, according to Iris, with members of the subjugated part of the population forced to compete against one another, “imperial exams soon became more potent than any military force, as the people themselves embraced this instrument of their own oppression.”
This is really vintage Chomsky, isn’t it? This business of people being set up to control themselves without having to be beaten over the head. For the most part.
Well, just like the crème de la crème of the Han Chinese — people who could have led the masses potentially — became agents of the Dominant Society…for little pieces of the fortune cookie…or relatively sumptuous entitlements, we’ve got our own Sold Out Suckers.
They argue academically. That’s allowed. Gives the impression — to young college students — that something’s being opposed, that seeds are being spread. They research up the kazoo to prove this or that point. Get involved deeply — lifelong pursuits for some sick cases — in research that culminates in Documentation Delirium. Proving over and over again…the same thing, merely changing a face or facade here or there. Or coming up with new terminology, turns of phrases. Tons. That’s allowed.
They teach in alternative schools where they follow officially sanctioned guidelines…and never confront parents about the SUVs which…drop off…and pick up. Allowed? Why, of course! Par for the course.
They score social, monetary and/or other strokes vis-a-vis Exposé Excess. That’s…encouraged. Actually, ALL these endeavors are proactively supported by The Powers.
And all of the individuals playing this game are, in fact, making matters worse by allowing The USers to buy more time…from every angle…in every sense of the phrase. In every corner of the globe.
The only thing within the people’s power to do is to cut off those queues. But we all know*** that almost all of us are too busy forming queues, waiting in line. On cue.
Richard Oxman pays respects here to Iris Chang’s The Chinese in America and invites the dialogue that almost everyone seems to avoid these days.