Abstract: I love anecdotes. Often, I would tell the 3 children on an amusing anecdote I came across. Anecdotes can be inspirational, convey a message, be a graphic representation of certain religious teachings or serve as a good example to our life-style. One can learn something from it.
Further to my previous post, “Buying A Lottery Ticket, An Investment? Ha! Ha!” (Read here), I posed a silly question to my 3 children while we were having dinner in Queens, New York City. What they gave were insightful answers to a frivolous question.
An anecdote would be in order to reinforce the reality of the question.
I have heard …
The Communist Party of China (CPC) took over China in 1949. In 1958 Chairman Mao Zedong launched the Great Leap Forward campaign (1958 – 1962), turning the country into a strictly communist society through the formation of the People’s Commune.
Essentially the agriculture and industrial sectors of the economy would be collectivized. The Karl-Marx communist doctrine designated that it would be a matter of “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” Under the People’s Commune, all harvests from the farmlands belonged to the State. No private ownership was allowed.
The Great Leap Forward became many great leaps backwards. It failed miserably. Famine was upon the land. Tens of millions of peasants died of starvation.
A few years later, the CPC allowed some private ownership of farmlands. A portion of about 10% of the total acreage would be given to peasants to till their own plot of land. They could raise their own crops, plant vegetables and other greens and owned pigs and poultry.
The productivity of the 10% private ownership became greater than the productivity of the other 90% of the commune. Such was the incentive when one tilled his own soil.
However, the CPC was always wary of its peasants turning their heads towards capitalism. Every evening when the peasants returned from their farmlands, the CPC Cadres would hold nightly meetings and re-education classes to reinforce the communist’s ideology of a just society.
The communist cadres would exhort to the masses, “Down with Imperialism, down with the bourgeoisie class, down with Western capitalism, down with revisionism, down with the Kuomintang running dogs ….”
Those peasants sitting in the few front rows would howl the loudest. They would stand up eagerly. They would punch their fists upwards in an excited frenzy. They would scream, “Long Live Chairman Mao, Rise Again China and they would sing “The March of the Volunteers” in high timbre.
On one occasion, a Communist Cadre said, “If you have two houses, what would you do?”
“I would give away one house to my poor neighbour family who does not have a shelter over their heads.” One woman stood up and shouted excitedly.
The masses joined the chorus in unison, “Yes, we would give away one house.”
The Communist Cadre continued, “If you have two cars, what would you do?”
Another man stood up and shouted, “I will give away one car to the neighbour opposite my house. He has a bigger family.”
Again, the wild chorus of the masses joined in. “We will give away. We will give away the second car.”
The Communist Cadre was silent for a while. Then with a small sardonic smile, he made a V sign with his fingers. His voice raised a bar too. “Now if you have two pigs at your backyard, what would you do?”
Suddenly, a hushed silence descended upon the masses. Nobody spoke. Nobody rustled their drab Maoist clothing. All kept their heads down. The fervent atmosphere an instant ago was like a switch being turned off. All went quiet.
Every peasant had a few pigs in their backyard.