Josef Stalin and Bill Gates Celebrate the PRC’s 60th

There were plenty of incongruities in last week’s 60th anniversary bash in Beijing, but the following image really caused me to do a double take: from left to right, John Dewey Charles Darwin, Voltaire Sir Isaac Newton, Charlie Chaplin, Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, V.I. Lenin, Josef Stalin and Seattle’s own Bill Gates.

If the parade had really been as “retro” as the New York Times asserted, we would have seen big portraits of each of these men, along with Mao and the Fourth Generation of leaders (including of course the Jiang Zemin deathmask) walked down Chang’an Dajie in sequence.  And note the nice Great Wall in the background…this is the “mash-up” aesthetic at its best and most bewildering.  One wonders how the conversation went in the editorial board or web design meetings.  “Yeah! Yeah!  Put Gates at the end!”

So now we have seen it all: Marx/Engels –> Lenin –> Stalin –> Bill Gates, with Gates filling in where “Chairman Mao Thought 毛主席思想” is normally placed.  Perhaps this is the progression the CCP intends for itself?  Thank heavens they didn’t put in a picture of Barack Obama as some kind of bizarre reward for putting off the Dalai Lama visit to Washington.  Imagine the fun FOX News, or their only slightly less reactionary kin on the Lou Dobbs set at CNN, would have with that.

Huanqiu Shibaos website header for 60 Years of Foreigners Looking at China
Huanqiu Shibao's website header for "60 Years of Foreigners' Image of New China"

11 thoughts on “Josef Stalin and Bill Gates Celebrate the PRC’s 60th

  1. … including of course the Jiang Zemin deathmask…
    Hehe. Frankly, I believe that even a dead Jiang Zemin will still look more alive than a living Hu Jintao.

    1. I had heard that he has a secret underground passageway from Zhongnanhai to his private box at the National Theatre (the Egg) where he can watch his flute-playing favorites. Apparently an opera connoisseur, I wonder if Jiang will end up being buried in the Egg, surpassing Mao — and perhaps even Qin Shihuangdi! — in the slow paced competition for sarcophagus dimensions. If I’m not mistaken, Deng Xiaoping is buried somewhere less conspicuous in Babaoshan, while Liu Shaoqi’s ashes were dumped in 1982 by his widow into the Yellow Sea, while Lin Biao, that other would-be head of state, got crispy over Inner Mongolia — but the Party probably has his charred bones somewhere. You never know when such relics will come in handy.

  2. to pick nits on the tsunami-like mashup of history, modernity, imagery, politics that marks this rather classically sinological-violoncellisty post is akin, perhaps, to catching an inverted ß in the typeface of an early edition of Faust II, but still the biologistical pedant in me can not but notice that the hoary, thickly browed figure on the left is no well-coiffed, moustachioed Yankee pragmatist (http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/agexed/aee501/dewey.html) but rather that solemnly simian Victorian naturalist of no little reknown (http://blogs.e-rockford.com/applesauce/files/2009/02/darwin_ape.png).

    1. Corrections have been duly applied in a small step forward for the evolution of this blog — and, I should hope, without having irrevocably smashed my credibility to the quantitative ecologist readership of said fora. Just as Dan Quayle was no Jack Kennedy, Dewey is no Darwin. While being likened to a wave/vague/潮 has a certain kinetic appeal and fits with the pelagic metaphors of the Heine essay, I think that rather than being characterized as a “mashup” I like to think of the present blog as being “interdisciplinary,” which is a fancy way of saying: “has no discipline.”

      Nice to see you back at the site, and on the very day that, having stumped for low blood pressure in B.C., the Dalai Lama fans the Quebecois with separatist sentiment, no less!

      1. !Ay de mi!

        Is it possibly that you could have so quickly dismissed la francophobie of all things sinic, to have mistaken the dour director of the British mint ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Sir_Isaac_Newton_by_Sir_Godfrey_Kneller,_Bt.jpg) for the merrily twinkling, libertine icon de L’age des lumières? (http://www.myfreewallpapers.net/artistic/pages/dali-disappearing-bust-of-voltaire.shtml)?

        but to be chandalier-clear, these imperfections do nothing to your credibility. Indeed the breath of your brush fills me with the greatest admiration. An admiration that – even as i struggle tediously to set into type the tiny granules of quantitative irrelevancies from which the tenous shifting mosaic of the finnish-wolf-as-science-sees-it – is tainted ever so slightly by envy.

  3. You see, at least the man (JZM) has a passion in life. If Hu Jintao has any hobbies, codfishes must be collecting stamps.

    1. Come to think of it, you are really on to something here, JR! For all his deathmask qualities and way of elbowing up to the stage for various commemorative moments (doesn’t this drive some Chinese just up the wall? can you imagine if George W. Bush or Gerhard Schroeder just showed up with their predecessors at, say, the UN?), JZM does indeed have a certain flair, an elan, a joie de vivre, that his successor decidedly appears to lack.

      What are Hu Jintao’s hobbies, anyway? Quashing rebellions doesn’t count. Perhaps it was fear of greater introspection of Hu’s warm and fuzzy side that caused the Net Nanny to shut down the CCP leader fanclub websites that sprang up in the PRC after the Wenchuan earthquake.

    1. It seems that Hu and Bill Gates have more in common every day. Now the implications of their dinner in Seattle a few years back are becoming clear! In fact, it makes me think that people who are not Chinese communists might adopt some of the standard, somewhat vulgar vocabulary of counterrevolutionary plots, or fangeming yinmou 反革命阴谋 , to describe what is going on here. I wonder if Mao’s revolution was merely killed, or if it was hijacked, or if Hu Jintao really thinks about Chairman Mao at all.

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