Democracy in China

Does anyone remember the Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute campaign and the Crying Indian as kids? How we were taught to throw stuff away. I think that was such a powerful and successful campaign for me because it hit me when i was young and I still carry garbage around in my pocket until i see a garbage can, not because I love the environment as much as the campaign left a deep valley in my neuron map that encoded me to do so. I feel bad if i throw stuff on the ground. Is Alex a good person now that it pains him to do wrong?

well peep this amazing documentary about an experiment in a Wuhan elementary school in which children are introduced to democracy for the first time. The whole film is available here (only in Chinese) and here too — the PBS site with making of, bios etc.

truly amazing to watch the ideas of personal choice and individual rights play out for these little kids. The experiment is a backdrop to the choice and lack of choice they wield in their own lives. It seems to be a ridiculous endeavor given the amount of control parents and teachers exert over these kids — while at the same time these kids struggling with the pressure to perform/conform/excel is much more instructive to them about personal choice and freedom than the “election”this documentary is supposedly about.

After the film, you can understand if the kids have a scar on their minds when thinking of democracy. A painful sore that jerked them out of their lives as parts of a whole and made them suffer scrutiny and humiliation. There is a lot of sloganeering about what democracy is, but the “truth” learned by these children is that a popularity contest brings tears and frustration.

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Sascha Matuszak

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