March 25th 2017

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COVER STORY Decentralisation: an undeveloped country

CANBERRA OBSERVED Millennials feel they've been left out in the cold

EDITORIAL Gas, power crises are due to renewables obsession by Peter Westmore

WESTERN AUSTRALIA Barnett election wipe-out delivers WA to Labor

MULTICULTURALISM First among equals or an also-ran culture?

WEST AUSTRALIAN LAW Domestic-violence laws disregard basic rights

INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS Fair Work Commission's disastrous penalty-rates decision

OPINION Trump-Russia allegations are smoke and mirrors

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Don't laugh: this is serious. Revival of Maoist play is a propaganda coup in Victoria

RURAL AFFAIRS Without new dams in the Basin, we're up the creek

CULTURAL HISTORY Pascal without pressure

OPINION Scope for regeneration as Me Generation shuffles off

MUSIC Dying for exposure

CINEMA Kong: Skull Island: Ape-ocalypse Now

BOOK REVIEW How maritime England lost America

ENERGY Hazelwood is vital to Australia's power supply

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Don't laugh: this is serious. Revival of Maoist play is a propaganda coup in Victoria

by Jeffry Babb

News Weekly, March 25, 2017

The Government of Victoria, led by leftist ALP Premier Daniel Andrews, is colluding with China’s President Xi Jinping to reintroduce hard-line Maoist Communism into China by sponsoring a season of the propaganda play, The Red Detachment of Women. The play, which opened on February 15 at the Victorian Arts Centre, was part of the Asia-Pacific Triennial of Performing Arts.

The Victorian Performing Arts Centre is said to be Australia’s premier performing arts venue. Not only does The Red Detachment of Women have the imprimatur of the Government of Victoria, it will be accorded the honour of taking place where prestigious national companies such as the Australian Ballet perform.

Surely the last thing the Andrews Government needs is more controversy. Andrews is a far-left machine politician who has been on the nose with the electorate since a series of riots and jail breaks by teenage hooligans. House invasions and aggravated car thefts by teen gangs in Melbourne’s northwestern suburbs have brought the justice system into disrepute.

The image of ineffectiveness of the law enforcement process was reinforced when a runaway driver massacred six people in Bourke Street Mall, one of Melbourne’s most popular gathering places.

The Red Detachment of Women was sponsored during the Cultural Revolution by Mao Zedong’s wife, Jiang Qing, leader of the Gang of Four. Jiang decreed that only eight yangbanxi, or model operas, could be performed in public. Of these model operas, only The Red Detachment of Women gained a modicum of popularity. They were all almost forgotten until recently, when Xi Jinping sponsored a revival of Maoist-era culture, in opposition to the recent era of economic and relative social liberalism, the brainchild of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping.

Famously, during the trip to Beijing by U.S. President Richard Nixon and National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger in 1972, “Nixinger” (as Dr Frank Knopfelmacher of Melbourne University called the pair) attended a performance of The Red Detachment of Women. What they truly thought of this production we will never know. The Red Detachment of Women does, however, feature in John Adams’ Nixon in China, a modern opera that seems, almost uniquely, to have an element of enduring greatness, a tragedy of Shakespearean dimensions.

To say that The Red Detachment of Women is propaganda is almost a tautology. Famously, when Jiang Qing was on trial, she was asked about Mao’s role in the Cultural Revolution. She said: “I was Mao’s dog. When Mao said bite someone, I bit him.”

Mao said that women held up half the sky, a proposition many regarded as somewhat dubious, if only for the fact that Mao was notorious for his dalliances with pretty young peasant girls.

 Of course, it is fashionable to extol the role of women in the revolution, but one of the principal reasons for The Red Detachment of Women’ssuccess was that the dancers wore Bermuda shorts, thereby exposing their shapely female legs, a rare sight during the austere days of the Cultural Revolution.

The Red Detachment of Women lay dormant during the era of Deng Xiaoping and his successors, only to spring to life again when President Xi began his purge of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Thus it is entirely correct to say that Premier Andrews and his followers are conniving at the revival of the Maoist dictatorship. What form of moral compass does this play give?

Wu Qionghua’s father, a peasant, is unable to pay his rent. For this crime, she is whipped by the landlord and left to die. A Red Army detachment rescues her. She then slaughters the landlord, and gains her revenge. Of course, the victorious Red Army eventually overthrows the ancien regime, bringing in a new era of equality between men and women, social order and abundance.

The story, said to be derived from an incident on Hainan Island in China’s tropical south, aims to revive a “revolutionary spirit” in a China grown fat and lazy in the years of prosperity

The play remains controversial in China. It was first staged only a few years after Mao’s Great Leap Forward (1958–62), the greatest man-made famine in history, in which 55 million souls perished, according to recent Chinese research. The Red Detachment of Women grew in prominence during the Cultural Revolution, which followed on shortly from the Great Leap Forward.

Mao launched the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in 1966; his intention was to reclaim power usurped by “bourgeois elements”, chief among them Deng Xiaoping and Liu Shaoqi. The Cultural Revolution only ceased when Mao died in 1976. Some 30 million people died in the chaos Mao unleashed, according to official estimates.

Liu was tortured to death; Deng was exiled to the country. Mao’s “cult of personality” grew to massive proportions. The Red Guards, or Hongweibing, were mainly young people with a fanatical devotion to Mao. Their primary text was the notorious Little Red Book, which veered wildly between the trite and the extremes of revolution. Officially known as Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-teng, the book was published in a number of editions and formats, though small sizes which could be easily carried were favoured.

One can only wonder how an entire nation, with few exceptions, degenerated into mass lunacy. The idea that Mao Zedong was somehow deluded by his wife and didn’t realise what horrors were being inflicted in his name is not credible.

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