The following post was written by one of my friends. In this slightly longer piece I asked him to write for the blog, he explains why he decided against joining the Communist party. English is not his first language, so please accept that there are a few grammar problems, but his word choice is very accurate.
In the next week or so there should be another piece by a different friend as to why he did join the party.
If you have any comments or questions for him, just post them below. Tomorrow I’ll be writing a short follow-up to this piece.
The Boss and Me
When I start to talk about why I don’t join the Communist Party of China, I should start with the number of CPC members: according to Baidu, the largest searching engine in China, the number of CPC members reaches almost 78 million by July, 2010. As the absolute leading political force in China, CPC seems to be still going strong after the new century. However, maybe my own experience with the boss could provide a glimpse of what the boom really is.
First of all, I never believe in Communism. Ever since the 7th grade in middle school, every child in China must study a course called “Politics”, which mainly explains Marxism and depreciate Capitalism. I’m not sure if a 12 or 13-year-old could really understand it. But I’m sure the Party tries to provide some “positive guidance” to the children before they develop a mature and independent way of thinking. Then in high school, when the children are 16, 17 years old, some of the activists start to join the CPC. I never doubt these activists’ strong belief in Communism. I believe, it is this strong belief that leads them to a life-long commitment. Personally I respect their choice.
However, it is also during this period, teachers and parents start to imply that joining the Party would guarantee a promising future. Why? Because it is clearly stated that, in China, CPC members enjoy the privilege to be employed or appointed to a position under equal conditions; most of important positions (e.g. first leaders of state-run schools, factories, hospitals, universities, government offices, etc.) are only open to CPC members. I believe teachers and parents encourage children to join the Party out of the love for them, or the worry that they couldn’t find a good job in future. As a result, children with worldly-wisdom decide to join the Party even if they don’t believe in Communism. Joining the CPC becomes material rather than spiritual.
Here is the story between the boss and me. When I became a freshman in college, many students had already joined or were joining the Party. Worried that I would lose a favorable position in job hunting in the near future, I, too, decided to join the Party. Not a true believer in Communism, I made the decision out of peer pressure.
I told my supervisor about it. She simply said, “Write an official requisition first and we’ll then discuss it.” So I improvised a 2-page requisition simply stating that I wish to join the Party and then handed it to her. To my great surprise, she hardly finished reading it when she decided that “the requisition is way too short and not sincere at all”.
“Come to my office in the afternoon. I’ll show you how to write a requisition.”
So I went to meet her that afternoon. She fumbled in a pile of requisitions for a “perfect” example of 17 pages and asked me to study the piece of writing by heart. Here I stood, with the 17-page of writing in hand. As a matter of fact, it contained much more information than a requisition. The writer first reviewed the history of the CPC, which covered a major part of the work. Then she stated the wish to join the Party, and showed a strong desire to devote herself to the course of Communism with much gibberish.
After reading, I handed it back. The supervisor asked me, “Do you understand how to write a sincere requisition now? OK. Go and write me a piece. In handwriting, too.”
I left the room, frustrated, feeling how insincere or even ridiculous the whole thing was. I knew the writer in person. She was anything but the person she described in the requisition. I was deadly sure that she couldn’t keep all the promises she made in the requisition, yet she was so eloquent in making them, and her writing was a “perfect” example to be illustrated!
I cleared my mind after a walk. And I started to feel so stupid to want to join the Party in the first place. How low I was to trade my belief in virtues for a potential job in the future! If I were a believer in Communism, I would join the Party right away. But I wasn’t, and will never be one.
In my later years, some concerned friends also talk with me about joining the Party for my own good. Ironically, I become a Buddhist. As a Buddhist, I strongly believe that even keeping my thoughts to the heart, the Buddha sees them nevertheless. So I can lie to others, to myself, but I can’t lie to the Buddha. Joining the Party without a sincere heart is a sin. I can’t do it.
One of my favorite teachers in college doesn’t join the Party either. When we asked her why she didn’t do it, she said, “I don’t want to make a promise before I do something. It is meaningless.”
Certainly an interesting point of view and one that is seemingly rather principled – not something often found these days, it seems. I shared this with a friend and her response was that it is too bad there aren’t more like him (presuming it is a he). She is not a member, either, but she certainly knows a few who did so with the presumption of future gain.
However, before we condemn those who join for future gain, perhaps it is worthwhile to be more reflective. Students in the West join various organizations to help them get into better colleges (at least in the US). Adults will often do the same thing to help them move ahead in their respective fields or to gain entry into places they would otherwise not be accepted. It is not limited to China. The one issue with China that may be separate is that it is a single political entity to which these people choose to gain entry because that single political entity controls almost everything else. Without that membership, advancement may be stymied beyond a certain point. So, to simply mouth the right platitudes without actual belief is not necessarily paying obeisance to the political entity inasmuch as it is simply seeking ways to improve their status.
For those who may be critical one way or another, perhaps it would be better to first remove oneself from the glass house.
Good point Mr.Chopstik. I have a Party member friend working on a future post on why he decided to join, which I hope will give us more to think about.
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It doesn’t matter whether someone is a member or not. Many of classmates are not members, but they are so conservative that I can understand.
I had a roommate in college and she was dead against joining the Party for the same reason as the author had. Out teacher — a very warm-hearted old lady basically forced her to write the application letter. I applied during the junior year because my family insisted and I can’t be bothered to argue and my Mom is not someone who would allow that to impede my career — even though I’m a girl.
Most students now just google (or Baidu, I suppose) for the application and copy-paste paragraphs from several different articles to make sure there won’t be two identical applications handed in. I wonder if that is really necessary, since they all look the same. After you handed in your application, there will be an old Party officer having a talk with you, to make sure you actually want to join the party and sacrifice for the cause, and not just for personal gain. The officer who talked to me had participated in the Long March, and he really believed in Communism. I felt ashamed of myself. I was approved nevertheless.
Later I quietly quited by not paying the fee.
Thanks for this comment, I am always trying to find more Chinese voices to help Westerners understand what life is like here.