“The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.” To which it could perhaps be added, “The oppressed becomes the oppressor in a never ending reincarnation.” This is one of the key points that I took away from Sapiens. The fatalistic, conservative-leaning side of my psyche would look at the sum of my experiences and (limited) knowledge of the world to arrive at the conclusion that maybe the war never was to change the world, to change the world is logically impossible – assuming a law of conservation of “goodness”; the war is to not let the world change an individual. Theoretically, if we exercise enough empathy for others, humanity would see a dramatic decrease in suffering and conflicts BUT mere mortals that we are, walking bags of meat and carbon constrained by Dunbar’s number, I am fundamentally pessimistic about letting human nature dictate destinies. While technological advancements yield linear increases in the total amount of resources in the world, human greed and power follow an exponential distribution. At least this is my grossly simplified understanding of the world.

In concrete terms, because people tell me that humans don’t relate to abstractions, I think about the 8 years old girl that I met in the summer of 2016. Dropped out of school in an age of automation. Your typical left-behind child. I used to think that perhaps as the roads get narrower, one way out would be hostessing at KTV, now I realise there is also a possible path pointing towards criminality.

The generation of left-behind children in China before her is now of legal age with the less adventurous of them anointed as the 三和大神 Great Gods of Sanhe – work one day and play for three days; the more adventurous ones maturing into petty criminals or in the most recent case, murderer of a ride-hailing passenger. These anecdotes are telling of a larger story: about 17% of criminals in 1 prison had been left-behind children; about 70% of juvenile crimes are committed by left-behind children.

As with most things in China, the chain of events and complexity of various causalities involved makes it impossible to pinpoint blame on any one single factor. After all, here be 61 million “state-ordained orphans”, or 9 million, depending on your provenance for belief, forced apart from their parents by a hukou system. You can’t rule 1.4 billion people the way that you rule 5 million people obviously so in China a death is a statistic, perhaps elsewhere it’ll be a story.

If ever there was a whiff of Peach Blossom Spring story in reality, an ethereal utopia where humanity lived in harmony with greenery, Sanhe in Shenzhen would be it. Amidst the concrete of China’s hardware Silicon Valley, here be paradise where Chinese hippies live as free as can be presently, with zero worry for dreams, assets and employability; these walking Gods have chosen to live one day at a time over nearby Foxconn factory’s suicide poetry.

Crazy Rich Asians was fun because Astrid; but for better or for worse the world that it attempts to satirise I find to be so ordinary compared to the “ultra-unreal” magical realism of modern day China. A part of me feels like this has one sick joke written all over it, in a cosmic showdown of who’s got the most crazy superlatives China is no doubt top of the list, and maybe sometimes in the face of a promethean behemoth one’s only temporary relief is to see the comic in the tragedy. Recently, I’ve taken to hip hop fondly because I like the argument of rapping as a self-expression vehicle, and there’s a certain serene joy to be had in rhyming and alliterating all the billionaire’s bulbous bag of Bologna sausages blowing up a Procrustean bed of babbling barricades till a brusque bro *beep* their brains out. How much more would the poor put up in cold blood till a bouquet blossom in the bright sun? I don’t know, but history can tell. I don’t have a problem with money, but like Jackson Wang sang it – the system is the problem. It made a new me. So I write. I don’t know how to make it better. Sometimes I wonder what’s the point of it all. Perhaps it is as Rolland said, “There is only one heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it.” That would be one lifetime’s work enough. 我没有梦想,不想改变世界,迄今为止最大的努力和坚持就是不让世界改变自己,仅此而已。


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