Armed with Marxism, Chinese Science PhDs Strike Back

Science is a good thing!  科学是个好东西! Just like Democracy is a good thing!  民主是个好东西!Going back to May Fourth at least.

Seeing ideological quotations in scientific journals does bring me back a ways.  I remember seeing boldfaced Mao quotes in medical journals and meteorological journals at a university library in 1977 just as the Cultural Revolution was winding down. I remember a surgeon credited Mao’s thought with the success of an operation.

The South China Morning Post article copied below depicts poor science PhDs bored to tears in their  compulsory ideology class.  (Reminds me of the student I met about to start graduate student of French literature showing me a stack of ideological works two feet high or so she needed to get through for her entrance examination. And the Party friend who told me about his deathly boring three weeks locked up in a hotel with fellow comrades studying the latest wrinkles in the Party line. )

Now they are armed by the sharp ideological weapons of Marxism they can fight back.
Telling policy makers to respect the intellectual freedom of scientists and not to make policy dictate to scientists what the fact are.
Then enjoying seeing their pushback in print.
 
“Marxism tells us practice is the source of all knowledge,” the environmental science students wrote.
“In reducing ozone pollution, practice is the sole criterion for testing truth.
“Air pollution is a problem that concerns people’s lives … the Communist Party has always respected the role of people in history and society.”
The paper, “Application of Marxism in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis of Ozone in Beijing”, was first written for a compulsory ideology class, a source said.
 
This Marxist argument against bureaucratic interference sounds good to me.  Even if it is  published in an environmental science publication.  The why there may have everything to do with China’s political environment.  The article provides working scientists  with argument on on how to push back against interference. Or at least hope to.  I wonder how well ideological push back works in practice.  But then again, behind closed door arguments may be fiercer than we know.
I can just imagine that even some non-Marxists wouldn’t mind if the leading comrades in the EPA of a certain Western country would apply these principles say to global warming research.
 
I remember a Chinese environmental economist Zheng Yisheng telling me once “corruption is the worst kind of pollution”.  He saw corruption and the misuse of official power that accompanies it to be closely tied to difficulties in fighting pollution in China.

 


http://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2107733/smog-monitors-world-unite-marxism-meets-ozone-science

Smog monitors of the world unite! Marxism meets ozone science in awkward Chinese academic paper

Thesis by environmental science students raises concerns over ideological controls on campus

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 4:02pm

UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 August, 2017, 4:56am

In an academic paper published in state-run journal Environment and Sustainable Development, the doctoral candidates from Beijing Normal University said Marxism could be used to set ozone standards, build monitoring stations and cut air pollution in China.

“Marxism tells us practice is the source of all knowledge,” the environmental science students wrote.

“In reducing ozone pollution, practice is the sole criterion for testing truth.

“Air pollution is a problem that concerns people’s lives … the Communist Party has always respected the role of people in history and society.”

The paper, “Application of Marxism in Environmental Monitoring and Analysis of Ozone in Beijing”, was first written for a compulsory ideology class, a source said.

The students had been asked to submit a thesis on how Marxism applied to their own research area and from there the paper made its way into the journal.

The paper states it was sponsored by the governments of Beijing and Guangdong as well as the ministries of science and technology and environmental protection.

The awkward mix of ideological and scientific language prompted online ridicule and concerns about ideological control but the comments were quickly pulled from news sites.

Yuan Lanfeng, a researcher at the Chinese University of Science and Technology, said on his microblog that the paper reminded him of the ideological zealotry of the Cultural Revolution.

“I was shocked to see a scientific paper like that in an academic journal,” Yuan said. “It feels like being back in a time of political fanaticism that is too painful to remember.”

Ideology classes are compulsory for all students in China and they have become a higher priority under President Xi Jinping, who said in December the classes were a key way for students to understand China and the world “in a correct way”.

Even today PhD students cannot get their doctorate without passing a course on “Chinese Marxism and the Contemporary World”.

One biology graduate said she spent two to three hours every week attending lectures on Marxism or Maoism during her undergraduate studies at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

“Most of my classmates were sleeping, studying other subjects or playing with their phones,” the 22-year-old said. “I remember nothing from those classes.”

The authorities admit the courses are not capturing students’ enthusiasm.

Education Minister Chen Baosheng said in March that the ideology classes were not interesting enough.

“Students are in the classroom but their hearts are not,” Chen said. “This year, we need to have a tough battle to improve the quality of ideo-political classes.”

 

About 高大伟 David Cowhig

After retirement translated, with wife Jessie, Liao Yiwu's 2019 "Bullets and Opium", and have been studying things 格物致知. Worked 25 years as a US State Department Foreign Service Officer including ten years at US Embassy Beijing and US Consulate General Chengdu and four years as a China Analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research. Before State I translated Japanese and Chinese scientific and technical books and articles into English freelance for six years. Before that I taught English at Tunghai University in Taiwan for three years. And before that I worked two summers on Norwegian farms, milking cows and feeding chickens.
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