Hunan and Yunnan Part 2: Nightmare and Emporium


Jim Feast & Nhi Chung

Originally published in The Evergreen Review Issue 123 in June, 2010.
Continued from Part 1 in Evergreen #121.

guess there are different reasons people travel, but certainly nowadays –given the increased narrowing of information in U.S. media channels – it can be prompted by an underfed curiosity, that is, a sense that one’s knowledge of another land has been so falsified and stereotyped by the purveyors of facts that only a visit “on the ground” will give any real sense of the foreign reality.


My curiosity about China, however, was also prodded from another direction. Having known Barney Rosset for a few years and having read closely his letters from Kunming, written during WWII, as well as his passionate account of his 1996 visit, I undertook my own visit to Kunming with these earlier histories firm in mind.

But let me put that in a broader context. Reams of paper have been devoted to how U.S. progressives from the 1920s through the ’50s first admired Lenin’s then Stalin’s Soviet Russia, but, then, having their eyes opened, were disappointed and disillusioned by the totalitarian state the Communists produced. By contrast and, to my mind, unforgivably, precious little has come out to describe a similar course of infatuation with Red China, which, after the disastrous failure of the Great Leap Forward, and the objectionable and violent policies of Cultural Revolution, led to the set-in of chagrin and lost illusions.

Though this is not the place nor am I qualified to tell the story, it might be appropriate to give some hint of its scope by looking briefly at both the power of the Red Chinese myth, which I will do by way of a glance atRed Star Over China, and at the later sobering up, visible in Rosset’s “Nightmare in the Stone Forest.”

In Red Star, author Edgar Snow, who in 1936 was the only Western journalist to penetrate through the Kuomintang’s encirclement of Communist held northwest China, where he was able to extensively interview Mao, observe daily life in the zone, and see the Red army in action, draws out a number of characteristics of the Communist social movement that were most appealing to impressionable adults. I’ll highlight three points.

One thing Snow noted in his report was people’s loss of self through their fervid identification with the people. As he puts it, “In this strange iron brotherhood of Chinese revolutionaries … there is something that makes every man’s suffering and triumph the collective burden or joy of all, some force that levels out individuals, loses them, makes them really forget their own identity and yet find it somehow in the kind of fierce freedom and rigor and hardship they share with others.” This leveling force is something that even affects Mao, who in telling his life story to Snow shifts gears at a certain point. “Mao Tse-Tung’s account had begun to pass out of the category of ‘personal history,’ and to sublimate itself somehow intangibly in the career of a great movement in which, though he retained a dominant role, you could not see him clearly as a personality. It was no longer ‘I’ but ‘we.’”

I want to be clear about this. The sense of self abandonment noted here was not equivalent to a sense of merging with the throng or an oceanic feeling of dissolution. It came from viewing oneself as engaged in a broad struggle, side by side with committed others to the colossal task of liberating China’s vast reservoir of oppressed peasants.

Snow explains that an ingenious system had been devised to keep the farm workers in check. Each man had to have a “guarantee” from his locale’s top landlord in order to work. “This means in effect,” Snow writes, “that the whole peasantry is placed at the mercy of the gentry, who at any time can ruin a man by refusing to guarantee him.” In order to get a guarantee, a peasant had to be prompt with his tax payments, part of which went to fund the land owners’ min-t’uan, the hired bully boys who applied force and violence when necessary to repress any sparks of rebellion. When the Red Army moved into a remote section of China, they addressed this massively unjust situation. As Mao comments, “Because the masses are interested only in the practical solution of their problems of livelihood, it is possible to develop partisan warfare only by the immediatesatisfaction of their most urgent demands. This means that the exploiting class must be promptly disarmed and immobilized.” Snow puts it like this, “Whenever in their incredible migrations destiny has moved these Reds, they have vigorously demanded deep social changes – of which the peasants could have learned in no other way – and have brought new faith in action to the poor and the oppressed.” Explicitly, “The real class-warfare of China was best seen in the struggles of min-t’uan and Red partisans, for here very often was a direct armed conflict between landlords and their former tenants and debtors.”


However, to return to the American perspective, while perhaps only the more vigorous and aggressive U.S. intellectuals who were inspired by this conflict to support the Red Chinese could see themselves as outright soldiers, there was a second, equally central dimension to the Communist takeover of a region. On entering a territory, the Reds were not just interested in flushing out and dismantling the structures held together by the landlords and their paramilitary apparatus. Also on the agenda was the educational work that would provide the peasantry, particularly the recruits, with a new world view. Red Star shows both by anecdotal example and programmatic statement that pedagogy was of supreme value to the Communists.

As to what Snow sees with his own eyes, I might note the following: Nearly every evening there is a play and concert. The plays were didactic pieces extolling the virtues of the Communists and denouncing the Japanese. These events also allowed the audience to get into the show.

“Between acts [of the play] shouts arose for extemporaneous singing by people in the audience. Half a dozen native Shensi girls – workers in the factories – were by popular demand required to sing an old folk-song of the province, accompaniment being furnished by a Shensi farmer with his homemade guitar.” While the dramas, dance and musical performances Snow witnessed may have rated a bit low on the aesthetic scale, as he puts it, “For the masses of China there is no fine partition between art and propaganda. There is only a distinction between what is understandable in human experience and what is not.”

While these “educational” presentations are for everyone, the soldiers take daily classes, and not only ones on military matters, such as tactics, but in learning to read and understanding basic economics, science and history. In a way that is highly compatible with the theory of educational reformer John Dewey, which held that one learns best by doing, literacy was taught by way of having the recruits write plays, skits and read lyrics for refashioned folk songs. The students also engaged in basic journalism. “There was also a wall newspaper in every club, and a committee of soldiers was responsible for keeping it up to date.” The learning went on not only in camp but on the march. “They [the soldiers] sang nearly all day on the road, and their supply of songs was endless. … Whenever the spirit moved him or he thought of an appropriate song, one of them would suddenly burst forth, and commanders and men joined in.” The musical selections would mix folk melodies with propaganda vehicles. All that has been mentioned so far, then, embodied the slogan “Learn while you fight.”

Looked at from the side of the teachers, this represented a removal from the ivory tower. As Snow explains, “For hundreds of years the literate men of China have striven to rise above the people, [and] win access to the little bureaucracy which from a distant height ruled the masses … But the new gestation [the rise of Communism] produced a new phenomenon – a child that wanted to share its knowledge with the ‘dark masses’ and even idealize them.” The example of Chou En Lai is a beacon here, indicating the new ideal for educators. “He [Chou] was evidently the rarest of all creatures in China, a pure intellectual in whom action was perfectly coordinated with knowledge and conviction.”

For young intellectuals in America, here was a path, which if it could somehow be laid down on the American landscape, would allow one to turn one’s learning in a progressive direction and, at the highest level, allow one to be factored into history.

What I hold, if we can now turn to assessing Nightmare in Stone Forest, is that in Rosset’s recounting of his unhappy return to Kunming in 1996, he would find the lines along which he felt disenfranchised roughly corresponded to a loss of the attributes that Snow found in Communism. Underlying Rosset’s litany of complaints is his discovery that the great collaboration between intellectuals and peasants, which was to result in the overthrow of oppressive hierarchies, leading to a release of energies that would lift spirits and income, never took place.

Instead, there is a continuation of poverty (“[in Kweiyang] some farmers still live in thatched huts, with meager supplies of food and clothing”) and a marginalization of the intelligentsia. This last is represented by the seedy young man, toting a child, who hands Rosset, a foreigner, a sheet protesting China’s post-Tiananmen Square repression. As Rosset notes, “The document proves to be a complaint against brutal political corruption, where the victim who reports a crime to the local police is caught in a Kafkaesque maze.” Add to all this, an encroaching opaqueness, which seems to swallow up history. As Rosset notes about his attempts to visit Kweiyang, “The town appears to have fallen down a deep ravine. A place which I considered my war-home has apparently been excised from foreign itineraries, and local memory.”

These assessments by Rosset indicate rolled-back hopes from the 1940s when it was believed by Western sympathizers that Chinese Communism would be less harsh, stringent and Puritanical than the Russian variety, eventually mutating into a form of democratic socialism, rather than, as it did, into another form of capitalism.

But there is another complaint, frequently voiced by Rosset, which seems at first glance to be less politically or economically charged than the others. This is that Kunming is dreary. He writes, “The boulevard along the way [to the Kunming hotel] is drab, the landscape somewhat between a construction project and a slum.” At another point, he comments, “The busy thoroughfare holds a lone, slow truck. Two dim street lamps fend off a sea of darkness. Even under the Japanese bomb threats of fifty years ago, we had not extinguished the city to this point.” While these remarks chime in with similar complaints leveled at Soviet Russia and the Eastern European states, which were made up of industrial wastelands and anonymous housing complexes, like the one famously depicted in Kieślowski’s

Decalogue, here I think Rosset is touching by way of a mirror image (or nightmare) on what, according to Snow, had been one of the Red Army’s chief attractions. As we’ve seen, the sense of merging into the mass and becoming part of the flow of large social forces was one of the army’s chief attractions, and it seemed to promise to participants an individuality that would vibrate with deeper strains. However, Kunming 1996 presents a foreclosed version of this promise. If history is stagnant, and the forward rush of humanity into more democratic structures has been blocked by a newly imposed hierarchy, then inclusion in the mass is no longer liberating, but leads to a universal deadening. If the collective people, after Tiananmen, have been pacified, then daily life becomes rudimentary and uninspired.

I said that this was a kind of mirror or dream reversal of earlier aspirations, and it’s in Rosset’s actual dream that the most cautionary note of “Stone Forest” is heard. As I see it, in one’s dreams one is always a world-shaker. So, in the “Stone Forest,” the protagonist bears heavy responsibility for letting down the journalist, who is first on fire and then buried in rubble in the midst of an unruly mob. In describing the feelings of his dream persona, Rosset says, “I am tortured by my dereliction, my indecision in going to the aid of the cameraman.” The most obvious waking-life reference here is to “the serious, intelligent young man,” mentioned earlier, who gave him the indictment of authoritarianism, on the same day he had the dream. In talking of the real-life young dissident, Rosset mentions that he is both moved to and afraid to help this young dissident. “Another day here and I would be looking out for the hapless guy who gave me the manuscript. Soon we both would be in trouble, real trouble.” In reality, of course, Rosset would have been unlikely to find this fellow if he looked for him nor, if he did, would it have been likely he could have helped him, though, he could have gotten them both into further difficulties. But dreams don’t allow for such excuses but measure him as if he could have (and so should have) ameliorated the young man’s problems, and perhaps, on top of that, slightly changed the course of history.

And this remark leads me backward to the time when Rosset, with the American forces, did play a small part in changing history, during WWII. If the region’s links to its wartime past are being covered up, as they are in relation to Kweiyang, then it seems Rosset’s name is being expunged from history. He is doubly bereft. Today, the dream tells him, because you didn’t fly to the aid of the dissident, you are less than a hero. And according to the travel bureau that has eliminated Kweiyang, the yesterday when you were a hero also has been liquidated. Thus, you stand outside of the flow of your own past, exposed.

More than ten years have passed between the time Rosset visited Kunming and my wife and I flew to Yunnan. As part 1 of this travel piece suggested, the political terrain has shifted a lot between times. Where in 1996 a central political issue had been what I’ll call the Tiananmen question (the demand for a greater democratization of the political system), now this matter had taken a back seat to what could be called the Tibet question (that of the autonomy and civil rights of national minorities). As we saw earlier, Tibet itself was still a powder keg, but also in July 2009 there had been rioting and a lockdown on the Muslim Uighurs in Urumqi. The unrest had been sparked by Uighur protests against unequal treatment in factories that were favoring the majority Han Chinese for promotion.

Note, that the Uighurs were protesting lack of job advancement, which relates to something I brought out in my conversation with the tour guide in part 1. The ethnic minority group members are not complaining, as they did in the past, that they cannot practice their indigenous customs. On the contrary, the change that has come over Yunnan since Rosset visited is that it has seen a large inflow of capital. The money is pouring in, not by way of industrialization or more lucrative farming, but due to an increase in tourism. The small/large Chinese middle class (small in percent as compared to Western countries/vast in sheer numbers) has taken to sightseeing in a big way, and, as a recent New York Times article (“China’s Han Flock to Theme Parks Featuring Minorities,” Feb. 23, 2010) makes clear, the greatest internal tourist attractions are “exotic” ethnic cultures. In minority tourist enclaves, traditional cultures, food, performances and handicrafts can be viewed, sampled and purchased. This is bringing a modicum of employment opportunities and RMBs (renminbi, Chinese currency) into the depressed regions.

In this context, imagine that there are a lot of discontented young men on the streets of Kunming, as there are, who chafe at job discrimination and other disenfranchisements, though the tourist industry has given them a modicum of money. How, from the government’s point of view, can they be kept inactive? How about the American way? Motorbikes.

In contrast to other places we visited in China, Kunming has a sort of punkish, rebel atmosphere. At first, Nhi and I had trouble putting our fingers on it, but then we realized it had to do with transportation. While Chinese city streets are usually jam-packed with taxis, buses, and bicycles -- only the biggest conurbations, such as Beijing, have private cars -- Kunming is filled with motorcycles! Our helpful guide said Kunming ranked third in the nation in motorcycles and motorbikes per capita.

Everywhere, as we passed along, we saw the small cycles tooling past or parked in clumps on the sidewalk before noodle shops. Their drivers stood nearby, dressed in cowboy hats, jeans and long shirts, lounging beside their machines with an unlit cigarette hanging raffishly between their lips. In Rosset’s time, 1996, young people couldn’t afford these machines.

More generally, to keep on the topic of consumerism, what we saw in Yunnan was an innovation not yet practiced in the stores of the U.S., militarized shopping. Perhaps, that choice of words is a bit exaggerated. However, judge for yourself, as I “retail” our experiences as consumers who felt almost forced to make purchases.

When signing up for a trip at a Guangzhou travel agency, we were offered the choice between the shopping and non-shopping tours, the later being much more expensive. We took the lower-priced, shopping package, which meant as we traveled through Yunnan, every day, between seeing sights, we stopped at state-sponsored stores, and this meant not only looking at but hearing about products.

Let me use our last night and morning in Kunming to indicate of how this worked. The night before we were scheduled to fly back, we went to the reconstructed part of the city to see a tea emporium. There in a tiny, stuffy room, we listened to a 45-minute lecture on the medicinal, aromatic and flavored qualities of various Yunnan teas, which we were offered in thimble-sized shot glasses by a delicately coiffed, willowy young woman while her fellow sales mistress went through the pitch at a fast clip. Might I say that Chinese education, which leans heavily on rote learning, seems to endow people with tremendous memories. Our guides could while away one, two hours with rapid-fire monologues as we puttered along on our rickety bus. Moreover, when walking around a famous site, he or she would stop, say, at the 19 Monsters Rock, and begin a fluent ten-minute spiel on the history, legends and marvels before us.

Now when the guides brought us to the state stores, they not only received a commission on every sale, but a gratuity just for getting us in the door. Even though we all knew this, each guide went through a strange ritual whereby he or she pretended we had come upon this or that store by chance. On that evening in Kunming, our guide Hung said we’d arrived too early and our dinner wasn’t ready, so we might as well stop in the tea store to “relax.” (Another frequent ploy used especially when we were busing around was for the the guide to ask if we wanted to stop for a restroom break, since she knew a place with really clean toilets, just ahead. The rest stop also invariably housed a jade store.)

If we could buy tea on our last evening in Kunming, on the final morning we dropped into a place selling coffee and biscuits. To me this was a bit incongruous – as unlikely a sales venture as the place we went up country in Yunnan that specialized in beef candy -- in that few Chinese drink coffee. They do eat biscuits (that is, cookies), but they are not a big thing on the snack menu. As an American, I was surprised at what the kids ate on the bus. The two top choices were hot corn and cucumbers, bought fresh from street vendors, who queued up wherever we stopped.
To get back to the coffee store, I should say I was struck by the floor plan, which seems to have been conceived to imitate the one Minos developed to house the minotaur. The store had only one aisle, which wound and corkscrewed, while at every bend, a willowy young woman was strategically placed to hand out cookies or thimble-sized cups of coffee as samples.
None of this is to say that the tourists didn’t want to shop, although, as we’ll see, they didn’t necessarily like state-sponsored stores. It’s to point out putting people in the conducive, solicitous atmosphere of the emporiums where they had to sit through a lecture on a product’s virtues given by a persuasive salesperson tended to result in the people buying that product. In the U.S., by contrast, one at least has some choice about which commodities in whose shade one is forced to stand.

Still, I was getting a bit fed up and wasn’t surprised when my wife told me some of the women on the tour were unhappy with our itinerary. They wanted to do something different tomorrow before our plane left. I thought they were going to suggest we visit some revered historical site. I was wrong. They were complaining because time wasn’t set aside to shop at the famous Kunming dried flower market.

Shopping here, unencumbered by appointed lectures and cheery salesladies, was freewheeling as we found our way through the gargantuan, tent-covered, dried (and live) flower bazaar, where one small stall followed another in a square block of real and artificial vegetation.

The variety of products was overwhelming. There were bouquets in which flowers spelled out ideograms. In others, there were symbols, such as hearts or smiley faces, pricked out by roses. Even arrangements using just one blossom type would enthrall with vibrant (nearly vibrating) color. Bouquets sprinkled with a variety of tiny, differently colored blooms often showed a rich flow of visual harmony.


The people selling in this market showed the same vivid variety as their wares, using their stalls not just as business but living spaces. Some trimmed stems; some unpacked deliveries; some ate lunch. High school students did their homework. Parents cared for their babies while chatting with a next booth neighbor and casually tying together a sprig of flowers.

The scene reminded me of those on some of the narrower byways of Guangzhou. These lanes, which ran between main avenues and were too small to admit cars, were crammed with miniature stores with interiors so cramped that most work and business took place on the sidewalk. This went from a butcher cutting meat on a spread-out newspaper to a cobbler squatting by his last to a seamstress with her sewing machine in front of her shop. Also out front, I recall seeing, three teen girls unpacking a delivery of bras while a young man grilled shish kebabs, watched intently by a small dog. The flower market had the same sense of ongoing, riotously unenclosed life. And this feeling carried over into transactions.

It seemed to me that Chinese shopping in Kunming flanked its American cousin from two sides. While programmed, militarized consuming was more coercive than even an American hard sell, the flower market represented an older, less disciplined, unstructured form of commerce whose informality also little seen in the States.

None of which detracts from my main idea, which is that this niche, a devotion to consumption, fueled by a newly wealthy middle class, has played a great role (as it has historically in other countries) in distracting people from the government’s less-than-savory practices in the realm of restricting freedoms.

I want to end, though, on a lighter note. Obviously, one thing that sharply divides my experience from Rosset’s, aside from being in different time periods, is that my companion, Nhi, is Chinese, so we have no need to rely on government guides or tour operators, who would try to control what we see. Nothing stopped us, as we wandered the streets, from accosting (as we did) a woman selling bananas in an alley or a 16-year-old girl who was eating her lunch on the threshold of the swimsuit store where she worked, and hearing their perspectives. So, while our tour guides in Yunnan complained about minority disenfranchisement, we balanced this against (not to disprove one opinion or another, but to have some sense of the range of opinion) the thoughts of people in the more prosperous Guangzhou.


I won’t claim from a few weeks’ conversations and observations we can make definite conclusions about the Chinese people’s outlook, but there’s another way to come at this, which is by looking for the sensual equivalents.

I can approach this analogically by talking about my first contact with Nhi. Up to that time, having grown up in Chicago, and recently come to New York, I had been acquainted with very few Chinese. As we became closer, I noticed that she possessed a whole repertoire of gestures, ones that were largely unfamiliar to me. For instance, while holding our daughter in her lap, she held her right hand in a triangle and pivoted it from the wrist, singing out, “Ling/ling. Ling/ling.” I asked her what she was doing, and Nhi said she was making believe the phone was ringing. More broadly, I found her movements as a whole more precise, quick and short than any I had seen in Americans. I’m not saying her patterns embodied those of other Chinese, but I did remark that the hand gestures, for one, which I had taken to be her personal quirks, were replicated by actresses in Hong Kong films.


In the same way, it may be that in foods, sounds, colors, China has something of a relatively unchanging civilizational core. But just as, over time, I saw Nhi picking up and merging American gestures with her original ones, I think there are variations within this sensuous core that can be taken to register changes of the people’s spirit. To see this, moving away from Kunming, let’s look at the boisterousness, vigor and vivacity ofGuangzhou’s color schemes.

First, compare its colors to those of West Africa. In a city such as Banjul in The Gambia, the bright plumage of the clothes: the “wicked” purples, reds, parrot greens, blues and whites, give the streets a festive atmosphere, which is carried over to such places as the glistening, bright blue and silver carp and other fish displayed on trays at the fish market, a bazaar that runs along the beach and out onto the pier, and the lushly colored fruits and vegetables sold by street vendors. Still, given the ramshackle, rundown nature of the buildings, these colors are not taken up into the infrastructure.

China can afford to do things in a big way, decking out and coloring its buildings, relying on a host of light blues, pinks, yellows and greens, topped off by a more abrasive, striking set of reds and golds. Given the construction boom, it was not uncommon for us to see 20 high-rise buildings in a row everyone painted in the exact same gay tone, whether lemon, fuchsia or red. And we also saw along the waterfront that the city orchestrates its lighting as if it were music.

Viewing the riverfront from an excursion boat, we saw the buildings on shore were variously over- and under-lit. At night many buildings have projected on them changing, evolving abstract patterns, like something found in 1960s underground films. Others, using the window grids as spaces, play with changing the colors, pulsing them or making them flow up, down and sideways. And, note, such a light show took place not only on a single structure, but two or three adjacent ones, which played off each other, interchanging and borrowing tropes and flows.

By contrast, other building were relatively dark, with the lights turned off in all the windows, so as to better set off large crown-like constructions, bathed in a rich, honeyed light, on the roofs. Another sparing use of neon was seen in a hotel whose façade simply exhibited four lit-up sets of parallel lines going down the façade: blue, green, red and blue. Within each pair of lines was placed what looked like a golden pill. After a moment, when we saw the pills moving, we realized they were elevators.

These sights were supplemented by bridges, competing pleasure craft and the shoreline. One bridge that we passed under was partially outlined in white and gold, but in a way that didn’t strictly follow its contours, so the colors contradicted the underlying architecture. A second piece was a veritable light show temple, with flickering, fluid colors, waltzing neon tracks and a kaleidoscope of mute, mutating color tones.

To this visual display, add that of the ships from rival companies that floated past. One was a true dragon boat, featuring the huge beast as a figurehead, not carved in front but done in electricity, with the rest of the dragon’s body going in neon down the ship’s sides. In another spectacular creation, the boat’s side sported giant, lit figures of fish from whose mouths bright champagne bubbles ascended up the various decks.

But, to return, to the larger issue, how can I say the verve of such visual displays in some way reflects the general tenor of the populace? It might appear I am straining words to make such an argument, but consider art history for a moment. In that discipline it is quite common to hear sentences of the type: “The spirit of the Renaissance is shown in Utrillo’s …” or “The Dutch masters revealed a core value of the society.” Such common sentiments suggest that art and visual flair reflect, although not always directly, a deep seam of the public’s consciousness.

If this is so, then Guangzhou’s mixture of subdued, graceful yet vigorous lighting can be taken as a token that references the infectious high spirits we met with so much in the workers we accosted and chatted with in the restaurants and streets of the city. Let’s say this, the sense of life and optimism, is the upside of increasing consumption, the downside being a tentative withdrawal from political involvement, that is, a willingness (in many quarters) to disengage from the press for democratization.

I should underline that these are first impressions, ones that would need a much more solid grounding to count for more than that. Let me also say, in reference specifically to Kunming, that while the time visit between my visit and Rosset’s is not as great as that and that between his two trips (in the 1940s and ’90s), both of us witnessed the recoil of the larger national situation on this semi-backwater. In the ’40s, as Rosset’s letters reveal, the city was at least incompletely industrialized when war refugees from the eastern factory centers, such as Shanghai, set up shop, some having transferred their dismantled plants to the city. When the Japanese took over the Burma Road and the rest of Indochina, Kunming became the headquarters for the U.S.’s OSS detachment 101 and landing field for the Flying Tigers. This made it a primary target for Japanese bombing raids.

In the 1990s, as “Nightmare” makes clear, Kunming was an almost-ignored periphery to a nation concentrating on economic development in the Special Economic Zones, notably the coastal cities, such as Shenzhen, which drew large investors from Taiwan, Hong Kong and (ironically enough) Japan. By last year, at my visit, the success and burgeoning of these zones had supplied the rmb to remake Kunming as (among other directions the city is going in) a key tourist destination. Whatever the drawbacks of the latest developments, they seem to have lifted the spirits, if not totally mastered the discontent, of Kunming’s citizens.

On the whole, my report is more mixed than the one appearing in “Nightmare,” allowing a greater hopefulness. It is not the type of hope purveyed by U.S. free market ideologists, who, whenever our government officials are ignoring Chinese human rights violations when allowing the Asian country a most favored nation status for import/export duties, present the idea that a capitalist economy (toward which China is heading) will inevitably produce democracy. My own measured optimism rests on quite different grounds, on the hope that the full-blooded socialist spirit described by Snow, one that has been momentarily eclipsed by authoritarianism and censorship, after the rising of not too many moons, will wax again.