The Ultimate Propaganda Excursion

Posted by on Aug 7, 2011 in China, My Blog | No Comments

Downtown ChangchungThe Ultimate Propaganda Excursion!

Wow…we have just had a class act state propaganda experience !!! With very  little explanation as to where we were being taken to, we were loaded on to our buses after lunch and taken for an hours drive out into the country side …..well sort of country side, mostly mass planted …seemingly GM , corn fields, interspersed with half built mega warehouses, heavy equipment yards, brick and cable depots and the odd few dilapidated old brick farm buildings. Rubble and fill is piled  beside any thing that might be construed to be a wet land. Sun flower patches are scattered  here and there along the road and amidst the militarized corn fields. If they symbolize the people there is hope to be found in their randomly located, self seeded clusters!. The roads are lined with young trees, planted yesterday and still surrounded by support frames. Where there are people, there is the plague of plastic garbage and derelict cars in amongst the road side brick dwellings or trucker cafes. Every now and again the horizon  is backed by an anonymous wall of urbanization, huge tower blocks  loom out of the gloom surrounded by fields of cranes. Distant factory stacks belch the gloom….all when you thought you where driving away from the city. Electricity pilons  march into the haze, powering countless cities of  dormitories…..some where out there in the murk.

We are being taken to the North East Changchun, core area development zone for a tour of the planning and public presentation hall….as is revealed when we get there.

We pour out of the bus ….no explanation from any one. Our interpreters as clueless as ourselves. Herded into a huge building …sort of in a field. Swarms of in your face camera men and a saluting 4 man guard at the doors. Sunshine reckoned they were fake soldiers, dressed up for us. ” weal wons would not have any facial hair and their bodies are not wery stwait.”

Then there is the electronically beautiful, head setted, high healed, well legged guide . “If you speak Enlish you will follow me” She walks backwards and leads us through a maze of mega halls illuminated with countless video displays,  back lite panels, huge raised floors with electrified  architectural models, viewing balconies over the new perfect city. The climax of this frenzied tour brings us to a full on semicircular screen, 3 d theatre, for a ten minute computer animated glimpse into the future of this perfect city….

By now it has become a huge joke….the Africans making great fun of the shock of 3d animated dragons coming out at you and the camera taking you under the low bridges of the massive recreational water ways….complete with digital cigarette boats and mini mega yachts. The aerial views, the fly through between the tower blocks  business district, bio medicine district, car factories and over the relaxation parks, buzzing with animated people strolling blissfully through their brave new world….It really is the ultimate kitsch fantasy modernist city…..circa 1924…Oh what St Helier and Le Corbusier would have done for this multi media presentation technology ! I wish you had been there Steve….OBM could learn a lot here !

Why are we here we ask ourselves?……to share the pride in this creation obviously, as we are part of the team . We are the world empire artists come to embellish the new city of harmony…..for cheap, I might add. Like Thucydides said of Periclean Athens in 432 bc ,she is dressing herself up like a vain woman..!

The whole experience and the thought of this city actually becoming a reality brought  horrendous images to mind  and memories of  a film called  Soylent Green, I saw in terror many years ago, were a future society legitimizes euthanasia and feeds its population on processed human remains. Why did that have to come in my mind ?

To sustain cities of this scale is such an awesome and improbable task . How ever much the generation of our interpreters want to believe that this dream city will work for them and their children, one cant help but know the nightmares are built into the plan….as has been proven by so many utopian mega cities….since they began. Although she thinks most of her friends would live there, Sunshine doesn’t want to live in a city like this…she says she want a Western style house with a garden so she can plant flowers…How are you going to get that I ask.  ” I have to be wery wich” . She is toying with the prospect….her boyfriend of 8 months is “wery wich” because his Dad owns 2 factories making water supply components for the government. But she is not committed enough to introduce him to her parents yet.

Most of us came away  laughing at the absurdity of the situation and the impossible scale of the fantasy. Yet inside I think we all felt a terrifying realization that they were serious and this plan….one out of countless throughout China, we must not forget, is being undertaken at a relentless pace at the expense of all of us and the planet. The whispered aside from my Austo-Hungarian friend, Elizabeth, won the day…” dis is like a megalomania. ”

We ended our day with a stroll around the sculpture park in “old” Changchun. It felt positively out dated ,haphazard and  post utopian after such a ecstatic march into future.