CHANGSHA, China—On an island in the Xiang River stands a massive bust of the late Chinese ruler Mao Zedong as a young man, his long hair blowing gracefully in an imaginary wind. Good thing for him he’s a safe distance from the Expo Central China. If he could see it, he would be tearing his hair out.
As leader of the communist revolution of 1949, Mao was dedicated to class struggle and the elimination of property. He created a totalitarian society in which everyone wore the same clothes, chanted the same slogans and—as far as anyone knew—thought the same revolutionary thoughts.
Mao’s “new man” was barely recognizable as human. Purported to be selfless, tireless, austere and indifferent to pleasure, he lived for the revolution alone. Skeptics mocked these subjects as “blue ants,” for their drab, uniform dress and unquestioning obedience.
But that way of life is extinct and apparently unmourned, as the expo confirms. It’s a sprawling complex brightly decorated in corporate logos. Arriving visitors are greeted by rock singer Pink’s pugnacious warning: “I’m not here for your entertainment/You don’t really want to mess with me tonight.”
The risque music emanates from an outdoor exhibit featuring young women in off-the-shoulder gowns alongside the Gucci edition Fiat 500. Gucci? Fiat? This is communism, 21st-century style, and it seems as relevant to Mao as it does to the pharaohs.
CONTINUED at Reason. Written by Steve Chapman.