Belle of Liberty

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Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Change Gang

Obama’s knighting of The Gang of Six is verbally and visually troubling.  This is actually the second “Gang of Six”; the first were charged with ganging up on the American public to beat them into submissive acceptance of health care in 2009:  three Democrats:  Max Baucus, Mont., Jeff Bingaman, N.M., and Kent Conrad, N.D.; and three quasi-Republicans:  Mike Enzi, Wyo., Chuck Grassley, Iowa; and the notorious RINO, Olympia Snowe, Maine.

The 2009 Gang of Six consisted of six members of the Senate Finance committee.  They attempted to negotiate a compromise to pass the health care reform bill.  Among the bills under consideration at the time were the United States National Health Care, the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the Healthy Americans Act, and the America’s Healthy Future Act.

Two years later, we have another Gang of Six, led by Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Saxy Chambliss and four members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform: Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kent Contrad (D.-N.D.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).  Coburn defected but was later returned by the OGB.

This Gang of Six has been charged with proposed a solution to the U.S. Debt Ceiling crisis.  Their “compromise,” praised by ringmaster Obama, would cut the deficit by $3.7 trillion over ten years.

So what’s the catch, we ask?  When a President of the United States speaks in terms of “gangs” (please somebody give him a copy of Le Bon’s The Crowd:  A Study of the Popular Mind!), it’s a problem with a big catch.  The word “gang” conjures up notions of bullies, riots, and prisons. 

His political jargon also conjures up Mao Tse Tung’s infamous Gang of Four and the notorious Cultural Revolution from 1966-1976.  They were a political faction of four Chinese Communist Party officials, one of whom was Mao’s last wife, Jiang Qing.  Their backgrounds were similar in that prior to 1966 all four were low- or middle-ranking officials who lacked leverage within the existing power structure. Shared traits included their ability to manipulate the mass media, their good standing with Mao, and their dislike of and subsequent desire to overthrow moderate government officials who clustered around Liu Shaoqi and Deng Xiaoping.

The group came into prominence in 1965 when Wu Han’s play Hai Rui Dismissed from Office was banned as a direct result of an investigation by Jiang into its political character, which resulted in a published denunciation of the play by Yao Wenyuan, a Chinese literary critic and politician. This case set a precedent for radicalizing the arts and, in effect, signaled the beginning of the Cultural Revolution.

Wu Han, who wrote the play, was a historian who focused on the Ming Dynasty.   He wrote an article portraying Hai Rui, a Ming minister who was imprisoned for criticizing the emperor, as the hero. The article was later adapted into a Beijing opera play, having its first performance in 1961. The play was initially praised by Mao.

However, at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, Yao Wenyuan published an article criticizing the play as an allegory of Mao's dismissal of Peng Dehuai at the Lushan Conference in 1959 (Peng had expressed reservations about Mao's Great Leap Forward policy). Hai Rui was identified as a representation of Peng, with the emperor being Chairman Mao. The theatre play became an instrument for radical Maoists to attack the “rightist pragmaticians” in the politburo in 1965. Wu Han became one of the first victims of the Cultural Revolution and died in prison in 1969, only to be posthumously rehabilitated in 1979.

As the Cultural Revolution intensified, the members of the Gang of Four advanced to high positions in the government and the CCP.  Manipulating the youthful Red Guards, the Gang of Four controlled four areas: intellectual education, basic theories in social sciences, teacher-student relations and school discipline, and party policies regarding intellectuals. After the initial turmoil of the Cultural Revolution subsided in 1969, the Gang of Four maintained their power through control of the media and propaganda outlets and by their seeming adherence to Mao’s policies and wishes.  With Mao’s death in 1976, however, the Gang of Four lost their remaining power and were imprisoned and later tried in 1980–81 for their activities during the Cultural Revolution. Jiang and Zhang both received suspended death sentences (both reduced to life imprisonment in 1983); Wang was sentenced to life imprisonment, and Yao to a 20-year term.

The Gang of Four effectively controlled the power organs of the Communist Party of China through the latter stages of the Cultural Revolution, although it remains unclear which major decisions were made through Mao Zedong and carried out by the Gang, and which were the result of the Gang of Four's own planning.

The removal of this group from power is sometimes considered to have marked the end of the Cultural Revolution, which had been launched by Mao in 1966 as part of his power struggle with leaders such as Liu Shaoqi, Deng Xiaoping and Peng Zhen.  Mao placed Jiang Qing, who before 1966 had not taken a public political role, in charge of the country’s cultural apparatus. Zhang, Yao and Wang were party leaders in Shanghai who had played leading roles in securing that city for Mao during the Cultural Revolution.

With all that in mind, one has to wonder one kind of “gangs” Obama has created.  First it was czars and now we have “gangs” of senators.  Can the Shutzstaffel (German for “protection squadron”) be far behind to enforce Obama’s national health care, redistribution of wealth, and decimation of the U.S. economy?

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