Friday, December 14, 2007
BBC Radio had a story about a week ago that was very clever, but wrong. It noted that the central government in Beijing has decided to end the "Golden Week" holiday over Labor Day, leaving only one day off for May 1st and adding other traditional "Confucian" holidays like Qing Ming and Dragon Boat day (Duanwu Jie). The correspondent noted that Marx is out, and Confucianism is in, as China plunges further into capitalism. Great hook: Marxism is fading, China is becoming capitalist and returning to its traditions. The problem is, the Labour Day Golden Week has only been a holiday since the 1990s, when the government got the idea of having a long holiday in order to increase travel and spending. The Labor Day Golden Week was not a Communist holiday, but was created to boost consumer spending. They are abandoning the Golden Week because they have been too successful; travel is impossible at that time, and most venues are overrun with tourists. By spacing out the holidays, they will spread out the travelers (in time). So this change is not from some socialist holiday to a capitalist/Confucian holiday (which is itself an odd juxtaposition, since Confucius was contemptuous of business), but from a consumerist holiday to an advanced consumerist holiday. But that story would not have had a hook. The correspondent must have known this, but he knew how to present his story so it would get on the news.