The “Lay Flat” Philosophy – The CCP’s Greatest Irony
Recently, the buzzword “lying flat” has taken the cyberspace of mainland China by storm. The term comes from an article on the Internet, titled “Lying Flat is Righteous,” written by a young Internet user. According to the author himself, he did not work for more than two years. But he despises the traditional values of society, living the life of a free spirit by “lying flat”. The article struck a chord with many young people, and the definition of “staying flat” was broadened to include cutting back on spending, restricting individual desires, and refusing to “work hard” as a way out. to the harsh exploitation of “involution” (long working hours with poor output, unhealthy competition between colleagues who work overtime constantly as well as other phenomena). The recognition and discussions of young Internet users about “staying flat” even alarmed the government. Not only was the post deleted from the Internet, the Nanfang Daily also published an essay titled “Flattening Out” Is Shameful. How can he be fair? Which was also posted on the Xinhuanet website to criticize the philosophy. Obviously, the emergence of “lie-flatism” has touched a sensitive nerve in the CCP.
The government spokesperson attacked the “lay flat” philosophy on the grounds that “you can only change your life by working hard”, which is a traditional mindset. However, the inconvenient truth the spokesperson does not want to mention is that “lying flat” resonates with young people because they no longer believe that they can climb the social ladder by working hard. How can it be said that young people do not work enough when they start their working life “996” (the obligation to start work at 9 am and to leave work at 9 pm for six days a week) in a big way? business as soon as they graduate from college and food delivery drivers have every second of their time wrenched away by the precise big data machinery? Despite their hard work, the “996” professional lives remain, as young people are “supposed” to be “chasing their dreams”. When a runner manages to deliver a meal within ten minutes, they are asked to deliver within nine minutes the next time around as part of an “improvement and optimization” process.
Although the young people continue to work hard, they do not receive a reasonable income in the operating system. The benefit of their hard work is reaped by special interests. What’s the point of working hard if it can’t change your destiny? Why not just stay flat? At least life will be easier doing it. In addition, young people are faced not only with special interests, but also with their descendants, who are born in much higher social status than ordinary people. They are at the top of the social hierarchy without having to work hard. This being the reality, how do you convince young people to work hard to change their lives?
This is not the first time someone has come into contact with mainland China’s unhindered crony capitalism system. During the youth festival on May 4 last year, authorities unveiled a promotional film titled “The Waves Coming From Behind”. The original intention was to inspire young people to work hard, and the film was full of positive things about life. However, the positivity depicted was only the privilege of a few, things that had nothing to do with the lives of young people. Thus, “the waves coming from behind” has become a derogatory term synonymous with “the offspring of the rich and powerful”. Before that, there was the term “chives”, which refers to the masses who get easily trapped. This time, netizens merged the two terms and created slogans such as “Flat chives don’t cut easily” and “I don’t want to kneel and I can’t stand. So I have to stay flat. These multifaceted slogans have common targets: the enormous disparity between rich and poor, the sclerotic class structure, the exploitation of labor and the system that caused it all. The “lying flat” philosophy, which coincided with the centenary of a CCP that is “against bourgeois exploitation of farmers and farmers calls us” not to forget the original intentions?
Different ages, similar exploitation
There is no doubt that the CCP is aware of the dangers posed by the philosophy of “lying flat” on the diet. First, the public grievance embodied by “lying flat” is a challenge to the ideology of the regime. Second, from a practical point of view, while many people “lie flat” by refusing to work, spend money, have children, or buy an apartment, the earnings of the rich and powerful. will decline at a time of aging populations and weak households. request. This in turn will lead to economic and social problems. This is why the authorities must launch a crackdown on the philosophy of “lying flat”. However, the simple words “lying flat is shameful” and unrealistic chicken soup-style positivity are definitely unable to fundamentally solve the problem.
For Maoists and leftists within the CCP, the current problem of capitalist exploitation is attributable to “capitalist truckers” during reform and opening-up. Therefore, it is necessary to return to the old approach of “repression against despotic landlords”, ie government action against capital. However, the idea of “a bigger state and a smaller private sector” does not seem capable of solving the problem of “staying flat”. After all, in the days of the “popular commune” where people ate meals in groups, another form of “lying flat” existed. The term at the time was “lack of enthusiasm for production”. What is common between these two types of “lying flat” is that both are a form of passive resistance (by not actively engaging in production) in response to grasping the fruits of their labor. As for the difference, the seizure was carried out by the “state” in the past, whereas it is now carried out by capitalists. But the results are similar, meaning that the fruits of the labor end up in the hands of the same gang of rich and powerful people. A similar exploitation occurred during the era of capitalism and socialism, and it is one of the most paradoxical phenomena of the two 30-year periods of the CCP.
A real solution is indeed very simple. It is about leaving workers a fair share of the fruits of their labor, so that the capitalists cannot exploit the time and labor of workers without limit. When it is possible to move up the social ladder by working hard, “lying flat” ceases to be a seductive idea. This, however, is very difficult to achieve in a China with a one-party dictatorship. After all, the CCP has a monopoly on power, and it would be a fundamental contradiction of the nature of authoritarianism for the CCP to restrain itself and share the gains with the people. Better labor protection and more balanced relations between employees and employers are found mainly in democratic societies, as there are checks and balances in the design of their systems. As long as it is guaranteed that one can have a reasonable share of the fruits of their efforts, “staying flat” will not be the choice of the dominant society in the northern welfare states on the right or on the left.
(Lam Hoi is a journalist)
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