Red flags vs white flags


While reading the book on The Great Famine one concept drew my interest – the red flag and the white flag.

The red flag refers to the behaviours which are radical and aggressive, while the white flag refers to the conservative and rightists’ ideas. For example, during the Great Leap Forward women are forced to shave their head so that their hair can be used for fertilisation. This is typical red flag. Another example is that Mao recommended that seeds should stay close (red) so that they can be more productive while some villagers said by experience seeds should stay with enough space. The latter view are thought as too conservative and hence a white flag.

From the propaganda all red flags should be praised and promoted and white flags should be removed. This is because by being aggressive the country are more likely to make greater progress (?) and being conservative means less innovation and no development. Note that the only crierion for red or white is attitude; scientific researches are out of scope here. Actually even though there are theories proven by research, as long as it shows the least evidence of slowing down production, it will be stopped and the advisors will be humiliated in public. Consquently it produced effect that people dare not speak truth; they can only speak ‘red flag’ things to avoid those punishments. A lot of people are forced to tell lies or to blindly follow orders, even they know what they are doing will end up damaging environment in long run.

This campaign, so called ‘set up red flag, and pull off white flag’, is just one campaign in the Great Leap Forward. Had it been correctly reviewed maybe it could have become an opportunity to stop the Great Famine. However history is history, we can only learn from it to make better future. =)

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