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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - April 24, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta 40-THE LETHBRIOQE HERALD April 24, 1974 I'ltimately linked to China's destiny Peasants valuable to system By PEGGY PRINTZ Christian Science Monitor KWANG LI COMMUNE, CHINA The new thundenngs of "cultural revolution" in China have a more muted sound by the time thev reach the rice paddies And no one is certain which way the lightning will strike out here Amid exhortations to join wholeheartedly in the current political campaign against "reactionary remnants" and 'restorers of China's 600 million peasants have just been handed a note of caution They are not to let politicking interfere with doing a good job of the spring plowing Appearance of the warning in a front-page editorial of China s leading newspaper, the People's Daily, was a timely reminder of the long-range dilemma faced by the country's Communist leaders They must continue to stimulate uninhibited growth in agricultural productivity ami yet keep it controlled and channeled toward the goals of "socialism In theory, these needs do not conflict The peasant is both the means and the ends of the system Transformation of the peasant into the glorified "new socialist man is the system s final goal, and therefore the peasant should be inspired to greater heights of productivity to make the svstem work But in practice, not everyone yet perceives it that way And out on the rural communes, conflict is evident once CAREERS CANADA LTD. Due to transfer, a large volume service station and car wash is now available for lease on Highway 3 in Fernie, B.C. Qualified parties should address their written applications to 1201 -3rd Ave. S. Lethbridge. _ __ We invite applications for the following full and part time positions! PART TIME DINING ROOM FOOD SERVICE CASHIER FULLTIME BARTENDER BAH SERVING For personal interview phone JOHN WICKERS at 328-7756 SVEN ERICKSEN'S FAMILY RESTAURANT THE UNIVERSITY OF LETHBRIDGE requires for July COORDINATOR FOR INFORMATION SERVICES Salary Schedule To provide an information service, including the preparation and distribution of news releases and information bulletins for the public media, plus internal publications Preference is given to applicants with these qualifications 1 University degree and knowledge of university affairs, 2 Experience in the field of pulbic media Applications must be postmarked not later than May 3, 1974, and submitted to- Office of the Vice-President The University of Lethbridge 4401 University Drive Lethbridge, Alberta T1K 3M4 SERVICE STATION OPPORTUNITY Pacific Petroleums Ltd has an excellent career opportunity for a person desiring to succeed in the automotive service business A two bay service station is available for lease on 13th St North in Lethbridge Pacific 66 offers deal- er support including: Advertising Promotion TBA Programs All credit cards Program A man with appropriate automotive back- ground is preferred, but all applications are welcome Some capital is required Direct en- quiries to Mr. Dave 1305 Michigan PI., Alta. T1K 3P4 328-7866 or call Mr. Taylor at 328-6866 (Tbls is the second of two reports from a rural commune about 60 miles from Canton in the hills of Southern China.) again between zealous doctrmanes and the pragmatists who have allowed a few capitalist-type incentives of competition and reward to come back into use For the moment Peking seems to have come out on the side of rural pragmatism Even in the campaign of criticism against Lin Pia and Confucius, said the People s Daily the "important fighting responsibility of the rural areas is "to do the spring plowing well But what will the party line be by the time the next harvest comes around9 With the current political turbulence still building to a climax, no one really knows Over the decades, China's Communist leaders have alternated between allowing a limited system of incentives and rewards (as during the lull of the past couple of and a strict ideological approach appealing to the people's patriotic sentiments (as during the Cultural Revolution) Annual work points Will there now be another ideological crackdown against the incentive system' How would China's vast peasantry respond9 A miscalculation by the leadership in Peking now could mean unprecedented economic and political disaster At Kwang Li Commune, local leaders like to claim it is their constant political indoctrination that brings about the increased harvests yet it is obvious they have been forced to resort to additional "carrot dangling Planners once thought it would be sufficient for each production team of the commune to divide its earnings among several hundred members As long as the team's annual income rose the peasant would be guaranteed a "raise" every year But because the individual peasant cannot perceive enough of a connection between his own input and the team's total output, it seems that many people slacken their efforts and wait for the collective success to accumulate automatically in their individual pockets So in spite of rumblings that things have "gone too far" toward capitalism once again, local leaders at Kwang Li and many other communes are offering a variety of added incentives Peasants wages now depend on their annual total of "work points. measured by the relative value of a day's work in each particular type of job Farm workers are further divided into three "ratings based on strength and performance, as well as attitudes to some extent It is through the rating system that the commune keeps workers on their toes Every few months, in "self-education sessions members of a production team evaluate each other's ratings and assess new ones In addition, a team accountant and a "work-point recorder" make periodic field inspections During the busy seasons, as a form of overtime incentive, peasants receive further monetary rewards for longer working hours or more intensive work At the end of the year, they are also eligible for special awards and honors Those whose achievements put them in the top five per cent receive gifts such as drinking cups or fountain pens The names of the top 40 per cent are read aloud at an annual team meeting A study meeting is led by a re-educated youth There are negative incentives, too Vice-Chairman Liang Wei-mmg says that "through self-criticism the commune encourages slackers "to overcome their mistakes The managers of Kwang Li's small machine factory use a similar approach On the wall of the main building, where workers operate whirring drills and lathes, hangs a blackboard divided by white lines into vertical "tracks ".Chalk check marks indicate how each worker's accomplishments compare to those of his neighbors Red arrows pasted on to indicate individual monthly targets heighten the competitive atmosphere The industrial workers are classified according to their skills into four grades of payment, similar to the agricultural ratings And like the peasants, if they exceed their targets, factory employees also receive small bonuses Competition among commune school children also is exploited through the incentive system Good students merit certificates of honor or gift notebooks and can be admitted to the Little Red Soldiers honorary society, for poor performance, they receive coaching from their classmates and teachers Road of advance Against this broad arrangement of suspiciously capitalistic incentives and rewards, stands the Communists' traditional "socialist road" of advance through political struggle and indoctrination Holding rallies with personal exhortation by leading officials of the commune is one way it-is done But the real grass-roots political experience on the commune comes through the more intimate "study meetings organized under the direction of the handful of party members within each production team The teams divide into study groups of 20 to 30 peasants Every fifth night, they gather under a dim, bare electric light bulb in a village house After a peasant or "re-educated youth" from the city reads to them from an official text or periodical, the others in the group offer personal comments They usually repeat familiar quotations and slogans, or, often in the case of the elderly, remind each other how their present prosperity contrasts with their poverty in the pre-Commumst days Though it may ultimately affect a peasant's stature in the community, his participation in these voluntary meetings is not supposed to reflect on his economic status Mrs Sie Ping, a young round-faced farm worker, cheerfully asserts that in her production team, labor is all that matters "Our payments are based only on how hard we she claims "Our attitudes toward meetings don't count, only whether we work diligently Few seem willing to take a chance, however The turnout at study meetings is usually very high As never before, the people of Kwang Li's villages are being constantly exposed to theatre, film, music, and literature By now, the people here are as familiar with revolutionary dramas such as "The Red Detachment of Women" and "The White-Haired Girl" as once the wealthy landowners were familiar with traditional Cantonese operas (which few peasants could afford to patronize) Peasant creativity also has blossomed with the formation of commune Propaganda Teams, whose actors, dancers, and musicians compose many of their own skits and songs For the peasants of Kwang Li People's Commune, life today is still basically the same arduous, primitive struggle it always has been Yet in many ways, the Cultural Revolution has touched these people positively By proclaiming them as heroes and exhorting the entire population of the country to emulate the peasants, the movement has encouraged these humble farmers to be proud of their simple way of life and has set in motion forces that ultimately should benefit them Whatever does not benefit these people will finally be sloughed off This is the lesson of China's year history that Mao Tse-tung knows so well The country's destiny is ultimately linked to the rise of 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