Monday, August 23, 2010

Anti-American Art: Chinese American Friendship Society (not)

Well this poster has an awful lot to say, and sad to say I can't read enough Chinese to report what it's specifically about. However the second sentence in the top line of text says something "Down with America"-ish. Look for Mei-Guo, "美国". Visually it's not hard to make a few guesses about this Cultural Revolution-era poster. He's dressed like a worker in overalls, he's got a bayonet-fixed rifle slung over his shoulder, a Mao button discreetly pinned to his jacket, and a banner saying something about American something. Judging from his expression it ain't pretty.

The relationship between the U.S. and People's Republic of China is quite a study in evolution. From war in the early 1950s through two decades of unbridled hostility, to Nixon's visit to the aging Mao in the early 1970s, and the repudiation of Maoism in the years after Mao's death in 1976, and the transformation of China into an economic powerhouse with a symbiotic relationship with the U.S. in the past two decades. It will be interesting to see, to say the least, how the tension between China's privatized industry, growing working-class militancy, socialist planned economy and one-party Communist rule will play out. Its economy seems to have weathered the recent international economic crisis better than the U.S. Everybody's getting along famously now. How long will that last?

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