Disappearing Mao
(Image taken from http://www.ador.ro/lucrari/campania_print-categorie.html )

Who controls the past? Who controls the future?

What is history but a story we tell ourselves?

Where’s Mao? Chinese Revise History Books

NY Times
Published: September 1, 2006

BEIJING, Aug. 31 — When high school students in Shanghai crack their history textbooks this fall they may be in for a surprise. The new standard world history text drops wars, dynasties and Communist revolutions in favor of colorful tutorials on economics, technology, social customs and globalization.

Socialism has been reduced to a single, short chapter in the senior high school history course. Chinese Communism before the economic reform that began in 1979 is covered in a sentence. The text mentions Mao only once — in a chapter on etiquette.

Nearly overnight the country’s most prosperous schools have shelved the Marxist template that had dominated standard history texts since the 1950’s. The changes passed high-level scrutiny, the authors say, and are part of a broader effort to promote a more stable, less violent view of Chinese history that serves today’s economic and political goals.

It reminds me of a poem I wrote in high school:

the hundreth hand of the past glides by


never to be seen through the same pane again

the hands of the future write the past