Paper Tigers

“All reactionaries are paper tigers.” Mao Tse-Tung

 More than 6 million university students are trying to enter the Chinese workforce this year. Given the fraught economy many will find difficulty finding jobs, which could explain why 46 university graduates have reacted by applying for jobs as public toilet attendants in the affluent eastern province of Jiangsu.

 At least one applicant was very philosophical about all those years of study down the gurgler “Better to be a toilet-master than unemployed at home”.  

 At first sight this seems to be a work ethic not always shared by some ex-students closer to home. But of course, the Chinese do not have access to unemployment benefits-or anything else which might be described as welfare payments, which seems rather ironic in a state ruled by the Communist Party. Starting at the bottom and pursuing affluence through effluence is a commendable proletarian activity for budding bureaucrats. They have more options these days and may just decide to become entrepeneurs instead.

Together with the new economic religion of foreign investment Confucianism has  been a experiencing something of a revival in China. Confucius emphasised the rectification of names. Fundamentally, for example, social disorder can stem from the failure to call things by their proper names.

One wonders what the toilet set will put on their cvs in years to come. The long list could include environmental engineer, waste disposal expert, sanitary specialist, civic sewage disposal engineer and emergency personal needs administration.

The more honest sons and daughters of the (night) soil might settle for toilet toiler or privy assistant. They’re unlikely to call themselves paper tigers-it would be too (counter) revolutionary.


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