Posted on February 20, 2022

Worker/Peasant/Soldier Students

Mark Lu, American Renaissance, February 20, 2022

Ever since the beginning of humanity, man has been seeking the perfect political/economic system. In the 18th century, egalitarianism gained a foothold in France and slowly spread to the rest of the civilized world. Slavery was gradually abolished as people’s awareness of equality gained ground. Absolutism was replaced by constitutional monarchies, democracies, anarchism, communism, and fascism. The proponents of all these systems were idealists who thought their system was the best – worth the deaths of millions, if need be, to set them up.

Maximilien Robespierre

Maximilien Robespierre, one of the leaders of the French Revolution.

Idealism, when practiced by zealots, often leads to disaster. Egalitarianism, one of the seemingly noble hallmarks of communism and left liberalism, has heavily influenced many aspects of American life. Affirmative action is an example. When applied to college enrollment, it is based on the idea that blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and other minorities don’t do well because of slavery and discrimination; if they had had the same environment, they would be on par with whites and Asians. Although genes and environment each account for roughly half of personality and mental traits, egalitarianists tend to ignore genes.

The University of California system dropped the SAT requirement for applicants on the assumption that the tests don’t reflect the true academic abilities blacks and Hispanics. This is supposed to be because many are poor and can’t afford private tutoring. Many of the children of my Chinese friends never hired tutors or went to tutoring centers but still got high SAT scores. This is not due only to genes. Their parents emphasized education, while the children themselves worked hard and stayed away from drugs and gangs.

Clearly, the UC system dropped the SAT because it is objective evaluation of ability and can be used to prove racial discrimination in college admissions. Many other universities in America, including Harvard, have scrapped the SAT requirement for similar reasons.

When affirmative action is carried out in extremes, it is not only white, Jewish, and Asian students and job applicants who suffer. America itself suffers in not being able to enroll and hire the smartest people based on merits. We are in a highly competitive world, and our edge is blunted. Over time, we could be weeded out in competitions by enemies who don’t share our values. Racial quotas in college enrollment and employment are an evil form of egalitarianism.

Egalitarianism also found advocates in China during the Cultural Revolution, which lasted from 1966 to 1976. In 1970, one year after the Cultural Revolution reached its apex in 1969, Chairman Mao ordered institutions of higher learning to enroll students according to a “recommendation system.” Potential students were selected only from workers, peasants, and soldiers, who were recommended by the leaders of their work units. They were to be called Worker/Peasant/Soldier (WPS) students, in contrast to those who graduated before the Cultural Revolution, who were now called “bourgeois college students.”

Chairman Mao Zedong

Chairman Mao Zedong (Credit Image: © Keystone Press Agency/ZUMA Wire)

Workers, peasants and soldiers were supposed to be more loyal to Mao and the Communist Party. Mao has a famous saying: “The lowly are the most intelligent and the elite are the most ignorant.” By this he meant that the rich became rich because of illegal and unfair practices and the poor were poor because they were exploited. He thought once the lowly had a chance to study, they would outsmart the students from families of the bourgeoisie (intellectuals, former landowners, capitalists and other rich families.) Just as with affirmative action, no one dared to challenge the official version that ignored genetic influences on abilities.

Entrance examinations were abolished, and some of the students were illiterate or semi-illiterate. My mother taught gynecology to WPS medical students. One student was confused once when my mother said something like, “After the patient remains unconscious for 48 hours, we should . . . .” No matter how my mother explained this, the student couldn’t figure out how many days and nights there are in 48 hours. Most of the WPS students were not qualified for research or innovation, even though many were assigned to scientific institutions to save face. Everyone knew they were not qualified, but no one dared to point it out.

When reformed communists succeeded in a bloodless coup in 1976 and Deng Xiaoping came to power a year later, he said of the scientific landscape of China, “The granary is nearly empty, but the new crop is not yet ripe.” Scientists and intellectuals who were educated on a merit system before the Cultural Revolution had reached retirement age, but there was no younger generation to take their places. In 1977, Deng reinstated college entrance examinations after a hiatus of 10 years, and college students were once again selected according to test scores. Back-door deals were forbidden. China’s economy and its scientific research took off.

Deng Xiaoping

Aug. 29, 1977 – Deng Xiaoping Speaks at Communist Party Congress in Peking (Credit Image: © Keystone Press Agency/ZUMA Wire)

There is an important difference between affirmative action and Worker/Peasant/Soldier college students. Affirmative action is practiced on a smaller scale, so its harm is hard to quantify. No one has done a satisfactory statistical study of the problem. On the other hand, Worker/Peasant/Soldier college enrollment was practiced throughout China from 1970 to 1976 (No college students were enrolled in 1971, for reasons that remain unclear.) Most of the 940,000 graduates from these years proved to be useless.

China actually does have a form of affirmative action. Ethnic minorities get extra points on college-entrance examinations, partly to appease potential terrorists who see Han Chinese as invaders of their ancestral lands. However, local governments are now eliminating these preferences. Guizhou provincial government announced it would gradually stop giving extra points to ethnic minorities. Others, such as Liaoning and Fujian provinces, also announced late last year that they would drop the preferences by 2026.

As we pile egalitarian folly upon egalitarian folly, China still has a few obstacles to overcome to achieve meritocracy.