AR: After the wild success of the Four Must Dos during his first term in office, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Xi Ping has followed up with the sure-to-be-blockbuster directive, the Four Must Dos Before Breakfast.
Guest: “The first is Charge your cell phone. I think the idea behind this Must Do is to enforce the idea that Xi is a hip dictator who is sensitive to the needs of the young.”
Guest: Get ready to floss is number two. Again a sensible choice. Nothing says counter-revolutionary quite like charging the state for preventable dental work.
AR: “But why Get ready to floss? Why not just Floss?”
Guest: I think Xi is looking ahead to his next set of Must Dos, which we expect will be Called the Three Must Dos After Breakfast. My guess is that flossing will have a role in those Must Dos.
AR: The third Must Do surprised me: Spy on your neighbor.
Guest: “Why do you find that surprising?”
AR: “Well doesn’t your social credit score indicate that the state already knows everything?”
Guest: “Not at all. Spying helps us fine tune social credit scores.”
AR: “Let’s step back for a bit and talk about the original Must Dos, and indeed Xi Ping thought itself, in the context of the history of ideas. How does Xi’s writing compare with poetry written by the Great Helmsman Chariman Mao, or Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason?”
Guest: We’re talking Asia here. Different intellectual traditions. Are you familiar with the Buddhist idea of Thoughts Without a Thinker? Xi’s thought is kind of the opposite.
AR: That explains this poster:
Figure: Xi. A thinker without a thought …
Guest: “The fourth Must Do is more old-school Maoist:Consider reporting a family member to National Security. You know its been 50 years since the Cultural Revolution and the economy of the People’s Republic is 10 times bigger than it was in 1969, but that doesn’t mean there are no longer enemies of the state. And though I hate to say it, every counter-revolutionary has a family. Xi’s father himself was persecuted as a counter-revolutionary during the Cultural Revolution. Did Xi turn him in? Should he have? These are dangerous questions so don’t rush to conclusions! Particularly with the fourth Must-Do Before Breakfast, the most subtle of the entire Must Do canon. Because for once the must do is not an admonition, like “Don’t belch in public”, the signature must-do for public transit. It is a suggestion. Xi’s uses the word Consider.