“When the wealthy vie with each other in splendor and display while the poor squeeze each other to death;
when the poor do not enjoy a moment’s rest while the rich are comfrotable;
when the poor lose more and more while the rich keep piling up treasures;
when in some ever more extravagant desires awaken, and in others an ever more burning hatred;
when some become more and more arrogant and overbearing in their conduct, and others ever more miserable and pitiful until gradually th emost perverse and curious customs arise, bursting forth as though from a hundred springs and impossible to stop;
all of this will finally congeal in an ominous vapor which will fill the space between heaven and earth with its darkness”
This was not a prose on dialectical materialism of a Marxist scholar or some leftist politician and still further, a pop-philosopher of the Occupy movement. This was written by the late Qing dynasty eccentric scholar Gong Zizhen. He was writing this in China when thousands of miles away in Europe, Karl Marx was still in his childhood.
Class struggle is intuitive, but in their times, in the times of Gong and Marx, it required much more boldness to speak against “accepted” settings of the old society.
Thus, it was not a surprise that Gong Zizhen’s ideas did not find favour in the Qing court and society. A generation after him, scholars such as Kang You Wei tried to influence the Qing government to reform but failed yet again. When reformation failed, Gong’s prophecy of the end of an epoch became a reality a century later through a violent revolution which led to the founding of the Republic of China and later the People’s Republic of China.
(Photo source: The Internet)