Hey You, Sir: Proletarian Politeness in China

Proletarian politeness

The Cultural Revolution and rude Red Guards dismissed the traditional Chinese virtue of civility as "bourgeois hypocrisy." But now the Chinese are being encouraged, via government-sponsored organizations like the Polite Language Study Group, to revive a "socialist spirit of comradeship, warmth and concern for others."

Already the campaign is showing results, according to China's Xinhua News Agency. Some buses in Peking proudly display a yellow windshield strip designating "polite service." Store clerks are now encouraged to smile and refrain from snapping "see for yourself" at customers. Even some police, reports Xinhua, have begun to acknowledge "the mistaken idea that since they...

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