It seems that there appears to be a convergence around the construction of firewalls around speech that is permissible and speech that is taboo. That, at least, is one thing that the vanguards of the liberal democratic and the Marxist Leninist camps appear to agree about in their respective new areas of societal, political, economics, and cultural organization. Speech, uncontrolled, is dangerous to a society. It must be cultivated like the food that is grown to keep a population healthy. And to that end, each society requires a farmer to oversee and ensure that weeds do not invade and that noxious and deviant expressions are suppressed.
All for the good order of society. And society, as it comes to be defined in each era of its development, must be defended--especially against itself.
Yet it is not merely speech that is now understood to require a new set of taboos around which one can distinguish a permissible "freedom" and an impermissible offense to society, politics, culture and the like that must be administered (for we do live in an age of societal administration by organs of control fashioned in accordance with the pretensions of the political ideologies of the collectives that make and remake them). .
No, it is not merely speech, but knowledge itself that must be carefully cultivated, harvested, and consumed, for the greater good. That requires an even stronger administrative control element and a sharper drawing of lines between knowledge that is taboo and knowledge that must be naturalized among recipient populations. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the correct management of knowledge (and its production) also requires a the sharpest distinction between knowledge that may freely circulate among the people--for their own good and the greater glory of the collective society managed by vanguards (each in their own distinct ways in liberal democratic and Marxist-Leninist order)--and knowledge that remains solely the province of the guiding vanguard itself or its instruments (human and singular or collective and institutional). Freedom to cultivate, disseminate and internalize knowledge, in every society and in every era must be carefully managed--from the definition of knowledge itself to its presentation, to its internalization and expression by recipients at appropriate times and in appropriate ways. The liberal democratic camp, like its Marxist Leninist counterpart are now in an intense period of (re)defining and (re)deploying knowledge in societally useful ways
These are old habits. The objectification, cultivation and management of knowledge in whatever forms are technologically possible is ancient. In the "old days" both book confiscations and destruction, and tight control over knowledge permitted to the masses, have long histories in the contemporary great seats of liberal democracy and Marxist Leninism. They now appear to return to human organization after the briefest period where knowledge and its production was for a time allowed to roam more of less freely (or at least more freely than it had before). The result has appeared catastrophic to some, and certainly highly disruptive of the maintenance of placid and efficiently operating societal orders. Not that either speech or knowledge production was ever entirely free of constraint, or freely shared outside of the guiding vanguard. But now both liberal democratic and Marxist Leninist vanguards have again converged around the older notion that both speech, and knowledge (its production and dissemination) but be both better managed and more tightly control for the achievement of core societal objectives (expressed in quite different ways in liberal democratic and Marxist Leninist political orders). That much the twin great antipodes of imperial power are (re)constructing for the world as they remake it in their respective images.
This is not so much a criticism--how can one criticize the waves for pounding a shoreline and in that process remaking it?--but an observation that while the great emerging imperial societies continue to express their attachment to notions of the great freedoms of expression and knowledge production/dissemination, the meaning of those concepts is undergoing some substantial change. And, of course, the great harbingers of this new turn toward well cultivated freedoms of the 20th century--those who insisted in the notion that within the state (or revolution, or Party) everything and outside of them nothing, might best recognize the trend which now appears to be unstoppable.
It is with that in mind that one might most usefully approach one small aspect of this transformation, of this better management of knowledge, its production, dissemination and expression, in the emerging context of protecting society against itself and against others.
To that end, on 6 April 2021 the Chinese Ministry of Education issued the "Administrative Measures for the Entry of Extracurricular Reading Materials for Primary and Secondary School Students" 《中小学生课外读物进校园管理办法》. It worth a careful reading, not so much for its uniqueness as for its candor. The Chinese Education Ministry is merely doing in a direct way what is being undertaken in culturally compatible ways within liberal democratic society. The focus is different of course. Yet both seek to preserve and advance their conceptions of the social and political order in in the manner that accords with the political strictures and institutions of these respective societies.
Each imperial camp with vigorous criticize and condemn the efforts of their rival in their efforts to operate their respective systems within meaning frameworks compatible with their core principles. That is both to be expected and necessary to sharpen and refine the difference that itself gives form and meaning to the principles and operations of each system. Yet as one undertakes this necessary performance of criticism one ought not to forget the equally necessary element of self.criticism (at least among members of elites and vanguards who have a hand in these operations). In that context..the better analysis is not the banal (but necessary) one: the extent to which the actions and understandings of the rival system are incompatible and dangerous to the integrity of one's home system and framing principles. That is easy enough. In this case, of course, those incompatibilities are glaring but also useful only as a means of analyzing what actual construction of taboo barriers for the protection of the integrity of the home system of knowledge production and dissemination. In this case there are no surprises.
The harder and more important analytical framework is whether the analyzed actions are themselves compatible with the principles and objectives in whose service they have been created and operated. That is by far the more interesting--and difficult (sensitive) question that tends to be avoided in this age of ideological competition and democratic centralism (applied in contextually appropriate ways in Marxist Leninist and liberal democratic orders). At least in conversations among and within ruling elites, that reticence is lamentable. And even within that framework there are compatibilities that might be usefully explored. First the importance of education institutions as gatekeepers of knowledge production and dissemination. Second, the focus on the definition of knowledge that must be avoided either as a contaminant or as a threat to the integrity of the social order. These impulses are shared in common among the leading elements of both Marxist Leninist and liberal democratic camps (through their parties in power). Third, the ways in which these differences and alignments suggest where each of these systems seek to project their approaches outward within their emerging spheres of influence, and in competition for the control of a global narrative of knowledge, knowledge production, management, and deployment.
The "Administrative Measures for the Entry of Extracurricular Reading Materials for Primary and Secondary School Students" 《中小学生课外读物进校园管理办法》follows below in the original (with thanks to China Digital Times for first posting) and in a crude English translation.
《管理办法》明确，学校是 进校园课外读物推荐责任主体，负责组织本校课外读物的 遴选、审核工作。进校园课外读物原则上每学年推荐一次。推荐程序应包括 初选、评议、确认、备案等环节。
进校园课外读物推荐目录要 向学生家长公开，坚持自愿购买原则，禁止强制或变相强制学生购买课外读物， 学校不得组织统一购买。对家长自主购买推荐目录之外的课外读物，学校要做好指导工作。学校图书馆购买课外读物按照《中小学图书馆（室）规程》有关规定执行。
三、 学校应科学引导 优化校园阅读环境
《管理办法》提出，中小学校要 大力倡导学生爱读书、读好书、善读书，可设立读书节、读书角等，优化校园阅读环境，推动书香校园建设。注重开展形式多样的阅读活动，提高学生阅读兴趣，培养良好阅读习惯。发挥家长在学生课外阅读中的积极作用， 营造家校协同育人的良好氛围。建立阅读激励机制，鼓励各地教育行政部门将书香校园建设表现突出的单位和个人纳入相关表彰奖励中，学校要采用适当的形式表彰阅读活动表现突出的师生。
12 types of reading materials are prohibited from entering the campus
Source: Anhui Daily
The Ministry of Education recently held a press conference to introduce that in order to establish a "firewall" for primary and secondary school students’ extracurricular reading materials to enter the campus, the Ministry of Education issued the "Administrative Measures for the Entry of Extracurricular Reading Materials for Primary and Secondary School Students" (hereinafter referred to as the "Administrative Measures") to clarify the standard requirements and standards The extracurricular reading material enters the campus procedure.
Tian Huisheng, director of the Textbook Bureau of the Ministry of Education, introduced that the "Administrative Measures" clarified the national, local and school management responsibilities and management boundaries for the introduction of extracurricular reading materials into the campus. The right to recommend extracurricular reading materials into the campus is given to the school, and other channels are allowed to enter the campus. The responsibility for the management of extracurricular reading materials is condensed to the school.
1. These 12 types of books are prohibited from entering the campus
(1) Violating the party's line, principles and policies, slandering and stigmatizing party and state leaders, heroes, and joking about party history, national history, and military history;
(2) Content that harms the honor and interests of the country and contains anti-China, insulting, or ugly-Chinese content;
(3) Leaking state secrets and endangering national security;
(4) Endangering national unity, sovereignty and territorial integrity;
(5) Content that violates religious policies and promotes religious teachings, doctrines and canons;
(6) Content that violates ethnic policies, incites ethnic hatred, ethnic discrimination, undermines ethnic unity, or does not respect ethnic customs and habits;
(7) Propagating erroneous views such as individualism, neoliberalism, historical nihilism, etc., and have an ideological tendency to worship foreign and foreigners;
(8) Those who have bad tendencies such as vulgar, kitsch and vulgar, low style, unhealthy thinking, promote supernatural power, mysticism, and superstition of ghosts and gods, and have value-oriented problems such as obscenity, pornography, violence, cults, gambling, drugs, suicide inducing, abetting crime, etc. ；
(9) Insulting or slandering others, infringing on the lawful rights and interests of others;
(10) There are scientific errors;
(11) There are illegal placement of commercial advertisements or disguised commercial advertisements and improper links, and the illegal use of the words "recommended by the Ministry of Education" and "designated by new curriculum standards";
(12) Other violations of public order and good customs, moral standards, laws and regulations, etc., causing adverse social effects.
2. The school must be a good gatekeeper
The “Administrative Measures” clarified that the school is the main body responsible for the recommendation of extracurricular reading materials on campus, and is responsible for organizing the selection and review of the school's extracurricular reading materials. In principle, extracurricular reading materials on campus are recommended once every academic year. The recommendation procedure should include preliminary selection, evaluation, confirmation, and filing.
The school organizes management personnel, class teachers and library management personnel to propose a preliminary selection catalog; the subject group is responsible for reviewing, re-evaluating the suitability of the readings selected from the recommended catalog approved by the state, and recommending principles, standards, and requirements for other readings Comprehensively check and put forward comments; the school organizes a special team to review and check, coordinate quantity types, confirm recommendation results, publicize and report to the administrative department of education for the record.
The recommended catalog of extracurricular reading materials on campus should be disclosed to the parents of students, adhere to the principle of voluntary purchase, and prohibit compulsory or disguised compulsory purchase of extracurricular reading materials, and schools shall not organize unified purchases. Schools should do a good job of guiding the parents to purchase extracurricular reading materials outside the recommended catalog. The school library purchases extracurricular reading materials in accordance with the relevant provisions of the "Primary and Primary School Library (Room) Regulations".
3. Schools should scientifically guide and optimize the campus reading environment
The "Administrative Measures" proposes that primary and secondary schools should vigorously advocate that students love to read, read well, and read well. Reading festivals and reading corners can be set up to optimize the campus reading environment and promote the construction of scholarly campuses. Pay attention to the development of various forms of reading activities, increase students' interest in reading, and cultivate good reading habits. Give full play to the active role of parents in students' extracurricular reading, and create a good atmosphere of home-school collaborative education. Establish a reading incentive mechanism and encourage local education administrative departments to include units and individuals with outstanding performance in the construction of scholarly campuses into relevant commendation awards. Schools should adopt appropriate forms to commend teachers and students with outstanding performance in reading activities.
Professor Wang Dianjun of the Department of Mathematical Sciences of Tsinghua University said that the primary and secondary school stage is the “joint booting stage” of children’s growth. Extracurricular readings can not only inspire wisdom and wisdom, broaden their horizons, but also can bacon and cast their souls, allowing students to absorb Chinese excellence in reading. Traditional culture guides students to establish a correct outlook on life and values. Excellent extracurricular readings and classroom teaching complement each other. They are a useful supplement to teaching materials and teaching aids. They are undoubtedly useful for promoting national spirit, zeitgeist and scientific spirit, cultivating students' home and country feelings, enhancing personality cultivation, broadening international horizons, and fostering awareness of the rule of law. Irreplaceable role.
Source: Xinhua News Agency, the official website of the Ministry of Education, China Education News, etc.