Wednesday, August 13, 2014

"Chinese Shadows: Bureaucracy, Happiness, History"

Pierre Ryckmans essay from 1977:

"Addresses and telephone numbers, whether of public institutions and organizations or of private persons, are also in the category of state secrets. There is no telephone directory, at least not that foreigners can use, and numbers and addresses that one needs for one’s professional contacts are given out individually—stingily, in fact. A number of public buildings have no inscriptions on the outside to identify them: only their majestic appearance and the presence of sentries show that they are official. Which ministry? Better not be too curious."
A correspondent writes,
"This eliminates links between unprivileged private individuals and between unprivileged private individuals and hubs of a network. This impoverishes the society as a whole, while increasing the value of links between privileged individuals and between in privileged individuals and official hubs of the network. It makes the communication network the private property of privileged individuals."

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