The Little Red Book is Non-secular


In order for institutions based on Lyotardian grand narratives to flourish, such as totalitarian regimes and organised religions, a certain amount of unquestioned belief is needed. Consider the following excerpts out of the preface to Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, published in China as the Red Treasure Book in 1964:[1]

‘Study the writings of chairman Mao, obey the words of chairman Mao and act according to the words of chairman Mao.’
– Lin Biao, Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China 1958-1971 and Marshal of the People’s Republic of China (p. 5)

‘Over the past few years, the ‘Thinking of Mao Zedong’ has been dressed in the aura of the one and only universal truth. More so than the explicitly confessed Marxist-Leninism are the sayings and writings of Mao Zedong that are revered and studied, and are used by everyone from the professor to the melon salesman, and the marine engineer to the table tennis champion to achieve greater accomplishments.’
– Cornelis Schepel, Institute of Sinology, Leiden (p. 7)


[1] These citations were not featured in the original Chinese publication of Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book, but have been translated to English from a Dutch translation of Zedong’s most famous work, first published as Het Rode Boekje in 1967 by A.W. Bruna & Zonen and reprinted in 2005 by Forum.

Is Beauty Anti-feminist?


Feminist discourse in favour of the enhancement of the female body mainly revolves around the argument that it need not be inherently anti-feminist for a woman to conform herself to a conventional beauty ideal.

Common justifications for this view include “as long as you do it for you,” or “as long as it makes you feel good” – observe that these arguments seem to revolve around the thought that the artificial enhancement of femininity is a matter of choice for the female in question. It also makes the rather bold assumption that this choice exists outside the influences of society – that is to say, make-up, high heels and g-string apologists argue as long as a woman has convinced herself that her conformity is “her choice”, there can be nothing demeaning or anti-feminist about her behaviour.

“I am a feminist, and I wear make-up and dress in a distinctly feminine manner (which sometimes means a distinctly uncomfortable manner, as with high heels), and try as I might I cannot fully reconcile the two.”
– Autumn Whitefield-Madrano

The main problem with the apologist argument seems to be it completely disregards the fact we exist ‘in relation to each other’, a view held by the 20th century French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard. This relation not only makes the conventional beauty ideals difficult to forsake, it also points out that a total independence of the patriarchal turning-women-into-vacuous-playthings culture will be hard to achieve.