COMMUNIST SOCIAL CONTROL
Formal social control in Western democracies rests heave upon written laws, trials to determine guilt, and punishment "according to law." Social control 'in the People's Republic of China (PRC) rests so little upon written laws that it is debatable whether they even have a legal system [Pepinsky, 1976, p. 82].~Although·the PRC uses continuous indoctrination, total control of the communications media, and harsh punishments when necessary, primary reliance is upon group pressure.
Americans who wish to escape group press sure can disappear for a fresh start elsewhere. This 'is almost unthinkable in the PRC, where one can be anonymous. The Chinese change jobs, residence, and associates far less . often than Americans and can rarely do so . without official approval[Pepinsky, 1976, pp. 92-93]. Every person is assigned to a Dannie a small study group, through school, office, block, or commune.
This is the basic building block of Chinese society. Most necessities (ration cards, travel permits, job changes, housing assignments, health clinic appointments, marriage or divorce permits) come to one through the danuiei. A detailed dossier on every member is kept by the Danton oration on one's class back ground for three generations. In most urban areas each block or small area has a street committee of unpaid committee members who keep close watch on those assigned to it. This street committee functions as a social service agency, making' job and housing recommendations, health clinic referrals, and keeping informed on the needs of the members. The street committee is also a surveillance agency, reporting suspicions and infractions to the police.
The street committee also decides which couples, in the neighborhood may have another child and on occasion may order a woman to have an abortion [Butterfield, 1982]. Every person (except small children) must regularly share in a study group of about six to twelve persons. Every member must take .part, with no escape into silence. Problems are discussed, practical solutions developed and "holdouts" are pressed, 'more or less gently to agree Party directives are discussed, and the behavior of each member is reviewed. Failure to engage in self-criticism, acknowledging one's errors promising. improvement, brings persistent efforts at persuasion, hollowed by more grim penalties if necessary. The main effectiveness, however, depends upon group manipulation .of. guilt ' and shame. Thus the Chinese Communists have organized and institutionalized the behavior modification techniques of behaviorist psychology [Pepirisky, 1976,pp. 96-99; laMott"1977].
Chinese social control is undeniably effective possibly the most effective of any society in history. What Americans view as basic human freedoms are entirely absent in the PRC, but simply Lo call it repressive is superficial. Social control in the PRC is both very kind and very cruel. No one is neglected. A child or wife who is persistently abused, a person who is ill and untended, or one who is perplexed by a problem of sort is far more assured of sympathetic attention.