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November 24, 2021 44 mins

We discuss lying flat, China's version of the antiwork movement, discourse beyond the Great Firewall, and how overworked youths in China and America alike fell in love with Diogenes

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Fuck work. Hey hey, hey, hey, good introduction. I'm Robert Evans.
This is it could happen here. That was Chris Garrison's
also here, so is Sophie, who is changing her name
to Sophie. What is your new name, Sophie dot Com Arena,
Sophie dot Com Arena. She's doing this to deal with

the trauma of the fact that Los Angeles just agreed
to change the name of the Chase Bank Arena to
the Crypto dot Com. Oh, Staples Center, Sorry, I'm getting
my arena's named after venal brands mixed uff. Speaking of
the pointlessness of work, there are people laboring right now

who worked at Staples so that Staples would have enough
money to name a place where people go do sports
after a place where people get fucking pencils um. And
now Staples has declined enough at it's just crypto dot com.
Fucking Crypto dot com, look upon, look upon the worst

cryptocurrency e formerly Mighty Staples in despair, fucking the Osmond
Dius of the office supply world. I don't know whatever
what are we talking about. We're going to no that
comes in the middle, but right now we're gonna go
to a place where they banned crypto mining for the

most part. So and that that places China, and I
wanted to talk about specifically a lot of stuf us
been going on the Chinese Internet, what's been going on
in Chinese labor because so Garrison Garrison told me we're
doing an at work episode and I went, oh, yeah,
there's a there's you know, there's a version of this
in China. And then I realized that like a almost

no one has heard of lying flat and be it
rules and see that nobody really know in the US
knows what's going on in the Chinese Internet because it's
effectively siloed. And I mean, you know that there's there's
there's there's there's lots different ways to stile out. I
mean there's there's literally the Great Firewall. There's factors and
different languages, people use different apps, and you know, the
Internet has become this sort of like you know, it's
it's it's it's a bunch of bubbles that don't interact

with each other. Yeah, the wald Garden thing, and it's
you know, the sort of national level world garden stuff
is I think, in a lot of ways, way more
dangerous than the stuff you know that, like people complaining
about it was sucking Audie logical bubble and like that's bad.
But the fact that we have bubbles like this where
it's like you know, the like with with like actual

they basically borders but online yeah yeah, because they're enforced
by governments with force. Yeah. Yeah, the place it was
always going to go. Um, once we decided not to
be rad with the Internet, which everyone collectively decided in
I'm going to say one thousand four, Yeah, do you

think do you think? Do do you think? Do you think?
That was nine eleven fault nine eleven played a role.
Nine eleven did play a role. Um, the dot com
boom played another role. Um, there were there there, There
were a number of factors. Um, but we can all
blame it on let's blame it on low tax and continue.

So anti work in China before we get into lying flat,
which is China's version of anti work, isn't the right
word because this actually started a few months before sort
of anti work blew up in the US. But before
we fully get into that. To understand what's going on here,
we need to talk about something called involution. And did

you say that again? Like evil involution in involution, Yeah,
so this this, this is this is originally this is
a very obscure anthropological term developed by my old nemesis,
Clifford Geertz, who's one of the most famous and most
important anthropologists in history, who also sucks ass and I
hate him. I thought your nemesis was Noam Chomsky. Yes, also,

but for different reasons. Should I cancel the hit sub
sub nemesis something I I have many I have many
nemesses that I have been on the side O God
here Jody Dean episode at some point. Now, thank you.
I appreciate allies in my one person intellectual wars, although

this does seem to be a pretty boring intellectual war, yeah,
said most of them. Yeah yeah, but what what what
Gears was describing? Basically, so she doesn't feel work in Java?
And what are you describing? What what involution means? It's
the system where people keep working harder and harder for
there's no increase in output, and so that there's no
there's no rewards for working harder, and so you know,

in Java you'd have these plantations, right, and the plantations
would get bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger. But
because each new person was only like harvesting just enough
to feed themselves, you never actually got any productivity increases.
And so you know, yeah, there's no there's no output
increases and in not really the case in America in
a lot of ways. Yeah, and what's interesting, Well, okay,

So the reason I want to talk about this also
is because basically everyone who's been writing about this formation
news outlets has missed about half of the story of
how how this like incredibly obscure anthropological term that like
I don't like again, I was an anthropology major. I
don't think I ever ran into involution while like while
I was studying anthropology. Yeah, and no one has ever
heard of this, Like fucking everyone in China has like

like a treatise they can spout at you about this now. Um. Yeah,
and and you know, I want to talk a bit
about how to emerge. And part of this is because
you know, in the last about two years, people will
be getting increasingly piste off at you know, just the
sort of incredibly competitive nature of Chinese society and particularly work.
And you know, a lot of this is because everyone's

working what's what's called which is nine am to nine
PM six days a week. And she actually didn't make
this good. When I say everyone, that's like an average schedule.
The schedules get a lot worse than that. But in
the nine six is the one that sort of gets
the attention because a lot of people work it, especially
the tech industry. This is you know, we do, but
you know, everyone focused on the tech industry, everyone ignores
a bunch of myrket workers who also do this and worse.

And you know, there's just a normal societal pressure to
sort of keep moving and keep competing and keep working.
And simultaneously, you know, people in China today are working
like basically as hard as anyone's worked in China since
like people would literally collapse and missastion in the fields
and the great leap forward, Like that's lots of people
are working this hard. And but but instead of you know,

getting rewards for this, Chinese growth rates have been collapsing
for a decade. And yeah, this is you know, this
is this is the thing that you get. In the
U s too, was like, well, okay, people were like, well,
if you work out to get into the middle class,
but then you know everyone's working nine six. No one's
getting into the widdle class, the like China has incredibly
low rates of social ability, and you know it into

this comes involution. But the weird part of what's happening
year is that involution doesn't enter the Chinese discourse through
like people complaining about work. It's it's actually a product
of a bunch of middle class people complaining about Chinese
industrial policy. And this is the hardest story that nobody
really talks about, even though I think it's it's really

interesting because again like this, you know, anti anti work
in the U s RS and the left right involution,
which is the thing that's going to bring about sort
of the Chinese version of anti work is the right
way is originally a right wing discourse, um and and
and it's interesting, it's it's it's a right wing, very
nationalist discourse that gets you know, the right wing part
of it gets essentially expunged and it gets pulled left.

So originally, you know, China is I don't have a
more elegant way of saying this than China's leaders, and
more online than ours, like significantly more like they Actually
that's hard, that's hard to bash it. It's people people
like like local government offices right have like they have

these like internal sites that like show them what people
are posting. And this this goes from the from the
bottom levels, it goes away to the top. Like people
actually listen to bloggers, like like they're there, you know
some of them, some of the people I'm about to
talk about it are incredibly influential. And there's a bunch
of arguments in the early two thousands about how China
is gonna industrialize and these are basically online arguments. Um

and the guys who win that argument, she Shanping basically
takes their industrial policy and implements it, which is you know,
which is which is scales Like how online these people
are that Like, yeah, people are taking economic policy from
like literally, I mean, you know, it's it's not solely up.
I don't take acon on policy people arguing on the internet.
Right this is this is an incredibly online society and
it you know, but the worst part is that for

a while it works. You know that their econart policy
basically is they're gonna increases size of the Chinese economy
by investing in sort of high tech industry and moving
up the value chain. This is this has been very
standards or Chinese second on policy for a while. Um,
the problem is in the last about decade, it's it's
it's after working. And you know the CCPs response was
to do more financialization, and this piste off the like

the the online they were called like the Industrial Party.
This this this is off those guys because you know, the
whole thing was don't financialize, just keep investing in like
building airplanes and stuff, and the Chinese economies will work
itself out. And but eventually even they can't keep making
this argument because you know, I mean like like he
doesn't tend right, Like the Chinese GDP growth rate was

ten percent and now it's like maybe five and last year,
I mean last yearwies, so you know it was really low.
But I mean the Chinese growth rate has been imploding.
And so what you get out of this is is
this group of people called the Taoists based on this
guy named cow Okay, So, so how's the guy who
who who essentially introduces the concept of involution and he's

arguing that this is happening. Because I'm gonna quote him here,
people can't get quote a peaceful life, get a pretty girl,
live in a big house because of the US. And
so the solution to this basically is is to deal
with like to destroy America as a hedgemon. And then
once you do that, you know, you can get all

of these things. And as you can tell, like, you know, okay,
peaceful life, get a pretty girl, live in a big house.
This this is like a very conservative framing of this. Yeah, yeah,
I mean this is this is the Chinese equivalent of
two point five kids in a a white picket fence. And
it has all of this sort of associated gender politics
and class politics to go along with that. And you know,
and when when Cow and the cows are talking about involution,
what they're talking about is they literally they literally means

Chinese technated economy, right, so that they're talking about, Okay,
that you have more inputs, you have labor, technology inputs,
but the output for input is declining, and the only
way to restore economic growth the chief prosperity is by
solving a decline output by defeating the Americans. But you know,
and and this this is kind of a big deal.
And for a while, in sort of like twenty this
this is, this is going places, but very quickly people

are like, my life fucking sucks, Like I don't care
about this econ ship or this like grand national struggle
against the world hedgemon, Like I care about the fact that,
like my life is this incredibly pointless, ever escalating rat
race with like literally no rewards. Yeah, that would that
would concern me too, if that were a thing that
we were capable of feeling in our country. Yeah, it's

why there's there's been some really funny stuff with involution
where like you read accounts of it and you'll get
like anthropologists going like, oh, yeah, this is this is
the thing that this is the thing that's unique to China,
and it's like have have you worked a job in
in the US? Like but you know involution, you know

what happens to it over over the course of sort
of it goes from being the general you know, it
goes it goes from being this thing that's about like
very specific like technical industrial arguments about industrial policy too.
Is when one anthropologists put it, quote the experience of
being locked in competition that one ultimately knows as meaningless.

And so people, yeah, we could we couldn't imagine that
this is yeah, and it's you know, and people people
start talking about finding individual solutions to this, and so
you know, then this is things like working last moving
to lower tier city, is getting less protgious jobs. Um.
But you know, and I want to think about this
again because this this is a really interesting thing where

you have a very incredibly right wing, nationalistic and sort
of like like middle class like nostalgia kind of like
you know, like Milt aggressive foreign policy thing and then
it just flips and and part of how it flips,
and this is a part of the story that is

almost completely ignored, but I think it's really important. Did
you guys know about this? The YouTuber named leads It.
She she's the biggest Chinese YouTuber. She has sixteen million followers,
and most of her followers are not on YouTube because
you know, YouTube like blocked by the firewall. But she
has she has fifty five million followers on the the
sort of Chinese version of TikTok, and yeah, she has

across the world. She has a hundred million followers, right
like she she's she's one of the biggest media stars
in the world. And her origins are kind of unclear.
The like official biography basically says that like when she
was twelve, instead of going to high school. She's being
a waitress, and then she had to like you know,
but she she she'd gone to the city, and then
she had to return to Realville to take care of
her grandma. And she makes these videos that are these
like very soft and calming videos or like calming music

of her going into the woods and like harvesting materials
and making fires out of logs and like cooking things. Okay,
and it's it's it's just like it's you know, it's
it's very much this this really utopianism. There's there's basically
no industrial technology like Cottage corp returned to nature. Yeah. Yeah,
I know a lot of people who watched it like
that just to like soothe them after a day of work.

Like see somebody like dig a cave and turn it
into like a bath or something using just hand tools
or whatever. Yeah, And there's it's interesting this kind of
it's almost like turned into a sub genre. But she's
by far the biggest like version of this. And you know,
so she she gets picked up by a media company
and from goes viral, and you know, its interesting because

so she's doing this because so she she has to
go back to take care of her grandma, and so
she like opens a store and she's trying to support
herself but in like her grandma by opening a store.
And so the videos were like a way to promote
the store. And then you know, now she has a
hundred million followers and she she gets a doctored as
this kind of like like national culture ambassador, I guess
by the state. Sure, And and it's just you know,

so there's nothing overtally political about these videos at all, right,
which is especially offering and like trying to sell is
this you know, this like fantasy of retreat from industrial
majority into world life. And I think it's really easy
to look at that esthetic and go like this is
basically fascist, Like this is rejecting majority embraced here issues.
Some people online when they see that immediately sees off.
I was like, oh no, it's eco fascism, yes that yeah,

And I think, you know, and I think like that
interpretation think is actually a lot of y I got
picked up by the Chinese, by Chinese media companies and
then like sort of by the Chinese state because you know,
like having an actual positive utopian image of rural life
is politically easeul with them, and something that's like not
hasn't been true since like we've had this for a
long time. Yeah, well no, and I think I would

say this this. I think this is the thing that's
different in China is that there hasn't been like a
positive conception of rural life really since I guess the
Great Leap Forwards and then are like there there were
some people in the Cultural Revolution, but then they actually
went there and we're like, oh god, this sucks, and
so you know, so they didn't need a new one.
They come up with this. But you know, the thing
that's different about China than the US is that China's

market worker population like is almost the entire size of
the population of the US. I mean it's it's like
two seventy million people, right, I mean it's it's enormous
and and a huge number of these people. You know,
I'm some of these people are going from like city
to city. You're like town of town, but a lot
of these people are coming from from rural villages into cities.
And you know, I mean these are this this is
the background of the Chinese workforce. And like these people
like they see their family once a year because you know,

like they can't afford to go home. So they go
home once a year for New Year's because they get
some time. Often they come back and and this is
where you know, like these videos are obvious fantasy, but
you know, they suggest an alternative to work in the
capitalist city that's sort of plausible, you know, especially if
you come from rural village. And this is where this
whole thing completely backfires on the Chinese ruling class. And

you know, because this this this this cowisted involution discourse
is about diffuse with this style of rural rural utopianism
into a movement that is going to shake the foundation
of work itself. But first, but first, ads again also
not connecting to anything we're talking Connectionever, why Garrison don't
even bring that up. There's no needs, there's no reason

for people to think about about the fact that about that.
Don't think anyway, here's about ads. Yeah, think about the
Washington State Highway, but role primary sponsors. If it could
happen here, if it happens to you, you'll want the
Washington State Highway, patrol the border. It's so funny. Anyway,

We're trying, but I think it's we're working on it. People.
I think it's hilarious. Yeah, please don't, please don't join
the Washington State Highway Patrol. Ah, we're back. And I

don't know about y'all, but I thought I knew what
I was talking about, and I after those ads, I
am fully Washington State Highway Patrol build. I'm on board.
Let's do it. Yeah. In April, a guy in Chinese
social media makes a post and I'm just gonnae So, yeah,
I'm just gonna read this post because it's kind of

short and it rules. I haven't been working for two years.
I have just been hanging around, and I don't see
anything wrong with This pressure mainly comes from the generation
with your peers and the values of the older generation.
These pressures keep popping up, but we don't have to
abide by these norms. I can live like Diogenes and
sleep in a wooden bucket. I can live like Heracleitus

in a cave thinking about logos. Since this land has
never had a school thought that upholds human subjectivity, I
can develop one of my own. Lying down is my
philosophical movements. Only through lying flat can humans become the
measure of all things based. Oh my god, that's the best.
I love that. Can I talk about Diogenes now, My

my man Diogenes is he's from this trennd in Greek
philosophical thought during kind of the high period of Greek
civilization where a bunch of things come out of it.
You kind of get anarchism, Western anarchism out of it,
You kind of get you get elements of like Puritan
culture from it, because there are a lot of them
are very much anti like the the pleasures of sex

and like anything pleasing, and like you don't you don't
do anything that feels good because then you become dependent
on it. Like there's a whole bunch of ship going
on um. And Diogenes was like one of the one
of the first motherfucker's who were kind of playing around
in this in this philosophical space. And when he gets
into so his early life is his dad is uh

kind of a grifter. It sounds like we know that
he got in trouble. He and his dad got exiled
for debasing currency, which could be as simple as they
were watering down for lack of a better term, like
the gold or silver and currency with less precious metals
and hiding it in order to make a profit. Right,
and like keep the extra gold. That could be what
they were doing. It also could have been like it

could have been political, because some people who were doing
this in Sinope, I think is the city which is
now in Turkey. We're doing it for political reasons. We
don't really know why. But there's actual documented archaeological evidence
of this, including right around the time he would have
been a child, we found from that period a cash
of debased gold and silver coins that had been destroyed,
so someone had like realized they've been debased and destroyed

them so they couldn't be used. So there's evidence. Anyway,
he and his dad get exiled, which means from an
early stage he goes from being someone of means, if
your dad's making the currency, you're not probably not like
a poor family um. And then they get kicked out
of their city state and they're like kind of stateless.
And so Diogenes evolves over time and like gets into philosophy.

He tries to there's this I always forget the name
of the guy that he he loved it first, but
there's this philosopher who's like, you know this cynical like
that's the school of thought he comes from he's like
a cynic um that Diogenes really wants to study from,
and the guy like assaults him as as Diogenes is like, hey, man,
I want to learn from you. Like he like hits
him or something. This keeps happening, and eventually he's like

this guy is like why do you keep doing this?
And Diogenes is like, you have something I can learn from, uh,
And so I don't really care what you do to me.
I'm gonna I'm gonna keep persisting. And so he becomes
this guy's student, YadA YadA. And the guy who he
becomes the student of is like kind of a poser
because he's talking about, like we need to give up
you know, these kind of like pleasures of of like
civilized life and and return to a more simple time

and like not enjoy all of these, you know, the
benefits of wealth. But he like he's also a rich
guy and he doesn't give up his money, and Diogenes
is like poor as hell um and stays that way um.
And so he becomes famous for he goes to Athens
and he becomes famous for a bunch of like troll
ship we don't actually have. He wrote like ten books
we don't have any of them, so we don't actually
like know what he actually wrote in his philosophy. We

just have stories from other philosophers and it's all Diogenes
being a fucking troll. So like um on one occasion,
he one of his big things was he believed that
people that if if something was an acceptable behavior, it
was an acceptable behavior everywhere, right, And so the start
of this was in in Athens, you were supposed to
go buy your food in the market, but you weren't

supposed to eat it there. That was like considered rude,
like like like like kind of seen almost, and Diogenes
would like get food and then usually by begging, because
he was that was the way he got everything. He
had no money. He would like get food and he
would eat it right in the middle of the market,
and everybody was like, that's disgusting, and Diogenes would be like, well,
if it's okay for me to eat, it must be
okay for me to eat here. That's great. Diogenes took

it a little bit further than that, because yeah, yeah,
I can see a few ways you can take this.
He extended that too, if it's fine for me to
urinator ship. It's fine for me to do it anywhere.
He defended himself masturbating it. You can get people in
public as if this is okay for me to do
in my bedroom, why can't I do this here? Right? Um,

it's very like he's he's he's a troll um Diogenes,
and he's also like again, the stories we have him
is he is like uber an aesthetic, so like at
one point, for a long time, the only thing he
owns is a wooden bowl that's his cup and and
for his food. And then, according to you know legend,
he sees this poor peasant child drinking from like cupped

hands and he throws away his bowl and he's really
angry and he's like, god, damn it, I spent all
this effort carrying around something useless, like I could put
ship in my hands. He's he's a very entertaining character
and a very like yeah, yeah, he's absolutely an eugle
um and he's yeah, he's just kind of like an

endearing piece of shit, is like his the idea you get,
but also like smarter than I mean, because because fundamentally
what Diagenes is doing is he's he's saying like, hey,
all this stuff that we think is important and good
about our culture and and like valuable. What if it wasn't,
what if none of it matters. He's like he's provoking
the thick and he's he's big into like one of

his his Like the things he comes back to a
lot is that like, dogs are clearly happier than us
and like better creatures than us, so we should just
seek to be like dogs. Um. And one of the
ways he might have died is getting bitten by a
dog and his bike getting infective. We don't really know
how he died. Um. Everything about Theogenes, this guy fucking
hates rich people. Oh he's he's and he's very funny

about it. So Alexander the Great apocryphal Lee Maybe this
probably never happened, but the story is that Alexander the
Great comes to Athens, you know, while he's on his
his blitz through conquering the known world, and finds Diogenes.
And Alexander the Great was like raised by Aristotle, right,
so he knows his philosophy. Guys like he's he's he's
seeking Diogenes out because he's a fan of this dude.

Probably through stories that were told to him in the
same way that like I'm telling them to you now.
So he comes up to Diogenes and he's like, oh
my god, I'm Alexander the Great. I'm a big fan.
If I couldn't be Alexander the Great, I would want
to be Diogenes um. And Diogenes response, well, if I
couldn't be Diogenes, I would just want to be Diogenes,
which is a fucking flex Again, probably never happened, but like,

I want to, I want to read this meme that
Garrison sent me because it it happens. It's absolutely a
perfect riptan to what what this whole thing is sort
of about. So okay, this is me. The philosopher Diogenes
was eating bread and lentils for supper. He was seen
by the philosopher and not a process gust name Aristippus,
who lives matter some dead ass Greek guy who's about

to get absolutely destroyed. He's living comfortably like flattering the king.
Aristipis says, if you would learn to be subservient to
the king, you would not have to live on lentils.
Diogenes should flied, learn to live on lentils, and you
will not have to be subservient to the king. Oh,
all sorts of based ship like that my favorite. But

know so our guy Plato is like, is like trying
to determine, trying to define like a human in the
simplest way possible. Yes, yeah, like the Platonic idea. And
he was, so he comes to the inclusion that like, well,
it's a it's a it's a it's an unwinged biped um,
and Diogenes supposedly goes grabs a plucked chicken and says,

behold a man, Like I found it, dude, rules um.
He would he would famously walk around town in broad
daylight with like a what do you call it, like
a lantern, like looking around and people like, what are
you looking for? It's like I'm looking for a man.
He would like, look at a dude, and you're like,
I'm looking for a man. And as it is to say, like,

none of your motherfucker's are people like you all think
that you're human beings, but you're really just pieces of ship.
It's just an amazing asshole. Sorry that that we should
move back to anti work, but that's yeah, yeah, but
and this is this is the funny that both both
both American and Chinese like anti work people both fucking
love Diogenes. Yeah, you know, very popular on our slash

anti work. Yeah, and you know, and the thing I
was reading about the like, you know, learn to live
on lentils and you'll never like after such a game
by King that that's a lot of what lying down becomes.
So very rapidly, this whole thing spreads into you this
like really it's a sort of astounding, you know, it

starts out of the meme and it spreads incredibly quickly,
and the CCP gets like really really mad about this.
Um so, so it's like so this this starts in April, right,
and in May there's they have this like enormous media
blitz where like like the party is like outlet basically,
and Guandong publishes like a four page long attack on

the concept of lying down, Like the cc They the
newspapers everywhere published this stuff. Like the CCP like bands
the term flat wheat yet Yeah, and it's funny because
it's like if they do this, but it's too late,
like it's yeah, and you know, so so part part
of a lying down is is about, you know, you
have this incredibly fast paced intense work culture. You have involution,

you're working more and more and you're getting nothing out
of it. Lying flat is just going no, like you
just lie down, you refuse to work. But it's it's
it's also it's more than that. And I think this
is this goes back to the sort of broader conception
of anti work. So on one of the slogans of
this movement is don't bribe property, don't buy a car,
don't get married, don't have children, and don't consume. And

you know, the last part of this is implied is
don't work. And you know, there's a lot sort of
going on here. I mean, you have you know, it's
not just sort of a critique of like we work
too hard. It's about you know, it's about the sort
of fall system. It's about the sort of patriarchy involved
in this. It's about this sort of like force capitalist consumption.
And it's about like, you know, the fact that like

literally a quarter of Chinese of China's economy or Chinese
GDP is like all this real estate bullshit that everyone
knows is going to collapse and even when it gets built,
like sucks. Thank god, we don't have anything like that here. Yeah,
I know, it's great. It's one of one of the
fun things about learding histories. You get to just watch
every country do exactly the same thing with their housing market,
like Japan do it. It's like, it's great, It's just

like you also you think this will work. What what
what extra fun thing is you get to watch every
country do the same thing with farms and it always
ended the same anyway. Yeah, So there's there's a lot
of you know, in order to sort of like facilitate this,
you know, you get back to the Diogenes, So a

lot of it what's happening is people sharing tips about
how to make the cheapest food you can possibly survive
on so you don't have to work, and so, you know,
and people the guy who wrote the Diogenes post like
he spends thirty dollars a month and he does this
by only eating dried ramen and eggs and like rice. Yeah, yeah,

it's the way to do it. This is like the
most extreme example. I actually, I don't even think it's
the most atreme example. A lot of people. One of
the things that happens a lot is munch of people
just like have left their jobs to become monks. This
this is like a whole thing Buddhist, like honestly, like absolutely,

like and I used to live in a place in
the middle of fucking nowhere, one of the most like
isolated places I've ever lived that like had power um
and one of the people who was like by neighbor,
they were within several miles of us, was a monastery.
This is in the United States, and like I went
there once too because I heard they made good wine

to try and get some of their wine, and like
none of them would answer the door. I could see
them inside all staring at me. They didn't do ship
and my my overwhelming thought was like, yeah, that seems
like a pretty good way to do it. Yeah, yeah,
I see why you guys have picked this life. It
was also during the election back from the r n
C and the d n C and was like, yeah,

that seems smarter than what I'm doing. Yeah. So there's
a lot of you know, yeah, that'd mean the stream example,
like if people going to become monks. But like one
of the things that's happening a lot is again you know,
China hasn't known it mactworker population and people are just
like fuck this, I'm going back to my village and
so and you know, and this is you know, this this,
this is where they really screwed up with the YouTube

stuff because you know, people were people, you know, they
were gambling that that you know, you could just sell
this as an aesthetic and you know, you can sell
it as an aesthetic like Chinese TikTok has this integrated
thing in it where like if you if you if
you plug like something to buy it, like you can
like click it and it'll just it'll take you like
to a link like to to to to the thing

it's selling, you know. And so yeah, they're making a
no amount of money on this, but you know, the
the the other side of that sword is a bunch
of people were like, I don't have to work this
Like I don't have to work in a city. I
can just go home. Yeah, and you know, and you know,
and you know, so you know, as you're talking about
the antiwork stuff, it's not actually possible for a lot

of people to leave their jobs. So the solution to
this was there there's a culture that developed called petting fish,
which and but but before you talking about petting fish,
you said something about, uh, plug things on TikTok and
you know who you know, you know like plugging like advertisements,
and you know who also plugs plugs advertisements. Chris, Oh no,

is it us Joe Rogan. But our new sponsor is
the Joe Rogan Experience, brought to you by Honda. Honda
Drive a Car, Do Fascism? Honda? Really yeah, Honda Garrison. Look,
we don't We're not nearly a big enough podcast to
get fucking to get a Toyota ad Are you crazy? Yeah,

that's what we can dream big. Yeah, I mean that
is the dream to sell Toyota's. I mean we could
become used car salesman in the valley. All right, here's
that ah right back, cut the heat and fish handle

it to keep it all in baby. Yeah. So there's
there's all this thing called the petting fish, which is
like Chinese slack off culture, and you know a lot
of people sharing tips abo how to slack off at work,
and it's it's kind of the equivalent like I love
that it's called petting fish. And then also like yeah,
it's it's kind of the Chinese equivalent of like boss

makes a dollar, I make a dime. That's why shoot
on company time. So people do just a lot of
like they have a lot of like genuinely fun things
they do. Like people people started putting like fake beatings
on their calendars and people wouldn't bother them. They like
they just like like, that's that is also that's that's
that's also what I do. Yeah, yeah, I mean the
if you want to make I love the term petting

fish as well, but if you want to like make
it sound cool. They're waging an insurgency from within capitalism
by by by trying to take resources away from their employers,
um without being spotted. Yeah, there's a there's a thing
in volume one of Capital about this that I was like,
I could pull this up, and then I was like,
that is too much work. I'm not going to do it.

So I don't have the thing in volume one where
talks about struggling between about labor time. But instead you
get a bunch of people like the Smike, smuggling whiskey
into work, taking through our lunch breaks. My favorite one,
absolutely favorite drink at work, especially if your nurse, Oh boy,
you've probably killed about fifty people crossed fingers crossed, so

you know how like companies all have these like these
really annoying like mindfulness fitness things. So one of these
people started doing was okay, so you know the thing
like you have to drink eight hour, eight times a day.
So they would set these alarms that's like, oh, I
have to go drink my water. And so like every
like every like fifty minutes or something, they just go
up and like spend twenty minutes getting water and they

sit back down, and it's like you've just eviscerated and
enormous part of your work day. And and the product
of this, you know, this CP is really piste off
about this, and you know, you get these giant billboards
to say no lying flat, no petting fish on him
or something. It would have been literally incomprehensible like a
year ago. It's amazing. And you know, and I think

this is something you know in the U. S anti work,
like the actual political class kind of has been ignoring
in I mean, you see a couple of f acial
antists in China, che Ching Ping like made a speech.
It was like, you know, he have a private speech
to a bunch of how people in the party, and
so a part of it a printed like a month
ago or something I've I've lost track of all time.

But like like like specifically in this speech that Ches
and Ping is making that is published in the official
like theoretical journal, he's like explicitly saying like don't lie
flat and saying quote happy life is earned through heart,
hard work. And yeah, and he's also has this, he
has his ranch. But like denouncing welfare ism, which is
great the the communist vanguard there. Yeah, yeah, preaching the

immortal science. Yeah, socialism with Chinese characteristics. Motherfucker's don't be
a welfare queen. Fo. It's great, you know, but it's
interesting people. This is the one people are really freaked
out about. Like I saw I saw like an American
writer about this, who you know, They wrote like an
article about this whole thing, and then they were like
this is gonna this is gonna cause inflation. It's like,

this is gonna be the driver of like what people
just use the word inflation to mean whatever scary thing
they want. Yeah, well they're they're like, oh, this will
this will increase wages and that will lead to inflation
and we'll get the seventies again. And I'm like, god, maybe,
but a tallow disco again, did you ever think of
that guy that we that were are reserves of a

tallow disco are critically low? Do you wonder what a
tallow disco is? No idea, that's a shame. All right,
let's continue what what what type of like is there
is there like any like you said this kind of
stuff started to like move left words. Is there any
like actual like leftist organizing in these types of places?
So so this is the thing I was getting to,
which is that, like, you know, people are starting to
do reading groups. But the problem, the problem with leftist

organizing in China is that, you know, so state policy
in the past three years has been like if you
poke your head above ground, you get arrested. So you know,
I mean, for example, there was there was a strike
at Jasick and you know a bunch of student groups
who've been organizing for a long time like tried to
do all dreaty with it, and they all got arrested.
The people who are stri people who let the strike
got arrested. All that. The students who are doing so

ald already got arrested. People like people got arrested for
like like dancing with like University students got arrested for
like dancing with the people who were like cleaning the floors. Yeah. Yeah, yeah,
like the emotional impression, yeah, like it's it's incredible and like,
you know, and the other thing that you can see

about this was so so For example, there was there
was a guy doing like delivery driver organizing. It was
kind of weird. He was like kind of an entrepreneur
kind of doing livery driver organizing. Like he got arrested,
and then you know, like a couple of weeks later,
this is people like, oh, we're gonna like do things
to improve the conditions of of delivery drivers, and you know,
who knows if that's going to happen. But like, you know,

basically like any anyone out for some reason that the
people in the tech sector have been able to get
away with more for reasons that are probably class based,
and I think this doesn't take them seriously in the
way they do with students factory workers. But you know,
and actually I mean the fact that the tech workers
like kind of recently like that there's a tech worker
thing calling for like like democratic control of production, which

is wild. But other than those guys like you can't
you know, you can't stick your head up, you get flattened.
So this has sort of been the result of this,
which is this like you know, the sort of the
like lying flat is this. You know, it's this mass
decentralized movement that you know, there's there's no one to
hit with a hammer, and you know, and and I think, like, okay,

so one of one of the other quotes that's that's
been going around about lying flat is it's it's a poem.
It doesn't poem as well in English, but this, this
is the best you've got. Lying flat is to not
bow down. Lying flat is to not kneel. Lying flat
is to stand up horizontally. Lying flat is a straight spine.
And so you know what was basically happening here is

is it's a combination of the tendencies you see in
the US, where you know, a bunch of people terrible jobs,
realizing that everything is pointless. And then also this is
a way you can, like this is the way you
can like fight your boss without like the police showing up.
And so there's there's some interesting like political stuff. So there,

there's there, there's there's there's if if you look at that,
there there's a bunch of memes here because they're great.
So there's there's been a thing with these people talking
about how people are leaks, which are like their leaks,
they're harvested over and over again and they're being exploited
and like the plants, Yeah, plants like leaks like yeah,
you eat. And so they have this thing that's leaks
that life flat cannot be so easily harvested. It's just

like a knife go like try like a machete, like
trying to swing out a bunch of leaks, but the
leaks are flat, so they can't hit them. And I
see what, you know, I like, I like all of this. Yeah, yeah,
it's it's it's it's you know, and so and so
what the product of this is that yeah, like this this, this,
this has this stuff has actually been effective enough that
the CCP, like you know, I mean, the CCP is

is taking it seriously, but you know, there's not much
they can do about it. Because like if someone's just like, oh,
I'm going to go from a job that's really high
stressed to one that's less high stress, like what are
you're gonna are you just gonna arrest them? Like what
what are you gonna do and so this, yeah, this,
this has been building for a while now, and I

don't know who who knows exactly like where it's going
to go, but it's it's it's already you know. It's
something that people can do as an individual in a
place where organized political action is impossible in a way
such that you know that their individual actions have a
collective effect, but one that can't be just you know,

pounded down. Yeah, I mean, it is certainly interesting to
see two completely separate, like anti work style movements around
basically around the same same exact time, with the same
exact points, if you're totally different languages. If you're someone
who's interested in massive global revolutionary change, this should probably
be a thing that you are looking at and studying

and thinking a lot about, because perhaps while we're arguing
about ship that people started talking about in the eighteen seventies,
this this might be a better thing to do than
than that, because because it's it seems like there's some
potential here. Yeah, and I think, yeah, I mean, you know,
if if if you if you know any any any

any actual revolutionary project that makes the world better is
going to have to be international and that's been you
know that that that that that's been the bane of
all revolutionary movements forever. But you know, okay, so we
have you know that we we have something to Chinese
the American working class agrees on, which is Diogenes is
based in work sucks. Yeah, So as you go forward

into your life this week, um, take a page from
Diogenes as his book and the people ship on the
floor of a free people or yeah, free people are
an h and M. Go walk into one and just
just just go absolutely ruin that tile. I mean, fuck it.

This is why my my my biggest political advice to
friends who has always been learned to run fast, because
if you learn to run fast, you can do so
many more fun things in a store and then run
fast that it's done right. The problem is that a
lot of people like who who want to do this
can't run fast enough. So learn to run fast to

do this. There. It's like Moose said, all political power
comes from being able to ship really fast and from
the doors of a free people. Just get that hell
out of there. The immortal silence. Look, I think I
think I think we should eve with with the real
immortal science, the the immortal words of a skeleton from

the share Zone. Just walk out. You can leave work,
social things, movie, home, class, dentist, close shops to fancy
weed store cops, if you're quick, friendships, if it sucks,
hit the bricks yeah yeah. As as some comedian who
I can't remember now said, always have an exit plan

like that. That that should be your thought for everything
everything in the world. Bricks. Hit the fucking bricks, Get
out anyway, Get out of this podcast episode now. It
Could Happen Here is a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool zone media dot com, or check us out on

the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you
listen to podcasts. You can find sources for It Could
Happen here, updated monthly at cool zone media dot com
slash sources. Thanks for listening.

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