China’s crackdown on the ‘spiritual opium’ of gaming is part of a big social revolution pitting collectivism against individualism

China’s crackdown on the ‘spiritual opium’ of gaming is part of a big social revolution pitting collectivism against individualism. By Tom Fowdy.

The scale of Xi Jinping’s social revolution intensifies every day, and nothing seems to be safe from its reach. To go alongside the dramatic reorganisation of private tutoring, the mauling of big tech and the campaign against celebrity culture, now the Chinese state is turning its sights towards what it perceives to be excessive gaming amongst young people.

Tough new regulations aim to limit their activities on gaming platforms to just three hours a week, describing it as “spiritual opium” and stressing that it negatively impacts their mental health, as well as seeking to ensure that children focus more on their education. …

The video game industry thrives on perpetuating their products and on consuming ever more of young people’s time and resources, even if it disrupts their social and educational development. While games are fun and entertaining, they ultimately are not the real world. The effort put into them never truly achieves something tangible or worthwhile, and that is why China is firmly putting its foot down, effectively saying “enough is enough: Children should be focusing on their real priorities in their lives.” And the number one priority is education, not the fantasy universe of gaming. …

China is saying clearly that it doesn’t want, need or value gamers. It’s a pastime that is fundamentally a distraction, something that is okay in moderation, but not as a wholesale addiction given it has little social value whatsoever. In branding it “spiritual opium,” China metaphorically touches base on a powerful historical memory: that it is locked in a new ‘Opium war’ against the west, with a series of countries wanting to impose their ideological, economic and strategic preferences on China, just like the British sought to in the 19th Century with its exports of the drug from the Indian subcontinent.

But this time Beijing has resolved that this kind of subjugation will never be allowed to happen again. Xi doesn’t want a society of gamers, he wants a society of engineers, scientists, doctors, and innovators; the sort of people who can ensure that Beijing wins the technological race and gains the upper hand in the struggle with America.

hat-tip Stephen Neil