Organogram of the Week

Not sure where this diagram originally comes from, but it turned up in my morning deluge of Tweets (with cuddly furry friend embellishment of mine)…


How does the Deputy Assistant Vice-Secretary of the Propaganda and Thought Work Leading Group cram his phone number on his business card? And how do they conduct ‘thought work’? Do they all sit silently around a table staring down intensely? Even more mystifying are the Spiritual Civilization Offices (in the plural – just one isn’t enough). This takes creepiness onto a whole new Orwell-meets-Vatican level.

The ‘organogram’ describes the domestic propaganda system. The offshore equivalent might include the following…


And, instead of the Central Party School, it would include an institution in Beijing (whose name I forget – possibly something to do with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) that hosts Hong Kong civil servants and other innocent victims on short familiarization-with-the-motherland courses.

Someone I know who spent a week at this place a year or so ago was told in one class that Taiwan’s now-president-elect Tsai Ing-wen was above all else a spinster, and by implication a worthless and laughable waste of space of no consequence to anyone. In another class, the Hongkongers were informed by a straight-faced, matter-of-fact lecturer that, as a result of demographic and other trends, Russia’s Far East would become part of China one day. The attendees got the impression that this was self-evident (only clueless Hongkongers had to have it spelled out to them) and the day was due within an in-our-lifetimes time span.

The scariest scenario, which explains the occasional tantrums and other-worldliness of the official line: the leaders at the very top of the ‘correct thinking’ hierarchy actually believe the stuff themselves.

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17 Responses to Organogram of the Week

  1. I think you’ll find the US State Department’s propaganda apparatus much more complicated. Sadly, most components don’t even know they’re in it. They think they’re journalists.

  2. Gooddog says:

    Ministry of Truth!
    Great great chart.
    Imagine living in this world? Imagine having to shovel this sh*t into your brain and out your mouth all day long. You would pray for a labotomy.

  3. Joe Blow says:

    “Hooked” fish & chips shop on Caine Road serves excellent fish & chips, with courteous service and at a very reasonable price.

    My name is J. Blow and I approve of this message.

  4. Red Dragon says:

    Orwell meets the Vatican, eh? Thought-provoking stuff.

    Do you think that this explains why so many of the senior Hong Kong “civil servants” who seem so blithely able to regurgitate this crap are left footers?

    Perhaps, in the end, it’s all a load of Papal bull.

    I think we should be told.

  5. LRE says:

    @ Enid Pilger-Blyton

    As your more illustrious namesake John often says:

    One of my favourite stories about the Cold War concerns a group of Russian journalists who were touring the United States. On the final day of their visit, they were asked by their host for their impressions.
    “I have to tell you,” said the spokesman, “that we were astonished to find, after reading all the newspapers and watching TV day after day, that all the opinions on all the vital issues are the same. To get that result in our country, we send journalists to the gulag. We even tear out their fingernails. Here you don’t have to do any of that. What’s the secret?”

    He also points out:
    “In 1977, Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, revealed that more than 400 journalists and news executives worked for the CIA. They included journalists from the New York Times, Time and the TV networks. In 1991, Richard Norton Taylor of the Guardian revealed something similar in [the UK].”

  6. Older Than Oldtimer says:

    As for Spiritual Civilization Offices, each province and autonomous region has one . . . . and at one level lower each municipality and most prefectures have one . . . and one level below this many counties have one bringing the grand total into the high hundreds!

  7. Enid Ronay says:


    He uses hoki not cod. Nothing special and who would want a Scotsman to cook you anything? But you can order a Cola and ask for a “hoki- cokie”. It’s worth going just to say that.

  8. Inspired says:

    and a cat-owning spinster at that. They’re the worst ones

  9. Joe Blow says:


    I specifically asked for hoki: it’s the cod of New Zealand. But coming from the North, you probably wouldn’t know that. And the gentleman had the good sense not to sprinkle some vile vinegar on my fries. I ate mine with mayonnaise, like the French intended.

  10. FOARP says:

    @LRE – As with a lot of what Pilger says, the “story” is almost completely made up by him, however one might reflect that news media reports the news, and if they do so accurately then there is likely to be a certain convergence in what they say.

    You might also reflect that Bernstein’s actual claim was that 400 journalists had done work of any kind for the CIA since its founding – that is, over the course of 25 years, and that they had cut back on this drastically in 1973. He also pointed out that many of the journalists used in this fashion were ex-OSS people used during the 1950’s and 60’s. Richard Norton Taylor’s claims were in a similar vein.

    Of course, Pilger’s Pilgerisms do in a way highlight something very important about the CCP leadership’s willingness to believe their own propaganda: it is dependent on Orwellian double-think, the simultaneous believing and disbelieving of something, and this is only sustainable when you create an atmosphere of doubt surrounding everything in which the truth essentially doesn’t exist.

    If you believe that, for example, foreign media is a evil force acting to subvert CCP rule, then it becomes important to create doubt about the independence of foreign media however unreasonable – so decades-old stories are dug out and hyped in order to create this impression. The essential truth: that the vast majority of foreign reporters are only interested in getting juicy stories and do not care about China’s political system, then gets lost.

    It is only with the creation of a haze of doubt as to what the truth actually is, that dictatorial regimes can get away with what they do. Perhaps no-one actually believes that, for example, Gui Minhai turned himself in, but create an atmosphere of doubt around him and his past, make it so that anyone who protests at his apparent kidnapping can be accused of down-playing manslaughter and sympathising with a criminal, and people will no longer protest but instead give an apathetic shrug of their shoulders. Meanwhile the official version of events goes unchallenged, and eventually, for the sake of a quiet life, given lip-service.

  11. @Joe Blow – fries ain’t chips.

  12. Stooge says:

    It’s easier when you see it in Chinese ideograms.


  13. Cassowary says:

    Ah, “socialist spiritual civilization”, that’s a blast from the past. A slogan invented by Deng to combat the “spiritual pollution” coming in as a result of his own reforms. No drinking, no whoring, no adorning yourself with bling, no lavish banquets, no porn, no porn, and especially no porn. I thought they’d long given up.

  14. LRE says:


    Your mileage obviously varies — 400 over 25 years seems like a whole hell of a lot of paid government spies in journalism to me, especially as it only covers the CIA. I suspect the other spooks like the NSA, FBI, DIA and the armed services etc have their own employees in similar numbers.

    I think what Pilger — with no little aid from your good self — very succinctly points out the fact that all media (including China, the US and UK) contains a very large helping of propaganda, but most people who read that media are passionate in their believe that whilst other people’s media obviously contains loads of propaganda, their media doesn’t.

    See also: Ours is the only true religion: everybody else’s religion is made up.

  15. Knownot says:

    “Propaganda and Thought Work Leading Group”

    In a basement, in a room,
    Still and bloodless as a tomb,
    In that deep and airless cellar
    Sits the master story-teller.

    Hunchbacks, dwarves, and crippled elves
    Fret and fight among themselves
    To bring the saddest stories in
    For their overlord to spin.

    Give him loss and he will weave it
    Into gain, and they believe it.
    Sickness, failure, and distress
    Turn to glory and success.

    Kidnap, murder, vice, and theft
    In his fingers, lithe and deft,
    Manipulated, rubbed, and rolled
    Turn to platinum and gold.

    Give him lies and he will make
    Truth, constructed from the fake.
    Honoured guests have copulated
    With virtual women he created.

  16. FOARP says:

    @LRE – So Gui Minhai turned himself in? Peter Dahlman is an agent of shady, undefined, “foreign forces”? SARS was basically not a problem until the Chinese government declared it to be a problem? The Tibetan uprising in 2008 was the work of foreign agents? The 2009 Xinjiang disturbances too? None of the Politburo members were corrupt, until of course they were declared corrupt? There was no powdered milk scandal, until one was declared by the Chinese government? Chen Guangcheng (a blind man for Christ’s sake) was a foreign agent? So was Liu Xiaobo (and his wife)? China wasn’t building an aircraft carrier and didn’t obtain an aircraft carrier through false pretences, until of course the Chinese government declared that it was and it had?

    I could go on, but you get the picture. There might be no true religion, but there definitely is a single objective reality, and in the case of things that it is inconvenient for the Chinese government to recognise as true you will not see this reality reflected in local media, dominated as it is by the Chinese state. The BBC, New York Times, Guardian, etc. does, by and large, report it, however.

  17. LRE says:

    Don’t be alarmed: that wooshing sound above your head is my point going past, no need to flinch or go full cappuccino neo-con.

    The Western media doesn’t have to cover up stuff in those cases — they’re all delightfully on-messsage for their bosses (apart from the powdered milk scandal, where they have to gloss over the embarrassing point that any truly free market would inevitably lead to mass poisonings).

    Although I see we’ve succumbed to a spot of Western media propaganda there too — building or buying aircraft carriers is not a crime, much though Western governments think it is when it’s not them that’s doing it. The Russians (the misguided victims of the dastardly PLAN double-cross) seemed very unperturbed by it, as they offered the PLAN 50 Su-33s to go with it, only a year after it got dry-docked in Dalian.

    But have a squizz at Western media coverage of Iraq in 2000-2003, Libya, Syria, Israel and the Ukraine and “in the case of things that it is inconvenient for Western governments to recognise as true you will not see this reality reflected in local media”.

    They will omit realities like the US & UK arming al Qaeda in Libya and then shipping many of the same guns to arm al Qaeda and ISIS in Syria. They will not contextualise the Paris Attacks with the fact that France had been bombing ISIS regularly for a year before the attacks. They will gloss over the fact that there were no babies being killed by Iraqis in Kuwait in 1990 or that 15-year-old Nayirah al-Ṣabaḥ was actually the Kuwaiti Ambassador to the US’s daughter, not an eye witness. They won’t mention Kermit Roosevelt’s overthrow of Iran’s democratically-elected secular government, in favour of a US-backed brutal dictatorship (at the behest of BP for the oil) in connection with Iran-US relations today. And whatever you do, don’t mention the WMDs. I mentioned them once, but I think I got away with it.

    And — with apologies to the Iranian poet — the mendacious media once having lied moves on. Nor all thy piety nor wit can lure it back to cancel half a line. Because there are new stories going on now; that was old news; we were mislead.

    They do these things for just long enough to get what they want: each consecutive war is framed as a discrete, extraordinary, exceptional “event”, not the reality that perpetual war has been the status quo for NATO over the past 75 years. Each war is presented in the media out of any context, lest the public work out that the reason there’s a problem is because of the last intervention by the West.

    As to there being a single objective reality — well Copenhagen interpretation and Everett-Wheeler-Graham models aside, you may be right, but anything anyone says about it is, ipso facto, merely a subjective opinion about objective reality, and it is thoroughly shaped by the observer’s culture and language as well as the sorts of influence that are more tangible, so the validity of reports of any single objective reality are somewhat moot.

    The Chinese media is owned by a certain set of people with a certain set of interests which they promote through it, but so is the Western media.

    Nice to note your number one non-biased media choice is the UK Government’s own state-owned and run media (Keep the faith!) — their propaganda over Israel and Iraq are the stuff of court case and legend: they even censored the word “Palestine” from a rap on a late night hip-hop show on Radio 1Xtra, which is more than a little reminiscent of the sort of obvious thing Xinhua would pull over Tibet, eh?

    Indeed your third example of the reporters of “objective” reality have taken the BBC to task for such “unreflected reality” — so would the owners of the real “one, true reality” please stand up?

    Uh-oh! Holy cow! Even the Fox News guy stood up! You can’t all be right… oh, wait: maybe we shouldn’t believe any of them.

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