Hit-and-Run Tragedy: Which Ideology to Blame?

Many commentators are looking to blame ideology for the inaction of the 18 passers-by who failed to help an injured two-year-old in Foshan. The question is, which ideology is to blame? The Washington Post suggests that capitalism may be the appropriate scapegoat:

Several dramatic recent incidents — including one involving a 2-year-old girl run over in the road while more than a dozen bystanders ignored her plight — have opened a searing debate in China over whether, in the race to get rich, the country might have lost its moral bearings.

[…]Hu [Xingdou, Beijing Institute of Technology professor] added: “The Chinese government has made economic development its central task, which means everything is money-centered. . . . Both the legal system and the moral system have been sacrificed to money­making.”

In the case of the toddler, the driver who first hit her said in a telephone interview with a Guangdong television station that he had been talking on his phone when the girl walked in front of his vehicle. He said he kept driving because if she were dead, it would only cost him 10,000 to 20,000 renminbi ($1,500 to $3,000), but if she were alive, he would have to pay hundreds of thousands of renminbi in medical bills.

In contrast, Kevin Libin of the National Post argues that the legacy of communist policies should take the blame:

There’s no official number for the vast swaths of humanity extinguished by Mao’s revolutionary jags The Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. The opacity of the closed communist state, particularly during that period, and the state’s secrecy even to this day, means we probably never will have an entirely accurate tally. But scholars putting together whatever pieces they can find have come up with death toll estimates in the neighbourhood of anywhere from 20 to 45 million “worked, starved or beaten to death” during just four years of the Great Leap Forward and another 1 to 7 million wiped out in the “mass killings” of the Cultural Revolution.

[…]Then there are the stories of the families themselves abandoning or murdering little girls in order to save their quota for a baby boy. Indeed, these little girls reportedly being abandoned as trash is one possible reason why the people of Foshan City were so apparently unperturbed at the sight of a half-dead and bleeding little Wang Yue the other day. Such things perhaps aren’t entirely novel in China: here’s a 2001 magazine article describing (and showing a photo of) the “twisted body of a dead baby girl” “lying in the gutter of a bustling main road” with blood coming out of her. Sounds chillingly familiar, doesn’t it?

[…]if there are prevailing moral attitudes in China that led to a little bleeding toddler to be run over and left to die on a bustling street, surely the blame more likely belongs not to a few recent experiments with private, for-profit enterprise, but a cold-blooded communist regime that for decades has worked hard to deliberately debase the very value of human life.