Based on the digital innovations of Big Data technologies, the Chinese government attempts to create a social credit system aimed at rating the trustworthiness of people and private companies. The dystopian character of the Chinese Communist Party’s project has generated equal measures of fascination and anxiety in the foreign media. In this seminar, we will not only analyze the project’s current design and implementation but also attempt to understand the role of historical antecedents that underly the possibility of such large scale enterprises of grasping an individual through the prism of a single number. The Bao Jia system in the 1930s and 1940s, the commune system in rural China from the 1950s to the 1970s, and the Danwei system are just a few examples of earlier social engineering projects in modern China.