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« That Theodicy Thing | Main | Confucianism as a State Ideology? I Don't Think So.... »

June 04, 2008


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Too 'pie in the sky' I'm afraid, ... typical Confucian/Mencian Idealism. It drives me to distraction! Constantly looking at the world as it could or should be, and not how it really is. How about some Realism for once?, specifically on what happened on this day. What would have happened if these student Idealists succeeded? Russia in the '90s that's what, but 5 times worse.


Why should we take your speculation about possible alternate outcomes of June 4th as "realism"? You do not know, indeed you cannot know (as is true for all of us) what might have happened, but you simply assert, without any basis, that China of 1989 would somehow have prefigured Russia in the 1990s. The first, rather easy, riposte, is simply to point out that China is not Russia, so we should not expect Chinese developments to parallel Russian developments. Indeed, your pessimistic assumptions could be taken as mere projections of an anti-democratic ideology, which has nothing really to do with "realism." If "realism" is to consider "how things are," then shouldn't we take Japanese and Taiwanese and Korean and Indian democracy as confirmations of the possibility of democratic transitions in Asian, Chinese and economically less developed contexts?

The following link is the best answer for your question, unfortunately, it is written in Chinese, I put the link here to show that Chinese people are not ignoring 6.4 as if it didn't happen; on the contrary, it is a landmark.

Here are some of the questions for brainstorming:
1. There were demonstrations over 100 cities in 1989 in China, which means a lot of people are dissatisfied then. What happened to them? Were they totally brainwashed? If so, does CCP have a more powerful propaganda machine than CNN? Or Chinese people are just easily doped?
2. I can’t believe it was 19 years ago! … A lot of water has passed through the bridge and a new generation is in their demonstration age. They once again linking up the Tiananmen Square and shouting slogans. What went wrong, they are shouting to support Wenchuan, rather then trying to overthrow their government as they are supposed to do?
3. Where are the 6_4 student leaders and the student leaders’ leaders? Who are footing their bills? Why are most of Chinese (99% but you can debate that) treating them as trash? Anyway, who fixed their passport and visa and exit plan before the “massacre”? ...

I totally agree Mark Twain that "Prediction is difficult, especially about the future." Chinese are lucky and I would be superstitious to say that heaven favor China as sacred vehicle because history gave Chinese a harsh lesson just like a good disciplinary tutor. … What happened after 89? The voluntary surrender of the Soviet Elite and the ensuring breaking up of the Evil Empire (I just love Reagan for saying it as it is); … the Harvard Plan… the massive looting in the name of privatization and democrazation … the deindustrialization… the breaking-down of health care system and millions upon millions early death…NATO at Russia’s doorsteps after Russia’s disarmament …the no quarter allowed policy… BP and Exxon in Caspian Sea … the first and then the second Gulf war… the rising oil price …

It is all somehow connected with the answer to the first three questions…


I respect your optimism but deplore your sense of history. Don't like the Russia in the '09s model, then how about Weimar Germany?

And citing Japan, Taiwan and South Korea would be something the CCP leadership would do to justify June 4th. Why, because these East Asian tiger economies are excellent examples of a One Party State (Japan's Lib Dems), authoritarian elite rule (Taiwan's KMT) and military dictatorship (South Korea's generals).

You forgot to cite dynastically ruled Singapore, ... the true model for the Chinese leadership.

Perhaps there is no reconciliation between optimism and pessimism. But the dueling historical analogies game doesn't really settle anything. Interpretations are too variable. The PRC does not dare cite Taiwan and SK as historical models because, while they were authoritarian, they eventually democratized in ways the Communist Party refuses to countenance. To cite them in reference to China simply raises the question: when (not whether) democratization will happen? As to Singapore, the only thing it might be a model for is....Cleveland (i.e. it is a city, not much of a state).
The Wiemar comparison seems quite a stretch. If we have a global economic meltdown on the scale of 1929, maybe there would be some parallels. But three decades of extraordinary economic growth have made China into something quite different from the Germany of the 1920s. Is Chinese resentment of Japan as politically powerful and manipulable as German resentment toward France in the 1920s? I don't think so....Would a liberalizing China necessarily look like Germany of the 1920s? No. I suspect Chinese democratization would be quite different from German or Japanese experiences. Different times, different places. Why believe in the Wiemar analogy when historical processes are always more multifaceted and unique to specific contexts?

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