Consummate dilettantism!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Chinese Authoritarianism is Inexcusable

In response to Ron Kean's comment here I wrote:

Whenever people say that the Chinese are so irredeemably barbaric as to abhor freedom and liberty, my mind turns - first - to Taiwan, Korea, and Japan, countries whose democracies are essentially as free as ours, and whose cultures have *ostensibly* never been “enlightened.” Then I think of Su Shi, an immensely renowned 11th century (!) Chinese poet of whom Lin Yutang (The Gay Genius) writes:
Were the word not so much abused today, we would say he was a great democrat, for he associated with all manner of men…[a]lways he was the champion of people against the government…[t]oday it may be said that he was truly a modern man.
Pearl Buck on the man:
Reading of experiments in state socialism and government controls, one cannot believe that all this happened in China a thousand years ago. Against the lively background Su Tungpo lives, so gay, so intrepid, so resourceful, that as we read he becomes for us a presence powerful and good, whose victories and defeats have meaning for modern men and women facing the same problems that he faced and fought. Su Tungpo is a man of the ages and he serves us today as he served his own people ten centuries ago and as he still serves them.
Excusing China’s authoritarianism by blaming its culture and mocking the diet of its people will only ensure its continued existence
They’ve used violence to control their own.
I should also ask, Ron, are Europeans somehow immune? WWII Germany is the obvious example, but America's internment of Japanese in concentration camps and the rise to power of such dictators as Mussolini and Franco are post-enlightenment instances of Westerners' using violence to control their own. (And don't suggest that these regimes, dictators, and measures were not popularly supported.) "For the good of the state!" was and remains the rallying cry of autocrats everywhere, and you cannot suggest that it has not been repeated ad infinitum around the world (and even [perhaps especially] in the West).

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