23 August 2019

Nightmare state

Imagine an America where Fox, Breitbart, and their ilk are the only news sources.  Where those entities are not only loyal to the Trump administration but wholly controlled by it, so that occasional dissenting voices such as Shepard Smith do not exist.  Where all serious criticism of Trump and his policies, in the media or on the net, is banned by law.  Where access to websites outside the US is blocked.  Where Trump is already established as President-for-life and can never be voted out, impeached, or otherwise removed.  Where Congress and all state governments are controlled by Trumpist Republicans and no other parties exist.  Where a million members of ethnic minorities are held in concentration camps.  Where most people accept this whole situation as normal.

That's what China is like.

As I mentioned last week, if the Beijing regime were to use military force to crush the protests in Hong Kong, there would probably be little domestic backlash since Hong Kong's wealth and privileges are widely resented in the much poorer and mostly-rural Chinese mainland.  An even bigger factor, though, is the regime's almost total control over how the news is reported.  Even in Shanghai, China's largest city, most people's view of the Hong Kong protests is one of bafflement and hostility.  The media they rely on have not reported on the real reasons for the protests (resistance to the encroachment of mainland-style totalitarian control into the relatively-free city) or on the brutality of the police.  Only one viewpoint is permitted -- the regime's viewpoint.

Things have been that way -- or worse -- for as long as anyone now alive can remember.  The "People's Republic" regime was established in 1949.  In the years before that point, the country had suffered tens of millions of deaths from civil war and the Japanese invasion; after 1949, Mao's megalomania and incompetence led to further years of chaos and mass starvation in disasters like the Cultural Revolution and the Great Leap Forward.  After Mao finally died in 1976 and the regime began to evolve into a "normal" fascist dictatorship (under an ever more threadbare veneer of communism), focused on economic growth and maintaining law and order (however brutally), it's understandable that most people felt far better off than they had been before.

But while economic development has been impressive, it did not lead to a transition from authoritarian rule to democracy as it did in Taiwan and South Korea.  On the contrary, after seeing how Gorbachev's reform efforts in the USSR in the 1980s were followed by the collapse of the Soviet state, the Chinese regime has doubled down, never giving an inch to dissenters.  The crushing of the Tiananmen protests in 1989 showed how far it is willing to go along these lines.  Enforcement in general is ruthless; for example, China has one-fifth of the world's population but carries out almost two-thirds of its executions.  At least one ethnic minority, the Uyghurs, have been subject to repression on a staggering scale.

The regime's efforts to shape reality now extend beyond its own territory.  My post last week on Hong Kong got a spamment (deleted in moderation) linking to a crude pro-regime propaganda piece; if my tiny blog is worthy of such attention, the regime's trolls must be scanning the internet pretty intensively.  Twitter and YouTube have detected large-scale campaigns to turn Western opinion against the Hong Kong protests.  Be aware of this when evaluating what you see posted on the subject anywhere on the internet.

Some have asked why protests on a similar scale to those in Hong Kong do not take place in the US, against Trump (actually the Women's Marches of 2017 drew millions nationwide), but in fact the situations are not comparable.  We can speak out against Trump and organize without fear of arrest and torture, and next year we'll have a chance to vote Trump and his party out.  In Hong Kong, taking to the streets is the only way to be heard -- some personal freedoms survive from the time of British rule, but there is no institutional mechanism for defending those freedoms against encroachments by the gangsters in Beijing, much less voting them out of office.

And even if there were, it is hard to see how it could be meaningfully exercised when most of the mainland population is essentially brainwashed by total regime control of the media they have access to.  Much of mainland China seems to be in the grip of a mindless rah-rah "my country right or wrong" nationalism to equal anything seen at an American MAGA rally.  It is, to put it crudely, a nation of rednecks.  Anyone in the democratic world who feels comfortable with the thought of such a country rising to global superpower status is out of his mind.  Imagine your worst nightmares of how Trump would transform America if he had unlimited power and time to do it -- China is already there.  The difference is that China does not even have the memory of an early time of freedom or democracy to contrast with the way it now is.


Anonymous NickM said...

Bang-on right Infidel!

23 August, 2019 02:44  
Blogger Ranch Chimp said...

Yeah, I seen what you mean here. I have been fairly loose talking about China, and I probably shouldn't be. I mean, it's pretty clear, despite all the accomplishments of it that I see, as far as infrastructure, and especially the economic growth, geopolitical recognition, etc ... they still are exactly what you say, behind all the glitz and sparkle. I mean, I know damn well, if we had a regime running our country like that, or even someone like the the Saudis, we wouldn't be able to speak out about a damn thing. I figured though, years back, when mainland China took it back over, that some static was going to come in time ... because the people of Hong Kong had that British rule for so many generations ... you know, different mindset, from Chinese in the mainland. But, when China took over, they told the world, not to worry, they will let it stay as Hong Kong ... business as usual. But, that's just it ... they only "meant" business. I also noticed a deep culture or whatever you call it, as far as Chinese people and how they identify themselves ... they go back for thousands of years ... it's so deep in roots, unlike places like US, UK or whatever. I don't whine when China takes advantage of opportunity though, like some in America do ... I credit much of their success over there, to western business ... just looking at where they were over a half century ago. My nephew spent 2 years there (lived in Beijing), never forget when he wanted to go there, his mom whined up a storm. I sat down with him, before he went, and just told him, to be careful, and don't talk government or politics, etc ... just to stay on the safe side. I told his mom, not to worry, he'll be fine ... even though, I had no idea if he be fine or not, I was just trying to comfort her, because she was concerned, and I knew how bad he wanted to go. All in all ... he absolutely loved it over there ... except for the smog. But, good to see him back home now in Dallas too. But, he told me some stories about it over there over a few beers, which was interesting to me. As far as the nightclub scene ... it was pretty wide open actually ... even underage drinking, and since he's also a guitarist (death metal), he got to jam some with locals. He worked though, instructing martial arts. Here in Dallas today, he has some sort of massage therapy business ... rubbing down folks that can afford that stuff.

23 August, 2019 05:18  
Blogger Debra She Who Seeks said...

I am waiting for another Tiananmen Square to happen in Hong Kong. It is just a matter of time.

23 August, 2019 07:02  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nick: Thanks!

Ranch: China didn't have to turn out this way. Taiwan shows that Chinese culture is compatible with democracy. India shows that even a poor and uneducated society can sustain democracy. The tragedy of China is that, as in Russia, a well-organized gang of tyrannical ideologists was able to seize power at a critical point of vulnerability in the country's history. Once that happens, they're very hard to get rid of.

Debra: That does seem the most likely outcome, based on the regime's history. I certainly don't trust Trump to make the regime pay much of a price for it.

25 August, 2019 01:27  

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