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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Who exactly is unreasonable?

Hyperlink to the source text in Chinese: 到底是谁偏激?
Translated and proofread by @krizcpec

These days I often being criticized as biased. It appears that once being criticized so, all my arguments would become worthless for discussion - as if they are meaningless and untenable simply because of that criticism. And those critics would feel condescendingly a sense of victory without fighting. There are those who say not even a single word regarding the government's decades old of evil practices, and have an unreserved support of the government. These people have severe Stockholm syndrome, oblivious to their psychological yearning for persecution; some even feel happy to have this syndrome.

This phenomenon of hostages falling in love with their captor is nowhere more serious than in China, a country with thousand years of history under authoritarian regimes. They are willing to be on the same side of those in power, making hopeless efforts to ingratiate themselves with the powers that be; even though they themselves are the weak that are being persecuted. They would willingly form an illusion that they are not being rejected, and they would readily live in this illusion for the rest of their life. Therefore, there exist in China a curious phenomenon that can be seen in nowhere else: being on the weak side, suffering from exploitation through and through, the victims would identify themselves as belonging to the strong side. This sense of belonging is but wishful thinking rather than reality. In real life these people may be at the very bottom of the social ladder, yet the way they think has been tuned to toe the line of People's Daily – a topic I'd write in depth about in future. They would live in such an illusion in exchange for some sense of security which, as a matter of fact, couldn't even be seen as pain killers; it is, for most of the time, more like drinking poison without quenching thirst.

The Chinese people have never had freedom from fear. As a result, there is not a single day, not even a single moment in their lives that is without fear. Living constantly in fear, individuals' behaviors, expression and emotion are all unprecedentedly distorted. This unprecedented distortion has been deeply ingrained in us. Take our many euphemistic words for example, we say things that way not out of politeness, but rather a conditioned subconscious reflex that can be attributed to the externalization of the slave mentality, a result of being slaves for an extended period. Our sayings like “loose lips sink ships” is an inevitable result of the fear of free expression caused by the clampdown on freedom of speech. Numerous articles that ended up being absurdly exaggerated and unrealistic were not because of rhetoric needs, but of the fear within. This characteristic is particularly evident in a myriad of articles in the genre of essay. It is these characteristics that turn into compliments many essays that were intended to be critical of others. (Lung Ying-tai, the well-known Taiwanese scholar, attended the “Beautiful Articles” conference [here in China] more than a decade ago. She was frustrated by these characteristics, which made it hard for her to understand what exactly were being said.)

Let's name another example: the thinking and writing model of “opposing the Red Flag while holding it” (“打着红旗反红旗”) is often not because the content needs it, nor is it used to create a parody. It is for a sort of self-protection driven by fear. We have to thank all this to the lack of freedom of speech and the absence of freedom from fear. Many though would think this is not the problem. The problem, they think, lies with the critics not being able to express themselves tactfully and thoroughly, making their points sound rabid. They wouldn't take into account the fact that a single article, or even an entire book, devoted to analyzing the actual problems [in China] is still far from enough. They are not willing to read others' writing seriously, merely on the grounds that the way those articles express things differs from that they knew of. For example, they are accustomed to articles that are absurdly exaggerated and unrealistic and think that good articles should be written that way. And from this they come up with the conclusion that others are rabid

Patients with severe Stockholm syndrome, hostages in love with captors, these have become the accustomed habit and day-to-day behaviors of the Chinese people. The captors would of course love you to curry favor with them, to be in love with them. Yet whether or not they will love you in return, or if they will share anything with you depends entirely on their mood, on whether there is any kindness in them at the time. It all depends on their grace, with no reliable protection system in place. In fact, most of the time, the hostages that are in love with the captors couldn’t even get a mouthful of the captors’ leftover.

Why is that so? It is like business investments, when there is an over abundance of hostages, and every one of them wants to love the captors then in the eyes of the captors, the “value” of each of the victims depreciates significantly. This explains why you can’t secure your position as a slave even when you all compete for it. Presently there are way too many of us hostages who are in love with the captors, which is one of the reasons why we are being ignored by those in power. Too many hostages are in love with the captors, making it possible for the captors to control them with extreme ease; also, because too many hostages are in love with the captors, they become worthless – exactly why no one resigned, nor did the national flag fly at half-mast as a gesture of mourning, not even when there were so many victims.

In other words, with too many slaves around, inundating the market as if they are being dumped, it is inevitable that the value of the slaves would fall so much lower than the market value that they become garbage. Human dignity is priceless, yet part of your rights does have a price tag. It shouldn't be difficult to study Adam Smith's economic theories and equip yourself with the know-how to maximize your own interests. Some officials are willing to demean themselves when flattering their supervisors, that's because they could not think of any other way to maximize their interests. It is true that we should criticize them for how they maximize their own interests at the expense of that of others, but this beggar–thy–neighbor approach is still understandable. What I couldn't comprehend at all is that many at the bottom of this society have nothing, or being deprived with not much left to themselves; or perhaps those who have received some education – they can publish their opinions online, this I take as evidence that they have received education; however, these people are content to adopt the dog in the manger attitude. People who sacrifice their own benefits for others can be seen as noble, although in most cases this nobleness is only illusory; those who adopt the beggar–thy–neighbor approach are acting on their instinct, which may not be a good one; the most ridiculous type of persons are those dogs in the manger, they themselves get nothing, their rivals get nothing, it is the third party who are exploiting the interests of both sides that get benefited. It can be said that in China there are many people belongs to the third type, and they seem to enjoy themselves, even proud of themselves.

There are those who stand on the same side as those in power, and tend to label those who criticize the government as rabid. If you have watched the Oscar wining movie in 1954, On the Waterfront, directed by Elia Kazan, starring Marlon Brando, then you would know easily what I am going to say. There are too few people who would stand up and fight for their legitimate rights like Terry, but way too many indifferent workers who are apathetic about fighting for legitimate rights together, despite that's the only way to best protect their interests. Kazan's film ended with a triumphant Terry, all workers awaken. To me this ending is somewhat superfluous, Hollywood is at times too keen to make desserts for miserable life, and not so willing to produce remedies for it. This is what people often criticize them for their way of creating dreams. It is a wise strategy in terms of business, though. In fact, there are very few Americans who are not willing to wake up or unaware of their rights. I sometimes think that, unlike my compatriots who would resort to self-deception when their rights got infringed, the Americans tend to exaggerate infringement upon their interests. But well, this is a natural result of years of immersion in democracy and freedom.

This movie is all the more persuasive when it is related to the reality in China. I often think that if you are “happy”, “content” with your exploited life, or maybe you’re not happy but dare not say it. That’s okay. Yet if you are not only “happy” with it, but also helping our common exploiters to suppress those who fight for their own rights, then I’ll have to say that that is wrong. In China, there are just way too many miserable slaves that adopt the dog-in-the-manger approach, benefiting the rulers and the masters. These poor people are products of oppression from the regime, they deserve sympathy. But in the end, I must regrettably point out that these people fall too deep in love with the captors. They wouldn’t feel right without oppression.

If you yourselves love the captors to the extent that you don’t care about your interests, then that’s fine, you have the rights to decide what to do with your own interests. But it’s wrong to harm others’ interests because you love the kidnappers, isn’t it? Those who fight for their rights may not be noble, but while they’re fighting for themselves, they are, in a way, helping you to be free from the deprivation the captors imposed upon you. It’s understandable if you don’t thank them, you can quietly enjoy the benefits. But you should refrain from openly singing the captors praise, am I right? is that too much to ask for?

Those who come to my blog to say I have prejudice, please judge the government the same way as you judge me. If you are not disregarding the facts then I assume you would come to the conclusion that it is the officials that are most unreasonable, and this affects all aspects of our lives. Examples include the savage way of law enforcement in Shenzhen, where people are made to march through the streets, and there is gunning of citizens. These are not individual incidents. Just as we have all seen how bad our education is, and yet the government boosts how good it is; saying it is compulsory education while it has never been free of charge. Wherever we look, there are cases of human rights violations, and yet top government officials say China’s human rights conditions are the best in the world. Hosting the Olympic Games without caring the people’s interests, the government did not allow the slightest criticism of the Games. An old article of mine that poked fun at the Olympics was published on traditional media a few days ago; it has now been shelved because the Olympics cannot be criticized. The People’s Daily, and Xinhua News Agency are the country’s most rabid media, they report only the good news, cover only what the regime direct them to, and then they claim themselves to be “great”, “glorious” and “correct”, if this is not unreasonable, then what is? There is a never ending list of examples that illustrate how unreasonable the authorities are, I can keep citing forever. So those who think that I am biased please tell me, is it the government or the general public that should be labeled as rabid?

Of course, I welcome everyone to point out to me which arguments of mine are not backed by facts or have insufficient evidence. But I would not accept people who haven't finished reading the entire article and groundlessly accuse me of not having proof. When I write something, I care much about finding evidence to back my points. So basically my argument are supported by facts. I'm not saying that my viewpoints cannot be criticized, and I dare not consider myself to be correct; I only say what I think, contributing ideas that are different from the party. Whether or not my points are correct, trustworthy, you judge them. When you criticize me of being unreasonable, please, list out the facts that back your criticism, talk reason, I'd appreciate that.

And, I cannot be one hundred percent objective, no one can do that. I have my emotions. I have my flaws. I am not god, so don't ask of me the way you would of god. Nobody is god, no one is without limitations. I welcome others to help me push my limits further. But I must be on high alert to studied unfairness from the government: distortion of the truth done with the aim to fool the public. Because the government is the trustee of public interests, it is supported by our tax. It has to be under our oversight unconditionally. If the general public is said to have the rights to be “unreasonable” - which most of the times means none other than making criticism, then given this proposition, the government shouldn't have the rights to be biased. If a government is to use its one-sided accounts to fool the public, to exploit the interests of the masses, then it should be strongly denounced by the people. There are occasions when the government does something wrong. There are times when the government makes mistakes. The government should not see making such mistakes as something that is granted. Government should be restrained and supervised, otherwise enormous damage would result.

To the readers, please note that my basic conclusion is: in China it is the government, rather than the general public who are living in fear, that is more unreasonable. We can determine it this way because of the government command over the military, its access to taxpayers' money, and its high-handedness. As a matter of fact, the public don't have the capital to be rabid, their heads cannot grow back like leek.

Written at 7:49 AM on September 14, 2007 in Chengdu

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