Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, October 18, 2010

6 of 10 Chinese demand Norway apologize: survey 

Well, they're trying. The Global Times today published a survey that they claim indicates 60 per cent of Chinese people think that Norway should apologize for giving the Nobel Prize to Liu Xiaobo. The details of the survey are not nearly as significant as the fact that they took the survey in the first place. Can you imagine any other country in the world doing this? Surveys in China are always suspect, because the government controls the results, and there is no way for anyone to check the responses to see if the numbers reported are accurate. The other problem is that in China, public opinion is carefully crafted by the government. So you can pretty much guess what the results are going to be before you ask a single question. I have experienced this at the English corner. As the government position on a given issue changes, the responses I get from people at the English corner tend to follow. It is not completely uniform, because of the Internet. Some people (not many, but some) do take the initiative to become informed, and they disagree with the government's position. But that is still the exception.

But even assuming the numbers are accurate, look at the table. They took the 41 per cent who said they should just forget it, and simply subtracted that from the total, assuming that the other 59 per cent wanted Norway to apologize. But there was no question on the survey that mentioned an apology. So the results of the survey do not match the headline of the article at all. Shouldn't be surprising, coming from the Global Times, which is one of the main propaganda arms of the Party here in China. Still, the contrast between what the headline claims and what their own data shows is so striking, it makes you wonder how they dared to publish the results. Interestingly, they were left out of the print version.

The Global Times is a pretty good barometer of how the Party is feeling about a given issue, because as soon as a question arises, the Party will issue an order to the Global Times to say something about it (and tell them what to say). So it is clear that the Party is really super annoyed with Norway for giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo. Norway's repeated statements that the Nobel Committee is independent mean nothing in China. China is looking for someone to blame, and Norway is the obvious target.

But the Party doesn't seem to have caught on to the fact that this award reflects the feelings of a whole lot of people both in and out of Norway. Personally, I think Liu Xiaobo's ideas are unrealistic. He is advocating democracy, and I don't believe in democracy. I am not opposed to democracy, of course. I just don't think American style democracy would work here in China. Democracy is just a form of government. There is no inherent virtue in it. Democracy means "rule of the people." So if the people are virtuous, then a democracy would bring virtuous rule. But if the people are not virtuous, democracy would usher in the most virulent form of tyranny.

Think about it. If you have a hundred people, and fifty-one of them decide that the other forty-nine should be tortured to death, is that justice? It passes the test of democracy with flying colors. But living in such a society would be horrible indeed. But if all one hundred people are inculcated with a deeply held belief that all men are created equal, and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights, and that among these rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, then those one hundred people will be motivated to protect the rights of the minority even as they pass laws that are not necessarily favored by everyone.

So it is clear that democracy requires an underlying belief system. It has no virtue in and of itself. Democracy is God's gift to a free people. It's as if God is saying, "OK, you guys, since you are living right, and following after truth and justice, I am going to let you rule yourselves."

But what has happened to day is that America has forgotten God, and decided to worship democracy as the source of their freedom. Freedom does not come from democracy. Democracy comes from freedom. Modern Americans are busy dismantling the moral foundation of their society even as they enjoy freedoms made possible by that foundation, and turn to Godless values that never would have produced the freedoms they take for granted.

And in China, intellectuals who have been educated in the United States think they can implement American style freedom and democracy in China without paying any attention to the moral foundation necessary for that sort of democratic government to produce a free society. China is not a Christian country (yet). There are lots of really nice people in China, and the church is growing very rapidly. But Christian values have not permeated to the extent that would make democracy a viable option at this point.

So I don't agree with Liu Xiaobo. Is he a hero? I don't know. I guess you'd have to say he is one way, because he was willing to pay a price for taking a stand. If he were running for office, would I vote for him? Maybe. I would certainly be inclined to give him an ear. I don't know. But one thing is for sure. If I were a student on his campus, I would sign up for every class he taught, because he is a clear, creative thinker, and he is bringing up stuff that needs to be talked about in this country. This is a good man, and I think he should be set free.

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