Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Harbinger of Reform?

The lead story in today’s Washington Post, "For Chinese, Peasant Revolt Is Rare Victory," tells the story of rural peasants holding off a massive police raid to shut down their protest. And what were they protesting?

Pollution. (The New York Times reported on this a few months ago as well.) Seems the peasant farmers were tired of being the dumping ground for soaring air pollution, which is reached the point of severe and obvious crop damage, anong other effects.

Recalling that the Chernobyl nuclear accident was among the many factors contributing to the demise of the Soviet Union, perhaps a backlash to China’s environmental degradation will contribute willy-nilly to political reform.

Discussions - 8 Comments

I would concur...this bodes ill for the Chinese government. All authorian governments require the backing of most of the people most of the time, which allows them to ’handle’ the odd sub-group (e.g., the students in Tiananmen Square) who dares to protest. This is different. These are the rank-and-file Chinese, the people normally counted on to support the government quiescently. It suggests growing grievances with authoritarianism. If this can be combined with the increasing demand for democracy among the educated and affluent, the Chinese government will be forced to change its MO.

Message deleted due to asininity.

My, my, what hostility, Mr. "Burroughs." Of two things I am certain. First, I’m glad the real ERB isn’t alive to witness the ill use of his name. Second, the source of your resentment lies in your own lack of education and/or stupidity. Go ignorant-up some other blog.

Mr. "Burroughs," please, let’s try to maintain at least a semblance of civility on this blog, okay? If you don’t find the topics or posts to your liking, you would do well to realize that you are by no means required to visit. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable posting on a site devoted to professional wrestling.

I’m not sure how direct a connection one can draw, but I have to suspect that in a way this farmers’ protest may also betoken that the "demonstration effect" of Hong Kong’s open culture of free speech and peaceful civic protest is beginning to take hold in "deep China."

Hong Kong is a major hot potato and thorn in the side for Beijing. A half-million or a million Hong Kongers in the streets (and they’ve had demonstrations that big) with TV cameras on them simply can’t be dealt with "Tiananmen-style." Now that Hong Kong is a part of the PRC (allegedly on the "one country, two systems" principle), Hong Kongers can and do make Beijing and its policies a target of protest. The Hong Kongers are only one city of a few million, but they’re a rich and influential group, and the rest of China watches them.

You can bet that keeps the Politburo up nights.

Message deleted due to asininity.

I would have to object to the post by Mr. Crenshaw. It is not the case that authoritarian governments require the backing of most of the people most of the time. In point of fact it is quite the opposite. They require the majority of the authority, hence the title, and all of the military and political power that requires. Most of the time this entails the use/threat of force and the submission of the will of the people through fear. Any student of Machiavelli is aware of this. Take Stalinist Russia as an example. The real Gulags were not in place through the support of the majority of the people.

Allan - Coercion is the least efficient form of social control. It’s quite expensive...soldiers to equip and pay, networks of spies to facilitate, security to provide at all levels, and at the same time a generally uncooperative civil society that puts a real drag on the economy. No, disagree all you want to...no police state can long survive without the willing cooperation of a good segment of the population. When that backing is lost, as it was in Russia in the mid-1980s, then the police state crumbles pretty quickly. Behind every dictator are millions who help him either directly or indirectly through inaction and general approval (e.g., the Sunnis in Iraq).

As for being unaware of gulags, well...that’s what all the Germans said of the concentration/death camps. It was a lie, of course.

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