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Everything posted by Azarkon

  1. Or the end of the Chinese decade, heh. As I said before, it's hard to predict the future of China. Too much rests on the internal conflicts within the CCP, though if the Olympics goes well, the reformers should have a window of opportunity once the recession hits (one seems to be coming).
  2. The beauty of literary criticism lies not in the result (which is bogus and never read) but in the process of connecting the dots. It's such an exercise in creative bull****ting that you'll definitely become a crazier more inventive person because of it.
  3. There are few things I detest more than Fascism (which the Swastika exemplifies). Yet, if I had to resort to thought control (which this case essentially boils down to) in order to defeat Fascism, I'd seriously consider whether I've already lost. Simply put, the State has no right to punish a person for a crime he did not commit, even if the ideology he subscribes to makes it likely that he'd commit it. Just as I wouldn't call for pedophiles to be thrown in jail simply because they are sexually attracted to children, I wouldn't call for fascists to be "quarantined" simply because they might be a bad influence. Don't get me wrong - there are certain times when restrictions to free speech are called for (ie hate speech in public areas, libel against another person, inciting of violence) because of their blatant disruptive effects on society, but this is not one of them. People should be allowed to believe whatever they want so long as how they act out those beliefs are in accordance to the rules of the land. All men should be equal before the law, regardless of their creed.
  4. I was painfully reminded of just how far we are from the achieving that dream while watching Wall-E, recently.
  5. The problem with predicting anything about China is that there's no way to predict, based on only what we know now, how things will go after the Olympics. It's the reason I don't want to play political prophet - the chances of me getting it right are slim (and that applies to most people, though in any binary prediction, typically one side will be right, and the other side will be wrong, though they'll never admit it ) Chinese politics is one of those things that depends alot on the people running it. A whole spectrum of opinions exist in the decision-making body of the Communist Party, as you might expect - from liberal reformists to moderates to conservatives to Communist hardliners to Confucian scholars. Who gets the upper hand will depend completely on the success of the Olympics, and even then it's hard to predict who'll take the credit. I mean, right now you have the pro-reform Hu Jintao/Wen Jiabo dynamic duo at the helm, so presumably if the Olympics succeed the CCP will be more open to political reform. But then again, the Ministry of Propaganda and the Ministry of National Security are both dishing out some harsh regulations for the Olympics, so if it's a success they'll take credit, too. Then there's the matter of foreign protests/riots/terrorist attacks - if they happen, expect China's hardliners to take control. And of course, no one can predit what policies the CCP will implement after the Olympics are over and the drunken fervor of nationalism is replaced by a sober look at China's Big Problems (which are corruption, pollution, social security, and income disparity - not Tibet).
  6. As for the game industry, I expect the following: * More developers moving onto consoles. * More MMOs. * More indies/hobbyists entering the scene. * Some shift of focus from eye candy. * Blizzard making out like a bandit.
  7. Man, you guys are pessimistic about the US.
  8. Ah, but what you've got, thus far, isn't multi-culturalism. It's superficial diversity, the sort of arguments liberal-humanists have been putting out for ages: difference is only skin deep. Well, it's not, and multi-culturalism works only insofar as people of different cultures are willing to assimilate themselves to the host culture. That's not multi-culturalism. That's monoculturalism - with some minor variations. What I argue is that the ideology of multi-culturalism is failing, and that soon Western society will have to find a different kernel of core values. In some sense that's already happened. Americans are no longer clamoring about tolerance and diversity. Nowadays, we talk about democracy, human rights, and the rule of (secular) law. There's nothing fundamentally multi-cultural about any of these concepts. Democracy is dictated (not a democracy? Regime change!) Human rights are judged (no freedom of speech? Regime change!) The rule of (secular) law is enforced (shariah law? Regime change!) Europeans have, in some sense, yet to experience this epiphany. Your governments are still wavering between whether to clamp down, hard, on the Muslim immigrants clamoring for Islamization or to try and appease them. Well, there is a growing chorus of voices - grassroots in origin, I'd argue - that want to do the former. You're actually part of this chorus, even though you might not think of it as such. How do you define globalism? I have to ask, because there are many people who think that "globalism" means "global Westernization" and that's just not what it is.
  9. Nah, just trying to observe things from an outsider's POV, which is refreshing. Joining in the chorus of righteous condemnation - now that would be Azarkon on shrooms.
  10. People will tolerate anything - except those things that they refuse to tolerate. This is why "multi-culturalism" has failed, at least in the eyes of a growing number of people in the West. The "feel good" era of diversity rested on the assumption that people who are different, are only different in the right areas. "Tolerating" a different taste in food, a distinctive style of clothing, a certain aesthetic, etc. cost us nothing. Who doesn't want to be able to order Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Mexican, Italian, or French all from the comfort of one's own home? Who doesn't like seeing funny-dressed characters in TV shows (all speaking English) acting out their odd and exotic cultures? Who doesn't want an extra company holiday for the Spring Festival, or to watch someone fast during Ramadan? Who cares if American kids are turning to anime instead of Marvel comics? Those aspects of cultures are trivial, yet it is that triviality that makes them superficial. When you reduce a culture to the equivalent of a culinary choice, it's easy to be "tolerant." But cultures are far more than the food people eat, the clothes they wear, and the TV shows they watch. And that is what we are slowly coming to terms with, here in the West - that people in different cultures are not only different superficially, but also deep inside. They don't just eat and dress differently. They talk differently (Spanish). They socialize differently (extended families). They think differently ("Asian values"). They believe differently (Islam). They act differently (honor killing). And suddenly - or perhaps, slowly - diversity and multi-culturalism no longer seem such great ideas. For you see, when it comes down to it, people are not tolerant. We don't think that every culture is right in its own way. We don't accept that morality is relative. We don't believe that all beliefs are equally valid. We just don't - and so multi-culturalism fails, and in time so will the West's honeymoon with diversity and tolerance. In time, Western culture will strike back - hard - against the likes of Islam and even globalism (which is, after all, a compromise between cultures). What form this retaliation will take is hard to predict (it could be a resurgent Christian fundamentalism, strident atheism, bloodthirsty liberalism, etc.) But what you are witnessing is the transition, maybe even the calm before the storm.
  11. Plenty of other great empires in history: Macedonian Empire, Ottoman Empire, Chinese (Han, Sui, Tang, Ming, Qing) Empire, Byzantine Empire, Holy Roman Empire, Mughal Empire, etc. etc. etc. All have left indelible marks upon the peoples they ruled. (Expansion time!)
  12. Gore Verbinski made the Pirates moves, which I enjoyed, and also the Ring adaptation, which I also liked. Yeah, it's probably going to be a pop movie with only the semblance of depth, but that pretty much describes Bioshock anyhow. So long as he can provide good visuals and hit the right emotional spots, I think it could be fun.
  13. The controversy over the death penalty has always struck me as the debate between the eternally optimistic and the pathologically cynical. What can change the nature of a man?
  14. It is too early to tell how Saddam will be remembered by history.
  15. Maybe, just maybe, treating China like a "child" of any sort is part of the problem? Surely the best way you get people to listen to you is by patronizing them, by acting like you know best and they, being young and inferior, should simply submit to your greater wisdom? Clearly this is going to work for a culture where respect - epitomized by the elaborate social etiquette between children and parents, adults and elders, men and women, friends and foes, etc. - is central to social conduct. Want China to listen? Start treating it like an actual world power, as opposed to something that the West can "guide" towards its "acceptance" in the "international" community. The Chinese don't want to be accepted. They want to be respected. If it takes hard power for them to be respected, that's precisely what they'll do, and so far, there's been no indication whatsoever that the West cares about anything else. One look at the dynamics of US politics on the world stage tells you that "international approval" is a paper sheep. How many people protested the War in Iraq? Would you believe me if I threw out a number like, oh, 10 million? Did it matter to the US leadership? Not one bit. In fact, now that the situation in Iraq is stabilizing, everybody's pretty much forgotten how against the war they were in the beginning. Give McCain eight more years, and he'll have the war remembered as one of the great triumphs of US foreign policy. You think you're going to convince the Chinese anything about Tibet, when this is how you conduct foreign policy? Why shouldn't the Chinese believe that they, too, should ignore international opinion, given how easily it is brushed aside by results? Give the Chinese ten more years, and they'll have Tibet in the bag, too. Would the world have forgotten Tibet, then? Probably. The truth is, **** Cheney's right when he answered, "So?" to the accusation that the Bush administration is going against public opinion. Public opinion doesn't matter. It's changed all too easily by results. And that's what the Chinese leadership is banking on - results. War can be justified by victory. Repression can be justified by stability. Torture can be justified by security. Slavery can be justified by wealth. Murder can be justified by the greater good. In a world where invading a foreign country can still be justified by political rhetoric, the Chinese aren't going to have qualms about keeping ahold of territory they invaded fifty years ago. They believe - rightly so - that the West is more concerned about curbing Chinese power than it is about actual moral conduct because in the end, that's the real reason you're seeing all this hue and cry from Western politicians regarding China's suppression of a riot, and not regarding far worse things happening elsewhere in the world (*hint* Africa).
  16. Oh, China has those "shows" all the time. Each year it celebrates cultural diversity, minority group days, etc. But at the end of the day, good feelings only get you so far. Underneath, it's all about territorial rights, and England, if it's not careful, will have to deal with this soon enough.
  17. Well, I'm not sure it reinforces Chinese national identity as much as it challenges. Modern China thinks of itself as a multi-ethnic state; the alternative that various separatist groups are pushing has to do with ethnic separatism - they assert that China is the country of the "Han" ethnicity and that they, being of a different ethnicity, have the right to separate. This is a fundamental challenge to the Chinese identity because full submission to it means that "Chinese" has to become a "Han" identity as opposed to a national one. But if that was the assumption, China's history would have been very different. For one thing, China would not have pursued its policy of trying to placate minorities and winning hearts & minds; they'd probably have practiced something more like apartheid and partition in order to carve out as large of a "Han" territory as possible after the collapse of the Qing. In retrospect, that would've resulted in a very bloody 20th century for the Chinese, but they might've come out of it more homogeneous and stable than they are now.
  18. I'd stick to academic sources, if I were you. Neither Western media nor the Chinese media can be trusted on this issue.
  19. That would depend on what you mean by criticizing China. People who pretend that there aren't any problems in China are obviously lunatics, but there's a huge range of opinions between "China is perfect! It's all a Western conspiracy!" and "FREE TIBET!" My research has led me to believe that most well-informed people (ie Goldstein) take a middle-of-the-road approach and argue for a strategic settlement that would preserve Chinese political power in Tibet while granting Tibetans sufficient autonomy to self-govern. They argue for a curbing of both the PRC's and the Tibetan government in exile's rhetoric. On the other hand, websites like tibetjustice, savetibet, etc. may appear to be well-informed, when in actuality they basically ignore arguments from the other side. If you dig deeper, you'll realize that many of the claims made by such websites can be challenged; this is not surprising, because the Free Tibet movement is a quite influential in determining Western perceptions on the issue, and as such if you stick to English language, non-academic sources, most of the material will have been influenced or produced with such a bias. Consequently, browsing pro-Tibet websites and Western media sources does not make you well-informed with regards to the Tibetan question. You have to go alot further than that.
  20. People have to balance the quest for freedom, which is legitimate, with geo-political realities. It is incorrect to say that the Chinese government has never supported Tibetan cultural and religious autonomy. They did in the 1970s. The result was the 1989 Lhasa uprising. The Tibetan government-in-exile (comprised mostly of the former religious aristocracy that fled during the 1959 uprising) is vehemently anti-China and has never demonstrated that they want anything less than full independence. It is this organization that essentially prevents the Chinese government from softening its stance on Tibet - any move to do so inevitably moves the province to formal independence. The problem with that is that the PRC cannot afford the formal independence of Tibet. It would lose the security of its southwestern border to a hostile regime that would, in all likelihood, become a US/Indian protectorate and subsequently clamor for a Greater Tibet consisting of territory in the current Chinese heartland (the recognition of which, in case you didn't know, is one of the defining issues for the Tibetan government-in-exile). It'd trigger several other independence movements in Xinjiang (East Turkistan), Inner Mongolia, Guangxi, Outer Manchuria, etc. The PRC would not last, especially as it becomes clear that the government cannot defend the state's territorial integrity. Some argue that this is a good thing, but it obviously isn't from the perspective of anyone who actually belongs to the Chinese nation. Nobody wants their own country to break up and the ensuring chaos that would result. It's also unclear that a break-up of China will lead to a more stable East Asia. If anything, the newly independent ethnic states will instantly become embroiled in border conflicts, requiring the presence of foreign peace-keeping forces. The US would, naturally, love such a setup - it'd get more bases in East Asia to strengthen its regional hegemony. But if it's true freedom you're after, I doubt you'll see alot of it. Alot of this has to do with the current political environment - East Asia has become the focal point of several great powers, and in the event of a Chinese break-up, these great powers will scramble to fill the vacuum. Landlocked provinces like Tibet and Xinjiang, which lack market access but have plenty of natural resources, will be drawn into supplier relationships; they'll become the equivalent of East Asian Saudi Arabias - trading resources for legitimacy. At the end of the day, it'll simply be the triumph of one political class over another, because in reality the truel agitation is and has always been coming from the former Tibetan political elite (ie this is not a grassroots movement). Now, I have no doubt that the Tibetan government in exile can do a good job of running Tibet. But I also have no doubt that the PRC is capable of doing the same, if it wasn't under permanent secessionist pressure by the Tibetan government in exile. At the end of the day, how you view Tibet depends on what you think the basic unit of statehood should be. If you think that a people's freedom can only be aptly represented by ethnic-national entities, then you obviously have to say that Tibet should be Tibetan. If, on the other hand, you believe that federalism is the way to go, and that arching, multi-cultural political entities like China are better for regional security, stability, and self-determination (in the sense of resisting outside powers in the current political climate), then you necessarily have to argue for China. To me, there is no "right" answer to this question, even if you knew all the facts. Taking anything more than a casual "they should compromise and work something out" stance requires adopting a certain bias.
  21. Trade sanctions were placed in the aftermath of Tiananmen Square, which was far worse, repression wise, than Tibet. I've heard Chinese sources tell me that the CCP was -this- close to implementing democratic reforms if the Beijing crackdown didn't work, which is understandable given that a good portion of the military and political elite were sympathetic (in fact, the government had to bring in troops from afar because the PLA divisions near Beijing refused to suppress the demonstrations). The sanctions didn't do much though, from what I could tell, and were lifted soon after. So, yeah, I don't expect anything to occur over Tibet. The CCP's hold is stronger than it was around the time of Tiananmen, and they've got most of the country behind them, presently. The thing to understand, if you're a proponent of democracy in China, is that the West's image in the eyes of the Chinese intelligentsia matter tremendously. Tiananmen nearly cracked the CCP because it had significant support both within the party and among the social elite of the time. Now, most of that elite either belong to the CCP or are in support of it, and part of that has to do with general disillusionment with the West in recent years (particularly after the Iraq War). Turning this into a "us vs. them" situation, as the West is currently doing vis-a-vis Tibet, will simply ensure that the CCP never lose power.
  22. One out of four is still a fairly significant number, especially considering that it's the immigrant population, for the same reasons you stated. But then, 98% of statistics are just made up on the spot anyways so I guess there's no point in debating it. I don't think I'm wrong to say, however, that this particular incident has rallied Chinese public opinion against Western media and perhaps even the West in general. This is not Tiananmen Square, that's for sure.
  23. Native chinese don't see Western media. But immigrant Chinese do, and they're the ones protesting against Western media...
  24. There's really too much to list, but I think the videos floating online demonstrate the best proof of what happened. You can also assume that a fair bit of repression happened on the Chinese part off-video, to account for the propaganda factor. That innocent people on both sides were killed is no longer in dispute, though, so my point holds - "Free Tibet" activists are doing themselves no favors by picking this particular event as a rallying cry. There are plenty of peaceful protests and police repressions that they could've picked, but saying that the violent suppression of a violent riot is equivalent to genocide or evil police brutality just doesn't cut it. It's like cheering for the LA riots, or, for that matter, Jeremiah Wright - both might represent underlying social grievances, but they are sensitive and controversial enough issues that proponents of the cause would be wise to adopt a balanced stance towards them to avoid the extremist label. My understanding is that the Chinese government has been successful in rallying both domestic and international support among people of Chinese descent in condemning the riots. Part of this has to do with the far-from-objective portrayal of the events proliferated by Western media.
  25. Trade is a powerful political tool, but anyone who really thinks that it'll earn the West future friends in China is deluded. The Chinese government can easily turn any Western sanction and/or embargo into ethnic-nationalism. Even if they are eventually forced out of power as a consequence, the result won't be a democratic China favorable to Western interests - that is, not unless the Chinese have no sense of pride whatsoever. I think that most people in the West agree that the "ideal" is a democratic, capitalist China with modern living standards receptive to Western values (ie a bigger Japan), but no one, frankly, knows how to get there. I have the feeling that current confrontational policies will sooner land us into a new Cold War than a democratic China, and that even if we were to emerge victorious from this war, the prospects favor a divided China in the throes of systematic instability ala The Middle-East more than it does a democratic China that's "seen the error of its ways." Maybe that's what the real political leaders are banking on, but it's certainly not, I think, what most of the people championing Free Tibet want. Pity that the world doesn't work the way they want it to. But is that really that much of a surprise? The current backlash against China is, after all, the result of failed liberal-humanist "wishful thinking" with regards to the effects of capitalist penetration - ie people assumed, rather naively, that just by opening up the country to Western investment China is suddenly going to become just like the West. You think that error is obvious, but it's precisely what some very smart people thought was going to happen when they tried to justify their business interests there. I mean, they're not totally wrong - certainly China is becoming more like the West everyday, but the idea that the PRC will implode because the country is becoming plutocratic is ridiculous. There, I used that word - plutocracy. Guess what, that's where China is heading, and it's also where the world is heading: rule by the rich. The corporate. The business-political elite. For the Chinese, it's more of a return to the old days than the coming of the new. For certainly, the Chinese are no strangers to plutocracy. In fact, you might argue that their entire history is based upon it, or at least the resistance to it - you know, the whole Communism deal that Mao started? It didn't take root because half the world is dumb. It took root because half the world has had to deal with exploitive property owners (also called "landlords") who lived lavish lives while most of the population starved on the streets. There's even a saying for it in Chinese that roughly translates to something like: "humans feasting on pork in the house, crows feasting on [human] bones on the streets; that's the difference between rich and poor." Maybe you can see why Communism, and not capitalism, was more appealing to the Chinese (before it turned out to be a failure). Anyways, people have a right to protest and I certainly don't think that putting some pressure on the Chinese government is a bad thing. But honestly, people need to learn to pick their fights, and chanting "Free Tibet" and "stop the genocide" right after a major riot that led to dozens of Han Chinese being effectively murdered by roaming Tibetan youth gangs is not the smartest way of undermining the Chinese policy. Neither is trying to douse the Olympics torch with a fire extinguisher as a demonstration of how fanatical you are. That's more like giving the Chinese government an easy target to pin the blame ("see? It's not our fault! These people are crazy!") on than anything else.
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