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2015年6月4日星期四

六四屠殺后的中國:要錢可以,要理想不行(林培瑞 / 譯者 陶小路)Perry Link : China After Tiananmen: Money, Yes; Ideas, No


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David Turnley/Corbis  1989年5月,天安門廣場上的學生示威者與士兵



     「六四屠殺」一直沒有被遺忘。到今年六月,發生在天安門廣場上及周邊地區的屠殺已經過去二十五年了,親歷者及死難者的親友不會忘,那些曾經站在且現在仍然站在屠殺者一邊的人也不會忘。鄧小平,這個下令向成千上萬為民主和平抗議的人們開槍的人已經死去。然而,在這個屠殺民眾的政權中或是與這個政權有利益關係的人卻對這場屠殺的記憶一直保持高度警覺。
      
        當然,他們不會將這種警覺表達出來;他們一直壓制對六四屠殺的記憶。他們派便衣跟蹤、監控那些曾公開談論六四屠殺的人;他們養著幾十萬網絡監督員,這些網絡監督員的任務之一便是從網站、郵件里清除任何與六四相關的內容。每年到六月四號這個「敏感日」,他們會派幾十名或穿警服或著便衣的警察在天安門廣場四周守衛,以防「作亂分子」進行任何紀念活動。他們給的官方辭令是「中國人民早已對這場反革命暴亂做出了正確的歷史裁決。」如果中國當局真的相信所謂的「中國人民」認為屠殺有理,那麼它應當在六月四號那天開放天安門廣場讓民眾彙聚一處,一齊痛斥「反革命暴亂分子」。可是它沒有這樣做,這個事實能告訴我們他們心裡真正想的是什麼。

        當年中國政府大開殺戒並非意外,它是經過精心謀算之後的決定,從當時以及現在的當局者看來這都是一個「正確決定」。從《六四真相》中我們知道,在1989年的春天,中共最高層已意識到自己面臨生死存亡的命運。當時席捲全國的抗議運動(不僅在北京,各省省會城市的人民都走上街頭進行抗議)令當時的中國國家副主席王震,總理李鵬以及最高決策圈中其他成員得出結論:中共政權岌岌可危。

        「清場」本可用催淚彈、高壓水槍或者木棒。(在1976年4月5日天安門廣場由於人們對文革不滿而爆發的另一場示威活動中,當局者選擇的清場工具便是木棒。清場後來也完成了,死傷的人數較少。)之所以1989年沒有用木棒而是開出坦克,架起機槍是因為當局者希望借此震懾人民,不僅是對全國,也是對將來的反對者產生威懾作用。這的確奏效了,全國三十多個省會城市為爭取民主而進行抗爭的民眾被嚇退了。這之後很多年,中國人也的確時時被提醒「你們最好規規矩矩的,否則就沒好果子吃!」製造屠殺的根本目的便是維持并延續中共的統治,這,當然也實現了。

        然而,命令軍隊鎮壓人民嚴重損毀了中共政權的形象。上個世紀五十年代初,大多數中國人都接受了「為人民服務」這一共產主義口號背後的理想,這種理想賦予了中共及其統治階層某種「合法性」(借用一個政治學術語)。文革中毛主義所製造的災難使該「合法性」大大受損,但1976年毛死後一直到八十年代,許多中國人對中共滿懷希望,認為中國可以在其領導下走向美好明天。(在沒有其他選擇的情況下,不對中共抱有希望又能對什麼抱希望呢?)但隨後六四屠殺讓這個希望徹底破碎。用當年的學生領袖易丹軒(他因為89年在廣州組織和平示威被捕,現在流亡海外)的話說,「隨著六四槍聲響起,政府一直以來所編織的謊言與偽裝也被徹底戳穿。」易丹軒現在認為對於中共而言,保住權力從來是它唯一的目標。

       最高層的那些人肯定想,現在不能再從社會主義理想中獲得「合法性」,那能去哪裡獲得呢?屠殺之後沒過幾周,鄧小平宣佈中國需要接受「教育」。大學生被逼著參加各種活動接受教育,「坦白」自己離經叛道的思想,譴責天安門廣場上的「反革命暴徒」。這些都還是很淺顯的方式。鄧的長期工程是要通過激起中國人的民族主義來「教育」他們,這一方式收效甚好。不論在教科書、博物館還是所有官方媒體,「黨」和「國」被糅合在一起,愛國主義則是要去熱愛「黨」與「國」的合體。中國舉辦2008年奧運會是「黨的偉大勝利」。外國對北京政府的批評不再是「反共」,而是「反華」。中國與日本、美國以及台灣、西藏的所謂「分裂勢力」之前與現在的矛盾、衝突都統統被誇大,藉此證明需要在「反華勢力」與敬愛的黨國之間劃清界限。這一切令中共政權在「教育」民眾上取得成功,民族主義成為了其重獲合法性的工具之一。

       另外便是通過錢,掙錢,致富,炫富慢慢成了人們追求的全部。(有關社會主義理想的語言還在用,但只是用來粉飾現實而已。)許多人的物質生活水平顯著提高,西方分析家正確地指出民眾生活水平的提升鞏固了1989年之後的中共政權。可這些分析家重複中共號稱自己"讓億萬中國人脫貧"的話就錯了。

        中國經濟的繁榮是這麼來的:毛時期的中國人生活的幾乎全部方面(除了最平常的方面)都不自由。1976年毛死了以後情況開始有了變化,1989年屠殺之後變化則更明顯,鄧小平放鬆了管控,他給中國人傳遞的信息基本是這樣的:在政治、宗教以及與"思想"有關的事情上他們仍受到嚴密控制,但在掙錢上面他們可以放開手腳。中國人也便這麼去做了。對于任何人而言,如果他只能在一件事上去發揮自己的能力,他都會這麼去做。中國人工作地很辛苦,他们的報酬低,工時長,他們沒有工會,沒有工人賠償法律,沒有新聞自由和獨立法院的保護,他們在自己所工作的城市甚至沒有合法地位。這樣的中國人有數億,他們就如此年復一年地工作。這麼多人在這樣的工作條件下創造出巨大財富真的是一件怪事嗎?中國能夠取得經濟上繁榮之細節肯定比我在這裡的描述複雜許多,但它不是一件多麼神秘的事情,更不是"奇蹟"。

        1985年鄧小平開始講"讓一部份人先富起來"。這部份人的確富起來了,先富起來的人幾乎總是那些跟政府有關係的人。有權力意味著有資源,也意味著可以更好地行賄受賄,於是這些有權力的人的財富在九十年代中期開始急遽上升。中國的收入不平等迅速擴大,超過了西方資本主義國家的水平,僅僅低於非洲和南美的一些欠發達國家的水平。在中國流行的口頭文化里(后來在網絡上),人們用各種笑話、小曲、順口溜表達對權力階層所擁有財富以及人们认为他們獲得財富的不義手段的強烈憤恨。但是這些觀點與其他對公民價值的自由討論一樣不能在官方媒體出現,過去如此,現在依舊如此;在這樣的一種討論中不可避免會提到平等、民主、憲政、不被官方認可的宗教以及其他話題,圍繞這些話題進行的討論會受到監控,經常的情況是不允許談論這些話題。

       天安門大屠殺如同有自己的意願一般,它回到當下,一一戳穿中共政權統治合法性的說辭。1989年中共政權徹底地毀掉了"社會主義理想"這個說辭;屠殺發生之後,鄧小平轉而用民族主義替代"社會主義理想",強調中共與人民爲一體,但人們無法忘記,正是這個黨架起機槍屠殺人民。所以中共政權仍然需要把與大屠殺相關的記憶視爲最需要清除的思想之一。爲達此目的,它軟硬兼施。"硬"的手段包括警告、威脅,"冥頑不靈者"會被沒收電腦、手機,不予辦理護照,他們還會丟掉工作,銀行賬戶會被凍結;真正的"頑固分子"則面臨軟禁或拘捕的命運。"軟"的手段包括請喝茶,有關部門人員會微笑地提醒你,不再談論有關屠殺的事情能你生活地更好,他們會建議你現在調整還不遲,告訴你誰誰這麽做以後物質生活更好了;他們還會給你吃的,讓你出去玩,給你工作機會,還會給你錢(如果你向他們舉報其他人則能拿到更多錢);最後會忠告你最好不要將這個「友好的茶話」內容透露給其他人。

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Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis 1992年5月在天安門廣場的意大利時裝設計師瓦倫蒂諾



        "軟"策略在當前瀰漫著發財致富和物質主義文化的中國社會尤其有效。對金錢的重視加上專制社會對其他原則公開討論的限制導致了這個社會公共價值的貧瘠。哈維爾曾寫道,在"后極權社會"中,由官方編造的謊言無所不在,形成了人們日常生活的"第二種版本"。八九民運學生領袖沈彤的看法呼應了哈維爾的觀點,他認為,"生活在一個警察國家的現實便是你生活在一個巨大的公開的謊言之中"。同是學生領袖現在是學者的王丹觀察到人們會"下意識地撒謊",他的解釋是,人們之所以會這樣並非出於自己的錯誤,而是因為他們逐漸習慣了謊言。對發財致富大加頌揚的中國的確與哈維爾的捷克斯洛伐克不同,但是這樣的中國並不比天鵝絨革命前的捷克斯洛伐克更好。西方政治家曾經樂觀地認為追逐金錢會銷蝕謊言,但是在現在的中國,對金錢的狂熱在一些方面令謊言得到加固。

        從中國的新有產階級現在的做法來看,他們似乎在摸索著,想去找到"新有產階級"應當怎樣表現。在毛時代的中國,人們通過漫畫來了解資產階級肆意揮霍的生活,這樣的漫畫中會出現食物、飲品、性、锃亮的皮鞋、漂亮的手錶、光滑的車等等,這些統統都是邪惡的東西。毛時代之後,人們迎來了"致富光榮"的時代,人們想知道有了錢該幹什麼,于是拿過來揭露資產階級腐朽生活的漫畫來指導自己,漫畫里锃亮的皮鞋、漂亮的手錶、光滑的車現在都成了好東西,不再是邪惡的了。中國的富人們在巴厘島和巴黎縱情玩樂,在這些地方他們購買的香奈兒香水和路易威登手袋等奢侈品總價值領先于世界其他地方。

        要形容這一新富階層,"物質主義"一詞可能並不準確,因為這種亞文化不一定需要實際物品。"外觀主義"這個詞可能更好。這些人活動的最終目的並不是一個路易威登的手袋,而是向別人展示自己有一個真品手袋(不是許多國內中國人使用的假貨)。如果展示的目的達到了,那麼這個手袋的功用也就實現了,手袋本身只是手段。外表才是最重要的。隨著這種亞文化的流行,對這種亞文化的諷刺也隨之盛行起來,在這種諷刺中可以看到中國的希望。近年來,大量在人們口口相傳的笑話和網上的段子將炮火對準虛假的一切:假牛奶,假酒,假古董,假照片,假歷史,奧運會開幕式上的假唱等等,甚至動物園里的獅子都是假的(由一只大狗假扮)。余華譏諷道,你唯一知道是真東西是假的假東西。

         然而,幾乎所有的諷刺都是私下進行的,如果公開進行諷刺,那麼一定是匿名的。很少人會冒險在公共場合出於原則對政府表達反對意見。中共當局稱其為"異議",人們要為此付出高昂的代價。人們覺得保持低調更聰明,他們也許會在私下憤怒譴責中共,但在公開場合絕不"惹是生非"。人們會把異議者當成怪人看,認為他們是一些為自己利益算計的可憐人,有時他們的家人也會這樣去看他們。他們的朋友和鄰居會和他們保持距離,其原因並非中共當局所聲稱的是出於觀點不同,而是因為害怕被牽連。王丹作為持不同政見者聞名全國后,有一次他去他父親的故鄉探親,人們把守村莊入口,不讓他靠近。

        一些中國人接受中共的謊言,而另一些人則假裝接受,但是隨著時間的推移,這種區分變得越來越不重要。無論是真的接受還是假裝接受,這些人的自我利益都得到保護,他們是"正常"社會的成員。正如何曉清在《天安門流亡者:中國民主抗爭的聲音》中所言,到最後,中國現在"這一代人根本無法想像一個年輕人會為自己的理想而犧牲的社會"。

        然而,在更深的層面,中國人跟任何國家的人一樣,在一個建立在謊言之上的體制中生活讓他們沒有安全感。富人們將錢存到國外,把自己的孩子也送到國外受教育。2013年,多個調查和報告顯示中國人(尤其是富人)全家移民數量劇增,窮人如果有條件也肯定會選擇移民。

        我們不能說1989年的屠殺是導致今天中國道德滑坡的全部原因。中共官方語言的虛偽導致了犬儒主義,而這種虛偽的官方語言則源於1957年的反右運動和1959至1962年由"大躍進"導致的饑荒歲月。"我們內心深處都有災難",這種災難讓人們"瞪著毫無生氣的眼睛看著世界,快步往前走",好像"無處可去,無處可藏"(引號內是艾未未的話)。毛澤東對造成這樣的災難的責任遠遠超過鄧小平。然而,1989年的屠殺是一個轉折點。若沒有這場屠殺,中國人不會服從於鄧小平的"要錢可以,要理想不行"(這個政策奠定了我們今天看到發生在中國的一切的基礎)。自1989年以來,中共政權對中國民眾的恫嚇便是建立在屠殺催生的恐懼之上,這種恐懼在人們內心深處,鮮被明確提及,卻已經為人們所習慣。

         幾個星期前,諾貝爾文學獎得主馬里奧·巴爾加斯·略薩(Mario Vargas Llosa)這樣写道:

極權主義強加於中國、俄羅斯和古巴之上的落後令人感到莫大的悲傷。較之於共產主義給這些國家在公民社會、文化以及政治上帶來的阻礙,再較之於其給它們充分利用自己所有的資源,實現涵蓋民主、法治和自由的現代社會帶來的至今仍然存在的障礙,共產主義給這些國家可能帶來的任何社會進步都不值一提。老的共產主義模式已經死亡并被埋葬,這再清楚不過,但是,這些國家需要很多時間并付出很大犧牲才能擺脫它的陰魂。

        鄧小平在1989年的屠殺后宣佈中國人需要接受"教育",他的政府隨之系統地開展各項工作,撲滅中國人在政治上的熱望,將他們塑造成民族主義情緒高漲、熱愛金錢的臣民。鄧在這樣做的時候,他可能是在向布莱希特(Bertolt Brecht)致敬。布萊希特曾這樣寫道:"人們若對政府失去信心,那麼政府則當解散人民,重新任命人民。"從長遠來看,中共政權的策略似乎很難成功,但是只要它嘗試去做,那麼不僅中國,整個世界都要為此付出代價,這個不斷增加的代價可能會很可怕。



本文改編自林培瑞為何曉清的《天安門流亡者:中國民主抗爭的聲音》一書所寫的前言,該書将在本週由Palgrave Macmillan出版社出版。

2014年3月31日,下午4时12分



China After Tiananmen: Money, Yes; Ideas, NoPerry Link

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David Turnley/Corbis

Soldiers and demonstrators at Tiananmen Square, May, 1989
The June Fourth Massacre in Beijing has had remarkable longevity. What happened in and around Tiananmen Square twenty-five years ago this June not only haunts the memories of people who witnessed the events and of friends and families of the victims, but also persists in the minds of people who stood, and still stand, with the attacking side. Deng Xiaoping, the man who said "go" for the final assault on thousands of Chinese citizens protesting peacefully for democracy, has died. But people who today are inside or allied with the political regime responsible for the killing remain acutely aware of it.

They seldom put their awareness into words; indeed, their policy toward massacre-memory is repression. They assign plainclothes police to monitor and control people who have a history of speaking publicly about the massacre. They hire hundreds of thousands of Internet censors, one of whose tasks is to expunge any sign of the massacre from websites and email. Each year, on the "sensitive day" of June 4, they send dozens of police, in uniform as well as in plain clothes, to guard the periphery of Tiananmen Square and prevent "troublemakers" from honoring anybody's memory. Their official rhetoric holds that "the Chinese people have long ago reached their correct historical verdict on the counterrevolutionary riot." If the authorities truly believed that "the Chinese people" approved of their killings, however, they would throw open Tiananmen Square every June 4 and watch the masses swarm in to denounce the counterrevolutionaries. That they do the opposite is eloquent testimony of what they really know.
The Chinese government's use of lethal force was no accident. It was a choice, the result of calculation, and moreover was, from the regime's point of view—now as well as then—the correct choice. We know from The Tiananmen Papers that people at the top of the Communist Party of China felt that they were facing an existential threat in Spring 1989. Major protests in the streets not only of Beijing but of nearly every provincial capital in China led Vice President Wang Zhen, Prime Minister Li Peng, and others in the ruling circle to conclude that the survival of their regime was at stake.

Tiananmen Square could have been cleared using tear gas, water hoses, or wooden batons. (Batons were the tools of choice when the same square was cleared of another large demonstration, of people protesting Maoist extremism, on April 5, 1976. The clubs were efficient in that case, and few if any lives were lost.) The reason the regime opted for tanks and machine guns in 1989 was that a fearsome display of force could radiate well beyond the time and the place of the immediate repression. Democracy demonstrators in thirty provincial cities around the country could be frightened into retreat. This worked. The Chinese people could be put on notice for years to come that "you had better stay within our bounds, or else!" This, too, worked. The fundamental goal was to preserve and extend the rule of the Communist Party of China. This was achieved.

The fateful decision to order a military crackdown against its own people, however, severely damaged the public image of the regime. In the early 1950s, a large majority of the Chinese people embraced the ideals that Communist language projected in slogans like "serve the people," and these ideals gave "legitimacy"—to borrow a piece of political-science jargon—to the Party and the ruling elite. The disasters of late Maoism took a heavy toll on that legitimacy, but after Mao died in 1976, and through the 1980s, many Chinese remained hopeful that the Party might finally lead their country toward a better future. (With no real alternative, how else could one hope?) But then the bullets of June Fourth killed this hope once and for all. In the words of Yi Danxuan, a former student leader and now exile who was arrested in Guangzhou in 1989 for organizing peaceful protests there, "the gunshots actually stripped away the lies and the veils that the government had been wearing." Now Yi saw that the Party's own power had been its goal all along.

With no more "legitimacy" to be drawn from claims about socialist ideals, where else could the men at the top generate it? Within weeks of the killings, Deng Xiaoping declared that what China needed was "education." University students were forced to perform rituals of "confessing" their errant thoughts and denouncing the counterrevolutionary rioters at Tiananmen. These were superficial exercises. But Deng's longer-term project of stimulating nationalism and "educating" the Chinese population turned out to be very effective. In textbooks, museums, and all of the official media, "Party" and "country" were fused and patriotism meant "loving" the hybrid result. China's hosting of the Olympics in 2008 was a "great victory of the Party." Foreign criticism of Beijing was no longer "anti-Communist" but now "anti-Chinese." Historic and contemporary conflicts with Japan, the US, and "splittists" in Taiwan and Tibet were exaggerated in order to demonstrate a need for clear lines between hostile adversaries and the beloved Party-country. The success of these and other efforts at "education" has allowed the regime to use nationalism as one of the ways it can redefine its legitimacy.

The other way has been money: the pursuit, acquisition, and display of wealth have come to dominate people's motives. (The language of socialist idealism survives, but as a veneer only.) For many people material living standards have risen considerably, and Western analysts have correctly noted how this rise has bolstered the regime's post-1989 legitimacy. The same analysts err, though, when they repeat the Communist Party's claim that it "has lifted hundreds of millions from poverty."

Here is how the boom in China's economy actually came about: during the Mao era, the Chinese people were unfree in all aspects of their lives except the most mundane. After Mao's death in 1976, and even more clearly after the massacre in 1989, Deng Xiaoping relented and told the Chinese people, essentially, that they were still under wraps in the areas of politics, religion, and other matters of "thought," but in money-making were now free to go all-out. So they did—as would anyone when given only one channel for the application of personal energies. They worked hard—at low pay, for long hours, without unions, without workman's compensation laws, without the protections of a free press or independent courts, and without even legal status in the cities where they worked. Moreover, there were hundreds of millions of them and they worked year after year. Is it strange that they produced enormous wealth? The fine details of the picture are of course more complex than this, but its overall shape is hardly a mystery or a "miracle."

In 1985 Deng Xiaoping began using the phrase "let one part of the population get rich first." That happened, and, not surprisingly, the ones who got rich first were almost always the politically well-connected. Access to political power meant better access to resources as well as better positions from which to practice graft, and the wealth of the elite began to skyrocket in the mid-1990s. Income inequality in China grew until it surpassed that of countries in the capitalist West and was exceeded only by some underdeveloped countries in Africa and South America. In popular oral culture, and later on the Internet, jokes, ditties, and "slippery jingles" (shunkouliu) consistently reflected strong resentment of the wealth of the elite as well as of the unjust means by which the wealth was perceived to have been gained. But such views, like other free discussion of civic values, did not—and today still cannot—happen in the official media, where references to equality, democracy, constitutionalism, unauthorized religion, and many other topics that are essential to such a discussion are monitored and often banned.

The Tiananmen massacre, as if having a will of its own, seems to come back to undermine whatever the regime claims as its legitimacy. In 1989 it killed the "socialist idealism" claim once and for all; then, when Deng shifted to nationalism, stressing that the Party and people are one, it was impossible not to recall when the Party and the people were on opposite ends of machine guns. So the regime still needs to list massacre-memory as one of the kinds of thought that most needs to be erased. It uses both push and pull to do this. "Push" includes warnings and threats, and—for the recalcitrant—computer and cell-phone confiscation, passport denial, employment loss, bank-account seizure, and the like, and—for the truly stubborn—house arrest or prison. "Pull" includes "invitations to tea" at which one hears smiling reminders that a better life is available to people who stop talking about massacres; advice that it is still not too late to make this kind of adjustment; comparisons with others who are materially better off for having made just that decision; offers of food, travel, employment, and other emoluments (larger if one cooperates by reporting on others); and counsel that it is best not to reveal the content of all this friendly tea-talk to anyone else.

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Gianni Giansanti/Sygma/Corbis

Italian fashion designer Valentino at Tiananmen Square, May, 1992

The "pull" tactics have been especially effective in the culture of the money-making and materialism that has pervaded Chinese society in recent times. The emphasis on money, in combination with authoritarian limits on open discussion of other principles, has led to a poverty in the society's public values. Vaclav Havel wrote about the "post-totalitarian" condition as one in which a pervasive web of official lies comes to constitute a sort of second version of daily life. Echoing Havel, the Tiananmen student leader Shen Tong observes that "the reality of living in a police state" is that "you live in a huge public lie." The scholar and fellow Tiananmen leader Wang Dan, in explaining the behavior of people who, from no real fault of their own, become inured to lies over time, finds that they "lie subconsciously." China's celebration of money-making does make it different from Havel's Czechoslovakia, but hardly better. Far from melting the artificiality (as the theories of optimistic Western politicians have held that it would), the money craze in some ways has worsened it.

The new moneyed classes in China behave as if they are groping to figure out how "new moneyed classes" are supposed to behave. During the Mao years, there was a caricature that helped everyone to understand what bourgeois profligacy looked like—food, drink, sex, shiny shoes, spiffy watches, slick cars, and so on. All evil. After Mao, in the era of "getting rich is glorious," people have looked for guidelines about how to behave with money, and the bourgeois caricature is ready at hand—shiny shoes, spiffy watches, slick cars—now valued positively, not negatively. Wealthy Chinese cavort in Bali and Paris, where they lead the world in purchases of luxury items like Chanel perfumes and Luis Vuitton handbags.

"Materialism" may not be exactly the right word for this new elite subculture, because it need not involve actual material. "Appearance-ism" might be a better term. The final aim of a person's activity is not a Luis Vuitton bag but the display of a such a genuine bag (not fake, like many back home). If the display works, the bag was but its vehicle. What counts is the surface. Hope for China is visible in the fact that, as this subculture has spread, so has satire of it. An effusion of oral and online jokes in recent years has focused on fakes: fake milk, fake liquor, fake antiques, fake photos, fake history, fake singing at Olympics ceremonies, and much more—even a fake lion in a zoo (a big dog in disguise). The Chinese fiction writer Yu Hua has quipped that the only thing you can know to be real is a fake fake.

Nearly all the satire, though, is private or, if public, anonymous. Very few people risk principled objection in public. The regime calls this "dissidence," and the costs of dissidence are high. People find it smarter to lie low, perhaps fulminating in private but not rocking any boats in public. Dissidents are viewed, even sometimes by their own families, as somewhat odd, and as poor calculators of their own best interests. Friends and neighbors keep them at a distance—far less because they disagree with their ideas (as the regime likes to claim), but out of fear of absorbing their taint. When Wang Dan went to visit his father's hometown after he became known as a dissident, people guarded the entrances to their villages to make sure he didn't come too near.

Some Chinese accept the regime's lies while others only pretend to, but with passing time this distinction becomes less and less important. In either case people's self-interest is protected and they fit into "normal" society. In the end, as Rowena He puts it in Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China, China is left with "a generation that cannot even imagine a society whose youth would sacrifice themselves for ideals."

At a deeper level, though, Chinese people (like any) do not feel secure in a system built on lies. The wealthy send their money abroad—and their children, too, for education. In 2013 several surveys and reports showed sharp increases in the plans of whole families, especially among the wealthy, to emigrate, and there is no reason to think that poorer people would not follow this trend if they had the means.

We cannot say that the ethical deterioration in China today is due to the 1989 massacre alone. The cynicism generated by the artificiality of official language has its roots in the 1957 Anti-Rightist Movement and in the Great Leap famine years of 1959-62. Mao Zedong, much more than Deng Xiaoping, is responsible for what the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei has called the "psychic disasters deep within us," that cause people "to walk with a quickened pace and to see with lifeless eyes," as if having "nowhere to go, and nowhere to hide." Still, the 1989 massacre was a turning point. Without it, Deng Xiaoping's formula for the Chinese people of "money, yes; ideas, no"—a policy that laid the foundation for so much of what we see in China today—would not have wrought its effects. The massacre also laid the foundation of fear—a deep, seldom explicitly mentioned, but accustomed dread—on which the intimidation of the populace has rested ever since.

A few weeks ago, Mario Vargas Llosa, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature,wrote that:
It is hard not to feel a great deal of sadness at the backwardness totalitarianism has imposed on China, Russia and Cuba. Any social progress communism may have brought these societies is dwarfed by the civic, cultural, and political retardation it caused, and the remaining obstacles standing in the way of these countries taking full advantage of their resources and reaching a modernity that encompasses democratic ideals, the rule of law, and liberty. It's clear that the old communist model is dead and buried, but it is taking these societies plenty of time and sacrifice to shake off its ghost.
When Deng Xiaoping announced after the 1989 massacre that the Chinese people needed "education," and when his government launched a systematic effort to extinguish their political longings and to mold them into "patriotic" subjects focused on nationalism and money, he could have tipped his cap to Bertolt Brecht, who wrote: "The people have lost the confidence of the government; the government has decided to dissolve the people and to appoint another one." In the long run it seems doubtful that the regime's strategy can succeed, although the mounting costs of trying, not only for China but for the world as a whole, could be fearsome indeed.


Adapted from Perry Link's foreword to Rowena He's Tiananmen Exiles: Voices of the Struggle for Democracy in China, which will be published this week by Palgrave Macmillan.
March 31, 2014, 4:12 p.m.

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