There was a time, in every Chinese ex-pat’s life, when he/she is drawn to the fascination of the Democratic freedoms. What is not to love about “freedom”?
Except, nothing in life is free, there is always a cost, often hidden. Many of us Chinese experience these costs often in life, and it has made us wiser, for we do not easily commit ourselves to fanciful sale pitches. Many of us are even overly cautious, but I would say that is a strength, not a weakness. Afterall, only the future can tell if the overly cautious are truly right, or are the rest of us merely being optimistic lemmings.
In yet another conversation with an American friend, he said, he would not be able to live in China for very long, because he would get very fed up with the censorship.
In reply I said, (and many of HH readers can attest to the knowledge of my sentiment), that I was actually more fed up with the “Activist Trolls” in modern democratic societies. That I would rather that some one clamp down on all of them, and let the rest of us live in peace.
He asked me why I felt that way. I responded in a rather long stream of consciousness speech, pointing out all the evils of “Activist Trolls”. But what dawned on me later was a specific problem that is rooted in the overall Democratic system.
That is the danger of the Stubbornly Committed.
What do I mean?
Freedom is great, voting is great. They let the People get involved, let their choices/opinions matter in the political system. They have vested interest in the political system.
But that’s also precisely the problem. When the Populous are “mobilized” to choose, they are emotionally committed to their decisions, regardless of how stupid or irrational their choices might have been. The emotionally committed become the Stubbornly Committed, even if they are wrong, and the Populous are wrong A LOT.
The Stubbornly Committed Populous, would thus never admit to faults or responsibilities. And the Government ruling such Stubborn populous, are thus backed to the wall on all the important decisions, because it is on the MOST important issues that the Populous are MOST committed.
Imagine, if China is Democratic, and the Chinese people had an OFFICIAL vote (not some informal poll), and decided by popular vote that USA was China’s enemy (based upon some history of incidents). Heated debates will ensue, dividing the people into camps. Well then, the Chinese government will not be able to go against the result, or risk a popular outcry that will bring down many politicians in the next election cycle.
(or the opposite could happen, USA is not an enemy. Then the Government is again also forced into a specific track of policies, with no wiggle room.)
Some say Democracy is very flexible, in that it can throw out 1 party and get another one into power very easily.
True. But it does not change the Stubbornly committed populous, who are divided according to their respective committed philosophical decisions.
Some of us Chinese immigrants might have also experienced this kind of emotional commitment. Some of us perhaps obtained US citizenship, voted for Obama, and are now forced by our emotional committment to defend Obama.
Vested emotional commitment is very dangerous two-edged sword, in Democracy. The average people have ALL the strong stubborn emotions to their past political decision to stick it out, and yet no incentive what-so-ever to change their minds and live up to their responsibilities and correct past errors.
No, Democracies do not teach admission of mistakes. Apologies are rare. Even disgraced politicians have fanatical supporters and fans, and they don’t ever admit that they are wrong, (at least not for the big mistakes).
Hence, in US and Europe, politicians and pundits and Activist Trolls say the most ridiculous and outrageous things, and YET have PEOPLE applauding them.
See that? That’s stubborn emotional commitment talking, not reason.
Yes, there are certainly a large amount of reasonable people in US and Europe, but most of the reasonable people do not come out to counterbalance the irrational. They stay silent, and the political system do not hear them. (Sometimes, the ones who stay silent are not reasonable, but because they are already aligned to some stubbornly committed camp, and they rather just cheer them on.)
The politics of Democracy are further fueled by mountains of money for causes, supplied by the MOST stubbornly emotionally committed People and/or Activist Trolls.
How is any reasonable people who are uncommitted to be heard? Uncommitted does not mean that you don’t have an opinion, just that your opinion tend to be balanced for all sides, and you don’t want to make quick decisions. Afterall, who like to be forced to make any decisions, especially hard ones? Quick tempers do not make good decisions. But look around the Democratic arenas, loud stubborn voices and mountains of money and giant banners and protests are constantly pushing the average people to “CHOOSE”!! If you don’t “CHOOSE” now, they say, you will LOSE everything, even your right to decide.
That is true. With the politics being pushed so hard by the Activist Trolls and the system, if you don’t decide quickly, you do lose, because the system will decide any ways, BADLY.
The system does not slow down, does not wait for proper rational discussions. It wants BAD decisions QUICKLY, NOW, or YESTERDAY.
And tomorrow, everyone will blame other people for the mistakes, and never blame the system itself for making people choose and become stubbornly committed.
There was also a time in China, when a lot of people were stubbornly committed to politics, and even specific cult of personality. They could see wrongs done only by the other side. No room for compromises. They were also forced to choose sides on issues and leadership, even if informally.
Some might say China is like that today.
But no. China is not like that today. China is most rationally uncommitted. It changes, flexes unceasingly.
When there is nationalist outcry on Chinese streets, the Chinese government sometimes tries to temper the emotional commitments, because yes, there are other issues like economics to be concerned.
To be sure, the Chinese government is not always right, nor does it claim that it is always right. It is feeling its way for what works for China.
But the major difference is that the Chinese SYSTEM itself does not have the illusion of infallable commitment.
The problem of Democracy is IN the system itself, in the danger of the Stubbornly Committed. It leads to all the bad decisions in the past and will lead to bad decisions in the future. Votes do not guarantee rational debates. In fact, Votes make people forget reason altogether, and votes become increasingly run on money and Activist Trolls.