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Cult of personality mindset and Xi Jinping (aside)

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You’ve ever noticed how many American news personalities and pundits always talk about personality when they are comparing Xi Jinping with his predecessor Hu Jintao? Hu is described as lacking in this while Xi is often described as having more of it. See this latest Charlie Rose interview with Richard McGregor on the latest meeting between Xi and Obama and notice McGregor’s comments about Xi and Hu. His comments are really common in the media when addressing Xi (also see here and here for some more examples). Xi’s physical appearance also seems to get a lot of attention. Whether Xi has more “personality” than Hu is true or not is not my concern. What is my concern is the focus on such a nebulous thing as personality. Why is it so important to Americans? Many of our presidents had been elected out of personality. The last two, Bush and Obama, being good examples. Many politicians try to drum up or manufacture their personal attributes and try to create images that appeal to Americans. Americans are deeply concerned with character and judge others by it. Unfortunately people do this all over the world including China (such as the cult of Mao) but it seems especially a matter of emphasis in the USA and the west.

The president’s current political views, moral character, experience, past political stances and intellectual ability are simply irrelevant but his personality, whether he’s a likable, personable individual with certain likable  quarks are what matters. Bush’s campaign tried to manufacture a cowboy image and Obama’s campaign tried to create a compassionate, progressive, outsider image. But neither of these individuals ever demonstrated actual behavior after election that corresponded to their created public image.

This is the cult of personality. Americans may not know anything about Tibet and China but they like the Dalai Lama because they believe that he has a good heart and a good sense of humor etc.  What his actual views and actions have been is irrelevant. Same story here.

Historically, you see the rise of fascist dictators such as Hitler due to the ability to convince, through displays of charisma,  to the public of things that ultimately proved disastrous. That is the danger of the cult. The west has had a history of love affairs with personality. It’s weird to see it so often on display. The obsession might be easier to understand once we think of our tabloid culture.

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  1. June 12th, 2013 at 10:07 | #1

    The following PEW RESEARCH CENTER result is largely a direct example of this cult of personality melektaus talks about:

    What we see is when its a Republican president, those American identify themselves as Republican approves NSA Surveillance programs much more. However, Americans identify themselves as Democrats have very strong disapproval of such programs.

    Now, when their favorite president is in office, the cult of personality worship takes over. See how the numbers swapped? With Obama in office, the disapproval for NSA Surveillance programs shot up for Republicans, while approval from Democrats shot up.

    Just to be clear, both BUSH and OBAMA’s NSA Surveillance policies are IDENTICAL.

  2. fdsaasdf
    June 13th, 2013 at 04:40 | #2

    You write “[Xi’s] current political views, moral character, experience, past political stances and intellectual ability are simply irrelevant [to the Western media]”. I have to ask: What ARE Xi’s political views, past stances, etc? I know he’s anti-corruption (ha, everyone has said that since ’49) and he really, really cares about the common folk.

    If you could direct me to some information about who Xi really is, his positions in the past and policy positions — saying an ephemeral 中国梦 is a policy is nonsense because it’s just undefinable chicken-feed — I would greatly appreciate it. I prefer English, but I can also read Mandarin. I look forward to learn more about Xi!

  3. June 13th, 2013 at 11:42 | #3

    @fdsaasdf

    A few general comments. Vision does matter. Great leaders are often defined by their vision. In fact, Great leaders are always defined by their visions. Obama’s leadership powers starts with vision. The policies and specific positions flow from that vision, depending on the changing circumstances and needs of the people of China.

    Vision is not the same as personality – especially the kind of superficial personality Black Phoenix described.

    To understand Xi, to help get you started, you can try this.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/china/2012-12/23/c_132058866.htm

    It describes some of his visions, as well as several of his past positions.

    There are many other good English sources, and infinitely more Chinese sources…

  4. fdsaasdf
    June 14th, 2013 at 09:41 | #5

    “At the age of 16, he volunteered to live in a small village in northwest China’s Shaanxi Province as an “educated youth.””

    Can we please not post Xi’s public PR — XINHUA? He VOLUTNEERED? BULL SH nonsense. Were Chinese volunteering in the 1960s? Don’t lie to me because I am not IGNORANT. What you posted was Xi’s personal public relations company — XINHUA. That’s nonsense. Don’t lie to me because I’m not a stupid idiot. What you posted was offensive. Don’t be a mean person; anyone who is anyone knows ANYTHING knows China was not full of volunteerism in the 1960s. Your website calls out western BS, so don’t post EASTERN BS. It hurts my feelings. Don’t be a lying jerk. That’s offensive. Come on, dude.

    Give me a real link, please.

    What will Xi do in the next 5 year plan? I am curious.

    I don’t want to read EASTERN propaganda.

    Thanks Melektaus — you posted a good compilation. BTW, where does your internet name come from???

  5. Black Pheonix
    June 14th, 2013 at 10:00 | #6

    @fdsaasdf

    Well, you are entitled to challenge the “lies” as you perceive them. But where are your evidence?

    Those are webpages on the internet. You don’t have to agree with them. But why complain about them here?

    It’s not like any of us wrote them.

    Who’s the “lying jerk”? Keep your personal commentaries off this forum. People did you a courtesy by posting links that you asked for.

    Be respectful of the forum, or be gone.

  6. fdsaasdf
    June 14th, 2013 at 10:26 | #7

    In the 1960s, Chinese were being forced to work in the peasant lands — ALL people know this. Don’t be a fascist, man. That’s my evidence. Ask any REAL chinese what what happened in the 1960s and they don’t say “volunteerism”. That’s not how I “perceive” it, because that’s reality.

    I complain because a member posted it as though it’s fact. It’s not fact. Xinhua is a PUBLIC relations company. Don’t lie to me because I’m not stupid. I won’t accept lies. This webpage opines “western lies”. I won’t accept EASTERN lies. What is the difference between a western and an eastern lie? NOTHING.

    I liked Melektaus’s links because it was more than SINGLE website’s that LIES — no chinese in the 1960s were VOULNTEERING. If you aren’t Chinese I understand your ignorance, but if you are Chinese you realise that in the 1960s there was a REVOLUTION going on. Maybe you’re a foreigner — that’s okay, but don’t act like you “get it”. FOREIGNER.

    Black Pheonix I choose to ignore you because you are obviously ignorant. I asked for REAL links to Xi’s outlooks — not XINHUA (public relations) positive opinions. The 1960s happened. Don’t lie to yourself. I want to know the truth, because this article called out western media. I want facts, not lies.

  7. fdsaasdf
    June 14th, 2013 at 10:30 | #8

    I live in guangdong. I was given this:

    “To put “practical work” in place, Xi presided over a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee that adopted eight measures to improve Party work style and tighten the bond with the people. The measures include more meetings with the people, traveling light with a small entourage and using fewer traffic controls, shortening meetings and speeches. The new measures have earned acclaim both at home and abroad.”

    Where I live, local Chinese comment that the trees and LOCKED “public” areas are to make the “local officials feel happy”.

    Few traffic? It’s all Audis and BMW.s Shorter speeches? Okay, maybe, but anyone who speaks for too long is a silly man.

    Abroad? Who praises this? I don’t care what the North Koreans think.

  8. Black Pheonix
    June 14th, 2013 at 10:31 | #9

    @fdsaasdf

    Links posted are not represented as any facts or opinions from this forum. If you don’t like the links posted here, you are welcome to go find your own.

    And for your continuing insults, you were warned, so now you are banned.

  9. June 15th, 2013 at 03:31 | #10

    Hey Genius, all politicians public stances are PR. You must be the must naive and gullible person in the world if you think politicians anywhere would write or say anything out of line with sound bites and what the media and their constituency want to hear.

    Did you grow up in a barn?

  10. June 15th, 2013 at 03:35 | #11

    Look at this fuckin moron. First he says he doesn;t know what Xi positions on key issues are then when I posted excerps from his speech detailing what he planned to do this fool now can’t think of anything but the predictable knee jerk reaction of a mindless sheeple and backpeddles to claim that these are “propaganda”. What, a politician’s stances on issues can’t also be propaganda? What a gullible Fool.

  11. June 27th, 2013 at 11:19 | #12

    @fdsaasdf

    Can we please not post Xi’s public PR — XINHUA? He VOLUTNEERED? BULL SH nonsense. Were Chinese volunteering in the 1960s? Don’t lie to me because I am not IGNORANT. What you posted was Xi’s personal public relations company — XINHUA. That’s nonsense.

    Suppose I were to ask the questions you asked regarding Obama, would I be so wrong to cite the books he wrote or the official documents and pamphlets detailing Obama’s position from the Democratic Party?

    I think that’s definitely a good place to start, if nothing else because it’s what Obama and his establishment want you to hear. Whatever they write, true or false, will constrain what Obama does politically in his office.

    Isn’t that what you want – to find out what Xi stands for – so as to give you better guidance of what he will do? Now if you want to bad mouth Xi (or Obama), I suppose you might think it disingenuous I bring up official documents. But if your point is just to find out what they stand for, what better place than from their own mouth, the visions they outline, the perspective they share of history?

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