Archive

Posts Tagged ‘freedom’

The Humanitarian Crisis Spewing into Europe from the Middle East

September 7th, 2015 6 comments

eu-migrant-crisisThe last week or two, we have seen a great humanitarian crisis building in Europe with waves and waves of refugees pouring into Europe from neighboring Middle Eastern countries … with many dying along the way … and even children washing up on resort beaches.

The debate in Europe appears to focus primarily on how should the various nations shoulder the responsibilities of accepting the refugees.  Germany by far has been the most open-armed, although there are anti-immigrant feelings spewing in the nation as well.

Germany should be applauded for taking leadership for Europe to accept these refugees … but in some ways, it is also the least they can do.  Why? Read more…

The Soft-power of Hong Kong Protesters – Freedoms not enjoy by American, Britain, Canadian and Australian

November 5th, 2014 6 comments

Hong Kong protest images not shown by Western media

Above Picture: Images of so-called “pro-democracy” protesters in Hong Kong ignored by the Western media

In a recent international human rights forum at Oslo where Julian Assange, Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning and other jailed Occupy Wall Street protesters such as Cecily McMillan were not invited,  BBC report (21 Oct. 2014) revealed that, “it is an open secret at this meeting … that plans were hatched for the demonstrations (in Hong Kong) nearly two years ago … perhaps more than 1,000 of them have been given specific training to help make the campaign as effective as possible.”  The forum is filled exclusively by well funded non-western “dissidents” demonstrating no interest in echoing the voices of the 5,500 anti-US military protesters in Okinawa;  or the suffering of the victims of U.S. nuclear tests in the Pacific without compensation; or the extrajudicial killing of almost a thousand unarmed civilians and children within five years by U.S. drones operation in Pakistan alone.  The protesters in Hong Kong enjoyed an overwhelming support from the Oslo Freedom Forum, while  the death of 5,000 civilians across America since 9/11 by the brutal and trigger happy U.S. police forces were ignored.    Read more…

Case Study on Democratic Self-Governance: NSA Oversight, a Straight Game of Poker?

September 7th, 2013 9 comments

poker_2661772bIf there is a religion in the modern world, it is the fanatic belief in democratic self-governance.  From a philosophical perspective, the legitimacy of democratic self-government requires the notion of a public forum – a democratic corpus, a public sphere formed by citizens, if you will – to frame, debate and discuss political issues and events, free from “government interference.”  This might be called a public sphere of privacy (privacy from government), rather than a private sphere of privacy (privacy from other citizens), and is essential to the working of a democratic government. It is of utmost importance to keep this public sphere vibrant and pure because in today’s paradigm, all governments have a tendency to to intrude, dominate, and control for its benefit at the expense of that of the people.  And a democratic government means little if people’s thoughts and voices can be manipulated, coerced, manufactured, or censored.  A belief in the vibrancy of the democratic corpus to deliver good governance (with that, justice, prosperity, “freedom,” and peace) represents the very soul of the modern democracy religion.

Yet, when you look around you and think for a minute – things just don’t add up.  The latest NSA revelations provides a useful case study. Read more…

Are The American and Chinese Dreams That Different – You Can’t Tell From Obama’s March on Washington Speech Yesterday

August 29th, 2013 6 comments

common aspirationsYesterday, the U.S. marked the 50th anniversary of the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.”  It was in that event 50 years ago that King gave his famous “I have a Dream” speech.  By most accounts, Obama’s speech is well-delivered and well-received – albeit “not as good.”  It could not be, Obama would explain, “[b]ecause when you are talking about Dr. King’s speech at the March on Washington, you’re talking about one of the maybe five greatest speeches in American history. And the words that he spoke at that particular moment, with so much at stake, and the way in which he captured the hopes and dreams of an entire generation I think is unmatched.”

If King’s speech 50 years ago was among the “five greatest speeches” in American history, the Obama’s speech today is a present-day synthesis of all that Americans hold most dear.  If you listen, you will glimpse the American Dreams and feel America’s soul. Here is an excerpt of the speech 1. Read more…

Notes:

  1. A transcript of Obama’s speech can be found here and a video can be found here.

Should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

July 9th, 2013 7 comments

As Snowden considers asylum offers from Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Bolivia, and perhaps mulls a second application to Russia (Putin had earlier said if Snowden wanted to apply asylum there, he’d have to stop releasing NSA leaks), should China Consider Giving Snowden Asylum?

By the answers, I am hoping to gauge people’s attitude toward Snowden.  For me, I am neutral.  I personally have nothing against government “snooping.”  I have nothing to hide in general.  As long as they don’t pick on me for little trivial things (I trust governments generally enough that they wouldn’t), I have nothing against government tapping, government cameras, government sucking of emails, etc.  So what Snowden has revealed does not hit me in the stomach on that level.

However, I believe what Snowden has revealed is important in a geopolitical context.  Previously, we thought of the Internet as “free” – run by innovative Stalwart companies devoted to freedom, free from government interference.  Now we know the vastness of what we consider to be “free internet” is merely a very nationalized network space that is compatible with one specific set of values and that is at the core of 21st century geopolitical competition.

That’s an important insight for humanity to know.

So – should China…?

As Snowden weighs his not very stellar asylum choices, should China give asylum if given a chance?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

[Editor’s Note: clarification added 2013-07-09]: From the above write-up about “geopolitical context,” one might misunderstand me as saying that what Snowden has to say has no relevance to Americans and relevance only to the rest of the world.  That’s not what I meant.  To the extent Americans are world citizens, they should care.  They should understand so they understand why the information they get online in the so-called free internet (and also why the information they get in the so-called free media, why their very perspective about the world, about history) may be so biased and American (or Western)-centric.  And then perhaps they may understand why so many things they had taken to be Universal may just be American (or Western)-centric.  What Snowden revealed, and he may not even understand it, is to change the paradigm by which we view the world by revealing a blindspot we had universally taken for granted.  Others have noted the dangers of relying on “google” for all information on the net – because that essentially allows one entity – which is not beholden to the “people” per se – to define our knowledge, our worldview, our identity…  It is equally dangerous to rely on the falsehood of a universal, free internet for our information because there is no such thing as a universal internet.  Language and cultural barriers would have fragmented it fr0m the start – though now we see politics from the U.S. already set it up to fragment from the very beginning, too.

The need for clarity

March 6th, 2012 45 comments

Unlike many of the bloggers here, I’m not a big fan of Eric X. Li’s writing and speeches from what I have so far seen and heard. I disagree with what he has said as they are either irrelevant, confused, contradictory or a strawman. I think I have expressed why I felt this way in the comments section of the latest blog on Li but there still seems to be some misunderstanding between Allen’s interpretation of Eric and myself.

Here I’d like to give a more detailed explanation of why I didn’t think Eric’s interview was that interesting or even helpful to bettering understanding between China and the west. I did agree on some things but found myself disagreeing far more often. I do not believe that Eric’s view represent much of what the Chinese government’s views which I think are primarily very sound. It’s a shame that people may misconstrue Eric’s views as a defense of China’s view because they are quite different.

Read more…

Announcement: 2012 Hidden Harmonies Essay Contest

March 5th, 2012 No comments

We are excited to officially launch the 2012 Hidden Harmonies Essay Contest. In doing this, we hope to bring more awareness to the ‘Chinese’ perspective. The best 3 essays will be awarded prizes with an iPad 2 ipad 3 going to the top essay. This year’s topic will answer the following question:

Every society has a set of values around which it builds its culture. The West likes to think its most important value is freedom. What do think are the most important Chinese values, and how do you think they might be better than those in the West?

To qualify, entrants must be a college/university student in China or a Chinese student studying in college/university abroad. Deadline for submission is June 15, 2012. For other guidelines and rules, please refer to our essay contest page (http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012-essay-contest/). Read more…

Eric X Li, Chinese pluralism vs. Western universality

March 1st, 2012 25 comments

As regular readers of this blog may know, we are fans of Eric X. Li. In this video below at the Aspen Institute, Anand Giridharadas (of NYT) interviewed him in front of a live audience. As Giridharadas said at the introduction, Eric indeed shakes the foundation of prevailing Western views present in the room. I especially liked his confident and forthright answers to a shaken audience towards the end. Eric characterized the Western peddling of values with universality – (in my view, a form of intolerance, really) – and the Chinese non-interference and acceptance of each culture’s values is in fact pluralism – IS SPOT ON. The video is a bit over an hour, but we highly recommend it.

[Editor Note: Please also see follow-up post by Melaktaus titled “The need for clarity“]

“information freedom” vs real information freedom

March 10th, 2011 51 comments

Remember Hillary Clinton recently preaching Internet “freedom” and “information freedom?”

Have you just read my prior post where I examined a wrong mindset in the “West” thinking the rest of the world are lurking to “steal” their information?

You have one case of “information freedom” and another case of “information lock up” from the same direction. Both can’t possibly come from the same mouth; I say one must come from the butt.

raventhorn2000 has articulated the real issue beautifully here for us, and I just want to quote him:
Read more…

William Hooper: “The Scientific Development Concept”

September 29th, 2010 42 comments

According to William Hooper, Western lead Democracy has peaked. He believes the baton will be passed unto China, and a new Age of Enlightenment, one that is going to be improved upon with China’s concept of Scientific Development, will start. Those of you who observe China may know that this political philosophy was advanced and officially adopted into the CPC (Communist Party of China) constitution in 2007. Hooper has taken a lot in and articulated this idea for the Western audience.

This essay touches upon many topics we have pondered on this blog. In my discussion (see “Newsy.com, breaking the mold of Western media bias?“) with Rosa Sow, Kai Pan, Maitreya Bhakal, and our very own Allen, we asked ourselves how the mold on Western media bias can be broken. Our consensus seems to be, in MIT Professor Chomsky’s words, “the only way to break it is education and organization, and working hard to create alternatives.”
Read more…

On the Mind-Numbing, Sensationalistic Use of Emotionally Charged Words in International Politics

January 12th, 2009 176 comments

The recent tragedies in Gaza have reminded me again the mind-numbing role the sensationalistic use of emotionally charged words can play in international politics.

Recently, Israel railed against the Vatican when Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Council for Justice and Peace of the Vatican, characterized Gaza as a “concentration camp.”  According to the NY Times: Read more…

(Letter from Arctosia, Opposing Viewpoint) Chinese Government publishes list of “vulgar” websites and information

January 7th, 2009 64 comments

For many Chinese website operators, 2009 didn’t start very well. China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Centre, a semi-government agency, has published a list of websites which contain “vulgar and unhealthy information” deemed to be harmful to the country’s youth. The list (in Chinese) can be found here.

The interesting thing about this list is that it covered majority of the most popular websites in China. Google was ranked number one “vulgar” site (see, e.g., NYTimes article), followed by Baidu and Sina.

I’m very confident that every Chinese netizen have visited at least one of such vulgar websites. I myself must have visited at least 75% of the websites listed and would probably be diagnosed as psychotic under the Chinese guideline. Read more…

Is self-determination a tool for liberation in today’s world?

May 23rd, 2008 71 comments

Increasingly, self-determination is used as a rallying cry for separatist movements around the world, from Kosovo to Tibetan independence. Many separatist movements have leveraged symbols of European Imperialism to cast their cause as a fight for freedom.

On the one hand, such use of self-determination seems to be appropriate. The West conquered a large part of the world over the last 500 years, causing wide devastations and detriments to many peoples across the world. Calls for self-determination by former colonies in the aftermath of WWII rightfully became a rallying cry for all dispossessed people in the world.

On the other hand, today’s zeal for self-determination along religious and ethnic lines may also be fanning unnecessary religious and ethnic divisiveness around the world (see, e.g., book excerpt from the “Self Determination of Peoples” and book excerpt from “Modern Law of Self Determination“). From Rwanda to Serbia to the Middle East to Tibet, heightened religious and ethnic consciousness is stoking unprecedented strife and discord.
Read more…