Bloody Shovel 3

We will drown and nobody shall save us


It's been 30 years this week since the famous riots in Beijing. I refuse to give any attention to an incident which was of little consequence, which nobody in China knows about, and to the extent they know about it nobody but a small number of dieharders (i.e. the people rioting back then and their families) gives a shit about.

If the Western press won't shut up about something, odds are is all a pig pile of fake news, of official propaganda which has been concocted up at some upper level and been issued hierarchically to the Cathedral press so everybody toes the official message. That applies to things like #Metoo, to the idea of "Russian interference" in the 2016 American election, the goddamn Rohingya, and yes, the stories of the "Tiananmen massacre".

So I won't add my blog to that message volume. Which is what they want, of course. Attention. To occupy mental space and crowd out other ideas, so the fake news gets around. Don't give it to them.

That said, some people do ask me what Tiananmen was about. Short answer: nobody knows, they won't tell, everybody is lying. Long answer: probably an internal coup attempt by a pro-Western faction of the CPC (led by premier Zhao Ziyang) with some Western intelligence support; a coup attempt which perhaps was aided by other factions inside China which disliked Deng Xiaoping and just wanted to take advantage of the disorder to drag him down.

Didn't work. Suck it up. Zhao Ziyang died in captivity, and all his team and their families went to exile to the US where, to this day, they still LARP as a sort of liberal government in exile. As CIA largesse has dried up, many of them have converted to Evangelical Christianity in a desperate attempt to get some Americans to give them money. Just take a look at dorks like this guy to see what sort of people we're talking about.

Here's a short Twitter thread with some useful links on the topic.


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  • The other week I read an interesting account on this subject by one Alexey Maslov, a Russian/Soviet Chinese translator and philologist who went with Gorbachev on a state visit to Beijing on 15-18 May 1989. He says that Gorbachev, who came to preach perestroika and restore 1950s-era Soviet-Chinese relationship, was snubbed by Deng, who wanted to normalize relations with USSR in order to obtain raw materials, and to inform Russia on the strength of China's newfound development that it was now China's turn to be 大兄 and Russia's turn to be 小弟. Naturally this didn't go down well, and Gorbachev then vented his frustration two days later in a big meeting with Beijing university students, telling them about perestroika and democratization in the USSR. Maslov relates that

    [E]ven before this meeting the students sent Gorbachev a message via the Soviet embassy, telling him of their wholehearted support of perestroika. They said they had read [Gorbachev]'s book Perestroika and the New Thinking and liked it very much. They wanted more politics!
    Later Maslov observed
    students going into the streets of Beijing with Gorbachev's portraits and banners saying "We ardently support Comrade Gorbachev!" It was then that the slogans of "More openness, more glasnost" made their appearance. People went with signs in Chinese and Russian that said "Democracy is our common hope". I.e., as they understood it, Gorbachev appealed directly to young Chinese over the heads of the CCP Central Committee and Deng Xiaoping with a political message! ... Mao did the same thing at the start of the Cultural Revolution. Gorbachev didn't intend any such thing, but his lack of understanding of political processes in China, of what was going on, put not just himself, but the whole USSR in a very stupid position.
    Maslov mentions that after the protests (which apparently had been going for months before that) had been suppressed, USSR, despite the then official Soviet perestroika-era positions on democracy and openness, said nothing, and that China understood from this that USSR no longer had any clear political aims.

    • Interesting, thanks. I wonder if there are other Soviet era archives on the topic.

      • I have no idea, but I have recently read a very interesting book (link to English translation) on riots and rebellions in USSR after the death of Stalin. There were many more of these than just Novocherkassk, and the military was used on more than one occasion. Shows that riots and rebellions aren't necessarily instigated by conspiracies in the top echelons, though they may be used by such conspiracies or even instigate them. Kozlov suggests that riots and rebellions function as a sort of semi-official feedback mechanism in systems of governance that don't have good upward flows of information. In support of this thesis from an unrelated source, one of those books on Meiji restoration says that Edo Japan had a similar arrangement, where mass action by peasants and other commoners was accepted as a semi-legal method of voicing dissent or discontent and making the domain government pay attention.

  • Also anniversary of Blue Star

  • I always get the sads when John Derbyshire goes on about Tiananmen. I mean, I am sure it was awful, and killing people is always mean. War is nasty, and in democracy, war is always latent; it exists within the nation as factions vie for power. Usually you just count heads and the less numerous party submits -- and the nasty bits of war don't happen... but if a faction gets too intransigent, and too aggressive, then sometimes the knives come out. Moldbug on mobs and Tiananmen:

    As a human being, of course, I deplore the explosive power of modern antipersonnel weapons. But as an intellectual I can’t help but applaud what an airstrike on a demonstration does to the mythical power of crowds. The crowd always relies on the pretense of actual physical power; but actual physical power it has little or none. It can be dispersed, or better yet contained and captured, by a trivial military force. And if not — airstrikes! Tiananmen, without a single airstrike, popped the bubble of crowd power and brought peace to China for a generation.
    Tiananmen established the CCP's right to rule for a generation (at least). (Because of course might makes right, and it demonstrated that the CCP had both the power to exert control and the will to use it.) During that generation roughly a half billion people have been lifted out of poverty. Strong government works. Could a weak government have done as much? Doubtful.

    • Derb's writing on China is generally pretty bad compared to his other writing. I think because he writes for VDare he's compelled to write about China as either sinister or inscrutably bizarre, without much nuance.

      • Derb is an ingrate Anglo boomer. He should kowtow in the direction of Beijing every morning for being allowed to kidnap a young Chinese bride. But no, he keeps on trying to overthrow the government of a country that has done him no ill. It's nobody's fault but his own if he can't learn the language properly and understand the people there.

        • I don't think he's personally that hostile to China. I think he feels he has to look like a hardass on China because he's writing for the VDare audience.

          • I don't know the man, so I could be wrong, but he sounds honestly hostile to me, in that old British condescending way.

        • It’s nobody’s fault but his own if he can’t learn the language properly and understand the people there.
          Perhaps you could expand this. To my eye (one completely ignorant of Eastern languages, and knowing little more about China and its history than any other autodidact), Derb seems to know Chinese well enough (apparently he can speak it), and he seems to understand the Chinese, at least more than I do, though this is a very low bar. For the specific case here, Derb himself, it's not that important, although I do follow him closely and would like to know in what ways I should discount his opinions. But I have the feeling that for the West more generally, it is an interesting question: do any of our best minds understand China? Do you? (I feel like you do... but...)

          • He can read a bit. Can't comment on his conversation skills, but I get the feeling he's not very good. At any rate he doesn't show the most basic level of empathy one develops very soon after having made friends in a foreign language. You get a feeling for people unlike yourself and you get to respect them and their culture. He doesn't have that, all he shows is the typical outraged inquisitorial drive of the man who understands nothing but his own village. I understand China. Not perfectly, but quite well. And I try every day to learn more and understand it better. Your best minds don't understand China because there's no incentive to do so. Nuance doesn't sell. Hostility sells (those perfid yellow guys living in ant nests). Hype also sells (China thinks a century ahead! They're sooo smart!). But nobody wants the truth. East Asians are just civilized but profoundly different people who mostly dislike us, think we're weird, and just want to be left alone, taking advantage of us and scamming us money every now and then.

  • Seems to me that Tiananmen Square is closely followed in liberal mythology by the events of Bloody Sunday 1905.

  • My, what's going on at the Unz Review? Popularity Gain ⇒ Dramatic Lowering of the "publication threshold" (stress on the "dramatic"). Now along with content that doesn't catch interest you see content that embarrasses, by people who embarrass. Week after week, a bit more of it. But yeah, he's got convinced that he can upset the course of things, and Fix It All if only he can further boost those traffic scores :).

    • I'll have trouble forgiving him for making me know about that odd fellow called Godfree Roberts. What a trainwreck that is.

      That said, he also publishes a lot of good stuff, and a lot of great books recently. So I'm very glad exists. It is a pity that Razib had to leave to protect his reputation in polite society, but there's a place for everything. Or there should be.

  • What's characteristic about G. Roberts is he devotes two thirds of his commenting/writing effort to stating Chinese historical cultural/philosophical superiority over the West without showing any hint that he realizes all of his concepts, categories and judgments are 100% Made in the West in spirit and structure. He thinks he has repudiated Western ways of thinking —and thought formulation — while he totally adheres to those (starting from the concern with "superiority"). I wasn't thinking about him though, but some other recently added characters who are totally not in line with the former site's roster. To the rest of the site I give a 10/10.

  • Godfree Roberts is bizarre. I'm not entirely convinced he's a real person. He comes across as a bot or something.

  • "If the Western press won’t shut up about something, odds are is all a pig pile of fake news..." Very true. They've elevated T-Square to into a symbol of freedom that it never was in actuality. They always see other people's struggles in the light of their presumptuous freedom ideology with all of the associated bullshit. Projection all the way. So far Trump has more or less been playing it low-key on Hong Kong, but the usual media clowns have been clamoring for escalation.

  • ”East Asians are just civilized but profoundly different people who mostly dislike us, think we’re weird, and just want to be left alone, taking advantage of us and scamming us money every now and then” It seems they do take advantage of us with the willing help of collaborators on the US side. One thing Trump grasped intuitively. I for one would like to treat these collaborators the same way China does with a public truth session shaming and lock the bastards away.

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