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     Jun 6, 2012


SPEAKING FREELY
Lessons from Tiananmen to Wall Street
By Dallas Darling

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing.

Most governments fear popular sovereignty, something that was observed by the world when hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers and student hunger strikers packed Tiananmen Square demanding a more democratic and open society. On that day, June 5 1989, some even dared to think and imagine that Communism had reached the end of its rope and a "people" government could be achieved. For this reason, Deng Xiaoping sent tanks and the army into the square, crushing the protesters

 

and smashing their bicycles and tents, the Goddess of Liberty, and makeshift barricades.

Dozens of rows of mangled bodies were left lying in pools of blood. Changing and democratizing authoritarian political, economic, social, and historical regimes and institutions will require many "Known-" and "Unknown Rebels," many "Known-" and "Unknown Martyrs," who are willing to commit great sacrifices, even sometimes shedding their own blood.

In the mid-17th century, Lu Liu-liang's words and ideas had resonated with millions of Chinese people. Lu Liu-liang, a popular sage and philosopher, believed the common man and the emperor were rooted in the same nature, that democratic governments must always originate with the people, and that "Heaven's order and Heaven's justice were not things rulers and ministers can take and make their own."

But much like the West, including the United States, where Republics always maintained their oligarchy- and authoritarian- and dictatorial-like statuses, the development of popular sovereignty in China, including numerous peasant rebellions, seemed to merely renew the Chinese Empire and replace dynasties with other autocratic systems. Democratic and popular movements must always guard against internalizing mythical histories and ideologies and popular myths that allow for pseudo and bogus democracies.

The blood barely dry in Tiananmen Square, Henry Kissinger, a former US Secretary of State turned corporate multi-millionaire after serving in the Nixon administration, wrote: "The caricature of Deng as a tyrant is unfair." Kissinger failed to mention that he owned a consulting firm representing US companies with major investments in China. In visiting Beijing, he lauds Deng and assures the Chinese leader that, "You will never be without great influence." Deng inquires if Kissinger was against the use of military force. "I was for it," replies Kissinger. US media conglomerates and their electronic pundits and news "experts," ones that also have invested monies in China's economy, practice collective censorship as they tone-down their criticisms of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, move to the next Hollywood celebrity scandal, or fail to report the carnage. Occupy movements will have to unite globally and be well informed to be effective. [1]

Pro-democracy demonstrations actually started in Tiananmen Square after Hu Yaobang died suddenly on April 15. Hu was a member of the powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). He had been a major reformer, introducing new laws to protect workers and students rights and too modernize China. He criticized the wealth and power of the ultra-conservatives entrenched in the CCP's Central Committee. In 1987, when students, workers, and intellectuals across China demanded free elections, free speech, and freedom of assembly and press, Hu refused to denounce them, unlike hardliners. He was demoted and replaced. When he died, students placed wreaths in Tiananmen Square to commemorate him. Occupy Wall Street (OWS) should also support and mobilize for government officials that support workers and student rights.

OWS must also learn to grieve and lament regarding the injustices and inequalities, along with the lack of opportunities and loss of life, inherit in America's abusive capitalistic, militaristic, and corporate power structures. In truth, such grievances, or emotional distresses and anguishes, helped lead to the formulation of the Declaration of Independence, a document that justified a revolution by listing a series of major grievances and complaints. Political and economic grief acknowledges "human suffering" and is reality based. It emphasizes local and communal social and relational bonds, instead of electronically entertaining and celebrity bonds. Grief is an internal and emotional dialogue that is extremely "human." It is also "aware" and "critical" of destructive agents and deadly institutions. Grief is necessary before hope can be acted upon, before collective happiness can be realized, for grief always considers others.

Grief is never momentary. Neither is it illusionary, like fundamental market economies and their material fetishes. It is uncomfortable and in some cases, it can even lead to long-term political self-immolations. This just happened again in China, when a father, 73-year-old Ya Weilin, reminded the world again of his slain son who was killed when government security forces cleared Tiananmen Square. For 20 years, Ya Weilin carried a note that detailed his son's death and declared that he would die in protest because the issue had not been addressed. What would happened if supporters and members of OWS had this same kind of grief and pain, specifically when OWS demonstrators are beaten, caged, and imprisoned. How much better would America be if moral and emotional indignation were practiced over false arrests, the use of tasers and pepper spray, manipulative, FBI stings, and long and languishing prison sentences for OWS leaders?

The Tiananmen Square sit-in not only pertained to more rights and equality of education, but it demanded an end to corporate and government corruption. For six weeks, student protesters waved banners and flags demanding democracy and economic fairness. Many residents and workers supported the student demonstrators, bringing them food and drink. Other residents and workers across China made banners, similar to student protesters, and marched. When a foreign dignitary planned to visit Tiananmen Square, Chinese leaders did not want to be embarrassed. Therefore, a violent spectacle crushed a peaceful spectacle, so that another more entertaining spectacle could occur. Oppressive leaders and their security forces adhere to the Theater of the Absurd. They rule not with legitimacy or popular sovereignty, but by martial law and military force. Military and material relations are more important justice, equality, and people.

America's OWS must also be prepared for martial law and abusive security forces, which have already happened. In order to be successful, it will have to build support with residents and workers throughout the US It will have to combat stereotypical images, ones that are fueled by a virulent militarized and corporate media. Just before the Tiananmen Square massacre, soldiers and security forces of the People's Liberation Army and the People's Armed Police declared they would never open fire on the student demonstrators. But they did, for they were socially engineered to believe student protesters were "counter-revolutionaries." They even beat and arrested and fired upon workers and residents who rushed to the aid of Tiananmen Square occupiers. Because of a lack of support and complicit behavior by security forces, Chinese hardliners continued a policy of strict repression. Political and economic reforms have been extremely slow.

More important than what OWS can learn from OTS, is what Americans can acquire in general. Do not be dismayed if in the future, a rogue government and its reactionaries topples the Statue of Liberty. Do not be surprised to wake-up and see a swarm of security forces tackling and arresting a demonstrator on a bicycle, or to witness a lone OWS protester standing in front of a column of tanks. Before the Occupy Wall Street Massacre, Theaters of the Real will have to develop across America and "End Two-Party Rule." Residents and workers will have to assist the OWS in dismantling an abusive and violent corporate-military-government welfare state. They must not allow "the ruler's self-interest" to "take the place of the common good," nor tolerate when rulers "take the very marrow from peoples bones," as Lu Liu-Hang wrote centuries ago. [3] Above all, do not leave in the darkness before dawn! [3]

Notes:
1. Smith, Michael K, Portraits Of Empire: Unmasking Imperial Illusions from the "America Century" to the "War on Terror." Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press, 2003., p. 266.
2. See Lu Liu-Bang, Commentaries on the Four Books, 1670s.
3. This quote is from a Chinese dissident who appeared in front of the White House and Capitol to address the carnage resulting from Tiananmen Square Massacre and inaction of world leaders.

Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for www.worldnews.com. You can read more of Dallas' writings at www.beverlydarling.com and wn.com//dallasdarling.

Speaking Freely is an Asia Times Online feature that allows guest writers to have their say. Please click here if you are interested in contributing. Articles submitted for this section allow our readers to express their opinions and do not necessarily meet the same editorial standards of Asia Times Online's regular contributors.

(Copyright 2012 Dallas Darling.)





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