Fat Steve's Blatherings

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Things Get Rough in China


        The Guardian reports the murder of a Chinese political activist, in front of one of its reporters.  Apparently, the threat of democracy is getting serious.

At Length:

        According to the Guardian's Benjamin Joffe-Walt, Chinese political activist Lu Banglie was murdered, beaten to death in the road in front of a taxi driver, a translator, and the foreign journalist, Joffe-Walt (hat tips to Rebecca MacKinnon and Glenn Reynolds.

        Lu was a pro-democracy activist, taking Joffe-Walt to the village of Taishi in southern China.  There has been a great deal of rural unrest there lately.  The villagers are trying to enforce the democratic statutes that are on the books, and the local authorities are trying to stay in power by whatever means are necessary.

        Joffe-Walt was beaten somewhat but released, and Interfax reports that two other foreign journalists trying to get into the town were beaten.

        While the central government is paying lip service to the idea of democracy at the village level, it doesn't appear to be making any effort to enforce the laws that grant villagers the right to vote on certain issues.  No wonder -- that kind of thing can get out of hand pretty quickly.

        My personal calculation is that China's dictatorship has another decade or two of life left in it.  By then, all the survivors of the long march will be dead or retired, and the new generation of rulers will lack the will and ruthlessness to maintain power.

        One other observation.  When Lu and Joffe-Walt got to the outskirts of Taishi, there was a crowd of people in uniform and plain clothes in the road.  The taxi driver stopped and got out, and as he got back in the taxi, the crowd surrounded the car:
        We told him to reverse but by that time it was already too late, the car was encircled.

        Well no, actually, there was still an escape available — step on the gas and drive over the crowd.  But for that, they would have needed a driver prepared to kill, instead of one hired randomly in a nearby village.  And for that kind of driver, Lu and Joffe-Walt would have had to have had the mentality that anticipates threats and is prepared to employ lethal force to stop it.  In fact, they don't appear to have even thought of such things.

        From several different martial arts teachers, I've heard variants on the saying that combat effectiveness is more a matter of mental preparation than any other single factor.  This is an excellent illustration of that principle.

        Meanwhile, thank God the U.S. is a country where we have the means to stop that crap if the authorities try it, and the tradition and legal rights to empower us.



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