This is an open thread that I’d like to kick off with this most unusual article claiming China is a fascist state.
I never claim that China is fascist. I do not say it is a police state, though sometimes, when they arrest people I know, I think it’s a fair label. China is many things and defies being pigeonholed. There may be fascist characteristics, but I’ve certainly felt that at times about many other countries, at times even the US. China can be remarkable free, as all of us know. But it’s more complicated than that. You know as soon as you start talking with Chinese people about Tibet and Taiwan and the looting of the Summer Palace that there’s a lot of groupthink going on. They may be completely right on those topics, and I sympathize with their viewpoints; that’s not my point. My point is the uniformity of opinion. In the US we have violently different thoughts about Iraq and politics and government and foreign policy. In China, there are certain topics where you know in advance what the response is going to be, right or wrong. But even here absolutes are unreliable; Chinese are increasingly speaking up and even making fun of their government’s clumsy efforts to control its people’s brain cells.
I equate fascism with complete totalitarianism, and China doesn’t meet that criterion. Several of the points the writer brings up, however, are quite true, especially in regard to Chinese perceptions of China’s deserved place in the world and its collective sense of national humiliation. I’m just not sure this constitutes fascism. So many Americans believe in our manifest destiny and America’s unquestioned right to bear the mantle of leader of the world. That isn’t quite fascism, it’s just crazy.
But the article did make me think. Sometimes I thought I was reading the musings of a frustrated English teacher worried about the “China threat,” sometimes I thought he made some astute observations.
Thanks to the reader who sent me the link. I hope I don’t regret posting about it.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.