Is it fascism?

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.

The Discussion: 75 Comments

Having read the article, I would say no. The author fails to understand the essence of fascism and uses a warped taxonomy of it created by it’s enemies.

To quote Mussolini; “Fascism, now and always, believes in holiness and in heroism; that is to say, in actions influenced by no economic motive, direct or indirect”.

China is still a Communist state ruled by a Marxist-Leninist vanguard party that at it’s intellectual core is still beholden to Jewish Bolshevism. The Fascist nation (people and state) is a reactionary one behold to its tradition’s and above all its own people. The Communist Party actively suppresses the will of the People, it actively denigrates the Han race while elevating their historical enemies as somehow equals. It’s population control policy is an obscenity that places the Han as a de jure second class citizen to the barbarian. It’s educational policies both in form and substance disgust me. They promote the Great Lie that China is somehow a “multicultural” and “multiethnic” nation and it fills her schools with unqualified barbarians at the expense of Han children. The Communist Party wastes enormous resources in a futile attempt to woo the Other as if money could ever stop the inferior from resenting the superior. It instinctively suppresses Han nationalist movements and organizations because it recognizes them to be a threat to their monopoly on power and the representation of Chineseness.

It’s external policies are likewise as flaccid as the men who govern her. Professing “turd world” solidarity with distant barbarians. The Communist Party has opened China’s borders to an influx of tens of thousands of Africans who bring more crime, disease, miscegenation, and social dysfunction. China is hardly a militarized state as she spends far too little to actively defend herself. Only about 1.5% of GDP and less than 10% of total tax revenues. This allows her enemies to insult her at every turn all the while decrying her meager defensive efforts as “militarization”. If China were militarizing, she would building four times the number of tanks, aircraft, and warships as she is now. Instead of lecturing China about her security needs, her enemies would be forced to swallow their slanderous tongues lest China actually puts her military force to use.

No, China is not a fascist state. The day the Communist Party is overthrown and the Han race awakens to its destiny is the day I will gladly and proudly announce that China is fascist.

February 9, 2012 @ 8:27 am | Comment

Jings writing as far as the CCP’s anti-Han policies are pretty accurate.

February 9, 2012 @ 9:02 am | Comment

policies go*

February 9, 2012 @ 9:04 am | Comment

LMAO, is someone unironically calling non-Han Chinese citizens ‘barbarians,’ and somehow concluding that Han are second class citizens in China? That’s like saying whites are second class citizens in America because of affirmative action- an argument I would call ‘completely ass-backwards retarded.’

China isn’t fascist, or totalitarian. It does meet many of the requirements and some of the definitions of authoritarian, although like Richard said China is many things and the same state that is totalitarian in one place or situation can be just the opposite in another.

February 9, 2012 @ 9:39 am | Comment

Reading the link and the comments follwoing it, seems every state is fascist, from US to China….

February 9, 2012 @ 9:57 am | Comment

These two paragraphs were pretty true:

If the Chinese fascist regime is permitted by the international community to continue its rise to prominence, then the consequences will be borne by the people of democratic nations and we have already seen the early stages of this global trend. A powerful fascist state of such maturity and size in the world will increasingly come to determine political debate in nominally democratic countries as the economic advantages of such a regime draws more and more financial resources away from less “efficient” political systems. If China continues to be able to use its fascist state apparatus to attract investment at the cost of liberal democratic nations, then the characteristics of these nations will tend toward increasing fascism in an imitative defensive response.

This trend is already far advanced and if it remains unchecked by the active engagement and protest of constituent peoples in the form of actively entrenching our essential social and political norms of individual rights and egalitarian application of the rule of law, then we will witness the slow erosion of the democratic freedoms that were fought for nearly 70 years ago. It is no longer adequate to harp on about “human rights.” The necessity of economically isolating regimes which fail to meet certain normative political and legal standards is of paramount importance to the long-term survival of the idea of pluralist government which protects a measure of individual freedom.

Unfortunately, global decisionmakers are not wedded to the idea of pluralist governments which protect individual freedom. Global decisionmakers would far more prefer the Davos Consensus rather than the Declaration of Independence. It is probably no accident that China, the United States, and the European Union have steadily begun moving closer and closer to each other in terms of everything from economic regulation (pro-business) to regard for human rights (benevolent dictatorship) and political structure (technocracy). When the future rulers of most countries spend more time all hobnobbing together as grad students at the Kennedy School of Government (e.g. Bo Xilai’s son) than living with their own people, this is unavoidable.

The real question then becomes, are citizens worldwide able to actually resist and roll back this trend? Is it possible? And if it is possible, do they have the will? Is their political will strong enough to undergo the sustained corrosion of decades of economic underperformance relative to the international community? Not even the populace of Soviet Russia, which had the political will to suffer 20 million casualties fighting the Nazis, had the political will to suffer 60+ years of economic mismanagement in exchange for political soveriegnty.

You can kind of see echoes of this in the Republican Primary. Ron Paul is the clear anti-globalist, decentralization candidate, while Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are clear centralists, in that they prefer greater concentration of authority and decisionmaking in one organization. (The rest do not align themselves along that axis of comparison).

February 9, 2012 @ 10:04 am | Comment

Ronald Reagan once feared that the Cold War would end through the USSR becoming more capitalist, the US more authoritarian, and both sides meeting each other in the middle.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:25 am | Comment

China is hardly a militarized state as she spends far too little to actively defend herself. This allows her enemies to insult her at every turn.

How much military power would be needed? The US of course has more firepower than any other state, and people badmouth the US all the time.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:27 am | Comment

Silly article. They are unlike me. I don’t like them. They must be fascists.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:48 am | Comment

Might I add that Jing’s response is the most xenophobic thing I’ve read in some time.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:51 am | Comment

Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Richard. I would not have seen it otherwise. Please forgive the length of this comment…

The author’s central contention is that China is fascist and therefore the international community should attempt to contain China’s rise, although the author never explicitly mentions the term “containment.” Rather, he makes it seem like he is the first person to ever observe that China is authoritarian, a potential belligerent, and may be starting to compete with the U.S. for hegemony in the Indian and Pacific oceans.

It’s fairly clear the author has read little on contemporary international and strategic affairs, otherwise he would know that debates on the need to economically and/or militarily contain China have gone on since about 1949, and have gained momentum throughout the 90s and 00s to the present day. There are hundreds of scholars, military strategists, and politicans in the West who argue for strategic containment of China. In fact, Rober Kaplan’s recent piece in the Atlantic about John Mearsheimer echoes similar sentiments. But I suppose since such people are not “teachers, students and volunteers unimportant enough to go under the radar, such as [the author],” they are not “able to get the real story.”

The author asserts that China is fascist, but most of his arguments make a better case for a more obvious and less attention-grabbing conclusion: the Chinese education system sucks, is overly politicized, and a lot of Chinese students clearly lack critical thinking skills and sophistication. Some of them are also racist. That’s not a major revelation. The author goes on to extrapolate trends on Chinese foreign policy and expansionism from “discussing Chinese history with some students”–high school students in Dali, no less. This would be like drawing conclusions about American foreign policy from talking to some 16-year-olds in Iowa. I would not call that valid analysis. The proper conclusion is not that China has a nationalistic, race-based plan for Asian hegemony (China might or might not, but I’ve seen no real eveidence in this piece); the proper conclusion is that the author’s high school students get a shitty education, or they are morons. Or both–you pick.

There are some other dubious (and self-congratulatory) claims in the piece as well, such as this one: “Only those such as myself, who operate in the education system and other front-line social roles, have the contact with life in China to see through the smoke and mirrors deployed by the government against any legitimate mainstream information-collection system, be it journalists or business people. Both of these groups are carefully watched and have their information pre-packaged…”

Really? I agree that a lot of Western media coverage of China lacks depth, but I think the author needs to try working in a) business or b) journalism before making this contention. Or perhaps he could interview some foreign journalists or businessmen in China. Many have a very serious level of understanding of Chinese politics and society–more so than is displayed in this piece. I’m not a teacher or a social worker (I’m–gasp!–a foreign businessman in China!) but I managed to put this comment together into some semblance of coherence. Maybe us myopic, ignorant, foreign businessmen know a thing or two…

In the end, I’m certainly open to an argument that the West should contain China’s rise and I’ve gone back on forth on that notion myself, but the author should leave that argument to people who know what it is they’re talking about. A few discussions with high school students and anecdotes about group exercise do not support the thesis that China is fascist. Thus, the answer to the question “Is China Fascist?” remains a resounding: “maybe.” The author certainly doesn’t prove it one way or the other.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:52 am | Comment

lests say it is national socialist….

February 9, 2012 @ 10:52 am | Comment

Sorry for the odd question, but I’m quite new to the blog. Are these “CCP is anti-Han” comments to be read ironically?

February 9, 2012 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

I do not know whether Jing is a master of sarcasm and irony, but I certainly do know that a lot of young Chinese (whom I speak to when I travel to China) think that the Commie government is a weak, spineless government that panders to, concedes and bends over too much and too often to foreign powers and demands, and therefore should be overthrown as swiftly as possible. Hmmm…. maybe that does sound pretty fascist eh?

*chuckle* I really wonder how a democracy in China would look like… 😛 Perchance as warmongering as the American and British democracies? 😛

February 9, 2012 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

No. Jing is serious[ly warped].

February 9, 2012 @ 12:46 pm | Comment

people badmouth the US all the time.

hard to call it badmouthing if it’s generally warranted and very understated.

February 9, 2012 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

The author was talking about the para-military excersise that all freshmen have to take. I can’t help but laughing. This is just one effective way to discipline freshmen students mostly of them one child king of their families and don’t know how to take care of themselvies without parents.

Most Chinese don’t care much about environment and I can feel author’s frustration, but calling fascism is a huge stretch.

February 9, 2012 @ 1:38 pm | Comment


Which is why I seriously think that China should reinstate the draft while they still can, there’s too many kids there these days that are detached from the real world. and unfortunately their voices are pretty loud on the web.

The CCP is generally speaking, calculated, though it faces many challenges and obviously one can pick many individual points where they don’t do well, but suffice to say it is not hard to imagine many cases where anyone else would manage to do much much worse in the last 30 years, and the result of that would hardly benifit anyone.

February 9, 2012 @ 2:51 pm | Comment

As someone who was lived in China whilst working in industry, and as a teacher, and as a student, I thoroughly agree with what Other Richard’s criticisms of the piece linked to. Particularly, this seem to be an extended “nOOb” piece on the country equal to the kind of gushing commentary seen elsewhere.

The author seems to think there is something especially terrible about the regimentation of life in general in China. All I can say is that life in China is only regimented to the degree that government policy requires it to be to reach their goals, and that this is in slight degree compared to the picture portrayed in this piece.

Military-style training does happen to new students in their first term at Chinese universities, and to some extent in high-schools. There still is a Youth Pioneers organisation, membership of which is supposedly voluntary, but effectively all primary school students are in it. Education is highly politicised. Particularly historical education contains much that could fairly be described as indoctrination or even brain-washing. The “Mass-media” and “business men” that come in for criticism in the linked article rarely report such things because they, rightly, believe them to be relatively unremarkable to anyone with even a mild level of familiarity with authoritarian/totalitarian societies such as China.

Sure, a newcomer to China happening upon such things might find them redolent of fascism and might not be blamed for doing so.

Let me also say that the first time I saw, on television, a class-full of young Americans all facing the same way, in the same pose, saying in unison the words of the pledge of allegiance, my first reaction was to think how awfully fascistic it looked. The singing of the national anthem before seemingly every single sports event that happens in America, the seemingly-ubiquitous wearing of the American flag lapel badges by US politicians, and the seemingly endless appeals to the US flag and patriotism in US political advertising, elicited similar responses. The glorification of the military, the constitution, the War of Independence, and the US political system poured out in the US media seems to most foreign observers seem, at best, somewhat self-congratulatory.

No doubt some Americans may have felt there to be something wrong about the way in which the entire British nation organised street parties and fêtes to celebrate last year’s royal wedding. No doubt also, an American visiting a British school might find something out of place about the prayers and singing of hymns with which most British school-children begin the school day. They might also, if they stayed a bit longer, note the relative absence of the flag and the national anthem from public life, and the absence of pledges of allegiance and narrative-based historical teaching in education in the UK.

China may (or may not) be fascistic, but to decide on this on the flimsy basis provided in the article linked above cannot be correct, as a similarly cursory examination of many other countries would produce the same results.

February 9, 2012 @ 3:31 pm | Comment

This Farris fellow is a nob. Little wonder Jing, CM et al think they have some traction.

I would drop him down a Shaanzi coal mine with Mongol Warrior for company.

@Richard. Really! There is more fun to be had in Chongqing at present.

February 9, 2012 @ 5:57 pm | Comment

I think when the Standing Committee sleeps at night they dream of clean and orderly cities filled with doting, orderly, patriotic citizens all “singing the same tune”, so to speak. But they can’t even get provincial governors to sing the same tune. So it’s a failed fascism, a strongly desired impossibility.

February 9, 2012 @ 6:50 pm | Comment

@RW – Actually conscription is still on the books, but it’s never been implemented because it’s never been needed – the PLA has far more people volunteering for it than it can use.

On a side-note, however, at least at Foxconn, all new mainland employees went through military-style drill as part of their induction. The reason given for this was that “this was how Taiwanese companies do things”, even though, as far as I am aware, Taiwanese firms do not do such things, nor are they typical of mainland firms.

February 9, 2012 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

“I equate fascism with complete totalitarianism, and China doesn’t meet that criterion.”

I don’t think that is always the case. In the case of Nazi Germany, yes. In the case of the former Latin American regimes and even perhaps Mussolini’s Italy, probably not.

Fascism is traditionalism plus hierarchy plus blood and soil nationalism. Some authors have noted the strong connections between fascist regimes and the church. But many fascist states were simply not that interested in controlling peoples minds, remoulding them to produce a new type of selfless human being. Hitler’s Germany was the exception, the ideal man though was based on an idealised racial stock, not so much what went inside his head.

China is not really fascist, because (1) she is not traditionalist, although we now have ‘Confucious’ institutes, Confucianism is far far away from some sort of state ideology and China does not really mention ‘asian values’ in the way Lee Kuanyew did (2) China, at least the government, is not nationalistic by any stretch of the imagination. The ‘Han’ race is not glorified in relation to other minorities, there is never mention of racial or national superiority in the education system or national discourse, and even so called nationalistic movies are open enough to include the contributions of foreigners.

The only thing that China has in common with a fascist state is of course strong government and a controlled media. So the instruments of goverment could be described as fascistic but ideologically China is nowhere close to a fascist state. No fascist state would ever provide the sort of affirmative action benefits to minorities that China does, nor would a fascist state encourage ethnic minorities to multiply while putting restrictions on the majority race , which perhaps defines the national culture, to do same (not that I am against these policies).

Nationalist China in the 1930s, and perhaps Taiwan before 1993, would better fit the description of ‘fascist’.

February 9, 2012 @ 9:04 pm | Comment

Plenty of young people reject the political education. I spoke in depth with a class once about territorial issues and there was actually a debate between students – some calmly arguing the standard line while some said trying to pretend Taiwan currently belongs to China is absurd.

But what really lost it for me was the bit about the military training. I used to think like this guy, but then I did an article on it:

I had a couple kids keep journals through the whole thing. Like FOARP said, it’s basically an extended Pledge of Allegiance, only with a lot of positive physical and emotional side-effects. There’s a lot of nuance that you miss from just walking by and seeing kids in fatigues marching back and forth. I can see where this guy is coming from but I think the CCP can only dream of having as much thought control as he suggests.

February 9, 2012 @ 10:01 pm | Comment

Yep, and a fascist state would never relinquish so much territory as the PRC did to just about all of its neighbors

February 9, 2012 @ 10:03 pm | Comment

They may be completely right on those topics, and I sympathize with their viewpoints; that’s not my point.

If it’s not your point, why bother mentioning it in the first place?

All I can say is: Thanks a lot, pal! You’ve just lost 45.63% of your readers from Taiwan 😉

February 9, 2012 @ 11:38 pm | Comment

JR: If it’s not your point, why bother mentioning it in the first place?

My point wasn’t whether the Chinese are right about certain issues like Tibet (that’s a separate post), but about how regimented and uniform their thoughts/responses are about such issues. Big difference.

Jing seems to be for real, but I have to wonder whether a part of him is enjoying making a spectacle of himself.

February 9, 2012 @ 11:58 pm | Comment

To have fascism to prevail, you need a very strong and powerful leader. But China’s leadership is very weak right now. With top leaders like “say nothing and do nothing” Hu and “just talk no action” Wen and they are practically in lame duck, it’s just absurd to call them fascist leaders.

BTW, fascinating stories about Han Han – the most popular blogger in China, are unfolding right now.

The HH Dynasty has just collapsed during the last two weeks.
It turns out HH is a complete fake.

It has been uncovered and pretty much proven that all least all his early works that helped propelled him to the literary genius status were actually his father’s work.

HH is denying of course, but as usual, his acts of covering up helps uncover more and basically destroys whatever credibility he has left.

In one of the most telling acts, HH refuses to talk to his readers about his work, like the ideas, characters, scenes, plots, etc of his novel. Yet he is eager to show the public a pile of his manuscripts of the same novel, but the problem is that all these manuscripts are very neatly hand written like someone practicing character writing and without sings of change or editing. And he claims these are the original draft.

More interestingly, all established media in China, ether government or liberal leaning, are either silent or sympathetic to HH.

The saga is still unfolding.

February 10, 2012 @ 12:02 am | Comment

Or and I forgot to mentioned one class act.

HH is now appealing to the court to save his name, the same court that he has been attacking and redicuing all these years.

And he just won’t meet his readers to discuss his work.

Do I need to say more?

February 10, 2012 @ 12:08 am | Comment

I also wonder about comments around regimentation of thought. This supposed regimentation of thought is so foreign to my experience of China that I wonder about the “methods” pursued by the commenters. What sinostand says in #24 sounds more accurate to me. As any teacher educator would tell you, blaming the kids is the response of any half-assed pedagogue. If you get uniform response from your students, change the way you teach. If you are determined to see Chinese as uniform and mindless conformists, then I suppose this is the conclusion one will come to.

February 10, 2012 @ 3:28 am | Comment

hard to call it badmouthing if it’s generally warranted and very understated.

Some of the time it’s warranted, other times it’s patently the result of ignorance, wishful thinking and envy. The point is, if even a country which has more military power than the rest of the world combined, can’t stop people saying bad things about it, then why would anyone expect there will ever be a time when nobody “dares” criticize China?

In fact, what will happen is the level of “slander” of China will continue to increase as China rises. You won’t really know that China is on a par with the US until people speak of it in the same terms you and Jing speak of America – or worse. So next time you hear someone say something bad about China, you should be happy 🙂

February 10, 2012 @ 6:07 am | Comment

To Daniel #23,
well said.

To Peter,
good point. Large trees catch wind, as they say.

February 10, 2012 @ 6:37 am | Comment

@ Daniel Xu – I think there’s more to Han ethnocentrism than you admit – the CCP doesn’t claim that the Han are a master race of course, but I think its fair to say that they quietly promote a view of China with the Han as the suit-wearing leaders at the centre, surrounded by cute but hapless minorities bouncing about in ‘traditional’ get-up. It’s not fascism, but I think it does inculcate a belief in ethnic essentialism that could bubble up into something uglier one day.

As for the article, the pessimist in me thinks that the seeds of fascism have been well and truly sown in China and that the CCP’s tendency to squash any kind of mass social movement is the only thing holding it back. The optimist in me wants to believe that the reason (many if not all) Chinese people fall back on groupthink on Taiwan and Tibet is that they really don’t think about the two issues that much, let alone actually debate them. They’re more distant issues than, say, corruption, and I suspect that if it ever actually came to war over Taiwan you’d see a far more polarised debate emerge.

February 10, 2012 @ 7:37 am | Comment

As far as I can tell the Tibet, Taiwan, South China Sea, etc issue isn’t thought about at all – it is completely accepted that they are all a part of China. Seemingly every person who has had a Mainland education in the 70s and 80s has had it drummed into them that these parts have always been a part of China. How it is with younger kids I don’t know – nephew doesn’t mention it and seems to be more accepting that these are issues that aren’t as black and white as all that. Of course, could just be his character – he’s a good lad 🙂
Minorities are treated like any other minority – see how they were portrayed in the Olynpics – weren’t a goodly portion of them actually Han? Uyghurs in the cities out east are only seem to be selling kebabs – you don’t see them on TV in any appreciable role. They’re all just chocolate box minorities, brought out and displayed to show “diversity”…no better than the Maori guff you get when you go to a Rotorua “Maori Village” here in NZ.
This means I’m more in agreement with Jackdh than Daniel – there’s no overt Han ethnocentrism but it is there.

February 10, 2012 @ 9:33 am | Comment

Editorial in the Taipei Times
“We’ve now entered a period that we could call “diplomacy with Chinese characteristics,” where the promise of profit through “strategic” relations with China is accompanied by silence on a variety of issues. This is an age where it has become customary and increasingly acceptable, it seems, for China to request that partners exclude potential critics like Little, who is just one among many journalists, writers and academics who have been sidelined for refusing to hold their silence.

It is interesting to note that rarely, if ever, have liberal governments answered Beijing in kind whenever top Chinese officials visited their country. When was the last time a Western country denied a visa to a Chinese reporter from, say, the CCP-run People’s Daily, for promoting Han chauvinism in a manner that borders on the xenophobic, or encouraged the use of force against Tibetans, Uighurs, Taiwanese, Falun Gong practitioners — or any of the claimants to disputed islets in the South China Sea? China takes, while the rest of the world gives, slowly bringing about the “Beijing consensus” that Stefan Halper warns against in his book of the same title.”

Maybe it’s just fascism with Chinese characteristics?

February 10, 2012 @ 9:41 am | Comment


What the Taipei Times editorial forget is that the treatment of Han-Chinese dissidents are the same as Tibetans, Uighurs, Taiwanese, Falun Gong practitioners (xenophobic? really? I thought they were Han-chinese as well).

To accuse CCP as promoting Han chauvinism in a manner that borders on the xenophobic is race baiting at best.

February 10, 2012 @ 11:03 am | Comment

@Jing. Your #52 Superbowl thread.

I’m calling you out, Pal. You have read Gramsci (Prison Notebooks) plus some Adorno (who I loathe), Benjamim (who writes brilliantly about the modern shopping experience) et al?


Give me a quote, page number, publisher and year, plus author.

You can game the rest of the crowd, who don’t really read.

Keep in mind that I supported Daniel Xu over Mike Davis’ latest, which I haven’t read.

Do you have a yaba problem???

February 10, 2012 @ 6:28 pm | Comment


February 10, 2012 @ 7:55 pm | Comment


February 10, 2012 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

Re #23: totalitarianism has never been a comprehensive reality so far – only an ambition. This is true for Nazi Germany, too. That’s not necessarily a mitigating circumstance for the German public, though. Euthanasia on handicapped people was made public by the churches (especially the Catholics, I believe) – people knew about it anyway if they wanted to know, or if they were targeted, but there’s a difference when it is condemned from the pulpits. At least in the region where my people lived, euthanasia slowed down – officials on the ground apparently saw reasons to become cautious. Other forms of persecution however didn’t abate at all. One might interpret this as a view that Jews, communists, unionists etc. were not seen as “part of the family”.

February 10, 2012 @ 8:18 pm | Comment

I am hoping the extreme ethnocentrism by Jing and other Chinese commenters are really a emotional reaction and not what you really believe. If not, that prejudice looks badly on you and your country and has no place in the modern, liberalising world.

February 10, 2012 @ 9:00 pm | Comment

@Jackdh, for evidence of the potential of something uglier bubbling up, see @Jing and @CM above.

February 10, 2012 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Thanks for the tip on @Jing, KT. I now read him/her as high comedy. Fascinating how a shift in one belief brings everything else cascading down. Clearly the foundation was weak. Also, love the Great Jedi-Sith Transformation.

February 10, 2012 @ 10:29 pm | Comment

Whoa, Dr. H.R., are you spamming my comments? I am debating removing them. A buddy of mine is publishing a book put out by the the publisher you’re going after.

Agree JR, about the public pressure to cut back or at least cover up euthanasia in Nazi Germany. A pity that compassion didn’t extend to other endangered groups. There is a superb book I strongly recommend on why this was so, “Life and Death in the Third Reich.” I learned more in a few hours than I did after reading dozens of other “how could it happen” history books.

February 10, 2012 @ 11:45 pm | Comment


If you think that the US in any way, shape or form approached a fascist state from 2001-08, you need to go back to school and read something about Germany, Italy or Japan in the 1930s.

Did President Bush arrest his political enemies? Did he shut down the media? Did he even threaten to do either of those things? Did he close the churches? Did he close the mosques? What the hell are you talking about? All I can imagine is that you are caterwauling about the US capturing jihadists and holding them for the duration – well, your hero, President Obama, is doing the same thing, except he kills them whenever he can rather than capture them. Not that I blame him — yes, you forgo the intelligence benefits of capturing them alive and interrogating them, but at least you also don’t have to worry about the no-nothings claiming that fighters captured in a war can get a get-of-jail-free card with a writ of habeas corpus. So is the US more or less “fascist” now than it was under President Bush?

It’s a stupid question because the US wasn’t even remotely fascist then or now. Your apology will be accepted.

February 11, 2012 @ 3:13 pm | Comment

@Doug – Richard talked about ‘fascist characteristics’ – wouldn’t you say that capturing someone of indeterminate guilt, torturing them, and imprisoning them without trial, are all fairly dictatorial in character?

February 11, 2012 @ 5:49 pm | Comment

One of the characteristics of fascism as I see it is a government’s stated desire to keep the lily-white souls at home free from all the crime and dirt abroad – the idea that only a “strong government” can protect people at home from becoming victims (again). In that sense, I see fascist temptations in the Bush years, but no fascism. But fascist temptation arises from a mix which (only among many other factors, I guess), includes self-adulation and fear.

Btw, Doug, I think it’s bad manners to suggest that Richard ought to apologize for something he didn’t even say. Think of him as your host, and of yourself as a guest.

February 11, 2012 @ 10:08 pm | Comment

Thank you FOARP, exactly. I never said the US was a fascist state under George W. Bush. There was a reduction in personal freedoms and some people were treated in ways that were borderline “fascistic” such as loss of habeas corpus. There are many other examples, such as dissenters not being allowed into political events if they were wearing a T-shirt with a liberal message, the caging of protestors at the NYC Republican convention and the horrifying treatment of Jose Padilla, to name just a few. But we were still a democracy.

February 11, 2012 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

“Go back to school”, Doug? Where did YOU go to school? What did they teach you? That fascism = bad = closed churches = Brezhnev = Castro = evil = Hitler? And where is Chomeini in this equation? I love barefoot historians!

February 11, 2012 @ 11:08 pm | Comment


treatment of minority dissidents vs han dissidents really isn’t the same. uyghur, tibetan, mongol dissidents routinely receive harsher prison sentences, and even the line of what defines you as a dissident is different.

look at how the government treated wukan, vs how any comparable tibetan movement would be treated. if wukan wasnt han, there would be a pile of dead bodies there.

February 12, 2012 @ 4:30 am | Comment

What’s wrong with fascism? China needs a facsist to rise to power.

February 12, 2012 @ 5:29 am | Comment

What’s wrong with fascism?

It doesn’t work, dumbass. Never has, never will.

February 12, 2012 @ 12:35 pm | Comment

Meiji era’s Japan, Chancellor’s Germany, Chairman’s China were the three golden periods of human history. People were liberated, states won independence, self-reliance and dignity from humiliation and calamity.

The men of those times, could partake in the naval battles of the Strait of Malaca, plant their flag on the 203 heights, traverse the Black Forest in a torrent of iron clad tanks, stomp through paris raping and murdering, trek with the Chairman on the Long March, sling a rifle on one’s shoulder and from the Yalu River chase the Americans into the ocean. That’s the life of true men. Unlike today’s men, who are reduced to worrying about mortgages, yardwork, barbeque, 50% sales on Amazon.

Even a thousand years later, those times will forever remain monuments in the riverbed of human history, evoking endless memories in the hearts of all men.

February 12, 2012 @ 1:11 pm | Comment

LOL, StephenKing. Are you a “true man”, in your unique parlance, pray tell? Gosh, whatever country you’re from, I sure hope you’re in their armed forces and volunteer to get deployed in a forward area. Either that, or you should be living in a cave.

That said, I’d sure like to meet a guy who claims to have “memories” from a thousand years ago.

February 12, 2012 @ 2:24 pm | Comment

Great. A Chinese Tyler Durden. Now I really have seen everything.

February 12, 2012 @ 7:07 pm | Comment

@FOARP- Capturing enemy fighters in a war and holding them for the duration is completely legitimate under the laws of war. It has been done by all states, whether democratic, fascist, communist, whatever, for hundreds of years. Now if the US government were arresting its political enemies and holding them without trial, as the Chinese government does frequently, that would be a different kettle of fish. Last I noticed, though, Mr. Obama’s most vocal adversaries were still free to run around and criticize him and even the OWS idiots have been able to evade arrest to the extent they’ve been able to stay away from drug dealing, assault, rape and murder. So your point reduces to what? That a grand total of three (3) jihadists were water-boarded? I’ll grant that’s a form of torture (although mild compared to electrodes, fingernail pulling, beatings, etc. – the garden variety stuff the PSB routinely dishes out). That seems like a pretty slim reed upon which to conclude that the United States a facist-tending country.

February 12, 2012 @ 7:34 pm | Comment

@StephenKing: ROTFLMAO

February 12, 2012 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

ROFL. Am I the only one who can see StephenKing is being sarcastic?

February 12, 2012 @ 9:44 pm | Comment

I’m sure Stephen King was joking. I’m also sure he looked at googlemaps where France borders on Germany, and decided that the Germans came to Paris through the Black Forest.

February 12, 2012 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

I don’t want to get sucked into Doug’s defense of torture etc., and wander away from the point of the thread. This is the wrong board for making light of torture or to excuse it because other countries do it worse. And no one said the US is a “facist-tending [sic] country,” and am not even quite sure I know what it means. Don’t put words in people’s mouths.

As for OWS — I went to two of their demonstrations, and found nearly all the protestors peaceful, articulate white-collar workers who care deeply about the increasing economic divide in America. When you have hundreds of thousands of people congregating in parks around the country, of course there will be psychopaths and criminals — very, very few, but if one rape is committed the GOP in a chorus screeches that OWS is a bunch of rapists. This is a Republican canard, an obscene lie, yet you’ve swallowed it hook, line and sinker. To use your own words, you owe the peaceful demonstrators an apology (which I don’t expect but it’s fun to turn your hysterical rhetoric on yourself). And you know what? OWS has won. The notion of the 99 percent has sunk in and become a common part of our vocabulary. They will be back as winter ends, but they have already scored a huge victory. I support them — the peaceful, committed ones who make up the vast majority — and will continue to do whatever I can to support them. And now, back to China.

February 13, 2012 @ 12:54 am | Comment

[…] thought about this after reading the well-regarded blog The Peking Duck‘s February 9 post, ‘Is it fascism?’ This was a post followed by 53 comments on […]

February 13, 2012 @ 1:08 am | Pingback

“Capturing enemy fighters in a war and holding them for the duration is completely legitimate under the laws of war. It has been done by all states, whether democratic, fascist, communist, whatever, for hundreds of years. Now if the US government were arresting its political enemies and holding them without trial, as the Chinese government does frequently, that would be a different kettle of fish.”

The majority of people being held in Guantanamo were not captured under arms, and have not been positively identified as combatants. This argument is specious.

@Tai De – Yes, I have never heard of any good Pâté coming from the Black Forest. Choclate cake is more their sort of thing so I understand.

February 13, 2012 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

even the OWS idiots have been able to evade arrest to the extent they’ve been able to stay away from drug dealing, assault, rape and murder.

I think this kind of comment says a lot about the commenter himself, and little – if anything – about the issues. Clearly, China has no monopoly on fenqings. The same kind of thing could have been written about the June-4th movement, by whoever might be interested in smearing its reputation.

February 13, 2012 @ 6:12 pm | Comment

“And now, back to China.”

Speaking of torture…one step forward, how many steps back??


February 14, 2012 @ 5:06 am | Comment

I remembered reading this years ago. Yes, the author is known for being a neocon.

I still think he makes some very valid points. The concept of a mature fascist state is intriguing.

In the end, T.I.C. It is its own thing always and forever.

February 14, 2012 @ 5:29 am | Comment

Boya, just remember the source — Michael Ledeen was one of the biggest cheerleaders for the Iraq War and was the poster boy of neo-conservatism back in the Bush days.

February 14, 2012 @ 12:21 pm | Comment

When it comes right down to it, “fascism” is just another vague label which, even if true, would be of little consequence.

China’s political system is best explained by simply listening to how the Chinese themselves describe it – Leninist, which is to say it is led by “democratic centralism” with decision-making carried out in a “vanguard party”. That China’s economic system is essentially a relatively free market means that Chinese claims to have a “Marxist” economic system, albeit one with “Chinese-characteristics” can no longer be taken seriously, but much of the rest can and should simply be taken at face value.

February 14, 2012 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

Just read in the news about a decree that prohibits foreign programming from being aired between 7 – 10pm. More of the roll-out from hi jintao’s “vision statement “.

February 15, 2012 @ 8:46 am | Comment

I’m with FOARP on this – “fascism” is a lable that seems to encompass everything people don’t like. It’s sorta kinda like “socialism” to extreme right wingers – a label to use as an insult, even if the recipient accepts it as a badge 😉

@SKC – well, they need more room for those series where the plucky young men and women fight the Imperial Japanese army, eh? Not to mention Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf for the kids….

February 15, 2012 @ 9:48 am | Comment

I just read in the NYT op-ed section that China’s political system is far superior to the American system.

Can we have a thread on this one next? I need some time to gather my thoughts as I’m not even sure where to start…

February 17, 2012 @ 8:50 am | Comment

T’other Richard
Loved that! I did have to laugh. Obviously authoritarianism is much better as it is older – snigger! Next “There have been slaves for most of our history….”
Did like this

“China is on a different path. Its leaders are prepared to allow greater popular participation in political decisions if and when it is conducive to economic development and favorable to the country’s national interests, as they have done in the past 10 years.

However, China’s leaders would not hesitate to curtail those freedoms if the conditions and the needs of the nation changed. The 1980s were a time of expanding popular participation in the country’s politics that helped loosen the ideological shackles of the destructive Cultural Revolution. But it went too far and led to a vast rebellion at Tiananmen Square.

That uprising was decisively put down on June 4, 1989. The Chinese nation paid a heavy price for that violent event, but the alternatives would have been far worse.”

Allow the people a voice until they demand too much, then kill them. Much better than allowing the people a ballot. Regime change by revolution was always more fun….

February 17, 2012 @ 9:07 am | Comment

I can’t believe Eric X Li is getting any serious attention outside of the Hidden Harmonies circles. Does somebody in China have nude photos of Pinch Sulzberger or something? This a travesty greater than publishing Shaun Reins.

February 17, 2012 @ 9:29 am | Comment

So Eric Li is rehashing of what George Soros and Thomas Friedman has said in the past.

February 17, 2012 @ 12:33 pm | Comment

“Decisively put down” should join “vacation-style treatment” as a new China meme, or perhaps be entered into the Newspeak dictionary.

The Constitution of the People’s Republic of China takes a different approach to political rights than what Li posits. There is no concept of rights as “privileges” to be “negotiated based on the needs and conditions of the nation.” The Constitution says this:

Article 35: “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”

Article 37; “The freedom of person of citizens of the People’s Republic of China is inviolable.”

I’d refer Mr. Li (and Messrs. Friedman and Soros) to “Human Rights and Asian Values” by Amartya Sen for an actual informed analysis on this debate.

And who determines what the “needs and conditions of the nation” are? Presumably it’s the omnicompetent technocratic leaders who do no wrong. Until they decide that the “needs and conditions of the nation” are to smelt steel in the backyards of peasants. Or purge society of all bourgeois elements. Or kill all the Jews. You name it. A government run by a tiny, unaccountable group of people arbitrarily determining the “needs and conditions of the nation” is a recipe for disaster.

Finally, I was surprised to learn that ancient Athens and the U.S. are the only examples of democracy in the history of the world, and because one fizzled out and the other is currently suffering from political gridlock, democracy must not work. Since there have been no other democracies in the history of the world with which to compare authoritarian China, we must ultimately conclude that democracy is untenable. And of course, the successes of other authoritarian regimes like Syria, Russia, North Korea, etc. really help to bolster Li’s argument.

February 17, 2012 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

Eric li again makes a fool of himself. He, like a certain Forbes contributor, seem to have no aversion to repeatedly doing so. Power to him.

It’s too bad that the ccp gets to be both judge and jury ( not to mention executioner) when it comes to determining who gets out of line wrt what china needs. And as other Richard points out, it isn’t so much that china doesn’t acknowledge the existence or importance of democratic and individual rights. She does have a constitution, after all. It’s just that its not worth the paper it is written on. So the ccp isn’t really looking out for what’s best for china or Chinese people. Her overiding motivation is to ensure its own continued existence, whether that existence is warranted or not. There is something rather un-Darwinian about that, and if li is concerned about who might be first to go the way of the dodo, he really need look no further.

February 18, 2012 @ 9:14 am | Comment

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