- By contrast, almost all of China’s public-opinion movements have a clear claim to unanimity, making it difficult to connect more forces to one immediate end, often resulting in failure due to rapid fragmentation.
What do you think when it comes to organizing? Protesting on the street, labor unions, opposition parties, NGOs. Exactly, even online chat groups count, in theory, as O2O, turning virtual communities into real-world organizations. That is why the Chinese authorities are wary of group chats and have created the ironic “group owner take responsibility” rule. Their vigilance is superfluous. It is difficult for the Chinese to organize.
For Chinese enthusiasts like Novak, one of the things that baffles him most about mixing with Chinese is the subtlety of relationships, even on the Internet. Within a few days, a large and lively group can became deserted, as another new group emerged, excluding some of the old one. The new group then continues to divide, continuing to exclude some of them, becoming smaller, and then continuing, eventually disintegrating.
Interpersonal stickiness depends largely on mutually beneficial relationships, based on the exchange of money or social assets, rather than on cohesion based on consensus. In Novak’s view, relationships are difficult to maintain if you don’t make them aware in the first place that you can provide the benefits they need, or you may not be able to bring people together through some spiritual need.
But this is not all, the material capitalist society is basically the case. For China, the more special or subtle, lies in the following points.
“Shabi(idiot)”, a word invented by the Chinese, is now loathed by many Chinese. Why? Because it’s overused. When a person disagrees with another person’s words, he or she can call the other person an idiot. Not even wanting to understand your full meaning, making negative judgments based only on their own senses, thus labeling you an idiot. Novak believes this is no longer just an obstacle to discussion.
That’s right. It’s not just an emotional statement, but one of the reasons why the Chinese cannot get organized.
People are using differences of opinion to justify subconscious social alienation. It seems to be a good excuse. “Oh, that idiot, how can you be in league with him?” No one thinks that different points of view do not mean wrong. The “idiot” theory presupposes that one is absolutely right and incredibly intelligent. Well, people don’t know what they don’t know. But deny oneself still have don’t know, this is a kind of very arrogant behavior.
Strong ideological expressions often lead to ludicrous judgments. This is a common phenomenon. I objected to the fact that the Coalition started bombing Syria before the chemical weapons investigation team was even investigating, when someone accused me of supporting Assad. Ironically, they leave you with only two options: support NATO or support Assad, and there is no third.
As if antiwar did not exist, nor did awareness of the nature of Syria’s years of squalid proxy war need to exist. People just want to see you pick sides and pick like them. Like the dispute between the sweet and salty Douhua, it is a metaphor rather than just a joke. Is my preference for plain Douhua without any seasoning an act worthy of criticism?
Political polarization, tribalisation of the public opinion field. While these terms are constantly being bandied about by academics, they do not adequately reflect the full extent of the problem. People are just using it to disguise the nature of relationships. When you’re faced with a strong need for the common good, conflict of ideas doesn’t really matter that much.
In the last 50 days or so, two twitter hashtags: #1Tweet ADay4JA and #FreeJulian, have called for the release of Julian Assange. “Whatever your political views, if you support human rights and defend the right of the people to know, which is the foundation of democracy, then we stand together” is one of the most widespread motivational tweet you will ever see. This creates the largest possible union. By contrast, almost all of China’s public-opinion movements have a clear claim to unanimity, making it difficult to connect more forces to one immediate end, often resulting in failure due to rapid fragmentation.
I don’t want to say that Chinese society and their government are potentially isomorphic. But the high pursuit of consensus is by no means characteristic of a democratic society. It’s important to know that the inefficient elements that make you uncomfortable are the very foundation of democracy and community. An effective democratic culture must involve some sort of messy and embarrassing fortuitous encounter, as does the community. People have to be able to touch things that they don’t want to touch, to hear topics and opinions that they don’t want to hear. But this is an awkward time, and you need to put a little effort, a little push in the consciousness of the initiative to find, to work hard. Otherwise a little carelessness will slide into the black hole of individualism.
It’s impossible for a highly segmented society to unite. Moreover, the pursuit of ideological formations can also suppress your judgment of the facts. Worse still, there are times when you need to lie about it, because there are no perfect parties or groups that are always right. For solving specific problems, different factions have their own advantages. If you have to maintain support for one or the other, or simply attack the other, you have to avoid some of the facts, or you can’t justify yourself. The result is that you become the medium of lies, not the justice you defend.
So the next time you meet someone who rejects a union under the guise of conceptual ideology, you already know what to do.
China is not so “class solidified”. It is true solidification if you compare it to the British society, where birth determines life. But in Britain, apart from the royal family, there is not much difference between the different classes, except for a few lifestyle details. Middle class, for example, just means there are carved flowers on the spoon, while what you eat is no different from the bottom.
In China, however, there are considerable differences between classes, which makes it difficult to communicate. It is not only that different classes are hard to reach (No one on the Internet knows what your assets are, unless you own a well-known company with a real name on the Internet. But that doesn’t delay judging a person’s class status), but also the problem that different classes are unable to collaborate.
Let’s start with why the difference is so big. This may be an unavoidable problem for every society that has experienced sporty “equal distribution of wealth”: The history of being forced to wear “triple colours” shoes like everyone else implanted a same kind of choke in Chinese’ spirit. The first thing to emerge from the so-called ‘reform and opening-up’ was the nouveau riche landscape: huge gold rings, gold chains that are thicker than a thumb, designer clothes that don’t cut labels, and so on. These ostentatious displays of wealth that are now ridiculed have not gone away, they have only become more obscure. The self-evident sentiment of those who live their lives on Chinese social media is exactly what the gold chain says.
Yes, they have changed from their father’s generation of upstarts, but not much of the underlying consciousness has changed. That is: “I and You, the lower classes, are completely different.” People will sum up a person’s class profile through their social media show life to decide whether or to what extent to interact with it.
The end result is that the groups that form strong connections are basically people in the same social position. They either have similar qualifications and experience in prestigious schools, or they have almost the same social resources or even resource structure, which makes it extremely difficult for those at the bottom, which is the largest base of social movements, to get assistance from the higher classes.
Over-emphasis on class labels leads most directly to “exclusion”. As you know, exclusion is top-down, not the other way around. But it must be said that the higher classes have more and better access to education, and certainly more knowledge and skills than the lower classes have at their disposal. If the unity exists, the different classes can cooperate for the same benefit and perfect the multifarious resource demand of the revolt.
When I was in the United Kingdom, I had the privilege of participating in a regional social movement against depression discrimination. The most impressive thing is that all kinds of technical personnel and experienced senior members of the social movement came to help. They are completely from different classes, the collaboration is quite harmonious, the overall progress is very smooth. Though small in scale, it is a model of the perfect social movement. In China, however, to give just one example, if you have the slightest impression, you can recall the trend of online public opinion after the explosion in Tianjin. Many people were emphasizing that the victims were middle class, so much so that iyouport had to publish a semi-academic version of Middle Class Psychology and Underclass Psychology to get solidarity out of the class divide and into a level of joint pursuit of power.
This is nothing compared to what it is today. Now the bigger problem has to be reiterated: The authorities are using the full range of technological capabilities to control society. Yet the bottom political activists with the largest base are generally unfamiliar with technology, and the lowest technocrats are middle class, a common feature of Asian countries (as opposed to Western countries, where technocrats are mostly at the bottom). It is well known what the financial resources of the rich in this country are. This has resulted in those who are truly capable of confronting the authorities being less interested in politics, and those who are unable to protect themselves because they do not understand the technology are arrested and brought to jail.
We are not emphasizing the importance of class, but the authorities have been moving faster and further than this society: the Chinese authorities have been shown to be deliberately controlling hackers, the new elite. The authorities are equally distrustful of the decisive role of the class, what they expect is nothing more than full control of the political and ideological state of the technocratic elite.
At the same time, most of those at the bottom (even those over 45) have yet to understand, much less value, what technological capabilities mean for resistance in this day and age, resulting in a failure to unite and to assist one another.
Dissent, which is the foundation of democracy, is of no use to authoritarian states, because democracy relies on the constant updating of mistakes to maintain the principles of fairness and justice. What dissent can provide is supervision and assistance to the regime, which is based on the feasibility of reform. Authoritarianism cannot be reformed, dissent cannot and is not prepared to shake / challenge power relations, and it is the opposition that is needed to deal with authoritarianism.
Dissent and opposition are not a matter of hierarchy, but fundamental differences, common sense that we have always emphasized, breaking the basic principle of non-repetition of common sense and emphasizing it, precisely because so many people still do not understand this point.
To be a qualified opposition, only cognition is not enough. You also need more and more full technical ability, experience and strategic wisdom. However, in China, because people who own the latter and those who own the former are segregated in different classes, it is difficult to integrate into a successful opposition group.
Wrong use of the Internet
As mentioned above, these two months of participation in solidarity with Julian Assange have elicited a different kind of emotion from any kind of solidarity, from the onlookers who have watched Wikileaks at every step of their ordeal for more than a decade. Originally intended to sum up, it does not seem necessary now, there have been enough articles in constant elaboration and analysis, and the iyouport blog translated some of these key articles. We’ll just talk about the difference here – the difference between Chinese solidarity and this solidarity.
The first and most obvious is that the de-ideological alliance mentioned in this article is very difficult to achieve in China. Many friends think that my idea of ideology that I often talk about is simply a result of the inertia of the media experience, which is not exactly the case. Yes, the principle of the media is so, but it exists because it helps journalists focus more on the facts themselves and more on the overall objective of presenting information to the public.
That is, the power of unity. If we are now pursuing a reasonable resolution of a case of human rights persecution, whether you are left or right or liberal, the defence of human rights is the bottom line, meaning that your ideological leanings have nothing to do with the purpose of union. Even if your interpretive logic seems to me to be utterly unpalatable, as long as your conclusions are like mine, we deserve to be united. In Julian Assange’s solidarity, almost everyone does.
It is not that the group of supporters is powerless, on the contrary, it is very powerful. It is a multinational group, a multi-lingual coalition of opinions, and people do not mind each other whether they use the same language, whether they share the same logical position, as long as our goal is the same: you are my friend.
It’s very inspiring, and that’s why I’ve been supporting more Chinese people to join at least this massive transnational movement, and you can appreciate a lot of things that you can’t experience in China, and it’s valuable as experience.
The second is the recognition of the value of the Internet. A well-known joke is that stupidity is more popular than cleverness on the Internet. The reason this is so true is that too many people use the Internet by mistake.
The Internet is not a stage for intellectual superiority – the proliferation of shallowness and stupidity is also the result of too many people and even the media, who subconsciously push up the popularity of shallowness and foolishness. But that is not the point. The point is that this wrong use obscures the true value of the Internet. People lose their energy by indulging in insults and ridicule.
The graph below shows the distribution of traffic on the night of Julian’s disconnection from the global supporters vigil (twitter only), which is the true value of the Internet. It is not just a coalition of public opinion, so you can see exactly where street protests can take place, at least in the countries where they were organized, namely Sweden, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia.
I have always refused to repeat common sense, which many people on the Internet do, but it seems to me to be a kind of active backward. Apart from extensive connectivity, the most outstanding value of the Internet is that it is new and fast, spreading the latest knowledge at a speed that traditional publications cannot match.
In short, the Internet’s greatest capacity is to mobilize and connect, not to perform as an individualist. There is an active group in the #FreeJulianmovement that adds all of its supporters, especially the more influential ones, to connect, promote, and raise their voices. They don’t care where they live or whether they have the ability to organize and participate in real-life street movements, which is a powerful organizing techniques.
Anxiety is an emotional state that stems from one of the authorities perennial stabilisation strategies: fragmentation. Infiltration, public rewards for whistleblowers, and so on, reinforce mistrust among people with the basic aim of creating disunity. Novak says he has been told by Chinese that any organization will be infiltrated and watched everywhere.
We have analyzed this issue in detail in Why Are They So Rampant? Because You Don’t Trust Each Other. It’s true that infiltration exists, but it doesn’t mean that organization isn’t viable.
Our earlier article introduced Anonymous several times, one of the world’s largest transnational hacker groups, and is best known for its involvement in international hot political events. They are the great organizational templates of the Internet age – decentralization, self-assembled people, all working together for the same basic goal. Do your best.
In the age of the Internet, there is no need for a clear central organization, and people do not really need to be in one place. Technology provides this facility, so infiltration is not too harmful to such a combined force. Because people have a single goal, a high concentration of power, and the task is completed automatically dissolved. Everyone knows why they come, infiltration is not affected by the thrust of the action.
And those who exaggerate the ability to infiltrate are likely to be helping to create a climate of fear for the authorities. There is little need to worry too much about infiltration unless it enters a key secret group. And it is insiders, not newcomers, who are most likely to cause the situation.
The model above is well worth for real-world resistance, and that is why penetration anxiety is not necessary. It’s likely that some people understand organizational processes in the opposite way. They are more familiar with traditional models, forming organizations first and then planning their operations. Not really. Decentralization organizations in the Internet age only need more people with the latest information, a sense of justice, and the technical ability to join at any time. If you have followed one or two members of Anonymous, you will find that there are many different languages, even Japanese, on your Timeline. This is an everyday connection.
The Internet provides a great opportunity for people to learn from each other. If the Chinese can break through the closure and draw on the rebellious wisdom of global dissent as much as possible, refuting this article will hold great promise.⚪️