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writing for godot

Commentary - Liu Xiaobo: A Chinese Version of a U.S. Neocon

Written by David Starr   
Wednesday, 26 December 2012 10:20
About two weeks ago I received an email from for a petition to sign. These emails come pretty steady and I’ve signed at least most of the petitions. This particular one, however, got me thinking.

It was a petition promoted by ArchBishop Desmond Tutu to urge the Chinese government to release Liu Xiaobo, whom Tutu describes as “a global icon for freedom.”

I read the content of the petition, which included Liu emphasizing peace. He also won the Nobel Peace Prize. I kept thinking about it, signing the petition as a way to respect basic rights, preferably without a political catch. I decided to check out Liu’s political positions. I’m glad I did.

I quote the following from “Liu Xiaobo,” Wikipedia:
“In a 1988 interview with Hong Kong's Open Magazine, Liu was asked what it would take for China to realize a true historical transformation. He replied:

‘[It would take] 300 years of colonialism. In 100 years of colonialism, Hong Kong has changed to what we see today. With China being so big, of course it would require 300 years as a colony for it to be able to transform into how Hong Kong is today. I have my doubts as to whether 300 years would be enough.’

Liu admitted in 2006 that the response was extemporaneous, although he did not intend to take it back, as it represented "an extreme expression of his longheld belief. The quote was nonetheless used against him. He has commented, "Even today [in 2006], radical patriotic 'angry youth' still frequently use these words to paint me with 'treason'.

“Known for his pro-West stance, Liu once stated in an interview: ‘Modernization means whole-sale westernization, choosing a human life is choosing Western way of life. Difference between Western and Chinese governing system is humane vs in-humane, there's no middle ground... Westernization is not a choice of a nation, but a choice for the human race.’

"During a visit to the Metropolitan Museum in New York, he experienced a sort of epiphany that crystallized the turmoil of his latest self-questioning: he realized the shallowness of his own learning in the light of the fabulous riches of the diverse civilizations of the past, and simultaneously perceived the inadequacy of contemporary Western answers to mankind’s modern predicament. His own dream that Westernization could be used to reform China suddenly appeared to him as pathetic as the attitude of 'a paraplegic laughing at a quadriplegic,' Moreover, ‘I have used this delusional idealism to assign myself the role of savior…. I have no choice but to carry out two critiques simultaneously. I must: 1. Use Western civilization as a tool to critique China. 2. Use my own creativity to critique the West.'

“In his 1996 article titled "Lessons from the Cold War", Liu argues that "The free world led by the US fought almost all regimes that trampled on human rights … The major wars that the US became involved in are all ethically defensible." He has defended U.S. policies in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, which he thinks is the fault of the ‘provocateur’ Palestinians.

“Liu also published a 2004 article in support of Bush's war on Iraq, titled "Victory to the Anglo-American Freedom Alliance", in which he praised the U.S.-led post-Cold War conflicts as "best examples of how war should be conducted in a modern civilization." He predicted ‘a free, democratic and peaceful Iraq will emerge.’”

I was beyond shock when I saw that Liu initially favored another period of Western colonialism for China, and for about 300 years! He seemed to ignore the fact that China historically was/is comprised of a civilization. It’s hard for me to imagine how indefinite Western colonialism would help China, after being carved up as a virtual commodity for Western powers; and the U.S. intending on getting a piece of the action. This was pre-1949 China, known as “the sick man of Asia.”

His strictly B/W comparison of Western and Chinese civilizations I find incredible, reflecting a kind of modern day “White Man’s Burden.” His support for the 2003 Iraq War, praising George W. Bush, his view of Palestinians being “provocateurs” and condemning John Kerry for minimal support for a war based on lies as just as incredible.

Liu stated he did change his position, wanting to critique China using a Western “yardstick” and himself critiquing the West. There’s still seems a notion here of China needing “parental guidance,” and himself as being THE critic.

I do see, and accept, the valuable contributions of Western civilization, but the West is not best. There are other civilizations that can also contribute.

Liu Xiaobo still retains a right-like stance, e.g., supporting a “free market,” which has meant a domination of capital over labor. Since capital owes its existence to labor, the latter is superior. Liu better read up on NAFTA’s effects.

I suspect Liu winning the Nobel Peace Prize was mainly political. His support for the Iraq War, e.g., bares this out in hypocritical fashion.

Liu Xiaobo is a Chinese version of a U.S. neoconservative, the latter who could very well see him as a valuable asset. As for accusations of treason, given Liu’s unbeleivable position of unequal scrutiny of the West and China, the term is not that far-fetched.

If Liu can experience more epiphanies, resulting in a Left-like and/or Progressive stance, I could support him. So far, I do not see justification in supporting Liu Xiaobo, precisely because of his position which is just as bad, if not worse, than a neocon’s. your social media marketing partner
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