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April 05, 2005

China's New Path to Freedom? « Blogging »

Check out what's going on over here.

In short, Canada tried to restrict political blogging in Canada. Canadian bloggers are reacting as you might expect: some are curtailing their political commentary, some are refusing to comply, some are treating the blogosphere geographically (as in, they won't post political commentary on their site, but feel comfortable doing so on, say, Free Republic).

The restriction on internet freedom in China is legendary. But there are always ways to work around blocks and filters and such. One interesting aspect of the Canadian blogger restriction is someone referred to the power of "American Blogosphere". From The Belmont Club (and blockquoted by Michelle Malkin):

Like the Rathergate and Swiftvets story, the scene seems set for an invisible and unacknowledged meme to exert a powerful influence on mainstream news. One poster at Free Dominion said Canada was about to experience the power of the American blogosphere.
The idea of an 'American blogosphere' is a curious concept. One Canadian poster, who balked at relating what he knew about the Liberal Party scandal on the Free Dominion because of the publication ban, suggested he and his buddies continue their conversation at the FreeRepublic, like they were crossing the border and going from Windsor to Detroit. Whether that made it all nice and legal I'll leave to the lawyers but a certain amount of absurdity suggested itself in the situation.

This highlights the impact that Internet self-publishing has had in breaking down political systems, whether peaceably (as in the case of Canada and the US) or not-so-peaceably as exemplified by Iran. Because the exercise of authority consists largely of information control (rather than physical control) by the State, Internet self-publishing has effectively weakened large areas of state power by weakening those controls. As a practical matter, there is not a judge in the world that can realistically enforce a gag order unless he can a) prevent the source leak or b) force compliance on all continents and seas of the planet earth.

This is a pretty heady concept. Many people (me included) have assumed that China's political freedom would eventually come through its economic freedom. That's still possibly a true statement, since the Chinese need enough economic freedom to purchase computers and internet service...but the lesson from this is that if bloggers in free nations set their blogsights on a corrupt/restrictive institutions that are at least partially dependent on public opinion, well, the pressure can be amazing. Maybe all we need to bring about freedom in China is an intense blog campaign against the Chinese government, complete with pressure on our own governments to censure, demarche, or otherwise express our disapproval?

Would the martyrs of Tian'anmen Square have purchased more freedom with their blood and breath for their nation if the blogosphere had existed then?

Mind you, I doubt that the blogosphere could be deliberately and effectively organized by an outside force for socio-political good, like a peace march or anything. The blogosphere is the sum of its parts, in that its direction comes from thousands of individuals making their own personal decisions, and more than the sum of its parts when you consider the amount of pressure it (the blogosphere) can bring onto a specific institution when aroused. And even if I'm expressing it badly, my point is that the blogosphere could only affect a totalitarian government like China's if enough people become concerned about situations and actions there. I probably couldn't make transforming China my pet project and get much traction in the blogosphere toward applying pressure. But if something like the Tian'anmen Square Massacre happens again, I don't think China's government would last a year.

As Archimedes said:

Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum on which to place it, and I shall move the world.

The Blogosphere is just about the biggest damn lever* our world has seen, I think. And getting longer all the time.

*Good blog name: Archimedes' Lever

Okay, so maybe I wasn't the first one to think of that.

Posted by Nathan at 08:26 AM | Comments (1)
» A Bellandean! God, Country, Heritage links with: China: Hope and Worry

Unfortunately incidents like the Tiananmen Square massacre happen over here in China on a rather frequent basis.

It's just not on the same scale as Tiananmen and the government is able to keep a better clamp on the media because it usually happens in rual areas.

I'm currently in south-west China doing independent research on such issues and I have a pretty good collection of documented incidents.

Civil unrest in the PRC is on the rise and the governments control over the masses is on the downslide.


Posted by: Gordon at April 12, 2005 04:27 AM
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