Thursday, June 04, 2009

Tiananmen Square 20 years on.

I don't like to use the word "anniversary" in this instance because it usually implies celebration.
There is nothing to celebrate, rather commemorate the day when hope died in China.
There was hope that with the acceptance of capitalism, there would also be a move towards democracy. That was the hope but it was only a failed dream.
Twenty years on and China's economy has become a world power to be reckoned with, capitalism is all the rage but whatever happened to democracy?

That is the lesson.

Democracy is not necessary for capitalism to thrive.
It's a bitter lesson for those who believe the nature of capitalism requires democracy.
Democracy is more fragile than we might think.
Democracy is a cultural phenomenon as well as a political system.
We should be wary of how fragile our valued and cherished democracy really is.


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7 comments:

Hammer said...

There isn't much left even though we are given the illusion of it.

Lexcen said...

Hammer, the imperfect democracy is a far far different situation to a totalitarian state.

Jeannie said...

Diehard capitalism isn't entirely to be worshipped either - doesn't matter which political system is behind it - without limitations - you end up with bank failures and the super rich getting super richer while the poor get poorer...hmmm sounds a little like the economic adjustment we have going on right now.

FJ said...

...and Capitalism can't long survive in a democracy filled with confiscatory "entitled" voters.

beamish said...

We trade with China because slavery is illegal here.

Lexcen said...

There is definitely a mood of discontent with our current democracy. The point is that democracy is fragile. The ancient Greeks who established the first democratic state found it crumbled after a few hundred years.
Capitalism is amoral. It is our democracy that imposes a set of ethical values on capitalism.
In our time we see that capitalism has become rampant and out of control without any regard for ethics and democracy has been seriously compromised by governments who have no regard for justice and embrace capitalism without any moral leanings. No doubt we are living in a time of crisis.

FJ said...

I'm with you, Lex, I really think that people who rant on about capitalism and its' evils need to read a very short but likely "spurious"
Platonic dialogue entitled "Hipparchus" or "The Profiteer".

Xenophon's Oeconomicus also reflects the underlying economic principle that so few people today keep in mind when speaking of "capitalism" and which, had they kept it in mind, would no longer speak of it in conjunction with trying to make capitalism itself in ANY way more "ethical" than it already is. They would address the underlying "ethics" of any particular 'economic' situation as an governmental "use/ abuse", be the government in question a democracy, oligarchy or tyranny.

Excerpt from Oeconimicus:

Soc. It follows apparently that if a man purchases a horse and does not know how to handle him, but each time he mounts he is thrown and sustains injuries, the horse is not part of his wealth?

Crit. Not, if wealth implies weal, certainly.

Soc. And by the same token land itself is no wealth to a man who so works it that his tillage only brings him loss?

Crit. True; mother earth herself is not a source of wealth to us if, instead of helping us to live, she helps us to starve.

Soc. And by a parity of reasoning, sheep and cattle may fail of being wealth if, through want of knowledge how to treat them, their owner loses by them; to him at any rate the sheep and the cattle are not wealth?

Crit. That is the conclusion I draw.

Soc. It appears, you hold to the position that wealth consists of things which benefit, while things which injure are not wealth?

Crit. Just so.

Soc. The same things, in fact, are wealth or not wealth, according as a man knows or does not know the use to make of them? To take an instance, a flute may be wealth to him who is sufficiently skilled to play upon it, but the same instrument is no better than the stones we tread under our feet to him who is not so skilled . . . unless indeed he chose to sell it?

Crit. That is precisely the conclusion we should come to.

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