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April 03, 2008

Comments

mahathir_fan

Charles,

These are the dangers of religions. Which is why I supported the banning of religion in the early days of Communist China.

I am a Christian myself, and I started attending church since I was 5. I can tell you this: Nearly 95 percent of all Christians are brainwashed.

Their fundamental flaw:
1) Belief in Trinity. Trinity does not exist! The closest that one could quote from the Bible on Trinity is from the writings of John. There is a verse in the Bible that is very close to proclaiming Trinity but it was later proven to be a CORRUPTION of the Bible. (Google Comma Johanneum) The support of Trinity is not there in the Bible. The support that Jesus and God the Father is One(2 in 1) is hinted but never has been the message of Jesus's teachings and only appears indirectly in John's writings. If John's writings were removed from the Bible, there would be absolutely no biblical basis for this belief.


2) The Bible is not God's word - especially the New Testament. The New Testament was compiled nearly 400 years after the birth of Christ and written long after his death. It is man made creation through the Church that the New Testament is made into God's word by Church Dogma. Jesus himself, nor any of the bible writers knew their writings would become part of the bible and considered the word of God. See my video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=1-vJN1l71NQ

When I try to shine light on this matter, I get very frustrated because my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ tell me that I should accept everything by FAITH.I don't mind accepting things by faith on matters can cannot be proven (such as belief in the existence of God) but on matters that can be proven, such as the authenticity of the bible, miracle healings, we should not be accepting by Faith on this matters because if we do, we are not being fair, and we can be duped, and we are essentially brainwashed.

I am also very concern on the level of superstitious beliefs in Chinese culture. It is because of these reasons that I think Mao decided to outlaw religion. I actually support it in light of this. I would rather people be atheists than to believe in religions without questioning their beliefs critically.

How does these cults form? First of all, they are brainwashed into accepting the authority of the bible and later their pastor. Their pastor probably employs technqieus involved with hypnosis to influence their minds to brainwash them into accepting his doctrine such that disobeying him becomes disobeying God.

I can go on and on. But basically, Christinity cult or not needs to undergo REFORM!


Twofish

barnychan: So you think that the tyranny of imprisonment is preferable to the "anarchy" of allowing the small and gentle voice of Hu Jia to be heard?

I think that the tyranny of current Chinese government is preferable to the anarchy of China in most of the 20th century.

It's not a good thing that Hu Jia is in prison, but the fact that he has been charged with a crime, and went through a process of a trial means things are improving.

I happen to believe that China's future lies in a strong system of law that strikes a balance between different groups. But in order to promoting the development of rule of law, you have to accept the law as it is.

There is also the dictators dilemma. If you release the pressure too fast, things fall apart. Freedom is exhilariting, but what happens when you remove the pressure too quickly is that people become intoxicated by freedom and then quickly start settling old scores and creating new ones. Witness Iraq.

Rule of law allows one to achieve a method of releasing the pressure slowly.

barnychan: Given the choice I'd take anarchy over tyranny...

What's your experience with either? My world view is heavily shaped by my parents that lived through both anarchy and tyranny. Anarchy is quite unpleasant.

Anarchy is worse than tyranny in one respect. In tyranny, you know where the danger is coming from, the government. In anarchy, everyone is out for themselves.

barnychan

"Freedom is exhilariting, but what happens when you remove the pressure too quickly is that people become intoxicated by freedom and then quickly start settling old scores and creating new ones. Witness Iraq."

I'd rather witness the events in a more relevant country that didn't move directly from the horrors of a dictatorship to the horrors of an occupation. Romania would be a much more pertinent choice, going from absolute dictatorial rule to free elections and membership of the EU in less than 20 years. There were some rough times along the way but you'd be hard pushed to find any credible voice pining for the Ceauşescu years. I have a lot more faith in the people than you have.

"What's your experience with either [anarchy or tyranny]?"

Given that we're both effectively posting anonymously there isn't much mileage in us trading our personal experiences.

"Anarchy is worse than tyranny in one respect. In tyranny, you know where the danger is coming from, the government. In anarchy, everyone is out for themselves."

If only tyranny were that simple. The reality is that tyranny leads to danger coming from ever multiplying sources, up to and including family and friends. As for anarchy, you appear to be unaware of the wider meanings of the word.

Twofish

barnychan: Romania would be a much more pertinent choice, going from absolute dictatorial rule to free elections and membership of the EU in less than 20 years.

Romania is very relevant, and the other example of a democratic transition that worked are Spain, South Korea, and Taiwan.

The interesting thing about all of those transitions is that most of the high officials in the former regime ended up in high positions in the new regime. Also most of the state structures of the old regime stayed in place for the new regime.

The other important factor is that successful democratic transitions all tend to take place when the standard of living is rather high.

Finally, one important principle of these transitions it that borders do not change. Both Romania and Spain have "Tibet-like" situations with the Hungarians in Transylvania and the Basques and Catlans.

barnychan: There were some rough times along the way but you'd be hard pushed to find any credible voice pining for the Ceauşescu years. I have a lot more faith in the people than you have.

If you look at the details of successful democratic transitions, they really don't fit into "popular revolution" model. Most of the people in power after the transition were people in power before the transition. And people have no yearning for the past, because the old regime is functioning in the new regime. The "revolution" usually involves getting rid of one person at the top and his associates, and the people ending in power are the second level people.

The demonstrators in the streets are usually just a nice cover for what is basically a coup-de-etat. If you don't have the support of people on the inside, then the regime doesn't fall.

It's where you have a botched transition (Weimar Germany, Russia, Iraq) that you have nostalgia for the old regime, and in that case things are very dangerous.

Things like the Cultural Revolution, make me distrustful of the "mob". It's scary what the "people" are capable of if you have a sufficiently ruthless and charismatic dictator like Mao.

It's important to note that all functioning democratic systems have extremely non-democratic elements that limit the power of the people.

barnychan: The reality is that tyranny leads to danger coming from ever multiplying sources, up to and including family and friends.

Your experiences with tyranny may be quite different than mine. Blood is blood.

barnychan: Given that we're both effectively posting anonymously there isn't much mileage in us trading our personal experiences.

Anonmity allows people to talk about personal stuff, and my experience is to respect other people's political views because once you know them as individuals, it turns out that they have very, very good reasons for those views.

I try to be as clear as I can be as to why I believe what I believe.

mahathir_fan

"The other important factor is that successful democratic transitions all tend to take place when the standard of living is rather high."

The problem with this line of talk is that it presupposes that China is not yet a democracy. Let me ask you one question. In order for China to be a democracy, what laws need to be changed?

China already have well established laws of a Democratic society that there is no need for any kind of transition. The right to vote and run for office is firmly stated in the constitution ever since the inception of the PRC(Article 34). Even its official name : PEOPLE's republic of China already hints that it is a democracy from the start. The names of common street names in China: Jie Fang Lu (Liberation Street) or Ren Min Guang chang (People's Square) all hints that China is a freedom loving nation.

What is however lacking is viable competition. But you cannot expect the Communist Party to encourage competition. Which political party in this world will say, we would like to be more democratic so we want to help our political enemies? If republicans win 90 percent of the House, will they then help the Democrats to win more seats in order for the country to appear more democratic? Of course not. The party's job is to win as many seats as possible.

The ability to make China democratic lies in its people. The people must believe that China is a democracy. If they do not believe it is, then they will not vote, and they will not run for office. If this attitude is held, then China not being a democracy becomes a self fulfilling prophecy because the CPC will win all the elections due to lack of competition.

People should not think that to make China democratic that they need to resort to another tiananmen or orange revolution. All the laws that make China a democracy are already in place. If they follow the law and the constitution, they can exercise their democratic right, they can even end Communist party rule in a civil manner through ballot boxes.

Now, there are some that will say that China does not allow establishment of political parties. I do not quite believe this because this is not stated in the constitution. Therefore the permissibility of establishing a new political party in China is potentially legal if not already.

Many political parties are denied legal existence because they attempt to subvert the socialist system. But has anyone tried to start a 2nd Communist party in China or a Socialist party in China and have their application rejected? I don't think so.


barnychan

"The interesting thing about all of those transitions is that most of the high officials in the former regime ended up in high positions in the new regime"

There's an inevitability that many of those who wielded power before will carry on being influential in the transitional period. To carry on with the example of Romania, Ion Iliescu moved seamlessly and successfully from one regime to another, but now finds his past under very close scrutiny; he might still end up in a prison cell.

"successful democratic transitions all tend to take place when the standard of living is rather high"

This might be benificial but it isn't a prerequisite - the standard of living certainly wasn't high in Romania.

"Finally, one important principle of these transitions it that borders do not change. Both Romania and Spain have "Tibet-like" situations with the Hungarians in Transylvania and the Basques and Catlans."

You really are missing the bigger picture. There were hugely significant border changes in Europe following the events of 89: The reunification of Germany; the collapse of the Eastern Bloc; the demise of the Warsaw Pact and the subsequent eastwards advance of NATO. These changes absolutely dwarf the concept of a free Tibet.

"If you look at the details of successful democratic transitions, they really don't fit into "popular revolution" model. Most of the people in power after the transition were people in power before the transition...The demonstrators in the streets are usually just a nice cover for what is basically a coup-de-etat."

And this is a problem? I really don't care about popular and mistaken perceptions, I care about results. The passage of time allows people to stand back and assess the rights and wrongs of those who moved from influence in one regime to another.

"If you don't have the support of people on the inside, then the regime doesn't fall."

What's needed is a combination of will from both "inside" and "out".

"Things like the Cultural Revolution, make me distrustful of the "mob". It's scary what the "people" are capable of if you have a sufficiently ruthless and charismatic dictator like Mao"

I'd always place my trust in the "people" ahead of the individual. It's when the voice of the people is suppressed that things start to become very dangerous. A diversity of views has a moderating effect on the excesses of the individual.

"It's important to note that all functioning democratic systems have extremely non-democratic elements that limit the power of the people."

Or, alternatively: It's important to note that all functioning democratic systems have extremely democratic elements that limit the power of the state.

Twofish

barnychan: This might be benificial but it isn't a prerequisite - the standard of living certainly wasn't high in Romania.

Compared to China it is. All of the Eastern European states had industrialized economies.

barnychan: You really are missing the bigger picture. There were hugely significant border changes in Europe following the events of 89.

East Germany was reunified with West Germany, but the Oder-Neisse line didn't move. Yugoslavia imploded but the new borders followed the old republics.

Because of Versallies, Romania has very large Hungarian minorities, but there is no talk of changing borders. Change one, all of them are up for grabs. The situation is even worse in Africa.

barnychan: There's an inevitability that many of those who wielded power before will carry on being influential in the transitional period.

It's not inevitable. You could have a popular revolution like 1917 in the Soviet Union or 1949 in China and basically get rid of the old regime entirely. Not a good idea. Also "transitional period" is a bad way of thinking about it. It assumes that at the end there is some sort of inevitable replacement of the "dictators" with the "democrats."

What can happen (and what has happened) is that you end up with a equilibrium between the old "dictator party" which undergoes a facelift and the "democrat" party. That's happened in Romania, Spain, Poland, and Taiwan.

Chen Shui-Bian tried to use the "transitional regime" framework to describe Taiwan politics, and it blew up on him.

In the PRC, there isn't the ethnic or ideological basis for a national opposition party, so any transition to a multi-party system is likely to come about via a split in the CCP over some issue that we can't imagine right now. If that doesn't happen then the CCP could end up looking like the PAP in Singapore or the LDP in Japan.

barnychan: I'd always place my trust in the "people" ahead of the individual.

I put my trust in "rule of law" rather than "rule of man." This means that I tend to accept things like Hu Jia's court ruling as much as I dislike it. Getting to the point where people in power obey the law, isn't easy.

barnychan: Or, alternatively: It's important to note that all functioning democratic systems have extremely democratic elements that limit the power of the state.

The curious thing is that liberal democratic government have states that in some senses are far more powerful and far more intrusive then dictatorial ones. Social democratic states like Sweden have states that take up far more income and have far more impact on people's day to day lives than the Chinese government.

For example the IRS probably has far more detailed information on US citizens than the PRC government does over its citizens.

The reason for this is legitimacy and legal restructions. Because the government has democratic legitimacy and there are legal restrictions on the use of power, citizens in democratic states allow their governments to have far more power than those in dictatorial ones.

Twofish

mahatir_fan: The problem with this line of talk is that it presupposes that China is not yet a democracy. Let me ask you one question. In order for China to be a democracy, what laws need to be changed?

Since I don't think that "democracy" is a terribly useful term, I don't know. If you ask what China needs to do to be a "multi-party liberal democracy" I don't think it is a matter of changing laws. Functioning multi-party liberal parliamentary democracies have to grow organically, and engineering them doesn't work well. (Nigeria tried it.)

mahatir_fan: If they follow the law and the constitution, they can exercise their democratic right, they can even end Communist party rule in a civil manner through ballot boxes.

Actually they can't. It's really difficult to win an election without the ability to organize and organizing a political opposition is a big, no-no. Also the multi-stage election makes it impossible to overthrow the communist party. Hypothetically, if the anti-communist Party were to win the city level of elections, the NPC could change the electoral laws to make it impossible for them to next stage.

(BTW, I really think that you are looking at the CCP assuming that it is similar to the Barisan Nasional or PAP. It isn't.)

mahatir_fan: Now, there are some that will say that China does not allow establishment of political parties.

Article 1 effective prohibits it, and if you try to start a new party, you *will* get charged with subverting state authority. Everyone that has tried to set up an opposition party gets hit with state subversion.

mahatir_fan: Therefore the permissibility of establishing a new political party in China is potentially legal if not already.

Again China is not Malaysia. It effectively isn't legal to start a new political party.

mahatir_fan: But has anyone tried to start a 2nd Communist party in China or a Socialist party in China and have their application rejected?

No, because there is no application or registration process for starting a political party. There simply is not any legal method of starting a alternate party under PRC law, and since PRC law is German -based rather than English-based, anything that is not mentioned in the law is prohibited.

Also the PRC government is *very* wary of any sort of independent political movement that it cannot control, even if it is formally Communist or Chinese nationalist.


Twofish

To mahathir_fan:

I think you are assuming things in China are similar to Malaysia when they aren't. The laws in China regarding political organization are much tighter than Malaysia, and the CCP is not like the National Front.

On the bright side, there is absolutely nothing in Chinese law similar to the Internal Security Act in either Singapore or Malaysia. In particular, the ISA lets the government detain someone at the order of the Home Minister and allows them to hold someone incommunicado for 60 days.

Under PRC law, criminal detentions have to be approved by the people's procurate, and the police must inform relatives of a detention within 24 hours. The reason that the police often resort to following dissidents and annoying them is that they don't have the legal authority to arrest them. Also, the police about about seven months to bring someone to trial.

(Also curiously, I know of absolutely no provision in Chinese law to allow Hu Jintao to do what Bush tried to do with military commissions.)

The reason that Chinese law is actually quite liberal when it comes to detention is that the people writing these laws were quite aware that it could be used against them some day.

barnychan

"Compared to China it is. All of the Eastern European states had industrialized economies."

Romania really didn't have a high standard of living in the 80s compared to China today, and it's economic and political policies were also not typical of the Eastern Bloc countries. There was no financial elite outside of Ceauşescu's immediate family circle and the emphasis on the process of "systematization" led to very real hardships - both food and fuel were heavily rationed.

"East Germany was reunified with West Germany, but the Oder-Neisse line didn't move. Yugoslavia imploded but the new borders followed the old republics."

Assuming that you're not simply being disingenuous, I'm staggered that you don't understand the massively more relevant redrawing of the European divide. I'm confident that anybody else reading the dialogue will grasp the much greater significance of both EU enlargement and the eastward expansion of NATO.

"Romania has very large Hungarian minorities, but there is no talk of changing borders"

I think your own over-developed sense of identity is blinding you to to the larger picture. Admission to the EU has transformed the situation of the Hungarian minority in Romania and, in large part, rendered borders irrelevant. Things may not be perfect, but there's now free movement between the two countries; there's a growth in Hungarian arts and culture; there's political representation. The tensions in the Ceauşescu era were fuelled by nationalism - which brings us right back to China - but even then the situation was in no way comparable to Tibet; the cultural rift just wasn't on the same scale.

"Also "transitional period" is a bad way of thinking about it. It assumes that at the end there is some sort of inevitable replacement of the "dictators" with the "democrats.""

It's simplistic, bordering on childish, to refer to "bad" ways of thinking. As I said in an earlier post, you live in a world devoid of nuance: good versus bad; black versus white...I actually don't think that there's any inevitability of dictatorships being replaced by democracies. In the years ahead I have no doubt that some current democracies will actually be replaced by dictatorships. It's impossible to ignore the admiration that many western bare-knuckled capitalists have for China. Influence isn't a one-way thing.

"What can happen (and what has happened) is that you end up with a equilibrium between the old "dictator party" which undergoes a facelift and the "democrat" party. That's happened in Romania, Spain, Poland, and Taiwan."

You really need to take a much closer look at every one of those countries. In every case it's ended up going way further than a facelift, regardless of the hopes of at least some of the protagonists. I've already referenced the fact that in Romania, despite the fact that Iliescu appeared to seamlessly transition (there's that bad word again) from one regime to the next, it doesn't automatically follow that people won't reassess and rejudge history.

"Chen Shui-Bian tried to use the "transitional regime" framework to describe Taiwan politics, and it blew up on him"

No, what "blew up" on Chen was the naivety of the voters. They became mesmerised by the apparent economic growth of China, coupled with their own natural cyclical downturn. Add to the mix the disgraceful abandonment of support from the west and it was an accident waiting to happen.

"In the PRC, there isn't the ethnic or ideological basis for a national opposition party, so any transition to a multi-party system is likely to come about via a split in the CCP over some issue that we can't imagine right now"

The biggest threat to the CCP is the fact that the world economy is in a really dangerous position. The entire world could look very different in ten years time.

"I put my trust in "rule of law" rather than "rule of man." This means that I tend to accept things like Hu Jia's court ruling as much as I dislike it"

Just because you accept it it shouldn't prevent you from loudly registering your dislike.

"The curious thing is that liberal democratic government have states that in some senses are far more powerful and far more intrusive then dictatorial ones...The reason for this is legitimacy and legal restructions...citizens in democratic states allow their governments to have far more power than those in dictatorial ones."

I'd suggest that those in current democracies should be very wary of relinquishing more power to the state. The world is changing...

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