World View: March 15th, 2012
- China's Wen Jiabao warns of new 'Cultural Revolution'
- Anti-migrant xenophobia growing in Athens over Greece's financial crisis
China's Wen Jiabao warns of new 'Cultural Revolution'
China's Premier Wen Jiabao was born in 1942, and grew up during the worst of Mao's bloody Communist Revolution civil war, and he's every well aware that it could happen again. Indeed, with tens of thousands, or perhaps hundreds of thousands of "mass incidents" occurring every year in China, it could happen again at any time. In fact, Wen has spoken frequently of the dangers that China faces because it as essentially a caste system where the elite are in the Communist Party and the ordinary peasants and workers are not. (See "Wen Jiabao: China is 'unsteady, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable'" from 2007.) On Wednesday, at the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Wen gave the last major speech of his career, and said the following at the press conference:
"Now reforms in China have come to a critical stage. Without a successful political reform, it's impossible for China to fully institute economic reform and the gains we have made in these areas may be lost, and new problems that popped up in the Chinese society will not be fundamentally resolved, and such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution may happen again in China."
The Cultural Revolution was the extremely violent period from 1966 to 1976, but was not a civil war by any means. Mao Zedong, having been disgraced by killing tens of millions of Chinese people through famine and starvation in the Great Leap Forward of 1958-59, wanted to restore the revolutionary spirit of his Communist Revolution. Here's an account by historian Peter N. Stearns:
"The Red Guards, mostly younger students, soon brought the country to the verge of chaos; they fought pitched battles, carried out summary executions, drove thousands to suicide, and forced tens of thousands into labor camps, usually far from home. Intellectuals were sent to the countryside to learn the virtues of peasant life. Countless art and cultural treasures as well as books were destroyed, and universities were shut down. Insulting posters and other personal attacks, often motivated by blind revenge, were mounted against educators, experts in all fields, and other alleged proponents of "old thought" or "old culture," namely, anything pre-Maoist."
A repeat of the Cultural Revolution is by no means the greatest danger that China faces. The Cultural Revolution was sporadic violence in a generational Awakening era. It was a lot more violent than America's Awakening era in the 1960s, but it still was nowhere close to a civil war. Indeed, China's history is full of massive civil war rebellions, such as the White Lotus Rebellion (1796-1805) and the Taiping Rebellion (1852-1869), killing millions or tens of millions of people. These occur at regular intervals, with each new one occurring at about the time that the survivors of the preceding one die off. The last of these rebellions was Mao's Communist Revolution (1934-49), and now it's time for the next one. That's what Wen is afraid of and his fear is justified. Xinhua
Anti-migrant xenophobia growing in Athens over Greece's financial crisis
The country Greece, and Athens in particular, has been transformed into a depot of hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants and asylum seeks, who survive on below-subsistence incomes won in a vast black market. Certain areas of the capital have been morphing slowly into semi-permanent migrant quarters with the municipality estimating that in certain central areas, Greeks number less than four percent of the population. Many of the migrants pour through the porous border with Turkey, through the Aegean Sea or the northeast mainland boundary of the river Evros, hoping to reach northern Europe, but instead remain stuck in limbo in Greece. In years past, migrants may have been simply a nuisance, but today the mutual xenophobia between migrants and Greeks is leading to increasing violence. According to a police statement:
Certain areas of the capital have been morphing slowly into semi-permanent migrant quarters with the municipality estimating that in certain central areas, Greeks number less than four percent of the population. Inter Press Service (IPS)
"Migrants are at the same moment victims and perpetrators of crime. They arrive in a country in which social cohesion is challenged and welfare and social structures that could support them are on the point of collapse. At the same time they are under enormous pressure from international trafficking networks that push more and more of these people into criminal activity."