Previous posts in this discussion:
Post"All Things Under the Sun Belong to the Government" (George Zhibin Gu, China, 12/04/17 3:22 am)
In essence, China's government in its entire history has been the same as the Western church-state power. There are several facts to consider.
First, both the Chinese government and the Western church-state power are self-appointed powers that aim to serve nobody but themselves.
Second, both powers aim to have a total design over society and people for their own needs.
Third, both of them claim universal rights over people. Indeed, they both claim to be a divine power. And they have the mandate from the Heaven to rule ruthlessly.
Fourth, both powers rely on cults and terror for their existence. Countless people in the West or in China have tried to escape, but they were all punished.
So essentially, Communist China stands in parallel to Europe's Dark Ages. After all, all the misery and bloodshed happened under a divine power.
China's Failed Revolution
Over the past two centuries, China has been through numerous bloody revolutions. Yet all the bloody revolutions have failed to increase the people's power. On the contrary, only the bureaucratic power has increased, reaching an extreme during the Mao era.
All things considered, power is like cancer. The cancer cells must suck people's blood, as does power.
Until only very recently, it was a given that the few ruled the many. And cults and terror are already the key foundations for self-appointed governments worldwide.
Universal Rights of Government
Worldwide, all self-appointed powers claim universal rights over people. In fact, they all tried to rearrange society and people according to their needs. Though the capability of governments in their power crusades have varied from nation to nation, their desires and goals are just about the same. Their common goal: to make people their servants.
How did the old European church-state gain its absolute rule? For ages, they killed off expression, thought and movements, as well as upward mobility. Trying to escape the cage was punished. Countless independent-minded people were eliminated. Such a frozen and horrible life became the content of the Dark Ages. Even in the age of Voltaire, Europeans could hardly escape the man-made barriers.
Even so, the West has hardly experienced the scope and depth of the Chinese bureaucratic power. Chinese power has always had an iron control and claimed universal rights over people. China's communist power has pushed this bureaucratic supremacy to new heights.
How could serfs in Europe or Blacks in America defend their rights? It was simply not possible. How could the Chinese protect their lives against this mighty bureaucratic machine? It is impossible!
One basic fact: This Communist power has come directly from the past dynastic traditions. All the cruel practices by old rulers have been adopted by the Communists. Most significantly, this Communist power has pushed the old cruelty to new heights.
Cults and Terror
How can a small group of people claim absolute power over the majority? These few people have achieved freedom of behavior at the expense of the rest. How could this happen?
These self-appointed governments have two powerful tools: cults and terror. What is the difference between bandits and self-appointed power? Both rely on violence, but the bandits lack cults. Otherwise, the bandits would become self-appointed powers under the cover of cults. Without knowing this basic reality, there is no way to understand human history.
In old Europe, cults and terror supported supreme state power for millennia. Without the cults, the old church-state structure would have collapsed.
The same thing has been constant throughout China's dynastic history. In this regard, Communist power is no different. Actually, the cults and terror reached new heights in the Communist era.
In essence, the Communist Party has employed terror and violence in unprecedented ways. Furthermore, the rulers employ unprecedented cults to cover up this record-setting terror.
These cults have devastating consequences: The Party has found a vast space to exploit the entire population. Under terror and cults, protecting one's interests against mighty bureaucratic intrusions is simply impossible.
It is much easier for people to fight against bandits. For bandits don't use the cover of cults. As example, when millions of Japanese invaders attacked China in 1931-1945, innumerable Chinese citizens fought bravely. Well over 20 million Chinese died, but more people joined the fight. In the end, the invaders surrendered.
Yet it is a different story when self-appointed rulers wear cultish hats. Confronting an even bigger menace, the people have become voiceless and defenseless. All said, when a political power is equipped with cults, its evil acts can become overwhelming. But all said, a thug is a thug regardless of what kind of cultish hat he wears.
In fact, when cults and power are joined, the resulting power can expand limitlessly. In world history, such self-appointed governments can last for millennia. The unity of state and church in old Europe dominated the European life for millennia. Even in Voltaire's age, Europeans continued to live under a church-state structure. Questioning the state supremacy was highly risky. Why did it take millennia for the Westerners to escape the Dark Ages?
To be certain, innumerable Europeans perished after they questioned the universal rights of rulers. Actually, such a divine power killed all free expression and movements. Walking out such deadly troubles took vast struggles and generations after generations.
JE comments: The church-state oligarchies in Western Europe lasted only one millennium, to be more precise: from Charlemagne in the 8th-9th centuries until the triumph of bourgeois order in the 19th. That's still a very long time.
I find George Zhibin Gu's take on the Japanese "bandits" worthy of further discussion. Were the Japanese defeated because they were bandits, or because they were foreigners, the Other? I would argue for the latter interpretation. On that note, it would be instructive to subject the term "bandit" to a full WAIS analysis. It's an "othering" word par excellence. Bandits must be annihilated, like vermin. Why? Well, because they're bandits.
Absolute Power: China and Medieval Europe
(Istvan Simon, USA
12/06/17 3:05 AM)
I usually find George Zhibin Gu's WAIS posts very informative and very interesting reading. But post of December 4 post is maybe a tad too inaccurate.
As far as I know Europe never experienced anything similar to what the Chinese have endured for thousands of years. Even during the worst years of the Church-State that George writes about, relatively few people were murdered by the Church-State compared to the immense numbers that were murdered in China.
The Magna Carta was promulgated on June 15 1215. So England has experienced a much more enlightened rule for over 800 years! Even though the Church of England is a Church-State, the English never ever experienced the kind of horror visited on the Chinese. Henry the VIII ordered many executions but the numbers of murdered in the Tower of London are relatively minuscule, and in 800 years the total is less than 350 people. See for example:
More than a 1000 people were killed by the military in Tiananmen square on orders of Deng Xiao Ping, yet he was an angel compared to Mao Ze Dong.
JE comments: Can a WAISer JD give us a tutorial on the Magna Carta? Doesn't it primarily concern itself with the relationship between Crown, nobility, and the Church? (Meaning, the little people as usual are left to fend for themselves.)
"Dark Ages" Europe was no poster child for enlightenment. Consider for example Charlemagne's genocidal campaigns against the Saxons and later the Avars. The absolute numbers may have been lower than in China, but there were far fewer people to begin with.
The link above is worth a click. Most of the Tower of London executions were for treason, but other crimes could cost you your head, too: extreme cruelty, Catholicism, and Lollardism. WAISer Nigel Jones literally wrote the book on the Tower. Can you comment, Nigel? (Watch out for those Lollardists!)
Magna Carta Tutorial--and an Illustrious Ashby Ancestor
(Timothy Ashby, South Africa
12/07/17 3:12 AM)
The Magna Carta was primarily drafted as a peace treaty as civil war was raging in England during 1215 and King John feared being defeated and either exiled or beheaded. (He had also been excommunicated by the Pope and apparently ardently believed that he was doomed to eternal hell fire if he didn't make amends.)
As the rebels held London, the meadow at Runnymede was chosen as neutral ground on which to meet the rebellious barons. Actually, the original document accepted on June 15, 1215 was called "The Articles of the Barons," but this document contained most of the terms that appeared in the actual Great Charter issued four days later. In my opinion, the Magna Carta was the first written constitution in European history and despite its flaws, laid the foundation for parliamentary democracy in England. I visited Runnymede last summer and doubt if it has changed much in 700 years.
In feudal times, property was paramount, and many of the charter's 63 clauses codified property rights of barons and other powerful citizens. So it is true that the benefits of Magna Carta were reserved for the elite classes for some four hundred years during which the majority of English citizens lacked a voice in government. However, in the 17th century two defining acts of English legislation--the Petition of Right (1628) and the Habeas Corpus Act (1679)--referred to Clause 39 of the Magna Carta, which states that "no free man shall be...imprisoned or disseised [dispossessed]... except by the lawful judgment of his peers or by the law of the land," and to Clause 40 ("To no one will we sell, to no one will we deny or delay right or justice"). These acts greatly influenced the framers of the US Constitution, especially the first ten amendments which formed the Bill of Rights.
Regarding the Tower of London--my ancestor Thomas Ashby of Quenby (1340-1416) bribed or otherwise persuaded the local elites in Leicestershire to elect him the county coroner in 1378. In medieval England coroners were Crown officials who held financial powers and conducted some judicial investigations in order to counterbalance the power of the high sheriffs. They also essentially probated estates, which Thomas used to his personal advantage. Unlike Robin Hood in neighboring Nottinghamshire, Thomas Ashby stole from the poor to give to the rich. After many years of complaints made to the King about his bad behavior, Thomas was imprisoned in the Tower of London in the early 15th century. As he was an old man then (by medieval standards) one would have expected him to die in the Tower even if he kept his head attached to his shoulders. However, after about a year of incarceration, he was released (probably through more bribes) and returned to Leicestershire, dying peacefully in his bed.
In his Will he left a bequest to a local monastery so that the monks "in perpetuity" would pray for his (decidedly soiled) soul.
JE comments: Tim Ashby's family tree has the most fascinating boughs, branches, and foliage! WAISers will recall that an Ashby ancestor served on General Washington's staff, and several Virginian forebears fought for the US Confederacy.
I'm not one to boast, but does WAISworld know I'm a direct descendant of Charlemagne? (If you missed it some months ago, we learned that everyone is descended from Charlemagne.)
Ol' Thomas Ashby needed a publicist. He wasn't stealing from the poor. He was actually a "supply-side coroner"!
- Magna Carta Tutorial--and an Illustrious Ashby Ancestor (Timothy Ashby, South Africa 12/07/17 3:12 AM)