[blinking in strong light of virtual totalitarian bulb . . . ]
We’re back on bamboo civet time, but it’s unclear for how long. The recent country-wide crackdown on speech and organizing means that Chinese officials are now seriously enforcing their internet firewall, so we can’t go on many internet sites, including Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. WordPress has been blocked in the past, but right now it seems okay. Until last week, we had a special configuration (set up before we left the States) that enabled us to get around the censors, but that system has been disabled by a third party.
Totalitarianism is interesting here, because it’s not just the enforcement of raw power. Rather, it’s paternalistic, and reinforced by the literal paternalism of the family. For instance, grown children consider it perfectly appropriate to have their careers and marriages dictated by their parents. So when the government make similar moves, it’s operating within a cultural precedent. Hence governmental control of the internet is justified by a discourse of protection: if people were allowed to read any old thing, they might be hoodwinked by malignant bloggers, fake news, or pornography. How could they learn the truth?
This attitude is hard for me to accept, but then again, my family lived through a very different version of the 20th century. So, without fully accepting it, I’m making an effort to empathize–although Chris is, of course, in a panic. What if Abe Vigoda dies while we are in China?