Zhang Wen: “Do You Really Believe in Democracy?”

The following is a translation of this post by Zhang Wen (a reporter who has worked for many of China’s most respected news publications).


All throughout society, an especially interesting and worth-pointing-out phenomenon is occurring. If people who believe in democracy are getting in the way, saying or doing the wrong thing, then democracy itself is implicated and treated as an opponent.

Take, for example, the cases of Yang Yuanyuan ((a student who committed suicide, some have argued she could have been saved with better outreach services from the school, etc.)) and the “anus-less baby” ((a baby born without an anus that sparked widespread discussion on the internet about whether such a child should be saved)) . These cases relate to the value of life and to [government] relief systems; there is no direct correction to democracy. But just because someone involved in the discussions has also occasionally expressed passion for democracy, in the discussion they’re labeled “democratic personages” and mocked by others when there is a difference of opinion between them. Because of this, democracy itself is called into question too.

Democracy is democracy, believers in it are believers. Doubting or denouncing the former because you hate the latter, or because the latter has done something wrong, is completely absurd logic. (This kind of logic is also expressed in discussions of religious belief).

Perhaps these people are very confused, and can’t understand the idea clearly, or perhaps they just don’t believe in or hate democracy, and because of this they dislike anyone who has passion for democracy. But I’ve also discovered another kind of person. In they past, they were believers in democracy, its seekers and protectors, but one day when met with some kind of disapproval for something from some fellow believer, they lost face and self-respect, and changed to doubting, criticizing, and opposing democracy.

If they’ve changed they gloss it over, saying they “don’t suck up to the officials or to the public”. They play the same old tune about “wanting to be an independent third party” […] Proponents of [this philosophy] go a step further, saying “there is no absolute advancement, no absolute direction, no absolute justice, no absolute truth”. They attempt to negate anything and attempt to negate the existence of any moral absolutes.

To these people, I want to meekly pose a question: Do you really believe in democracy?

0 thoughts on “Zhang Wen: “Do You Really Believe in Democracy?””

  1. Questioning some point of view by putting negative labels on its adepts is a well-known strategy to manage debates.
    It is called DEMAgogy and targets people (“demos”) – same people whose life DEMOcracy strives to improve…


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