Many commentators on history look at certain years as years of significant tumult and turmoil. 1968 was one, a more recent one was 1989, the fall of european communism and the intransigence of Sino-commuism. In Europe they fell like dominoes and in an accelerating pace. Almost by a märchen formulæ 10 years it took in Poland, 10 months in East Germany, 10 weeks in Hungary, 10 days in Czechoslovakia and 10 seconds in Romania. Bulgaria just quit.
Reagan was out of office and in advancing senility. Lee Atwater, and the Republican party slime and sludge machine, extended his third term to the first George Bush, whom was quite slow in realisation of the world’s unfolding drama, but soon Republicans gave all credit, for the fall of communism, to Ronnie Reagan. It was an european event produced by the people themselves.
In China communism had been changing. The apparatus of state was firmly in the grasp of the party and the coterie of men whom ran the party. Capitalism and the desire for wealth was melded into communism, an unification of godless materialism with the brutality that entails. The military might was controlled by the state and the party, which differ only in paper drawing.
In the first few minutes, of the 4th of June, a military slaughter began in Tiananmen Square, Beijing *(Peking, Peiping). There was an incipient movement beginning in Beijing and also in Chengdu (capital of the Szechuan province). Peaceful dissent and free speech was thoroughly and brutally crushed. The next day, in a most brilliant moment, a young man carrying a shopping bag stopped a column of tanks. Truly, a rememberable , remarkable and uttering inspiring moment, that lasted only a moment. There he stood undaunted and the military paused and the moment was gone. His fate is unknown to us.
Was there a chance that a democratic air would flow in China? The chinese communists have embraced capitalism. Propaganda, in this country, has linked democracy with capitalism as virtual synonyms. The chinese, the largest population and a growing power have shown how, absolutely, false that is.
When I was first introduced to the internet ether, I found this iconic photo on a Vatican site, available as a poster:
This year, the chinese have cracked down on the tibetans and have spoken in a unity about the nefarious Dalai Lama. No sensible person believes in that campaign. The chinese want to project a grand face. They have a great desire to display the Olympics as a triumph of China, and one triumph of many. In 1936 the Olympics was used this way in Berlin, Germany. The torch run was to bring the pagan aryan glory through the, soon to be conquered, lands to the modern teutonic glory. The trek for China has been scuttled by protest.
Now a great and continuing, natural catastrophe is shaking the ground, literally, in Sichuan (Szechwan). The chinese government is being uncharacteristically open with reporting and some people are voicing their minds. Is this year going to be a year of annus horribilis or annus memorabilis for China.
*The spelling of chinese words, into english, has been done in several (at least three) systems. Who knows what form is accepted to-morrow.