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[flagged] 1989 Tiananmen Square Protests (wikipedia.org)
202 points by sebastianconcpt on April 20, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 45 comments

I see similarities to the <edit>wikipedia picture</edit> protest in Israel's Tel Aviv main square from yesterday, in terms of social distancing.


And also, I was just having philosophical thoughts about the distribution of power in the world. I wonder if advances in technology will one day create a coalition of super powerful people who will control the world and will make the rest of humanity slaves at best and completely worthless at worst.

I mean, do ethical people naturally gravitate toward power? or does power tend to attract the less empathetic (to put it nicely)?


I even fear one day we won't be even able to post about this topic.

It is said that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

At the foundation of the U.S., in the Federalist Papers #51 (1788) it says:

> If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary

To your point:

> I wonder if advances in technology will one day create a coalition of super powerful people who will control the world and will make the rest of humanity salves at best and completely worthless at worst.

It's hard to say we haven't come dangerously close to achieving this approximation already. Regardless of your political affiliation, there was a headline today saying that Facebook is categorizing protests formed on its platform as "dangerous misinformation". This is a dangerously powerful stance that we shouldn't take lightly.

This is basically the discussion that Westworld (HBO) is having right now. I think it's getting somewhat mixed reviews, but I've found Season 3 to be a fairly prescient plot.

>I see similarities to the protest in Israel's Tel Aviv main square from yesterday, in terms of social distancing.

Not seeing any myself given social distancing back then and now meant different things to people. Back then it would be some form of euphemism for - governmental cover up, which is not the go to definition we all know today when somebody says "social distancing".

What similarities other than both were protests are you seeing?

Honestly I was just referring to the pictures :) I will edit it now to point out its the pictures. Thanks

Then you might want to look at some pictures of Tiananmen Square protests - https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/gabrielsanchez/pictures...

Yes totally different.

Btw, why is this post being flagged?

Dunno, but it's hardly news or anything new to the subject, just another wiki article and the subject, I dare say ticks too many political landmines in debate and we don't do politics here.

>if advances in technology will one day ...

>... make the rest of humanity slaves at best and completely worthless at worst.

power tends to corruption

People tend towards corruption, power just enables that tendency. But not always the case and few examples of people in power throughout history who have been shining examples of showing us that it can be done right.

i am sure every rule has exceptions.

It does, hence tends encapsulates that niche. But then nothing is perfect so their will always be an exception.

Reminds me of an old IT joke - We finally made the perfect code, it debugs itself. Alas when we run it, it electriculted the programmer.

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely" - John Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton

Is there a reason this was posted today?

Probably OP trying to "test" if HN is controlled by China.

Some weird logic I've seen recently where if you post something about China being bad, and it gets deleted, then that place is "tarnished".

I mean if everything bad about one country gets deleted, but this treatment is not given to other countries, I would call that a problem. Not saying that’s where HN is at at all.

It's plausible that individual users are simply downvoting for not finding it interesting: information that isn't new, preaching to the choir, etc.

While it's possible, I'd be very skeptical that YC/admins are intentionally silencing anti-China messaging; I've certainly seen many posts critical of CCP. It certainly seems plausible that the Chinese state has agents and/or bots that nudge online content in accordance with the party line; if so, I'd be curious to know to what extent HN is on their radar, compared with more highly-trafficked sites like Reddit.

Yes, I don't think HN leadership is pro-CCP. However, I do think there is some kind of CCP influence at work. Whether it is normal HN participants that are more understanding of CCP, and dislike the blanket dismissal they get, or there are actual CCP agents at work, is unclear to me. It is clear there is dislike of the outright criticism that CCP gets. My comments critical of the CCP get many more downvotes than even I am used to getting.

I also think that HN mods should have access to enough user data to be able to run some tests and see if particular accounts are more targeted towards CCP critical posts and comments than would be expected by a normal HN reader.

I have received more downvotes than normal for crticising the CCP. Whether that is due to a pro CCP bias or not is up for debate. I talked with dang (mod), and he says it is due to the thread being high profile and contentious, not due to a sitewide pro-CCP bias. Seems like a plausible counter argument.

There are certain groups and entities that have packs of rabid fanboys who mass-downvote critical comments but in my experience China and Chinese people are not one of those groups of HN. There also tends to be a lot more hard evidence when a company genuinely tows the CCP line like Tiktok, and again there's no such thing for HN.

Not the OP, but it's possible that the reason was that (according to Wikipedia) the protests began on April 15 1989, so the anniversary was pretty recently.

It's been used as a comparison with some photos of the nurses counter-protesting the stay-at-home protests on some social media sites.

I'm not suggesting they are comparable, just that one evoked images of the other. Might be why it's being posted?

I've been thinking about it a lot lately, in the context of how much to trust the Chinese government's reporting of fatalities.

I think a good rule of thumb is that if the official number is n, the true number is something in the neighborhood of n to the nth power

In these strange times I'm seeing more people question our current setup (Capitalism/Democracy) and wonder about how we should make it better when we eventually re-open. With that in mind, I'm seeing more and more "Socialism/Communism = bad" posts all across the internet.

Even the videos posted yesterday of nurses in Denver blocking protesters showed a lady screaming "If you want communism, go to China!!"

> lady screaming "If you want communism, go to China!!"

the lady was making a very misleading claim. I think the only country with something resembling communism left is NK and probably Cuba.

Among the other things Communism assumes absence of social classes, money and the state. Nothing ever came anywhere close to accomplishing it.

"If you want communism, go to China!!" - They should be yelling it to people who have concocted communism state for large companies/industries. Take airlines for example - they're getting this giant bailout at taxpayer's expense. Those were running profit for the last 10 years and managed to save nothing for the rainy days. Now they're crying and want taxpayers to bail them out.

It's 4/20 so I guess we should expect all kinds of things

His style is not for everyone but the BBC recently repeated Clive James in Shanghai, from 1989. You can see the protests going on and he comments on how the police and army are completely absent (which I guess was around April/early May). It's also interesting to see China in 1989, so massively different from when I visited last year.



It's interesting to see that after all that a new generation is out there, some willing to simply dismiss the value of knowing that such an event even happend.

Note that the protests occurred in the backdrop of market reforms to the economy. Not an expert on Tienamen Square, but that seems important.

"The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefited some people but seriously disaffected others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy."

Of course this opinion will not be popular here, but I think that there are legitimate historical assessments to be made on whether the Chinese leadership did this (and not to excuse them by the way), because they saw they were in danger of falling down the USSR route.

I.e. allowing the form (but not substance) of democracy to come in before people were ready for it, just as they making some progress on the constructive path of controlled economic liberalization, and derailing it to produce a oligarchic kleptocracy that would plunge the country into long-feared poverty and chaos. Which we can now see what happened to the USSR.

If you think of that as the choice that was facing those leaders at the time, their actions are more understandable. Just like how we look back now at the Soviet scare era of our history and wonder how we ever got caught up in that ridiculous hysteria.

Again, I say understandable, not excusable. Of course there likely were aspects of preserving power for its own sake, but looking at Deng's intentions and actions (other than Tiananmen Square) throughout his career, one has a hard time saying that he was motivated mostly for maintenance of power and not some public good.

It is a complicated story, and worthy of more than just a knee-jerk reaction. And yes, the important democracy movement and its terrible tragedy ought to be commemorated.

I would say even poverty and chaos is preferable to the collective farms and gulags that killed over 100 million during the Soviet regime. Read Solzhenitsyn's "Gulag Archipelago" for context, even just the first chapter of his massive work is extremely eye opening.

Update here since I am rate limited. Check wikipedia for non combatant death counts. Read the first chapter of Gulag Archipelago, and with the very bloody revolution, disasterous collective farming, and constant purges of innocent civilians, you may find 100 million very plausible, if not even sounding on the low side.

Also telling is that Stalin had the UN change the definition of genocide so his gulags and policy disasters would not be counted.

The 100M+ number published by the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (funded by the USG) includes Nazi war dead.

One of the problems with the "freedom of speech" (lack of) is that in western countries, sooner or later (most) records open and we find out the Truth. In other cases we have whistleblowers (i.e. Wikileaks), and/or kick-ass journalists that expose scandals, and we get a glimpse of the Truth on the very important issues.

I feel that in China a guy like Snowden would have been tortured and executed, his family imprisoned, his neighbours interrogated, everyone in his vicinity would have everything confiscated and searched.

With that said I fear that we will never learn the truth about what happened to those captured in the protests. China's history is drenched in blood, and current government doesn't seem to want to change this.

You are aware that Snowden fled the US precisely because he feared being tortured right?

Oh he had torture in his pocket. 110%. Sorry I meant to write "he would be questioned with the use of enhanced interrogation techniques".

But I don't think they would go ahead and imprison-->torture-->execute his family, his fiancée/wife, his extended family, his neighbours.

I China, NK they would without even spending one minute to think about it. And then they would "delete them from history" (yes I have watched too much Star Trek).

I don't think USA imprisons en masse because people believe in God-A instead of God-B. That happens in other countries.

Again we go back to secrets = lies and US gov has plenty on its back violating rights left right and centre and all over the world. But it's not Saudi Arabia.

Should probably check the edit history on that page. Tienamen is a front in the information war.

That's absolutely true, but it is consistent with my background knowledge of China .

Is hackernews still accessible from China?

It's been at least partially blocked since August last year: https://en.greatfire.org/https/news.ycombinator.com


Arguably it's off-topic.

Beyond that, almost anything contentious (in the view of the HN crowd) has a non-zero chance of getting flagged away. Try posting an argument for dumping Python 3 in favor of Python 2... :-)

On other posts I see the "off topic" argument met with the "anything hn readers like is on topic". Not sure why it is different in this case. 178 likes indicates a decent amount of the HN readership.

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