The answer to that question is almost always "no," and certainly until proven otherwise. Complaining that these corporate PR statements are anything other than lip service is like complaining that the world isn't fair, or that everyone dies. Perhaps a sad truth, but one you should've figured out by the time you turned twelve.
Corollary: corporations are not hypocrites, either, because corporations don't hold beliefs. They make PR statements. Their belief is "I will say what I need to in order to be left in peace to maximize profits." Any corporate leader that doesn't hold to that will be replaced by someone that does, either proximally (by the board and shareholders) or ultimately (by one day landing on the wrong side of idealogy and getting outcompeted by organizations that weather the storms more nimbly.)
That said, I don't see why that means we should expect that behaviour in the sense that we should consider this the expected, correct, behvaiour from corporations.
Perhaps if everyone believed that moral and ethical behaviour from corporations should be the expectation and not just a fairytale for <12 year olds we'd actually see that behaviour in the world. If everyone was like OP in condeming these corporations maybe their expectations would eventually become real.
No, they wouldn't, because the selection pressure on the organization is for the minimum amount of signaling required to optimize profits, not actual morality - not least of which because optimizing for profits optimizes for continued existence of the organization, and maximizing morality does not. Holding them to a higher moral standard just changes the measure of "what is the minimum amount of signaling required?" Selection pressure is unyielding - values that don't affect survival ultimately don't matter, because however much you like it, it will be competed out of existence.
Nor could an organization exhibit actual morality, because an organization doesn't have continuity of thought or policy - flip a few board members, change an executive team, and the people whose judgement comprises "the company's judgement" just changed entirely. It would be like discussing the morality of a robot which regularly swapped the brain it contains.
You're making the same category error as the previous poster: describing "corporation" as a noun that has a characteristic known as "morality," and then lamenting the amount of "morality" we expect from it.
Morality is for people. Profit-seeking institutions don't have morality - they have regulatory constraints on profit-seeking avenues. Tricking people into thinking corporations have the former is a jedi mind trick: keep people focused on controlling corporations with the same social censure mechanisms that work on people means you're not focusing your time and effort on the mechanisms of control that would actually work on corporations.
It's like a red dragon walking around talking about oh, gosh, how much his sunburn hurts. He's immune to fire; put away the torches and focus on something that might actually work.
>> No, they wouldn't, because the selection pressure on the organization is for the minimum amount of signaling required to optimize profits, not actual morality - not least of which because optimizing for profits optimizes for continued existence of the organization, and maximizing morality does not.
But if everyone condemned corporations (assuming that translates into consumers not purchasing their products), then that becomes the selection criteria impacting their profit.
So whilst your point that the corporations don't hold 'real' moral positions is fine, the OP would appear to be also correct in their assertion that condemnation will push a corporation to take a moral position (or pseudo-moral position if you want) and their expectations would eventually become real.
we can have non-profit-seeking expectations (like morality) of corporations because it's made up of people, not robots, and the drivers of profit are (often) indirect and nonlinear. and it doesn't matter that corporations don't internalize moral behavior the same way an individual does. it gets internalized throughout the people in the corporations (stochastically, not uniformly). that's a fine outcome for the expectations we have.
social censure would be modeled as losing regard (brand value) for the corporation, and corps spend craploads of money keeping up their image because it affects profits. censure should lead to some loss of aggregate business, which does ultimately put profit pressure on the corporation.
maybe that's less effective compared to direct regulation, but social censure is immensely more accessible than regulation for most people and even most other businesses. maybe censure is not as good as regulation, but that's a claim that at least requires some rhetorical support. it's certainly better than nothing or a slim chance of proper regulation.
that said, we should do both, and more, to keep corporations--power structures--in line with what we as the people want (not the other way around). the balance is an unstable equilibrium and we need constant vigilance and pressure to maintain it favorably.
Neither do democratic government institutions (they do whatever the political winds say), nor non-democratic institutions (which are run for the benefit of those in charge of it).
The implication that the removal of profit would result in moral, ethical, and altruistic behavior is not supported by evidence.
So if people were to apply selection pressure on organizations by condeming their actions and removing them from mainstream acceptance, leading to reduced profits (e.g. "Ewww, you're wearing Nike? Don't you know those are made by child laborers?!"), the optimal behaviour for them will be to exhibit a more moral behaviour.
In particular, this would be much better than the attitude I replied to of "Of course Nike are using child laborers, as a corporation that is just what they do.".
> Nor could an organization exhibit actual morality, because an organization doesn't have continuity of thought or policy - flip a few board members, change an executive team, and the people whose judgement comprises "the company's judgement" just changed entirely. It would be like discussing the morality of a robot which regularly swapped the brain it contains.
> You're making the same category error as the previous poster: describing "corporation" as a noun that has a characteristic known as "morality," and then lamenting the amount of "morality" we expect from it.
I agree that the behvaiour of an orgnization is an emergent property of the members of that organization and their culture, so it is hard to ascribe morals to the organization as a whole. However, I don't think it really matters what mechanism generates a good behaviour as much as the good behaviour itself. In my metaphorical example so far, if the Nike CEO literally hated children and wanted to work them to death but halted all child labor just to save profits, I'm still happy that the practice of child labor was stopped. Furthermore, if the Head of an organization was held liable for the actions of that organization (either legally or just socially), they would work to make sure the organization behaves in a way that makes them comfortable. If everyone in the world agreed that a certain behaviour was required of that organization, then that would include the members of that organization and itself would influence the behaviour internally.
> Morality is for people. Profit-seeking institutions don't have morality - they have regulatory constraints on profit-seeking avenues. Tricking people into thinking corporations have the former is a jedi mind trick: keep people focused on controlling corporations with the same social censure mechanisms that work on people means you're not focusing your time and effort on the mechanisms of control that would actually work on corporations.
Sure, applying regulatory constraints on organizations is also useful (though the same caveats you yourself mentioned still apply, e.g. a common failure in these regulatory constraints is that the risk-adjusted penalty the regulation sets is lower than the risk-adjusted profit, so the organization is still incentivied to break regulations). This regulation can be the result of public demand (in as much as the politicans writing it also respond to social pressure).
> It's like a red dragon walking around talking about oh, gosh, how much his sunburn hurts. He's immune to fire;
Heck, even if an organization says something without meaning it, that still has value. If 10,000 brands update their Facebook page to say "Black Lives Matter" but do nothing further about it (like donating to relevant causes, promoting black workers inside the company etc.) that still helps normalize and propagate the idea that "Black Lives Matter" and has some value of itself (though obviously much less value than actually acting about it).
Its not so much that you or I have not figured this out; it is something which apparently works because a significant group of people have not figured this out; they're falling for it.
It’s not just that. By encouraging civil unrest in the US/UK and continuing to funnel money to Chinese sweatshops these corporations are actively supporting the Chinese regime both in its foreign policy and its economy.
Remember the Apple 1984 ad? Now imagine the runner throwing handfuls of dollar bills at Big Brother instead.
That ad aired in 1984. Apple was nowhere near as profitable at the time as it is today.
This is the definition of a hypocrite. I see in your comments an attempt for seemingly logically sound conclusions that stem from unsubstantiated aphorisms. "Corporations don't hold beliefs", "Morality is for people" not corporations.
Just because a corporation is made up from a group of people doesn't magically make it unable to hold any values. I would argue that it does hold values, values that are shaped by the people working there and the society in which it operates:
Profit-seeking institutions don't have morality because they are made up of profit-seeking people in a profit-seeking society.
I would expect your comment to be a prelude to why the capitalist model isn't working, why values are being eroded and eclipsed by the the need for profit, yet you stop short.
Complaining about for-profit institutions pursuing profit is, at best, a category error, and has nothing to do with our ability to shape the world except a childish inability to separate an organization represented by people from actual people.
It's like making a pool in your backyard and complaining it's a bad place to jog. That's not what it's for. Private for-profit entities aren't for public policy, or for moral leadership. They're for taking money and giving you widgets. If there's a manner in which their doing so runs contrary to desired public policy, that's a government and regulatory issue. That they've managed to somehow convince you they're "people"/"sentient" adequately enough for you to criticize their moral stance is an astounding success of marketing and branding. Because it takes a lot of marketing to convince people that widget-making is anything other than widget-making, for good or for ill.
I honestly can’t even imagine what it would mean for companies to have absolutely no moral responsibility. Wouldn’t they behave like gangs or mobsters? Or even more extreme?
And no, that wasn't snark. I'm basically paraphrasing Alan Moore's statement that democracy is just another way of being ruled by the biggest mob.
Leaving this source and reference to Citizens United to hopefully help lift the conversation and help people understand the rights of corporations within the United States.
Do corporations have a deeper responsibility besides enriching shareholders?
I think it is more accurate to qualify this. Corporations have been ruled by the US Supreme Court to hold many of the same rights as people. It's also important to give that decision some context. Polls since Citizens United have shown a majority of people in the US oppose the Court's decision in that case. Just a couple I found quickly poking around:
Hong Kong? That might actually require a bit of financial risk and negative publicity (at least in China). Now that real money is involved? “Our company believes the best way to support change in China is to do business there [...and keep our mouths shut].
It may have a vocal (majority?) support, but it’s still a very divisive issue.
It’s probably better to not raise any flag, unless you really mean it and genuinely want to support it.
Companies prefer to not be in the news. So what they do is seek out the mainstream and align itself to it.
BLM was not mainstream 3 months ago, so companies remained quiet.
Now, not showing support for BLM runs the risk of unfavorable PR. So they put out a low risk statement.
I think what we're seeing is a case of "minority rule" .
So it's not much of a minority anything.
Mind you, Stripe has no real vested interest in China so that's probably why, but at least it's something.
Edit: Also, with the pace at which China is eroding Hong Kong's freedoms, the Great Firewall expanding to Hong Kong can't be that far off. Once Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc. are also banned in Hong Kong, maybe then they'll have an opinion.
Don't you think that C-levels of all of them were previously dying to get into China, and were ready to do anything?
On my memory, Google's advisers were all over Kremlin, coaching the regime in "internet media operations" in 2005-2008, teaching them how to hound opposition online, and doing psyops style public opinion manipulation, while inventing silly lies about the nature of their collaboration. This is a close as it gets to treason.
But here is it in basics:
Russian opposition was completely dominating the Internet at the time, before around 2005, a complete opposite of the picture on the TV, and fake opinion polls.
Kremlin was not happy, and went straight to the Internet's "kingmaker" — Google (or maybe it was the other way around?) Publicly it was to get its officers "taught" about internet media, but the writing on the wall was way more obvious.
At around late 2005, Google announces them "optimising their algorithms against abuse," and within weeks opposition's websites start to disappear from Google one after another. Google obviously claim "we did not hardcode anything," but simply rearranging the word order in search was enough to expose them doing that.
At the same time, we saw a wave of very weird adsense political ads on sites associated with opposition, and a wave of exhilarating pro-Putin drivel in Western media, clearly suggesting they got some Western spin masters on their side now.
In my personal experience Meduza articles are near the top for some topics and several years ago Dozhd was popular as well, also sometimes I get links to opposition LJ blogs. Also there was a large shift to Telegram channels from traditional websites.
Here's an actual story about Google and China:
Google quit China for 6 years, tried to go back, got outed again and shut down again.
In the case of China, doesn't the US government in some ways encourage this? I forget the colloquial name for the "policy" (if you can call it that, because I don't think it's codified into law), but isn't the idea that if the US shares some of the fruits of capitalism and liberal democracy with China, the people of their country may follow suit?
You don't share liberal democracy by teaming up with rogue regimes against it.
See the recent WSJ piece: "Facebook, Twitter, Google Face Free-Speech Test in Hong Kong" (https://redd.it/hkw6yh)
Supporting BLM or LGBTQ+ Equality costs them nothing, even if you go beyond a PR gesture. You can put Black and LGBTQ people on your board and in corporate leadership positions and it will not have it negatively impact your bottom line in any measurable way. Maybe equalizing salaries would impact the bottom line but not by a significant amount.
However, by (rightly) calling out Chinas numerous human rights abuses you risk being shut out from China. That directly impacts your bottom line the way putting a Black Ivy League grad rather than a White Ivy League grad on your board does not.
Same logic applies regarding ICE contracts. Talking about how great immigrants are costs you nothing. But refusing to do business with alphabet agencies that terrorize and inhumanely interns them impacts your bottom line.
People love to harp about how corporations are amoral and are only obligated to follow the law and create value for their shareholders. If you adopt this worldview then don’t be surprised if companies start doing business with tyrants.
Companies don’t have values, people have values.
Many people think of companies as if they’re people because that’s how they’re presented in consumer media, and many US laws treat them as entities similar to people. But they aren’t people.
The supply and logistics chain that manufactures car seat headrests and transports them from Taiwan to Los Angeles does not have an opinion or a moral stance on any issue that you care about. It’s a bunch of factories and different forms of freight transportation.
The directors of Google have not made a statement on Uighur in China, etc.
Hong Kong is "over there" and these companies do not have a large customer base there. China on the other hand is a monstrous potential market that they all salivate over accessing, but to do so they must suck up to the CCP.
Not hard to understand...
I don't have any special insight into their motivations. But aren't the consequences very different? As far as I understand it, if western companies publicly go against the Chinese government the only change they will get will be being kicked out of the country and being replaced with a local competitor.
I'm skeptical about corporate activism too, I just don't like the idea that intentionally picking totally losing battles should be some kind of standard. Even in a real military conflict it's reasonable to avoid that.
I see no inconsistency here that companies are responding in manner agreeable to groups holding political power in both cases.
But somehow, this doesn't seem to be the case.
Is it just greed, or am I missing something?
"I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters is the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always tempts its owners irresistibly to abuse it. Can anyone imagine Moses, Jesus, or Gandhi armed with the money-bags of Carnegie?"
They motivate their selfish actions, to others but also to themselves (Motivated Reasoning) with noble sounding arguments. Our brains are very good at coming up with those.
Once you understand and accept this, you can process the world on a higher level.
The hardest part is seeing when you do this yourself.
There is overwhelming scientific evidence that (mentally healthy) humans are pretty capable of empathy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy
> They motivate their selfish actions, to others but also to themselves (Motivated Reasoning) with noble sounding arguments
You are claiming that selfishness is the only driver but https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motivated_reasoning goes both ways.
Besides, why do you refer to people as "they"? Are you a bot?
Just like how many small businesses are forced to put up signs supporting BLM and signs saying they are minority owned and asking to not be looted. Because there is an implicit threat of being destroyed if you do not support BLM.
I think they are more aligned with the classical liberalism which doesn't seem to find much support these days.
Claiming the CCP and BLM are on the same page would be comical if I wasn't so sure you were serious.
I was lucky enough to read about china in university and read 3 different books about Mao for varying perspectives. What is happening in the US is strikingly similar to the cultural revolution. Making "anti progress" people kowotow to the revolution, taking away their means of livelihoods. Wait till these people start saying that anyone with a slightly different opinion than the revolution is a racist and needs to be "reeducatted", and long for a social credit system similar to china.
The CCP also didn't start with the goal of oppressing people. It started with the goal of ending century long oppression of chinese peasants at the hands of the ruling elites. If you read Mao's little red book, he even makes some arguments against censorship.
Certainly the Cultural Revolution was way way worse. And yes it brings to mind certain similarities for sure. Taking away livelihoods without due process is bad. Being put to death is worse.
Current events do bring to my mind certain aspects of "self-criticism" . As an observation, I'm thinking of the other HN front page post  about de-escalating. I'm not on twitter so maybe I'm misunderstanding this. Apparently if I tweet something wrong, it might explode virally and I might lose my livelihood... and the solution is to de-escalate (maybe with some tool twitter might helpfully provide) by apologizing and learning that there's still a lot to learn, to deeply admit the mistake, and listen deeply and thoughtfully, and to be reeducated on what's wrong with what I thought.
Another aspect brought to mind is "struggle session" , "a form of public humiliation and torture that was used ... during the Cultural Revolution". Certainly what happened in CR is absolutely way worse. What happens on twitter and elsewhere online do bring to mind certain aspects I've observed... the public humiliation and shaming, mobilizing the masses online, group of people accusing another 'privileged group or person, revisiting past mistakes.
There are indeed interesting similarities to compare and contrast though.
To quote (black) Columbia scholar McWhorter: "black people in the US are 2.5 times more likely to be poor, and they are 2.5 times more likely to be murdered by police."
Highly recommend to take an hour and watch him for example being interviewed by Coleman Hughes (black, Columbia U scholar) or on the Glenn Loury (black, Brown U scholar) podcast.
If you're willing to learn, you may want to look up what Patrisse Cullors has to say about her own BLM movement. I feel sorry that you think this is comical.
(Some people in the movement do self-identify as Marxist, yes; so what? That's a convenient way of avoiding looking at their actual politics.)
(I went wait what at first, but I guess the communists were already a thing in the 1830's, so it makes sense educated people would've been familiar with them)
> "Now, as every well-informed person knows, the fact is indisputable, and has often been boasted of by the infidel press, that anti-slavery sentiments were first propagated by the ultra socialists and communists--those miserable sans culottes, who, during the memorable French Revolution, raised the cry of Liberté, Fraternité et Egalité, and in the madness of their drunken folly enthroned a nude harlot in the Temple of Justice as the goddess Reason, the object of their admiration and worship. At that time England and Massachusetts were virtuously engaged in supplying the slave-marts of the world with cargoes fresh from Guinea and Loango, and our Northern divines had not the least suspicion that the Bible condemned slavery. But, sansculotteism being quelled in France, soon found a foothold in Exeter Hall, and thence spread to the United States. For a long time the clergy resisted the storm of radical ideas, but being only men like the rest of us, and having an eye to benefices, calls, surprise-parties, and the like, as well as "itching ears" to catch the sweet voices of the rabble, they have at last almost surrendered in a body in the Free States, and now seek to lead in the new crusade ..."
> " Already, we repeat, this terrible question is being mooted in secret conclave; and should the time ever come when it shall be mooted openly--when loudmouthed and earnest men, fresh from the people, shall bestride Faneuil Hall, bawling for an equal and exact distribution to every mechanic of whatever craft, to every operative of whatever mills, to every laborer of whatever grade--bawling, we say, for an equal and exact distribution to the workmen of the net proceeds
of their combined labor; and denouncing in the same breath pampered capitalists, as so many lordlings growing rich on the earnings of the moiling and toiling poor, reaping where they have not sown, and gathering where they have not scattered; upon what plausible pretext will you, Sir, then seek to gainsay them? You will have none. Dumb and quaking with fear you would be constrained to acquiesce in their logic; for they would only use in their own behalf the identical arguments you have assiduously tried to impress upon their minds for ten years and more, in order to persuade them to interfere in the affairs of their neighbors."
^F "socialist" for more of the sort. Hundley would've hated 140 characters.
These days the french have moved on; they're even going for Liberté, Sororité et Egalité. What horror!
“We’re trained Marxists.” - Patrisse Cullors, BLM Co-Founder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HgEUbSzOTZ8 (1.5 min video in her own words)
In the UK the veil has started to lift. BLM-the-organizations are increasingly recognized as anti-capitalist, again based in their own words.
Nuclear weapons are great to keep peace in the region.
IIRC, the PRC considers Taiwanese possession of nuclear weapons is one of their red lines that would lead to immediate war . Though I'm not sure how such a war would be supposed to work if Taiwan had an effective nuclear delivery system.
It also appears that the US did not want Taiwan to develop nuclear weapons in the 70s/80s for non-proliferation reasons and got them to shut down their program .
What you makes you think China would tolerate that any better in their backyard?
That alone is difficult due to manufacturing dependence on China.
But even before that, your usual club of rogue nations worked ceaselessly to keep moving Western red lines, and eroding West's resolve while 18 Western Alliance armies were merrily bombing men with flintlock rifles in the middle of nowhere.
This issue absolutely did not appear overnight.
Hong Kong is China's to do what they wish with.
Fuck those beard-wearing Xinjiang hipsters anyway, am I right guys?
Over-generalising, much? :)
I went to school with a lot of chinese people. Some of them went to school in the US full-time, and some of them just transfer students for a single semester. The latter group was much more likely to express nationalistic ideals. One girl told me that she didn't want to visit her aunt, who lived in the US, because the aunt supported the HK protesters. The former group didn't tend to have strong feelings one way or another; one person complained that there are no good horror movies from china because the chinese government has outlawed ghosts (and made fun of how ridiculous that was), but also used a VPN to get inside the GFW (yes, it goes both ways).
But even this bit of nuance I presented is a generalisation. It's vitally important, when speaking of trends in a group of people, to avoid superlatives. Because even if you're conscious that you're making a generalisation, other people might not be, and such statements have a tendency to radicalize people.
There's a word for this: nationalism.
one of the units would say "Nationalism will bring us victory!" I think it was a chinese unit.
They don't believe our internal propaganda. That's why Russia and the like spend so much time hyping up where we don't live up to our ideals - it lets them sell the line that we're just as bad, just as corrupt, just as etc. but we either mouth the propaganda trying to get by, or we're dumb/gullible enough to fall for the propaganda.
My understanding of Chinese culture suggests there's also a strand of "they'd love us to be hamstrung by falling for their bullshit, so we don't seize our place in the world."
Edit: a world without dissent seems so ... pointless
Don't you think that a big number of them go to the West with full knowledge of that?
Western education is still only affordable to a fraction of 1% of Chinese population, with many of them being CPC members themselves.
I had a curious case when I was studying in Canada: one very quiet girl, always wearing a tracksuit, always telling everybody her being a daughter of ordinary daylaborers who saved all their life to send her to the West.
She was one of few Chinese students we actually believed being who she claimed she was, and not a son/daughter of some elite, concealing family background. Then, by an accident, some son of a Chinese military officer outed her as a daughter of a 2 star general when he made advances on her.
Over the years, many mainland-Chinese university students (and tourists!) have been granted the funds and visa-arrangements to visit these other countries, specifically because they were known to be “patriots” of China—and moreover, to demonstrate “faith” in the Chinese government in the face of evidence against its character.
Until recently, you could spot tour-buses of these folks often in Hong Kong tourist destinations. The tours were always led by mainland-Chinese tour-guides, never locals.
I imagine the same applies to foreign University programs, but with even stricter selection criteria, such that the students won’t need a handler.
(The “nice” thing about the social-credit-score system is that it replaces all this manual background-checking work with a default-allow system with continuous blackballing. China can now portray itself as a country that allows its citizens to travel freely, while only restricting “those with criminal intent”—while in practice allowing only the same people to travel that it otherwise would have under manual background-checking.)
A Chinese friend of mine has said that, nowadays, most of the overseas Chinese students are rich kids who didn't make the cut in the Chinese education system. They're less curious about the world than previous generations of Chinese students, and have more to gain from the current Chinese system, too.
My friend comes from one of those previous generations, was more curious about the world, and it still took her many years to get over the propaganda.
I happen to agree with you. I'm just responding to the subtext in your post that seems to imply that we still have freedom to dissent.
 This is my reminder that I'm running late on my regular purging of social media accounts. To try to at least vaguely preserve my sense of anonymity, which I'm sure is much more illusory than real.
 I have to point out, given that this current strain of criticism is also politically polarized, that I am a liberal. I just happen to be of the generation of liberals for whom phrases like "free speech extremist" are a betrayal of so much of what we stood/stand for.
There was a series of books I read many years ago - The Dorsai by Gordon R Dickson, in that humanity split off into a bunch of extremists and we all flew off to our own planets, religious extremists, scientists, soldiers etc, I keep thinking of that more lately, maybe we'll just have to wait for Musk, Bezos and Branson to build some more ships.
Plus democracy and other Liberal institutions (rule of law, equality, education, social engagement) are basically collapsing throughout the Anglo-sphere. Touring the ruins of the coliseum doesn't exactly make you want to live in antient Rome...
As for suppression of free speech, the attitude in China is much more pessimistic about the ability of free speech among the public to produce good governing decisions. There is a difference between speech that can be used to gauge public opinion, and speech that seeks to spur the public into taking rash actions. Currently, governing decisions are made behind closed doors by a group of elites that carefully deliberate their choices after taking public opinion into account. Free speech that attempts to sidestep this process by not just allowing people to air their grievances, but tries to rally people into pressuring the government and seizing the decision-making levers directly are suppressed. At the end of the day, it is an authoritarian system to tries to keep the existing holders of power entrenched. But when the current philosopher kings are doing so well, only a minority of people on the margins of society really want to rock the boat.
At the end of the day, every society limits free speech in some way. The US sets that limit at threatening physical harm on specific individuals. China sets that limit at upsetting the status quo without going through the proper channels.
How do you know how carefully choices are deliberated and how much public opinion is taken into account if decisions are being made behind closed doors?
Which of those two assertions above makes you more uncomfortable reflects the education system you went to, the society you grew up in, the people you interact with, and your sense of identity.
I'm reminded of how Greek city states all used to have their own deities, believed their deities would lead them to wealth and glory, and that war between cities would prove who had the more powerful divine protector. Swap out deities for government systems and the world doesn't seem to have changed all that much.
In an uptrend comment you said:
> when the current philosopher kings are doing so well, only a minority of people on the margins of society really want to rock the boat.
There are interesting trade offs along of the spectrum of individualism and collectivism. It’s hard to talk about whether or not China has gotten that trade off right when information about the “margins of society” is suppressed.
I'd urge you to investigate more yourself--and if you come up with a different answer please do update me.
There were millions of falun gong practitioners (focus on the "were" there). China started an organ program. You can't just take organs after a person dies. Only brain-dead people are viable candidates.
China can get an organ in a week or so (their record is 4 hours). The reason transplant lists are so long here is because you have to not only wait for someone to die in the approved way so their organs are usable, but they must also match. The intersection of these two things is very small. Such fast matching and delivery can only mean they have people pre-screened and waiting to die.
As to concentration camps, the camps are admitted by the Chinese government itself (claiming that everyone is there "voluntarily"). The locations of many have been pinned down. Furthermore, satellite imagery shows the break-neck speed at which new buildings are being erected and can be used for a quite accurate count of victims (especially when cross-sectioned with testimonials).
Relevant quotes from the WaPo:
> And lawyers who have defended Falun Gong practitioners also reject allegations that those prisoners’ organs are being harvested.
> “I have never heard of organs being taken from live prisoners,” said Liang Xiaojun, who said he had defended 300 to 400 Falun Gong practitioners in civil cases and knew of only three or four deaths in prison.
>Jose Nuñez, head of the transplantation program at the World Health Organization, which collects information on transplants worldwide, says that in 2015 the number of foreigners going to China for transplants was “really very low,” compared with the traffic to India, Pakistan or the United States, or in comparison with transplant-visitor numbers in China’s past.
> Chapman and Millis say it is “not plausible” that China could be doing many times more transplants than, for instance, the United States, where about 24,000 transplants take place every year, without that information leaking out as it did when China used condemned prisoners’ organs.
I'd highly suggest taking a more critical approach to your media consumption over believing Western propaganda. The West would have you believe the Chinese are infants and cannot see the corruption of their own government. If Americans can see it in their own why can't other people?
I think you're drawing a long bow on this one - if thoughts aren't allowed to be discussed, then they effectively don't or can't exist. If a society is healthy then it can't be afraid of its constituents having a conversation, the rational limit is to prevent someone from coercing someone else with their conversation - through threats of violence. If these conversations aren't allowed, then how can the governing elite take public opinion into account? If public opinion is just the allowed conversation, you can see how easily the allowed conversation could become twisted and exclude more and more people. For instance if you asked the Uyghur people how things were going you'd probably get a different conversation, these people are Chinese citizens as well aren't they?
> But when the current philosopher kings are doing so well, only a minority of people on the margins of society really want to rock the boat.
Is this true? How do you know they're doing well if no one is allowed to criticise them, in democracy it was learnt many years ago that when things go wrong its best to chuck out the one managing the place and get someone new. Again, if things were going so well and everyone was so happy, then the rulers shouldn't be afraid to ask the people who are governed if they agree. If the rulers point to one metric - the ability to buy and produce widgets, then you can quickly imagine a situation where the opinion of those producing the widgets is irrelevant, they will just have to work all day every day to produce widgets because widget production is up, the widget producers are just expendable commodities.
CCP encourage very open discussion on anything except political issues. While presumably one day that won't work, because absolute power brings absolute corruption. How long until that happens and backfires, it's not clear.
what are they going to encourage, talk about music?
On the other hand, the Chinese community at universities in my city includes many who don't speak English or try to interact with the locals. There are paper mills designed to get people through the English language requirements if they can pay the right price, the worst of which appear to do nothing but basic hellos and thank yous. It seems unlikely that the majority of Chinese students will have westernised to any great extent, going on what happens here.
Basically, if the masses don't know about the either country, and the elites are tempted by power (it's nicer to make the propaganda than receive it, plus their economic prospects are better in China) and knowing they don't have to fight in wars themselves, it's not good enough.
Also, as much as I truly believe in the west's values of free speech and democracy, one needs to understand the fundamental pessimism and decline of the US vs the optimism and ascension of China. Oh, and the use US absolutely could not win a non-nuclear war against China, for example.
Edit: personally I think it more likely they'll just raise the bamboo curtain again - they don't seem very interested in any sort of cultural interchange.
Philippines and Indonesia are the target of picking fight on the islands at South China Sea.
I have no idea China is initiating fight with India Australia or Japan.
Japan is having similar disputes as Philipines and Indonesia.
I think the cultural valley is deeper and wider than you could imagine; at least when it comes to the wealthier people who get to travel for school.
Then beyond that, there is Chinese exceptionalism, far more fervent and irrational than any common form of American exceptionalism, and good old cynical greed (or the equally-pernicious, but less cruel, wishful thinking).
IIRC, that's one aspect of the anti-democracy propaganda: democracy's great but the Chinese people aren't ready for it, so the firm hand of the CCP is necessary to keep the country from falling apart.
China believes freedom of speech is just a leaf on the tree. Wealth, power, and status are the roots of a society that can weather the chaos of dissent. Dissent is like a source of entertainment to keep people distracted to be sprinkled strategically where people are too well fed to uproot the system. So of course wealthy and tech savvy costal urbanites are given more leeway on censorship than a poor farmer in the interior.
That’s not the case for all western societies. Talking for the ones I’m the most familiar with, neither Germany, nor France, nor Switzerland is based on freedom of speech as the root of what is good and they have a good amount of legal and social rules regulating speech. As far as I’m aware only the US, and maybe British classic liberalism are that focused on freedom of speech as the most import concept.
As a free speech advocate living in Europe I can tell you that’s not really something people embrace easily in that part of the world.
Arguably the tradeoffs made when different fundamental rights conflict are different, but they're still held as fundamental rights.
America has limits on free speech, but those aren't them. "shouting fire in a theater" came from a SCOTUS case about protesting the draft not being free speech; that was thankfully overturned decades ago. And America doesn't have hate speech laws like Europe. Libel/slander isn't protected though.
Fox News had a successful advantage in the start, but their cookie of right speech is not crumbling..
any evidence of that?
Instead of government censorships, platforms are taking matters into their own hands.
While there was a lot of protest to "not act against Trump".
There seems to be no protest of acting against Trump. So, objectively, it would mean a big majority is anti-Trump.
And the voters that remain are probably used to switching platforms because of hate-speech. That's why it probably goes unnoticed and they don't focus on it too much.
Just a sentiment though. But I see no evidence/logic against it
just about everyone i know under 50 is sick of trump and people like him, but i wonder sometimes if im just in a bubble... which is why i was curious, thanks
i guess we shall see in november
- women abandoning republican party - https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/07/republicans-women-s...
- republic woman not campaigning against Biden - https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/506256-susan-collins-sig...
- book about Trump ( of his niece)
To be honest, I'm not sure if I'm in a bubble. Didn't had the problem before ( Belgium), some people truelly believed for a while that Trump was good for the US. But all of them seem to have changed their opinion.
I believe it's easier when people start to see how dumb he is, for not "supporting" him anymore.
I'm not sure if it's me, since it's the first time they all changed their opinion in a reasonable short time ( 6 months ). I haven't followed up on my brothers business relations about this subject, I'll try soon though.
Also, I think I'm pretty objective. But I'm having similar doubts as you. So I think that's good?
We'll c. I'd say: don't forget to vote :)
Because really, consider in how many ways the west does not practice what it preaches. Look at how big corporations abuse capitalism, work against customer rights through lobbying. Look at the whole "right to repair" debate. There is plenty of stuff you can pick out and primarily report on on Chinese news. For example, every time there is even just a small protest of black people somewhere in the US, you can be sure it's on CCTV.
Then consider that most Chinese students going overseas are from the big cities, often from families doing well. There are government programs that sponsor studying abroad for students from rural areas, but they make up for only a small share. So you have students from the big cities, living a modern and happy life. And they get here and see that in some areas of everyday convenience, we've already fallen behind. They see China making progress every day, while the west is stagnating, having a lot of obvious internal and structural problems. They see the most powerful country in the world lead by a crazy orange clown being the main source of entertainment on Twitter. Not the prime example for the pros of a democracy.
And then you show them all the stuff that's censored in China, and how the CCP is evil, and how you got freedom of speech and they don't, and they look at how everything is going well back home and just shrug.
So you might conclude they are just brainwashed and don't realize it, but they pretty much think the same about you. The image of China we get presented in mainstream media is horribly biased as well.
In general you need to realize that most people from most countries are pretty content with how things are going. Even though it's not perfect, it's what you've accepted as being normal, since you grew up with it.
Even in the cities, is it safe to drink the water yet or use ice cubes? Or are we still having a refreshing cup of boiling hot tea at lunchtime on muggy 35 degree summer days?
Is there toilet paper in the public restrooms yet in the tourist districts in Nanjing? Please let me know if things have changed so I can update my image of China that's informed by direct first hand experiences.
It's absurd to suggest that everything is just hunky dory in China or attempt to establish an equivalence between living conditions in China and the United States, or any developed Western nation; so much is obvious to anyone who has spent even one day in a representative median location in both. When videos depicting the real situation are easily available to view on Youtube, it crosses the line into irresponsibility and maybe even propagandism.
Speaking as someone who’s travelled extensively in the region, I’d say you might have been there 28 years ago, not eight. I heard there are still extremely poor villages without electricity scattered in godforsaken places (e.g. deep in mountains), but those tend to be hard to get to in the first place, there’s no way you can simply stroll through one on the way from one city to another.
> even in the cities, is it safe to drink the water yet or use ice cubes? Or are we still having a refreshing cup of boiling hot tea at lunchtime on muggy 35 degree summer days? Is there toilet paper in the public restrooms yet in the tourist districts in Nanjing? Please let me know if things have changed so I can update my image of China that's informed by direct first hand experiences.
People don’t drink tap water afaik. The population in general don’t like cold/icy water anyway, so I was told. I’ve met many people who drink hot/warm water/tea from an insulated water bottle all day, even in the summer. The majority of “water fountains” (for lack of a better word) seem to only serve hot or warm, although there’s no technical reason they can’t serve cold, so I attribute it more to cultural differences. Anyway, I never had problems getting cold drinks myself.
Toilet paper: a (small?) fraction do, you need to bring your own or purchase outside for most. I heard there are initiatives to roll out free toilet paper to more public restrooms.
Anyway, drinking directly from tap or having free toilet paper in public restrooms don’t seem to be necessities, so those don’t contradict gp ether way, while your 1200 BCE claims sound highly dubious to me (I bet I have both longer and more recent experiences than you do, and I’ve travelled to every place you mentioned minus the no-electrcity villages).
The idea that there should be free toilet paper and soap in every bathroom is just not widely accepted in China. Even in Taiwan, a lot of public bathrooms don't have toilet paper. When you ask people why, they generally respond that people would steal the toilet paper / soap.
I expect that some day, the central government will announce that every bathroom must have toilet paper and soap, and then it will be rolled out very quickly. But that day hasn't come yet.
Turns out there is multitude issues, but at the core: the country is still poor. There simply isn't enough fund to support the Western style public facility.
And TBH, public rest room improvement has nothing to do with democracy anyway. In US, there isn't the public rest room in the same definition as China anyway...
Um, there usually isn’t toilet paper, but soap is everywhere.
Maybe! I could be wrong. My memory has been degrading for eight years and the situation has hopefully been improving! I'd go try to retrace the journeys I took on Google street view, for my own edification and yours, but of course, it's unavailable for China.
Ah yes, start off by constructing a straw man.
> If you just step outside the select few favored economic zones you will see a very different, much lower, standard of living that accounts for the vast majority of the land area.
and here we go. OP was talking about students specifically, and I explicitly pointed out from what kind of background they come, and how that makes them perceive the west. It seems you got personally offended by that reality.
> Granted the last time I was there was about eight years ago
Eight years is an eternity in China. I've been there almost every year since 2009 and did a lot of traveling and boy do things change.
> I rode through villages that didn't even have electricity. People were carrying jugs of water on their heads and walking barefoot through dirt roads like it's 1200 BCE. I doubt much has changed for those people in eight years.
Of course that still exists all across China. You don't turn a country of a billion into a first world country over night. But what even the guy in the most remote village sees is progress being made. They see what life in the big cities is like and want to live there; not in the west, because it seems on par at best.
> Even in the cities, is it safe to drink the water yet or use ice cubes?
It's funny how you try to invalidate my post with specific anecdotes that you think prove China is inferior to your home country. But I'll play along: No, tap water isn't drinkable anywhere in China. But it doesn't seem to bother them too much since apparently it had been like this forever and it seems possible to get used to buying bottled water or just boiling it. I'd go as far as saying there are far more important things China has to fix internally.
> Or are we still having a refreshing cup of boiling hot tea at lunchtime on muggy 35 degree summer days?
Ah yes, the superior western way of drinking cold beverages during summer. Not that it actually makes you sweat more...
> Is there toilet paper in the public restrooms yet in the tourist districts in Nanjing?
Please let me know if things have changed so I can update my image of China that's informed by direct first hand experiences.
The way I read your whole comment, I think it's more comfortable for you the way it currently is.
> It's absurd to suggest that everything is just hunky dory in China
Which brings us back to our straw man. I never said that!
> or attempt to establish an equivalence between living conditions in China and the United States, or any developed Western nation
Which I didn't do either; again this was from the perspective of a middle-class-or-higher student from a tier 1 or 2 city.
> so much is obvious to anyone who has spent even one day in a representative median location in both.
You can't just go to China for a couple days and think you've seen it all. And you should talk to locals, which is already hard in the cities if you don't speak Chinese. Again younger people with higher education background are your best bet for English. For the rural parts, travel with a native speaker. If you don't understand what makes people tick you can easily brush everything off as stupid/wrong/backwards.
> When videos depicting the real situation are easily available to view on Youtube
Sure you can selectively pick the stuff that floats your boat and make a judgement about how a nation of one billion people feels about the state of their country. That perfectly closes the loop to my initial post about Chinese media portraying the west in a very biased and filtered way, and vice versa. Obviously you can choose to do so yourself on YouTube. There's channels depicting China as the worst communist gulag possible as well as ones that make it out to be paradise. If you feel like it you can subscribe to one side and call it a day.
> it crosses the line into irresponsibility and maybe even propagandism.
Should be deleted as fake news. At least it's not censorship then.
FWIW, I drank tap water at large, western hotels in Shanghai and Shenzhen without issue - most recently in 2012 ...
On a few occasions that I have a chance to talk politics with them, they says that democracy to them means gridlock, racism, Trump, Brexit, white supremacy.
They support the Singapore / China model because of the apparent stability, wealth, getting things done quickly, and various other reasons, such as feeling more "at home" among the Chinese community.
They still keep a UK/US passport though, just in case.
- Hong Kong's rule of law has disappeared;
- The books in question are written by pretty radical young revolutionaries.
Personally I am more concerned that libraries in Hong Kong seem to keep less and less books in the local version of Chinese and more books written in Simplified Chinese used in Mainland China.
It's like if you are in California and suddenly half of the books in your library are in Russian instead of English or Spanish.
Joshua Wong and Tanya Chan are far from radical.
I think you ought to say English and Spanish are replaced by British English and European Spanish?
If you publish a book, most likely it will be in the formal Chinese.
But having these books does feel quite scary, that a foreign language (even though you understand it well) is imposed on you by a hostile government.
That historical basis—of there being (acquired) natural US citizens whose primary spoken language is Spanish—is one of the main reasons that Spanish is a national language. Spanish-language books aren’t at-all strange to see in (Southern) California libraries. They’re part of the region’s heritage, rather than a novelty.
A lot of the remaining population was Native, which (shocker!) did not actually speak Spanish as a native language -- they spoke their own native languages. There was a Spanish mission system TRYING to "civilize" the remaining natives, but it was floundering by that time.
The actual real native languages (not Spanish) are gone, for all practical purposes. Arguing whether Spanish or English is the "native" language is sorta nonsensical, given that the Americans only showed up a hundred years after the (mostly failed) Mission system started teaching Spanish.
I don't want to get into a fight as to Spanish or English is a native language or whatever, but it's pretty deceptive to argue that most of the hispanic population in CA is leftover from the US conquest -- actually very little of it is, the vast majority is from immigration after 1846.
Much less than 100 years. Mission San Diego, founded 1769. Mission Delores (San Francisco), founded 1776. Yankees started showing up in the 1820s, purchasing land parcels from local cash-strapped rancheros with gold. And the Russians only sold-out Ft. Ross in northern California to John Sutter in 1841. By the time Mexico and the USA went to war in 1846, ostensibly because the Texas Republic joined the Union, the California English and Spanish speaking populations were about evenly split at 5,000 each. More English speaking in northern California, more Spanish speaking in southern.
I think it’s usually human first and that that takes until it reaches to the books to be recognized.
Banning books from school is 10x worse than censorship at the library.
All this library talk is a little moot because nobody goes to the library. How many copies of said 'banned books' do HK libraries even have? 10? 20?
The Internet is the Library.
But the information taught in class will define an entire generation.
Some school libraries appear to be being very active on banning certain books.
Just look at the Wikipedia page here, it is quite long: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_territorial_disputes
And for Honk-Kong, we already know how it will end. Hong-Kong will become part of mainland China in 2047, that's the deal. That's unless China changes its mind, which is unlikely.
The way the US treats the Hong-Kong case is not "a freedom and civil rights issue". It is for Hongkongers, but for the US, it reeks of a proxy war. The US doesn't like China, but they can't fight directly, so instead, they support Hongkongers who oppose China.
Compared to #1 and #2 ranked posts, which have half the upvotes, but uploaded within the same hour or two, this post is ranked #19.
Maybe many people are "flag"-ing the post so the HN ranking algorithm pushes it lower.
(Edit: For the record, I don't believe the HN mods are doing any downmodding here, and it's probably just due to the ranking algorithm and behavior of the HN audience)
There is an option for mods to slow or accelerate the decay function of the post.
This is a practice that all content platforms use and few know about. Burying content down, or removing from feed (for Facebook/YouTube) is a soft censoring that avoids user and regulatory backlash.
I would like the platforms to be more transparent about the practice. They could display a ‘derank’ or ‘delisted’ label to all users.
Hacker News really shines on technical subjects, of which censorship in Hong-Kong isn't. It is important, just not what this forum is best for.
The newspaper searched the catalogue of the Hong Kong Public Library yesterday. At least 9 books were listed as "under review". The former assistant professor of the Chinese Department of Lingnan University, Chen Yun, had six books, Huang Zhifeng had two books, and Chen Shuzhuang had one. This (see picture). There are a total of 379 books in the collection of 9 books, of which the most is "Hong Kong City-State Theory II Restoration of the Native Land: Restoration of the Native Land, Fan Huaxia, is the only way out for Hong Kong. There are 76 books in 58 pavilions; in addition, "Hong Kong City-State Theory: One Country, Two Systems, City-State Autonomy" is a matter of life and death in Hong Kong. 》It also occupies 73 books, spread over 55 pavilions.
According to the report of "Hong Kong 01", at least 9 books are temporarily unavailable, including "Hong Kong City-State Theory", "Hong Kong City-State Theory 2", "Body of the Earth" written by Chen Yun, a former assistant professor of the Chinese Department of Lingnan University, "Hong Kong Defence War", "City State Sovereignty" and "Hong Kong Adherents' Theory"; "I am not a hero" and "I am not a fine road: around 18" by Huang Zhifeng, former secretary general of "Hong Kong People's Comrades" Legislative Councillor Chen Shuzhuang's "Walk While Eating and Fight" The report said that the total number of nine books involved in the "review" in various libraries in Hong Kong is more than 400.
The fact is that media bubbles are a powerful tool. There is a reason the US / CIA spend so much time/money on projects like Radio Free Asia. If you are on the same side as the CIA and US imperialism, you might want to think about why that is and what kind of harm you are causing with your jingoistic posts. The US media is carefully controlled and an opinion-making bubble of its own. Yes, many Chinese people support their government and it's not because they are duped, actually.
It's become impossible for me to trust the US on anything domestic much less China. I'd hoped for much better from HN but it seems the critical lens is not being applied as much as a xenophobic one. :(