Same as the Old Boss

At YOU CAN! in Poland, during Polish Night I sat across from a girl from the mainland of China. The conversation turned to censorship and its acceptance in China, and she told me that she thought that it was good that the Internet and publications were censored. She said that the government knew what was good for them, and so she trusted their decision.

This concerned me quite a bit, and was an unusual thing to hear especially from an AIESECer. I have just read this article on the BBC about life in modern Russia, and it has the same kind of concepts from the mouths of ordinary Russian citizens. Why do people willfully submit themselves to an unchecked authority like this?

By Preston

Agent of Change, Former of Entropy, Seeker of a Stateless World.

9 replies on “Same as the Old Boss”

If you’ve never experienced the concept of totally (or nearly) free choice, the idea that this entity, which perhaps is easily marketed as “smarter than you,” can make choices of what is tasteful and not.. maybe doesn’t sound like a bad idea. I believed some derivatives of it in middle and early high school, and I don’t say that to be derisive, but to show that before experiencing the greatness of free choice, I thought others might be able to make better choices than I.

But isn’t that the point of representative government: in essence, placing your faith into an individual or individuals to make the right decisions.

Self-determination is a volatile thing, albeit it crucial. I’d say for that part of the world, it falls to cultural background. Most people don’t really care about censorship until it starts to interfere with something that is vital to their identity. Just look at the Falun Dafa and gay rights movement in PRC. Most people don’t feel like they’re missing out. And it’s sad.

But the best argument I heard for censorship came from a girl from Bahrain while I was in Morocco. She claimed that studies showed that people who were less exposed to violence, crime, and controversy were much less likely to be thinking about it. This carries forward into enormous long term effects, to the point where those things are phased out of “normal” life, and it becomes preposterous to even consider committing them. I have yet to find the source of these studies, but it makes sense to me. Restrict sex and violence in the media, and you create a more docile population. However, the extent to which this is carried out is up for debate.

In the end, ignorance is bliss. You can’t really force someone to give a damn.

I feel like the only thing I truly have is my choice. When someone else makes it for me, it ain’t my choice no more.

Preston, do you believe in the concept of consciousness creation? It seems to be somewhat what “peanut” was talking about in regards to his friend in Bahrain. I dislike such deterministic ways of thinking, but understand that many other people accept them as fact. I seem to remember a passage in the Bible regarding a man finding out what hell was truly like and was thus driven insane.

My view comes down to the idea that when you are willing to put your faith in a group rather than make decisions yourself, you must accept (and hope) that the group’s decisions end up benefiting you personally. The Chinese are willing to put the good of the society above their own – that is the basis of a Socialist system. I state these opinions based off my own time there, a few classes I’ve taken, and the following paper. I believe you’ll find the paper to be very interesting and perfectly in the spirit of this discussion. Take a look at it if you have the time.

“many Chinese people are considerably more afraid of disorder, of the failure of authority, of the possibility of unsettling a system which is navigable for the ordinary Chinese citizen, than they are of lacking rights.”

I can’t say I blame them.

when i read about yuri the entrepreneur somehow maslows pyramid comes to mind. first you have to be sure that you will not starve, that you have a home and that you are safe before you can worry about things as free choice and self-fulfilment.

on another hand I recently talked with someone studying biology. some biologists claim that free choice doesn’t exist. everything is genetics. i hate that thought…

adding onto what the Pu said:
in Morocco I talked a great deal about the media – mainly the representation of cultures in it, but we veered off topic and it turned into discussing the freedom to discuss these cultures in a certain way (i think spurring from the mention of the Prophet cartoons in Holland or somesuchwhere…)
one of the girls said that the censorship by her government in the UAE was accepted because that is what it has always been, much like Williams said. and that some of them were grateful for this censorship so they did not have to face things like sex or violence when they turned on the television.
it was an interesting conversation to say the least – and an interesting perspective.

but i’m with you on choice – our choices define our identities, who we become, what we do with our lives. without it – i don’t know where i would be…

Preston –

Thanks for continuing with your posts. Each time I read one I feel like you are converging with the fella from ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’!

With regard to the Chinese girl…
She (and Chinese in general, for that matter) doesn’t think about censorship in the philosophical way that is typical in Western countries. She is being far more practical in recognizing that China does not have the infrastructure/historical precedent to support internal conflict.

Let us face it: if China opened itself to the ‘red demon of knowledge’ then maintaining order over 1.3+ billion people would be nearly impossible. And when order goes who benefits?

I can guess the scripted answer for who benefits: “Humanity”, “future generations”, or even “the progress of mankind”..

Very noble, but the fact remains…

You can debate philosophical jargon all day (and perhaps even successfully when up against a novice), but you will do well do to remember one important thing (and thus avoid the Ignatius trap):
reality is a serious game with no margin for error.

As always, drop me a line when you have the time.

My webpage is the same:


Well done with your post, Shawn. I only now read it, but you are right on the $$. Good to know you learned so much and haven’t forgotten it all!

What’s with the strange name, Izrael?

Drop me a proper email when you have the time. How’s research?

Who likes irony?

Preston: the BBC link is firewalled in China.

Shawn: the pdf file was fine.


Not in China.

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