Posts tagged ‘capitalism’

Saturday, February 15, 2014

World Radio Day, and how did Li Wai-ling get Fired?

February 13 (Thursday) was World Radio Day. That was an adequate day for the Hong Kong Journalists Association to bring Li Wai-ling (or Li Wei-ling, 李慧玲) and the press together. But let’s go through the issues one by one.

The Genius leads the spectators: engineering of consent in its early stages in applauding his works.

If everyone is happy, who needs a free press?

China’s growing economic weight is allowing it to extend its influence over the media in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, writes Reporters without Borders, in their 2014 report, published earlier this week. The BBC added a palpable story on Friday, about the sacking of Li Wei-ling, a radio talk show host at a commercial station in Hong Kong who has been sacked and who, on a press conference on Thursday, accused the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of having put pressure on her employer.

Organizations like Reporters without Borders have their merits. This may be even more true for the Hong Kong Journalists Association who organized Ms Li Wei-ling’s press conference. Reporters, talk show hosts and all the people who are critical and daring in the face of power deserve solidarity.

But this goes for reporters and journalists in Western countries, too. The problem with stories like the BBC’s, served to an American or European audience, seems to be that they blind people for problems at home. Here, too, broadcasters need to apply for frequencies. Here, too, they need to rely on political decisions when they are public broadcasters. On licence fees, or on public budgets. Advertisers, too, may exert influence.

My window on press freedom is small. The case I really looked at rather closely during the last years was that of the Chinese department at Deutsche Welle. I’m looking at these issues as a listener to and reader of the media.

This post might serve as the short version, and here is a longer one. They are about German politics, and the media.

The freedom of the press isn’t necessarily the freedom of a journalist to speak or write his mind, or to publicly highlight whatever scandal he or she may discover. This depends on a reporter’s or journalist’s employer, and frequently, reporters and editors-in-chief in the free world are very aware of when to better censor themselves, so as to keep their jobs.

This tends to be particularly true when a journalist’s contract is non-permanent. You don’t need state authorities to censor journalists when journalists’ employment is as precarious as is frequently the case in Western countries.

There is no point in pitting Chinese journalists against Western journalists, or the other way round. But there is a point in looking at every situation without ideological blinkers. Suppression of freedom from commercial organizations (and, sometimes, public-private networks) may still allow media that offer valid criticism of suppression in totalitarian countries – after all, that’s “them”, not “us”. Media in totalitarian countries can also, at times, provide valid criticism of media in freer countries. It is useful to read and listen to as many different outlets from as many different political systems as you can.

But there is no need or justification to blindly trust either of them. Without a broad global audience that develops criteria to judge press reports, freedom will get under the wheels of authoritarianism, even in – so far – free societies. The internet has become a place where journalists and their listeners and readers should meet, and be as honest with each other as they can. Its also the place where the struggle for freedom on the airwaves has to begin, time and again, whenever powers of whichever color try to weigh in on them.

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Related

» Radio Sparsam, Jan 26, 2014
» Authentic, Feb 16, 2013

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour revisited: “three years after the storm”

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From the script of a CCTV “Dialog” (对话) broadcast, either just broadcast or to be broacast shortly, and pre-published by “Guanchazhe” (Shanghai).

[...]

Chen Kaichi
(former chairman of the Guangzhou Consultative Conference and party group secretary):

In the morning of January 1, 1992, at five in the morning, the General Office of the Central Committee of the CCP sent a top-secret telegram to the Guangdong provincial party committee. The telegram was only one-and-a-half lines long and only said that Comrade Xiaoping wanted to come to the South to have a rest, and that the provincial party committee should prepare for a good reception and for security.

It only reached provincial party secretary Comrade Xie Fei after nine a.m., after decryption, and when he saw it, he immediately made a phonecall to ask where I was.

陈开枝(原广州市政协主席、党组书记):1992年元旦的凌晨五点,中共中央办公厅给中共广东省委发了一个绝密电报,这绝密电报只有一行半字,就说中共广东省委小平同志要到南方休息,请你们做好接待,安全工作。

这个电报呢,经过翻译,上午的九点多才送到省委书记谢非同志手上,谢非同志看了电报,就要找我,打电话问我在哪里。
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Chen Weihong
(moderator):

Your position at the time was …

陈伟鸿:您当时担任的职务是。

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Chen Kaichi:

… provincial party committee deputy secretary general. Back then, there were only few secretary-generals, only one secretary general and one deputy, and I said that I was in Shatou Town, Nanhai. He made me understand the situation by saying that “the old man we’ve been waiting for for so long is to come, please come here very quickly to make the arrangements.

陈开枝:广东省委副秘书长,因为当年那个秘书长很少,只有一正一副,那个我说,我在南海那个沙头镇,他用一名能够听得懂的话跟我说,我们盼望已久的那位老人家要来了,请你赶快来做出安排。

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Chen Weihong:

You knew right away what he [Xie Fei] was talking about.

陈伟鸿:你当时心里一下子就明白,他说的是什么了。

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Chen Kaichi:

[I knew it right away] because we had been depressed during those years, hoping that the old man would would come, and also thinking that he would come, because if he didn’t, China’s problems would not be solved.

陈开枝:因为我们这几年太压抑了,早就希望这个老人家要来了,也想到他一定要来了,不来中国的问题不能解决了。

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Chen Weihong:

Depressed of what, actually?

陈伟鸿:究竟因为什么而压抑?

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Chen Kaichi:

After the 1989 storm, our country was shrouded by a truly dismal atmosphere, when the thoughts from the “left” were comprehensively gaining ground. At that time, people even opposed the introduction of joint ventures, and high-ranking leaders said that joint ventures meant still more capitalism, and they didn’t want it. So, under these circumstances, I didn’t believe the words about “coming to have a rest”.

陈开枝:1989年风波以后,整个我们国家笼罩着一种非常沉闷的气氛,“左”的思想全面抬头,这个时候呢,已经有人连引进三资企业都反对,很高层的领导说多一个三资企业,就多一分资本主义,他说他们不要,所以在这样情况下,说休息,我就绝不相信是来休息的。

[...]

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Conspiracies and Control: no Detailed Plans for Currency War yet, but let’s attack Arrogant Abe

American, European and Japanese efforts to spark growth could devolve into a currency war, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), on Wednesday, interpreted remarks by Gao Xiqing, president of China’s CIC sovereign-wealth fund. Japan should not use its neighbors as a “garbage bin”, Gao was quoted. The WSJ’s Lingling Wei suggests that [t]he focus on Japan and the yen has taken some heat off Beijing, long accused by critics of artificially holding down the value of the yuan, Wei wrote in an additional article on Wednesday. Gao said that [o]ur job is to preserve the value of the hard-earned savings of the Chinese people.

Ever since the establishment of the Bank of England in 1694, behind almost every big global change, there had been the shadow of international finance and capital, Fu Bilan (付碧莲), a regular contributor to (or regularly republished by) People’s Daily online, mused in an article published by PD online on Wednesday:

They master a country’s lifeline and hold a country’s political fate in their hands. By inciting political incidents, inducing economic crisis, they control the flow directions and the distribution of the world’s wealth. It can be said that a history of global finance is the history of a conspiracy of seeking domination over the wealth of humankind.
自1694年英格兰银行成立以来的300多年间,几乎每一场世界重大变故背后,都能看到国际金融资本势力的身影。他们通过左右一国的经济命脉掌握国家的政治命运。通过煽动政治事件、诱发经济危机,控制着世界财富的流向与分配。可以说,一部世界金融史,就是一部谋求主宰人类财富的阴谋史。

China’s central bank is well prepared to react to a currency war, adds Fu. However, a currency war could be avoided. The latest G-20 meeting had drawn a few lines, such as restricting monetary policies to domestic functions. The G-20 meeting had also expressed the hope that monetary policies would not lead to competitive devaluation. But either way, China had taken responsive preparations to meet with any realities of quantative easing (量化宽松) that might occur abroad.

And of course, Fu Bilan hopes for some guiding policy decisions from the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress – both of who are currently holding their annual plenary meetings.

The – pretty long – article is much more technical than what these short excerpts might suggest, but I can’t help feeling that some of its paragraphs were written in celebration of the life of Hugo Chavez. The world of finance is evil, of course – with the exception of China‘s world of finance.

However, there also seems to be a reluctance to discuss what measures China’s monetary-policy planners have in mind to react to a currency war. One of China’s deputy central bank directors, Yi Gang (易纲), was quoted on Sunday with remarks about taking realities of quantative easing on the part of foreign central banks into account, but no details were mentioned then, either.

For the time being, the wargames, at least in the press, seem to focus on multinational institutions, and the obvious target, again, is Japan:

Japan’s prime minister Abe shamelessly delcared that a Japanese national should routinely be appointed as the post of the Asian Development Bank’s first director. China should team up with ASEAN and other countries to smash their fond dream.
日本首相安倍大言不惭,宣称亚行行长一职应按惯例由日本人续任,中国应该联合东盟及其他国家打破其美梦。

China’s nationalist Huanqiu Shibao didn’t even have to think this latest little conspiracy in international finance up – they are quoting “The Sun” (太陽報) from Hong Kong.

Patriotism won’t provide you with detailed plans for a currency war. But it helps to kill time until it arrives.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Generosity and Truthfulness: 12th CPPCC 1rst Session opens in Beijing

The first Session of the 12th Chinese “Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference” (CPPCC, 中国人民政治协商会议) opened in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing at 7 a.m. GMT this morning, reports the BBC‘s Mandarin service. Member of the permanent committee of the politburo Yu Zhengsheng presides (正声将), and outgoing chairman Jia Qinglin (贾庆林) delivered his last work report. Yu Zhengsheng, formerly party secretary in Shanghai, is expected to succeed Jia Qinglin as CPPCC chairman. The BBC’s reporter Sha Lei (沙磊, apparently John Sudworth) as saying that some measures had been taken to reflect new CCP secretary general Xi Jinping‘s emphasis on thriftiness during the CPPCC sesson as well as during the “National People’s Congress” session which takes place simultaneously. Among other things, less roads than during previous CPPCC and NPC meetings are expected to be sealed off. The BBC also refers to a People’s Daily editorial published on Sunday.

Sohu republished the editorial from People’s Daily, also on Sunday. People’s Daily’s editorial headline  was unity is strength, only democracy is vitality. Sohu’s version carries To govern, the party needs to be generous; CPPCC delegates need to speak the truth as the headline.

Some of the editorial’s remarks are actually Xi Jinping quotes, possibly made on several occasions, but certainly on February 6, when meeting people from all democratic parties’ central committees, old and new leaders from the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, and personalities without party membership to celebrate Spring Festival together.

People’s Daily online Sohu also displays emoticons for readers to express their feelings, but during the past six or seven hours, only 24 netizens (apparently) cared to “vote”.

The Feelings of the Masses

The Feelings of the Masses

On Sohu, a netizen (If I’m translating the emotes correctly) may choose to be moved (感动 – 0), surprised (惊讶 – 9), in awe/supportive? (给力 – 8), mad (抓狂 – 4), or pondering (思考 – 3).

However, more than two-thousand comments appear to have been made, and those found on the latest page are either supportive, or stating conventional words of wisdom about generosity and truthfulness.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Obituary: Stéphane Hessel, 1917 – 2013

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Main Links:

» Stéphane Hessel, gentleman indigné, Le Monde, December 23, 2011 / February 27, 2013
» 《愤怒吧!》: 93岁愤怒战士一夜爆红, Beijing News, April 11, 2011

Links within blockquotes added during translation.

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Hessel was born German, grew up French, and became a French citizen in 1939. He took part in the formulation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, and never stopped promoting its values, Le Monde wrote in December 2011 (article updated on February 27, 2013).

He had joined the résistance in 1941. He had been arrested, tortured, and survived the Buchenwald concentration camp.

And his hope was contagious (Le gentleman indigné, dont l’espérance est contagieuse).

He was also a diplomat. Compromise was hardly something foreign to him. But to react to wrongs seems to have been second nature to him.

On October 20, 2010, on his 93rd birthday, his booklet “Indignez-vous”, Time for Outrage, was published in France, with more than two million copies sold in France, and almost two million more in the rest of the world. He published another edition soon after, describing his admiration for Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Indignez-vous was followed by “Engagez-vous”, Get involved, came next.

Counter-espionage was Hessel’s job from 1941, when he followed General de Gaulle to London, a correspondent for Beijing News wrote  from Paris, in April 2011, six months after “Time for Anger” had been published:

In March 1944, he was assigned to organize the resistance network in Paris, and to gather intelligence for the allied troops as they prepared to enter continental Europe. Named “Ge Like”, he secretly entered France, but was soon betrayed and then arrested by the Gestapo. Neither punishment nor lure by promises led to the results [his captors] desired, and Hessel was then transferred to the Buchenwald concentration camp on August 8, 1944, only days before the liberaton of Paris. He later wrote a detailed description of these experiences, in “Danse avec le Siècle”.
1941年,他为追随戴高乐将军来到伦敦,从事反间谍的侦查行动。1944年3月,他受命组织联络巴黎的抵抗网络、为盟军登陆搜集情报,化名“格里科”秘密潜入法国。由于叛徒的出卖,他很快便被盖世太保所捕获。刑逼利诱毫无收获后,8月8日埃塞尔被押解往德国布痕瓦尔德集中营,而这仅仅就是巴黎解放的前几天。之后他在自传《世纪之舞》中对这段经历有着详细的记述。

His narrow escape from death – by obtaining the identity of a fellow inmate who had died of typhus – inspired him.

Just as Hessel said: “this kind of leap from death, back into life makes him the more determined to enter the enthusiasm of global politics” (正如埃塞尔自己所说的:“这种死里逃生经历更加坚定了他介入世界的政治热情”).

The article’s description of Hessel’s post-war life included his co-authorship of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

To help this document of tremendous historic value obtain acknowledgment as [a set of] universal values, Hessel and his colleagues went to great pains to make it suitable for East and West, for ideologies, and the different situations of countries and nations.
为了使这份人类历史上极为重要的文件获得公认的普世价值,为了能使其适应东西方、意识形态、国家种族不同的状况,达成一致的认同,埃塞尔和他的同事们费尽心机,奔走疾呼。

There was nothing new in the novel, “Time to get Angry”, and it provided neither a logical analysis of the problems faced by humankind today, nor practical methodology for dealing with them, the Beijing News author quoted Hessel, in 2011, and added that its fascination was to be found in the emotions it stirred, and the lesson it taught: not to allow evil to repeat itself.

An initially small, unobtrusive book, written without much preparation, of only some thirty pages including footnotes and a postscript, but inevitable content, unexpectedly led to this kind of reading, discussion and dissemination. (Frequently, customers went to a bookstore and bought ten or more copies for their families and friends). While many publishers call this a coincidence, many others explore the reasons for the book’s strong sales. There is this global upheaval, and worried people are seeking some relief. This small book is just right in its simplicity, legibility, its sentiment and excitement, and its catchiness. [...] And secondly, the author’s personal charm adds an envelope of respectability and trustworthiness to this small book. It seems that only with the historical experience and the energetic and passionate involvement of this 93-year-old warrior, a man may be qualified to appeal to public enthusiasm.
一本事先毫不张扬,也无甚精心企划的小书;一本加上注释和后记才三十多页,内容无可避免的略显单薄的小册子,竟然引发了如此的阅读、讨论和传播(经常有顾客到书店一买十多册赠与身边的家人朋友)。在大多出版界人士大呼偶然的同时,也有不少人研究它畅销的必然所致。首先,世界局势的动荡,对未来的担忧让人们急需找到一个释放内心情绪的出口,而这本小册子正好简单、易懂,情绪激昂、朗朗上口。 [...] 其次,作者的个人魅力无疑为这本小书笼罩了一层令人尊敬和信赖的气场。似乎,唯有这种经历过历史,并以自身全部的精力和激情投入其中的长者(93岁的老战士)才有资格以这种语气号召起大众的热情。

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Related

Hessel dies at 95, The Guardian, Febr 27, 2013
A Resistance Hero Fires up the French, NYT, March 9, 2011

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blogging Break: Plus ca change, plus c’est Deng (or Franco)

If KT takes a break from blogging, why shouldn’t JR? I’m thinking of a duration of ten days or so – but if Jiang Zemin leaves this world, or Deng Xiaoping rises from the dead, or whatever kind of colossal thing occurs, JR will be here to make sense of it for you.

foggy day

foggy day

A look back on the CCP’s 18th national congress: Felix Lee, a correspondent for Germany’s green-leaning daily taz, runs a China blog at a German weekly, Die Zeit. He’s usually very positive about, as we like to say, “China” – certainly from my perspective, but such optimism might sometimes give way to Welsh rats. His latest blogpost refers to Zhang Dejiang and Liu Yunshan as the new pigheads in the politbureau (Die neuen Betonköpfe im Politbüro).

And expectations towards reformers like Wang Yang had been too high. After all, even Wen Jiabao never had his way with more inner-party democracy, during his ten-year tenure.

Well, in fact, Wen Jiabao had his way with very few things (and I’m not sure that I can remember any, now).

I don’t know where many China watchers took their optimism from. The party had documented its schedule very clearly, in fall 2011. Now, I’m not saying that I could have predicted the composition of the 18th politbureau – but whoever would have entered the standing committee, would have had to stick to the line. If Wang Yang had entered the standing committee, it would have meant that he isn’t that reformist after all, or that he’s prepared to become less so.

But of course, Felix Lee doesn’t consider China’s future hopeless. After all, society is changing bigtime, he writes. Three controversial industrial projects had been thwarted by citizens this year, he writes.

Then again, you can discuss industrial plants with anyone, anyway – even with Zhang Dejiang. To object to them is no principal contradiction (主要矛盾).

The party published their line, Hu Jintao re-iterated it a few weeks later, but most correspondents seemed to take that lightly, or as some funny little theater. As if the document had been written (and agreed to by outgoing and incoming dictators) for fun, or out of boredom.

Hint (and, granted, no imperative logical connection): a year earlier, in September 2010, Wen Jiabao had made his last serious foray on those pig-headed fortifications: he talked to journalists from Hong Kong and Macau, about the need for political reforms. That was in New York, apparently. People’s Daily disagreed. Wen insisted. Half a year, there was the cultural decision.

Same with other concepts, such as social management. There weren’t a few Zhou Yongkang‘s sitting around a table and picking that stuff out of their nose.

Either, too many correspondents in China have no sense for political trends, or they don’t report their real assessment, because they wouldn’t sell. Or maybe something else I can’t imagine right now.

Either way: “staff issues” within the CCP are, in my view, hopelessly overemphasized in our press. Yes, it’s a dictatorship. Yes, it’s a totalitarian system. But it’s a collective oligarchy leadership – pragmatic, maybe, but not unideological.

What interested me during the run-up to the 18th national congress was how the system tried to shape their citizens’ perception of their (local) realities. Some of the derivatives from the State Information Office’s publicity work prescriptions were – just my impression – written somewhat tongue-in-cheek by cheesed-off journalists who had to work with those guidelines. But that, too, shapes reality. It shows the small man who he is, and who they are. Dictators aren’t out with baseball bats to hit you every day. Quite obviously, harmony is cheaper.

bright day

bright day

That’s the year that was, I suppose, in terms of China and politics. The American fiscal cliff is moving to the fore, and so is the Euro crisis. Talking about baseball bats, democratic governments seem to know how to use them, too. Henryk M. Broder, not a great friend of demonstrators, I believe, but no great friend of the European project either, contrasted two European “events” on Thursday: Viviane Reding, EU Commissioner for justice, basic rights and citizenship, celebrated “a historic day” for womens’ rights in listed companies: by 2020, 40 percent of board seats would have to be for women. Patrician daughters will be delighted to hear that, of course. But some of Ms Reding’s smaller sisters were protesting in Madrid, about very different worries.

Clubbing is so much fun, isn’t it? Maybe Deng is already back from the dead. And if you see Francisco Franco dining and sniffing snow in some hip Madrid institution, don’t be too surprised. Chances are that he’s always been with us.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Recommended Links: Tibet, Senkakus, and Revolutionary Opera

Woeser posted her observations about a propaganda film apparently produced by CCTV, and available in Chinese and English on YouTube. High Peaks Pure Earth translated Woeser’s blogpost, which had previously been broadcast on Radio Free Asia (RFA):

How CCTV’s Propaganda Film Depicts the Tibetan Self-Immolators.

Another East-Western beauty contest has been going on there on the Peking Duck. The threads are often very helpful for me to reflect on my own views – as a German, my country’s past is similar to Japan’s. The difference is that the whole world seems to believe that in Germany, we have done “a much better job” at addressing the crimes of the past. That’s certainly true when it comes to history books, but few people seem to remember then U.S. president Ronald Reagan‘s visit to the Bitburg Cemetary, where members of the SS are buried, along with Wehrmacht soldiers – at the insistence of then German chancellor Helmut Kohl. I’m not going explain my views here; they can be found there, among many others.

But there’s one thing I’d like to note here. Too many people like to make fun of – frequently rather brainless, I agree – Chinese protesters, or about fenqings who show up there in the threads. I suspect that to make fun of them serves at least two purposes: to laugh away worries about a possible war, and to feel morally superior.

If “we” – the West, or the Western alliances – were “superior”, our governments would send a clear message to Beijing, even if only behind the scenes. If the CCP leaders intend to use our countries and their people – i. e. us – as bugaboos to increase “social cohesion” at home, we can’t look at China as a friendly country. If the CCP – a totalitarian regime, after all – discretionarily uses economic means to “punish” Japan, no other country’s companies should be allowed to profit from gaps provided by such boycotts and sanctions.

I’m not suggesting that no business should be done with China. But when we do business with a state-capitalist country, we’ll need a state-capitalist approach ourselves – unless we want to allow a totalitarian regime to play one country off against the other. As long as we allow this to happen, we have no reason to make fun of useful Chinese idiots.

Last but not least, the DPRK Sea of Blood Opera Troupe is or (probably) was on tour in China. If you are a revolutionary-opera connoisseur, and intend not to miss their next time in China (or elsewhere in the world), feed your anticipation with this review on Sino-NK. It starts with Act II, and contains links to two previous instalments of the review.

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Related

» Good Ganbu’s Friday Nights, Nov 29, 2009

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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Once a Current Opinion: about progress

In 1921, an unnamed author with an American magazine, Current Opinion, wrote this:

People do not want, first of all, to progress. They want “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” and they only accept progress as a means to this end.

Hence when progress threatens to bring the whole structure of society down in a crash, the people revolt against revolt.*)

The author was on the safe side with a number of statements about the past – the past as seen from 1921. Understandably, he was not so inerrant about the future as seen from 1921. The “revolt against the revolt”, in his example and view, was Italian fascism, and the revolt it “revolted against” was Bolshevism.

What caught my eyes were the first two lines in the above quote – about what people want. I’m wondering if it is a statement most people worldwide would subscribe to today, and how they would differ, depending on who and where they are.

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Note

*) Current Opinion, October 1921, page 430 (via oldmagazines.com)

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Related

» How Chiang Kai-shek Blew it, Dec 20, 2010

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