June 4 marks the 30th anniversary of Tiananmen Square.
It is probably necessary to remind, and in many cases inform for the first time, many people about China’s ruthless crackdown on Chinese freedom fighters in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, 30 years ago. Chinese rulers have never divulged how many people— perhaps as many as 10,000 —were killed by the Chinese government – young students who courageously protested in support of democracy, with many pointing to copies of the US Constitution, as something they wanted for themselves.
In the sad aftermath, the enduring picture for the world was of one unarmed man standing valiantly in front of a convoy of advancing military tanks. (A reminder to socialist advocates: this is an accurate picture of socialism in action.)
The fact that China has objected to recent reminders of the event through advertisements by a German company, says all that needs to be said about where China is today. It remains a socialistic dictatorship. No more pro-freedom protests have happened since, and any reference to the event, is prohibited on Chinese social media.
What happened to the brave man who stood in front of the tanks is not known. He may have faded back into his everyday life. Some suggest that he was killed by the Chinese government, but one thing is certain, he never escaped socialism, nor in any way gained freedom to speak out.
It is notable how China is still trying to control information and the narrative (in large part, today, with the cooperation of US social media companies). China blatantly demonstrates how important it is to socialism to maintain control and to keep different ideas at bay, by silencing dissent. They demonstrate, too, how maintaining control requires rewriting history, and how willingly they aggressively use force against citizens whose only crime is to disagree. The Chinese government, too, would tear down statues, if their people ever had the freedom to erect them in the first place.
At the time of the Tiananmen event, a friend of mine scoffed with incredulousness at US reporters who were covering it and interviewing the Chinese protestors. The Chinese students were quoting the US Constitution, verbatim, to the US reporters, and the reporters didn’t even recognize it. Little did my friend realize how media indifference and ignorance would evolve to where, 30 years later, many in media would be outright rejecting the US Constitution, themselves – aligning themselves more with the soldiers in the tanks than the citizens in front of them.
But then, thirty years ago, it would have been considered the height of lunacy to have predicted that we would have presidential candidates advocating for exactly this kind of government for the US.
Following is a reprint of the editorial I wrote about Tiananmen Square, 30 years ago:
Tiananmen Square –
Liberty’s Struggle and Victory
June 15 1989
By Evelyn Pyburn
This Independence Day Americans can celebrate – and mourn – because the bold and courageous stand of the students in Tiananmen Square is indeed a cause for wide celebration among lovers of freedom. It is one of the most significant advancements in freedom’s cause, “since the shot heard round the world.” And, so, the celebration is not premature, for there is no doubt the Chinese people will eventually prevail – all that has ever been wanting was for them to stand up and claim their victory over, what syndicated columnist George Will, called the ‘pretense” of totalitarianism. (Billings Gazette, June 7, 1989)
All that ever stands between people and their freedom is the simple claiming of it, the simple shunning of all the posturing and shallow intellectualism commonly used to disguise the true nature of those who lust for power. And, this the Chinese students have done. They have declared that “the emperor wears no clothes.”
George Will succinctly identified the nature of what is happening in China stating, “A watching world marveled at the bravery, the politeness and good will of the protesters, but wrongly spoke of their moderation. The watching world, like the protesters themselves, did not understand the inherent, irreducible radicalism of their categorical challenge to the totalitarianism pretense. The regime understood.”
George Will most accurately points out that the communist dictators understood there is no compromise between freedom and force – a fact lost on most of the rest of the world and probably the protesters too.
But consider the breadth of George Will’s statement – there can be no compromise with anyone who chooses to use force or the threat of it to achieve an end. This is true always, not just in extreme cases of totalitarian states.
In any compromise with a coercive force – liberty will always, always, be the loser. Totalitarian states or any form of statism is not established in one giant step – it is achieved through a million expedient compromising steps.
To truly exist, freedom cannot be compromised or limited. To concede that liberty must be limited is to make the first and only concession necessary to extinguish it. The regime, be it China, Russia, or the U.S., only needs to gain that initial permission of the people, to be confident of its ultimate success.
Once conceded that limitations must be imposed, the only determination left is which gang will impose which whims over hapless subjects. Because of this, China’s struggle is shared by every country in the world,
including the U.S. – their struggle is our struggle – a struggle not nearly as remote as many would like to believe, because of the ominous threat of compromise.
The relentless process of compromise is in full progression here, today. George Will described the target explaining, “Intermediary institutions standing between the individual and the state – schools, churches, clubs, labor unions, even families – must be pulverized or permeated by the state, “in order to control public discussions to protect the fragile pretense.”
Is there a single category named that in the U.S. isn’t being permeated by one government program or another, for one imperative and persuasive cause or another? Always appealing to “reasonableness” and benevolence, unless challenged, they will ultimately succeed, because the fundamental issue has already been conceded – the justness of restricting liberty.
Leaders will argue that freedom is limited because “one man’s right to swing his fist ends at his neighbors nose,” but they will fail to point out that that tenet is not a limitation of freedom – it is it’s definition! Because, once struck, the concept of freedom is shattered along with the nose.
Thomas Jefferson’s famous quote is not an endorsement of limiting freedom, it is the supreme recognition that freedom cannot exist unless it exists for every, single, lone human being, be he an isolated minority of one – be he a man so audacious as to stand defenseless in the path of an oncoming tank.