Highest Rated Comments

kaistrittmatter59 karma

There's a lot of stunning things going on in China. The Social Credit system for example that rates not people's financial history but also their social and moral behaviour. Or the events in Xinjiang where not only there is now a huge network of reeducation camps for the Uigur people but it has turned into a laboratory for the high-tech surveillance state. But for me the most interesting thing probably was a study done by a Stanford university researcher together with a profeesor from Beijing. They gave 1800 students from Beijing's top universites free access to the global internet via VPN's - basically a tunnel underneath China's Great Firewall. a way to get around censorship. And the amazing thing was: Less than 5 percent of the students wanted to use it. Not because they were afraid. But because they just didn't think there was anything interesting outside of China's internet universe. Propaganda had worked, censorship had worked

kaistrittmatter49 karma

I think Donald Trump uses China policies as an election campaign strategy, he needs an outside enemy and the Russians probably don't really work for him. He wants to be seen as the man that stood up to Beijing. When you look closely though you'll find that at least until recently there were voices inside China's communist party hoping for Trump's reelection. For a long time for the CCP Trump was a gift that didn't stop giving: Most importantly with his erratic and distructive foreign policies (cancelling Trade agreements, pulling out of international institutions) he weakened the alliances of democratic states and opened up a lot of room for China's ambitions on the international state.

kaistrittmatter45 karma

The researchers thought of that and did follow up experiments to check whether the reason for the meagre initial 5 per cent outcome was fear or not: They told the students that there was a quiz and they could win prizes. To answer the questions in the quiz though - some of them politicial - the students had to access independent outside information (like for example the chinese language websites of the New York Times or the FT). And it turns out that after a series' of those quizzes suddenly 40 per cent of the students accessed non-censored conent out of China. And the interesting thing was: They then becsme loyal readers of some of those sites. The conclusion of the researchers was then that in the beginning it wasn't fear that kept them from visiting those sites: it really didn't occur to many of them that there actually was valuable or relevant information to be found out there that they couldn't have found at home

kaistrittmatter40 karma

The survival and eternal rule of the Communist Party. The Party was in a big crisis when Xi took over 2012: huge corruption, social inequality, the loss of an ideological compass. China had become freer and more diverse in the decades of "reform and opening"-policies before Xi. But the Party felt it had lost control over big parts of society and the economy. Xi wants to regain total and absolute control. So on the one hand he has made China more repressive again, that's a little bit like going back to the 1950s. And at the same time he's stepped into the future with the use of 21st century information technology, AI and Big Data. It's the old dream of any authoritarian leader: total control over the subjects. For the first time in history in China this dream might come true

kaistrittmatter31 karma

I think that's two different things: loss of press objectivity and propaganda. Propaganda is state ontrolled. That being said I indeed noticed some disquieting similarities in the developments of China and some of our western societies, especially the United States and they do have to do with the workings of propaganda and one of its main preconditions: the loss of truth. In fact the book really came to life for me the night Donald Trump was elected US President in November 2016. While many of my friends in the States or in Europe were stunned by all the lying, all the "Fake News" and "Alternative Facts" stuff I actually recognized a lot of what was going on as time tested mechanisms of autocrats and would-be autocrats. In a world full of lies where there is no truth only power counts. Trump isn't a "pathological" liar, he is a systemic and strategic liar, and his lies are not there to convince people, they're out there to confuse and to subdue. It's a huge problem when "alternatvie facts" replace facts: It does away with reason and judgement and in the end with the foundations of democracy