The class discussion on Liu Xiaolo is such a perfect example of just how complex cross-cultural communication can be. The question becomes one of deep seeded beliefs and ways of life, often ones that we are blind to. I know that before in this class we have questioned the idea of “individualism” versus “collectivism”, saying that people love to boil the west v. east cultural struggle to these opposites often too easily. But it is worth questioning the idea of whether or not we are too quick to assume that there are “universal values” everyone can agree with. Read about this debate in China here.
Are there such things as universal values? Is it our right to question China from afar? Saudi women’s rights? The Indian caste system? Are we going to take on one culture at a time for not adhering to our system of values?
Here is an interesting quote from the Economist:
Mr Liu writes positively about the growth of civil society in China. But he is scathing about the willingness of the Chinese public to bend to party authority, so long as the party continues to provide opportunities (no matter how underhand) to get rich. Mr Liu is despondent about the prospects for a public push for change in China’s authoritarian system. “The repression by the dictatorial authorities is, admittedly, one of the reasons, but the indifference of the populace is an even greater cause,” he says. -The Economist
Is the “indifference of the populace” enough to clue us in to the will of the people? At least the majority? Isn’t that a democracy?
Would love to know your thoughts.