Example Of Public Sphere In China Critical Thinking
Since the discovery of internet, it has been a medium of interaction by individuals at all levels and on varied topics. Democratic countries worldwide use the internet to follow up on the government, criticize, comment and even make recommendations on how the government can perform its duties more efficiently. However, this has not been the situation in China. The presence of the internet and the ease at which it can be accessed by the citizens has caused a threat to the state. The reason behind this is that the Communist Party of China which has ruled the country since 1949 believes that it has the final say and that anyone against it is an enemy of the state. In order to prevent the citizens from accessing political information, matters democracy and any other topic that may raise controversy, the government has put several mechanisms in place (Xing, 2010).
Among the mechanisms in place is the “Internet Police, a method better known as Direct Censorship. The government makes it its mandate to block or delete any websites it considers harmful or poisonous to its citizens politically. Individuals found to be creating these sites or attempting to access them was publicly incarcerated. Therefore, if a Chinese Citizen was to Google the word “democracy” they were more likely to end up with an error message (Marolt, 2012).
The government created a sense of fear among the internet users by putting up a cartoon looking police image on WebPages. The pictures were meant to remind anyone attempting to access a restricted site that they were being watched (Marolt, 2012). The fear of being caught resulted in individuals not accessing controversial sites, a mechanism known as “self-censorship.” Self-censorship is more efficient compared to direct censorship as direct censorship requires greater resources to maintain and regularly supervised, whereas the population of China is steadily increasing.
In order to brainwash any individual who would have thought that there were people who were not pleased with the government’s action of regulating internet access, the government would introduce manipulated data online. The data showed that in surveys carried out throughout Chine, the citizens believed that the country was better off with the regulation in place. In doing this, the government was shrewdly able to discourage anyone who would have wanted to protest (Marolt, 2012).
In a scenario like the one reflected in China, most countries would have a public revolt. That is, find ways of accessing the blocked sites and accessing them publicly. The move would have been to show the government that it cannot control the citizens and that they were tired of dictatorial leadership. Eventually, the government may be swayed and give in to the demands of the citizens, a scenario termed as the Public Sphere. The public Sphere according to Habermas was made up of the bourgeoises, which is the middle-class members of the society. They would come together as private individuals but share, analyze and criticize political ideas and concerns publicly. Public sphere was characterized by disregard for the status, had a common area of interest and it included members from different areas of specialization (Xing, 2010).
Chinese citizens have however come up with a different way of dealing with the challenge that they are facing. The government has denied them the opportunity to express themselves politically. The denial of expression as far as politics is concerned is a way of restricting an individual’s freedom of expression. The Mao party has however encouraged individuals to participate in online discussions on any other topic other than politics (Xing, 2010). The discussions are on websites and blogs and range from weather issues to sports. Individuals who post on these sites express their pleasure or displeasure in the topic being discussed. The posts with emotions attached to them provide a sense of liberation. It gives the individuals assurance that they are still free and capable of expressing themselves. In doing the above stated, the citizens shift their focus from the fact that they have their political rights infringed and enable them to feel and be viable and confident in themselves.
The choice of action by The Mao party is a form of rebellion against the government. Though it is not directly antagonistic, it still makes the government realize that not everyone is brainwashed. Compared to the Harbameus Public Sphere method, the Proletarian public sphere theory, as applied by Chinese citizens, is less adversarial and does not have adverse effects. The latter method is more like a self-preservatory method employed by individuals. It enables them to keep their personal independence (Marolt, 2012).
The method applicable in revolution in any country should have its basis on its cultural, political social and economic background. The internet crisis in China is not likely to get solved by the Harbameus method. The Chinese society has for a long time been under what would be called a dictatorial rule. Active protests have not addressed their challenges but has led to many citizens being imprisoned and mistreated (Xing, 2010). The Proletarian method may be the solution that the Chinese need and the weapon that will eventually get a democratic government in place.
Marolt, P. (2012). Grassroots agency in a civil sphere? Rethinking Internet control in China. In P. M. David Kurt Herold, Online Society in China (pp. 53-65). Hong Kong: Routledge.
Xing, G. (2010). Urban Workers’ Leisure Culture and the ‘Public Sphere’: A Study of the Transformation of the Workers’ Cultural Palace in Reform-Era China. Critical Sociology, 817-835.