Tuesday, 19 April 2011

False Consciousness Begone!

China's anti-government protesters have hit on a genius way of winding up the government, though it has certain ethical drawbacks, as you'll see.

They're online, encouraging people to 'protest' by simply going for an aimless afternoon stroll at popular locations: shopping centres, campuses and so on. No placards, banners, slogans or marching, just an innocuous promenade.

So how do you spot the 'protesters' from the ordinary people doing their shopping or enjoying the breeze? You can't. So the Chinese police can either leave everyone alone and risk subversion spreading, or crack the heads of those they don't like the look of (this is what they decided on). Innocent people get a beating. Then they start to wonder how legitimate the state is, if it indiscriminately beats up ordinary people and subversion spreads anyway.

Genius: it's a hard lesson for the victims but it certainly punctures the belief that the state is essentially benign. In Marxist terms, their 'false consciousness' (traditionally applied to the belief that capitalism benefits the workers as well as the bourgeois) is stripped away.

Do the ends justify the means? In this case, perhaps. It's a clever idea in so many ways. The government loses whether it reacts or not. It's protest as non-protest. It's making my head hurt.

1 comment:

ed said...

I was having a right rubbish day until I read this. Cheers Vole.