Kuro5hin.org: technology and culture, from the trenches
create account | help/FAQ | contact | links | search | IRC | site news
[ Everything | Diaries | Technology | Science | Culture | Politics | Media | News | Internet | Op-Ed | Fiction | Meta | MLP ]
We need your support: buy an ad | premium membership

Nerds running China

By Andy Tai in MLP
Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 07:40:18 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)

This Time article describes how the current mainland China, despite being a communist dictatorship in form, has been run by nerds. The old Maoist revolutionaries have gone away, and in accordance with Chinese tradition, technocrats have taken over power. Following the examples of South Korea and Taiwan, these engineers may well modernize mainland China. And, the good thing is, a regime of nerds tends to become democratic over many years.


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
o Raw Infrastructure


Related Links
o Technocrat
o Time article
o Also by Andy Tai

Display: Sort:
Nerds running China | 29 comments (26 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
What is the opposite? (3.75 / 8) (#1)
by darthaya on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 11:22:41 PM EST

I am curious, what is the opposite of "Nerds" that will not become democratic over many years? What makes you think that nerds are more democracy-minded?

Mobs, gangsters (3.00 / 1) (#2)
by Andy Tai on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 11:35:48 PM EST

Think about Mao Tsu-tung, the red guards, the Culture Revolution, in which people with foreign degrees or traditional ("feudal") education background were labeled "counterrevolutionaries." A sharp contrast with the current engineers in power. (in the context of China, anyway)

[ Parent ]
Not sure I agree. (4.14 / 7) (#3)
by theboz on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 11:38:16 PM EST

From what I can tell the "nerds" are more socialist than anyone else. Science in general requires a socialist viewpoint with relation to your work, because you have to open it up to scrutiny of others to prove it correct. Open source software is definitely socialist in nature as well.

Now on the other hand, the political viewpoints of most of the technologically minded people tend to be more anarchist or libertarian in nature.

It's difficult to understand how to combine these two different forms of thinking, and although one is focused more on economics while the other focuses more on being anti-authoritarian, I think that both seem to center around some form of freedom. Also, you can't really put these people into categories, because these people come from all walks of life, as K5 provides evidence even from this small of a sample of people.


It's not hard to combine.... (5.00 / 1) (#7)
by SvnLyrBrto on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 02:13:58 AM EST

>It's difficult to understand how to combine
>these two different forms of thinking, and
>although one is focused more on economics
>while the other focuses more on being
>anti-authoritarian, I think that both seem to
>center around some form of freedom.

I don't think it's hard at all to reconcile the two view points.

Now, if I had to pidgonhole myself politically, I guess I'd, too, be somewhere in the Libertarian/Anarchist zone. Though, unlike some of these people (and the LP in particular), I'd think that I'm a little more pragmatic than the hardcore libertarian/anarchist fringe... I can admit that there really ARE some things that a government handles better than deregulated enterprise... natural monopolies for example.... the California power situation since deregulation is a prime example of a situation where government regulation IS desireable. Or try spiralx's example a few weeks back of RF spectrum allocation.

(Tho other agencies are just as idiotic as the FCC... you europeans don't get to gloat TOO much... witness france giveing 802.11's band to it's military... I understand japan's done something just as pigheaded, and only allow a single Airport channel to be used on mobile devices. *I* think that the best solution would be to give the task to IEEE)

And, of course, both libertarianism and anarchism totally ignore "the tragedy of the commons".

That said tho, I *LIKE* helping people. I really do. Tho I may bemoan the idiocy of the lusers at times, if someone's willing to learn, I'm HAPPY to help them with their linux box or their Macintosh (though, I AM a horrible teacher). I'm happy to throw in my time, to help make sure that etarded kids get enough water at parties. And I'm a sucker for benefit parties. I LIKE to do whatever small part I can towards safeguarding out rights.

I LIKE helping my peers. I LIKE helping my community.

And I'm more than willing to chip in my money as well as my time. Though my standards are very exacting, especially compared to the US "feed us any old hard-luck story (and a few votes) and we'll throw money at you" government.

(since I wrote that earlier post, The SFLNC has become the fourth cause I deem worthy of my hard-earned dollars)

What I do NOT like, is a distant government, that knows nothing of what *I* care about, that knows nothing about the needs of my community, dictating to me, via threat of violence, that I WILL give to THIS cause, which has promised X votes to THIS politician. I resent a distant government extracting more dollars from my community than it returns. I resent the horrible inefficency which leads to only a tiny fraction of the amount collected going to those IT feels deserve my charity.

If the LP party DID, through some freakish circumstance, come to power in washington, and slash my tax burden almost to nil, you can bet your sweet ass that I would give a lot more to charity than I do now.

But it would be to charities of my CHOICE. Ones that meet MY standards for efficency and good done for the community.


Imagine all the people...
[ Parent ]

Nerds in power.. (4.30 / 10) (#4)
by ignatiusst on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 11:51:03 PM EST

Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are nerds too.. I would not want either of them as my political leader.

Let's not make the mistake, as Timeasia® (emphasis mine) seems to be doing, of associating "nerds" with mostly harmless, hip and democratic trendsetters.

The powers that be in Beijing (ie: the nerds) are responsible for the Tienimen Square Massacre, oppression in Tibet, and a host of other decidedly anti-democratic actions and positions.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Tiananmen Square Massacre... (4.12 / 8) (#6)
by Carnage4Life on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 12:23:49 AM EST

The powers that be in Beijing (ie: the nerds) are responsible for the Tienimen Square Massacre, oppression in Tibet, and a host of other decidedly anti-democratic actions and positions.

The Tiananmen occured about 12 years ago. Considering the cutthroat nature of politics in general and China in particular I really doubt that many of the people in power now are the same as those that were in power in 1989. For instance, the CIA Factbook Entry for China lists all the major appointees having ascended their posts in the past decade.

Besides that minor nitpick I completely agree that simply slapping the term "nerds" on a technologically fascinated yet power hungry and brutal totalitarian regime does not suddenly make them alright.

[ Parent ]
By that logic... (5.00 / 1) (#13)
by marlowe on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 08:32:46 AM EST

the Soviet Union should have ceased to be oppressive and brutal once the Lenin regime was out of the way.

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. The new group emerges from the exact same culture and party as the old. Why should they be different? `Coz they like computers? That's a bit of a stretch.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
you sound a bit like a christian fanatic (2.00 / 4) (#19)
by boxed on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 02:36:28 PM EST

A person is, in my opinion, not guilty of the crimes of his parent/predeccessors. Your comment suggests you think otherwise. Remember that Russia has a long standing culture of accepting authorities and also of seriously fucking up any political system. China on the other hand has an established anti-authoritarian culture and they have thousands of years experience in making effective political systems work, more than ANY part of the world. The cultural revolution was just a bit of temporary insanity by the great visionary, and totally unpractical, Mao. The current regime has learned from the mistakes of their predeccessors.

[ Parent ]
Oh, don't be dense. (none / 0) (#27)
by marlowe on Thu Jul 26, 2001 at 10:06:45 PM EST

If the children commit the same crimes as the parents, why should they be regarded any differently?

"He takes after his father" is not an acceptible defense in a court of law.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
you're totally missing the point (none / 0) (#28)
by boxed on Fri Jul 27, 2001 at 09:12:12 AM EST

The current Chinese government is a LOT better than the ones before. If you can't see this simple fact just compare the genocide of Tibet to the execution of criminals. Remember also that, while capitol punishment is a crima against humanity, the US is responsible for this to a MUCH heigher deggree percentually.

[ Parent ]
Tibet (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by boxed on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 02:28:04 PM EST

Actually, the current rule of China is the nicest they've had since the cultural revolution by far. They've modernized the economy and started the move towards democracy. Yea, I know that this is a VERY slow transition, but it's a lot smarter to take it slow than to fire of a big cultural revolution again. Revolutions never stop when they've finished what they were supposed to do.

[ Parent ]
I dunno (4.33 / 9) (#5)
by delmoi on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 12:23:03 AM EST

Would nerds shut down thousands of internet cafés, ban uncensored internet access wholesale, and execute people for 'hacking'?
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
well.. (4.66 / 3) (#8)
by tiefling on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 04:43:48 AM EST

Technically not all nerds are nice, so they very well might shut down internet cafes, ban uncensored internet access, etc... In fact most of the "nerds" that I've known have been utterly devoid of certain good characteristics of leaders, and I wouldn't want them in any sort of powerful office.

[ Parent ]
did they have a choice? (4.00 / 4) (#9)
by boxed on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 05:33:42 AM EST

When trying to understand the Chinese government you really have to look at the enviorment they are in. They have very recently seen how a fast transition to democracy and market economy practically destroyed the former Soviet Union. You have to realise also that China has an established revolutionary culture (meaning that they feel that they can revolt if they want).

Furthermore the Chinese people have little respect for authorities. Yea, I know, this last one is weird, I was chocked as hell when I was in China 1.5 years ago. People don't seem to care about rules and regulations, they just do what they feel like, or what they feel is right. According to the informal survey my dad and me conducted it seems that people not employed by the state pay taxes on only a third of their income MAX. One person we talked to (an architect actually) referred to this phenomenon as the "gray market" or "gray economy". When my dad asked "you mean black economy?" he insisted on gray saying that black economy was the dealing of criminals. Ooops, I've been ranting away again.. anyhow, the point was that people don't really care about the government in China and that's why moves like the suppression of internet and the falun gong are really not at all as bad as they sound. The Chinese people are free in spirit already, they just have to get used to have a free economy, something that shouldn't be done in a day.

[ Parent ]
boxed!!!! (none / 0) (#15)
by Anonymous 242 on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 09:42:33 AM EST

I haven't seen your nick around these here parts for quite some time!

Good to see you back in the saddle.

[ Parent ]

lee!!! (none / 0) (#17)
by boxed on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 02:18:39 PM EST

I didn't know I had been noticed like that. It may be silly of me, but your comment made me very happy :P

[ Parent ]
that's nice (5.00 / 2) (#21)
by Ender Ryan on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 08:12:25 PM EST

Well that's really nice that they don't FEEL oppressed, but that doesn't change anything about their government. I'm sure everyone over there who has been unfairly arrested or executed started feeling pretty oppressed pretty damn quick.

That is interesting though, and definately A Good ThingTM that the people have a sense of freedom. You can't revolt if you have no desire to be free.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

That's exactly what we need... (4.00 / 5) (#10)
by Anonymous 6522 on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 06:03:32 AM EST

...a government, that has nukes, without any social skills.

Conceit (4.33 / 3) (#12)
by Woundweavr on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 08:29:01 AM EST

This seems to be a logical error/error of pride.

Nerd = good // Because we are nerds and we of course are good
government->democratic=good //True IMO
so - government->democratic=Nerd.

Thats not really true however. I don't think Nerds are any more likely to be democratic. Remember, nerdiness or inteligence is not equivalent to virtue.

Except (3.00 / 1) (#16)
by Zeram on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 11:11:50 AM EST

in general the more people learn (both in terms of wisdom and intelligence) the closer they come to realizing that working with people, instead of against them is the way to get things done. The more you learn, the more you need to rely on other people to help you learn more.
Like Anime? In the Philly metro area? Welcome to the machine...
[ Parent ]
Except... (none / 0) (#22)
by delmoi on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 09:24:06 PM EST

Its' not true. China is doing fine with the government they have now. While it might be true that they could be doing even better, 200% economic growth in the past few years is certanly not bad
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
and (none / 0) (#23)
by rebelcool on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 10:47:55 PM EST

nerdiness does not equal intelligence. I know some people who know their way around computers, but arent good at anything else.

COG. Build your own community. Free, easy, powerful. Demo site
[ Parent ]

Oh boy. Now they'll be killing dissidents with... (3.75 / 4) (#14)
by marlowe on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 08:35:27 AM EST

nifty futuristic ray guns instead of stodgy old rifles. Hey. maybe they can invent some robotic catapult to send Falun Gong prisoners out of those windows.

-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
Logical leaps with no support... (none / 0) (#25)
by KaizerWill on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 12:11:29 AM EST

A previous poster (Woundweavr) already laid out some of your unsubstantiated assumptions, so i wont list all of them here. The one which lept out at me, however is that

"a regime of nerds tends to become democratic over many years."

You provided no examples of this. While it may be true, it cannot be assumed without some sort of proof. Since your whole article is full of such assumtions with now evidence, it is hard for me not to disregard your arguments out of hand. However, the subject is kind of interesting. So, if you have some examples to back up your conclusions, please post them.

You were there for that...
"nerds" actually mean technocrats (4.00 / 1) (#26)
by Andy Tai on Wed Jul 25, 2001 at 02:50:26 AM EST

Within the context of East Asia, (Japan, Korea, China), when "enlightening" dictators care enough about the well-being of the people to appoint technocrats to major positions within the government, and empowering them to make policy within their realms of responsibilities (generally the economy), the results are the modernization of society, except the political system. The political changes are often the last to occur, when the citizens, well educated, demand political rights. By this time the technocrats, already in power after the death of old dictators, allow democratization to occur, with little or no violent changes (since it is not in the interest of the citizens or the technocrats to distrupt the economy). Taiwan, South Korea, Japan are all democratic now, long after economic successes took place. Mainland China is traveling the path Taiwan has traversed. In a way the transformation is "engineered."

This process generally does not apply to areas outside East Asia, such South Asia, Middle East, or the Western world (for example, Russia). Russia is democratic now, with backrupt economy. Which way is better? You decide.

So I shall have qualified my statement with "in East Asia."

[ Parent ]

Question to the author: What is Democracy? (none / 0) (#29)
by FloWo on Sat Jul 28, 2001 at 03:41:31 PM EST

What does a country need in order to be called democratic. You cite Russia as an example of a now democratic country; also you count Taiwan, Japan and South Korea democratic countries. What is it that qualifies these countries as democratic?

Nerds running China | 29 comments (26 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Display: Sort:


All trademarks and copyrights on this page are owned by their respective companies. The Rest © 2000 - Present Kuro5hin.org Inc.
See our legalese page for copyright policies. Please also read our Privacy Policy.
Kuro5hin.org is powered by Free Software, including Apache, Perl, and Linux, The Scoop Engine that runs this site is freely available, under the terms of the GPL.
Need some help? Email help@kuro5hin.org.
My heart's the long stairs.

Powered by Scoop create account | help/FAQ | mission | links | search | IRC | YOU choose the stories!