We Can Know

Folks, I’m sorry to keep blethering on about the Uighurs but this is really horrible. Look at the before and after satellite images of the Keriya Mosque. And it’s obviously not just the mosque. People are being persecuted in horrible ways.

I grew up in a totalitarian state and let me tell you this. The certainty that somebody knows and cares really helps. And if nobody knows or cares, that’s very harsh. So when people ask what we can do, the answer is we can know.

7 thoughts on “We Can Know”

  1. At last, I found not paywall-protected article explaining what happened there (this paragraph begins with “Most unsettling, from the perspective of the state” ).

    Since not everybody will visit the article, I put here how repressions may serve capitalism:

    // Controlling the Uighurs has also become a test case for marketing Chinese technological prowess around the world.
    […] Some of the technologies pioneered in Xinjiang have already found customers in authoritarian states as far away as sub-Saharan Africa. In 2018, CloudWalk, a Guangzhou-based tech startup that has received more than $301m in state funding, finalised an agreement with Zimbabwe’s government to build a national “mass facial recognition programme” in order to address “social security issues”. (CloudWalk has not revealed how much the agreement is worth.) Freedom of movement through airports, railways and bus stations throughout Zimbabwe will now be managed through a facial database integrated with other kinds of biometric data. In effect, the Uighur homeland has become an incubator for China’s “terror capitalism”.



  2. Someone said, China had a cultural revolution, the west had a multicultural revolution. I think the attitude of Chinese communism to Uighur separatism, should be compared to the neoliberal state’s attitude to white nationalism. This is a way for people living in the west to think about the situation in Xinjiang, in terms of our own experience. They have sinification propaganda campaigns, we have promotion of diversity by the state and in the workplace. They have state-supported Han migration changing the racial and religious composition of Xinjiang, we have state-supported immigration from the entire world. They have censorship and surveillance, we do too. We have the specter of covert Russian support for the western far right; they have the specter of NGOs receiving millions of dollars from western intelligence. There’s even a geopolitical dimension: Xinjiang is crucial to Xi’s New Silk Road, while racial conceptions of western civilization interfere with the drive to universalize western systems and values. This latest Strike Hard campaign in Xinjiang started in 2014, year of the Islamic State caliphate; while an attempt to ethnically cleanse the west could lead to a hemispheric race war.

    My point is that their civilizational path has placed them on the horn of a dilemma analogous to ours. And just as most of us shun the extreme solutions of our dilemma and want to find compromise middle paths, the best way forward for China and the Uighurs probably involve solutions that you won’t read about in our media.


    1. Man. It’s like you’ve been sitting in my class on totalitarianism and actually paying attention. That’s what my whole course is about!

      China is an old-style totalitarian regime where coercion comes from the state. And we are witnessing the birth of a new-style totalitarianism. Our totalitarianism is softer because it doesn’t torture people physically or exterminate them. It implants itself in the minds turning everybody into their own little censor and torturer.

      Great, great comment. Thank you!

      I teach about it in class! But it doesn’t sink in.


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