Re: csg policy about sensitive material

Date Fri, 3 Aug 2007 11:36:07 EDT

In a message dated 8/2/2007 3:44:11 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time, writes:
Honestly, I don't see any reason why CSG should stick its neck out for
the old lefties, especially as they themselves have caved in.
I think it is foolish, idealistic, and frankly, self-indulgent, to dismiss the "old lefties" in this way.  First, it is not a matter of our doing something "for them."  It is a question of whether their statement is of value as a part of the critique being offered to the present policies.  If they have been slow to act in many cases, that does not render their present position any less relevant, and it may help free up others to do the same.  In any case, there are members of the "old left" who have certainly risked more than most of us in helping to keep the goals of the revolution alive.  Before we sit in judgment on their "caving in," perhaps we should be more sensitive to the implications of our potentially "caving in" by removing the Ma Bin et al. letter as well--and at the first whiff of difficulty to boot.  But as Alex correctly notes, for many of us, however we deal with this bears little personal risk, since we are based outside China.  We therefore need to be very aware of the implications of our actions on those who are there, and perhaps take our lead from them on how to act now.
As for the larger issues this raises, it seems to me that if the CSG has any meaningful role, it is in helping bring together the various strands that will be needed to begin to build something different--"old" left, "new" leftists, mass based movements, etc.  None of these--and certainly not U.S. based NGOs--will be adequate on their own to help lead things forward, whether in China or anywhere else in the world today.  Our limited potential is to help offer a place where these various forces can meet and exchange ideas.  As one leftist activist said to me last summer, assistance is needed from those outside because we are freer to act and have access to materials that are hard to obtain inside.  So we face a dilemma--if we start self-censoring ourselves, we lose an important part of our role, but if we do not, we may have more difficulty in playing it.

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