Tiananmen Square Students … Just Leftist Lapdogs?

Westerners have been led to believe that all the Tiananmen Square student protesters were freedom-loving West-worshipers who stood up to power in hopes of achieving representation for all and American-style “democracy.” A cute story, but it turns out that there’s more to the story.

Some of the student protesters allied themselves with the Beijing Workers’ Autonomous Trade Union. Lee Feigon reported from Beijing: The students “hung big pictures of Mao in the tents they pitched on the square. They talked openly and boldly about the good old days of the Cultural Revolution. Mao, they felt, had the right ideas, although he sometimes used wrong tactics. Now they were determined to use what they considered the right ones.” tiananmenClearly, a portion of the Tiananmen protesters were just Communists.

In spirit and tactics, many of the Tiananmen protesters were closer to the New Left than the historical liberty movement. Students went on hunger strikes and aimed for martyrdom to achieve their egalitarian ends. (When was the last time you heard of Ron Paul going on a hunger strike?) Why did they strike? It was a response against the economic growth and progress which resulted from Deng Xiaoping’s economic liberalization of the country. That is why Western intellectuals supported the students.

But why would Western intellectuals hate economic progress so much? Because they are not liberals at all; they cannot forgive Deng and the Chinese leadership for turning their backs on socialism, the philosophy of totalitarian controls so adored by these Western intellectuals.

Mao’s socialism had, of course, destroyed the country. And yet Western socialist sympathizers viewed China’s great liberalizers such as Deng with disdain and hatred. Deng knew that people needed material incentives to grow economically. But all the lousy students cared about was egalitarianism. It’s because they forgot that equality amongst unequal performers is as unjust as inequality amongst equal performers.

The protests could be seen as “democratic” depending on your definition, but democratic does not mean libertarian. Karl Marx supported democracy and democratic ideals. Communism, the fictitious end game of socialism, is democracy. The students were idealists who longed for the promises of the Communists without realizing that Marxists do not really care about ideals, only power. The students witnessed this first-hand.

Antiwar libertarian writer Justin Raimondo argues that the Tiananmen Square protesters were decidedly not libertarians. He summarized the event: “In the context of Chinese politics and history since the sixties, the Tiananmen Square insurrection of `89 was a leftist, implicitly anti-capitalist reaction to Deng’s program of economic reform, albeit one aided and abetted by radical reformists in the Communist Party itself.”

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