June 4th, and the Fallacy of Apathetic Righteousness

Image by Banksy. Behold Apatheism.

On the cab today, my casual remark of the evening traffic was met with a lengthy self confession from the over enthusiastic driver. As if feeling a need to defend himself, he went on for the entirety of the 20 minute ride about how the June 4 Tiannman massacre incident should be regarded, twenty-one years later.

“Leave it to the authorities.” he began.

“To be honest, we all know what that was all about…but these people out there marching on the streets, they don’t have a clue what they’re doing it for.”

The scenery of thickening lunch time crowds hurriedly making their ways flew past outside the speeding car.

“They’re fighting for a lost cause, and are being taken advantage of by low rate, votes-scurrying politicians.” he went on.

“And as a matter of fact, those were troubled times. And under extreme conditions, extreme measures have to be taken. It’s too bad that someone got hurt, but hell, everyone who was involved got hurt one way or the other.” So went his rational analysis on why bloodbaths and human cruelty are tolerable.

I stayed mute.

“If there wasn’t a crackdown, China would become fragmented, just like Russia. People would still be as poor as they have been 20 years ago, so there was no other way. No other way, man.” He said as if reciting the most natural phenomenon of nature…how the hell could this kind of fuzzy logic became regarded as fact? Violent suppression as an effective glue for holding a country together. I started glancing at my watch.

As an effort to answer to his conscience, or for the fear of being pigeonholed as a susceptible backbone-less coward, the cab driver made his verdict:

“When the dust has settled, by which I mean twenty or thirty years later, when the officials related to the event were long dead, there could then be a vindication. Until then, it is impossible for them to step up and admit to their own mistakes…..Hey, can I drop you off round the next corner? It’s a tricky area to stop.”

And within seconds, the vehicle got swallowed in the sea of afternoon traffic. A perfect analogy to the tale of the malleability of human nature and susceptibility to opinions popular to the minute. The most pathetic thing is how human would go to lengths to defend their own apathy and ignorance. The arguments they put up in maintaining that last bit of self-righteousness are often incredibly thin and contradictory in itself. If extreme times called for extreme measures, wouldn’t every involved be victims of the times, and if so, why would there be a need to apologize and vindicate?

“Democracy passes into despotism.” – Plato.

…Democratic self-government does not work, according to Plato, because ordinary people have not learned how to run the ship of state. They are not familiar enough with such things as economics, military strategy, conditions in other countries, or the confusing intricacies of law and ethics. They are also not inclined to acquire such knowledge. The effort and self-discipline required for serious study is not something most people enjoy. In their ignorance they tend to vote for politicians who beguile them with appearances and nebulous talk, and they inevitably find themselves at the mercy of administrations and conditions over which they have no control because they do not understand what is happening around them. They are guided by unreliable emotions more than by careful analysis, and they are lured into adventurous wars and victimized by costly defeats that could have been entirely avoided.

Excerpt from http://faculty.frostburg.edu/phil/forum/PlatoRep.htm

At the end of the day, tyranny, one-party states and dictatorship are not the most evil inventions of human nature. Apathy and Ignorance are. May shameful history whitewashing be condemned.

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