• The Tiananmen Square massacre, 30 years on - World Socialist Web Site

    By Peter Symonds, 8 June 2019 - Thirty years have passed since heavily-armed Chinese troops, backed by tanks, moved through the suburbs of Beijing on the night of June 3–4, 1989, killing hundreds, probably thousands, of unarmed civilians. The military forces overwhelmed makeshift barricades with brute force as they made their way to Tiananmen Square—the site of weeks of mass protests by students and workers.

    Those barbaric events, which demonstrated the willingness of the Stalinist Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime to do anything to stay in power, have gone down in history as the Tiananmen Square massacre. Yet most of deaths during that murderous assault were of workers who courageously tried to halt the progress of troops to central Beijing. Estimates vary, but up to 7,000 were killed and 20,000 wounded.

    Moreover, in the reign of terror that followed throughout China it was the workers who received the harshest penalties, including lengthy jail terms and death sentences. Around 40,000 people were arrested just in June and July, mostly members of Workers Autonomous Federations that had sprung up in the course of the protests.
    Protesters in Tiananmen Square

    What is commonly depicted as the crushing of student protesters was in fact a wave of repression directed overwhelmingly against a mass movement of the working class. What had begun in April as student protests calling for democratic reforms had swelled into the millions as workers joined the demonstrations by mid-May, making their own class demands.

    The Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation was established on April 20 with a handful of workers and rapidly expanded to become a major organising centre by mid-May. On May 17, up to two million people marched through the centre of Beijing, the majority being workers and their families under the banners of their work units or enterprises. Reflecting the impact of events in Beijing, Workers Autonomous Federations were established in a host of major cities, including Changsha, Shaoyang, Xiangtan, Hengyang and Yueyang.

    While moderate student leaders were intent on pressing the CCP bureaucracy for concessions on democratic rights, workers were animated by concerns over deteriorating living standards, soaring inflation and a wave of sackings and closures. The regime’s embrace of the capitalist market since the 1970s had led to widening social inequality and rampant bureaucratic corruption and profiteering. Workers were bitterly hostile to the accumulation of privileges and wealth by the top CCP leaders, such as Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng, Zhao Ziyang, Jiang Zemin, Chen Yun and their family members, and were contemptuous of their claims to be communist and socialist.

    A statement by workers issued on May 25 expressed the rebellious currents in the working class. “Our nation was created by the struggle and labour of we workers and all other mental and manual labourers. We are the rightful masters of this nation. We must be heard in national affairs. We must not allow this small band of degenerate scum of the nation and the working class to usurp our name and suppress the students, murder democracy and trample human rights.” [1]

    Premier Zhao Ziyang had been sympathetic to the demands of student leaders and had counselled making small concessions to calls for basic democratic rights. However, no compromise was possible with the working class, whose unrest threatened the very existence of the regime. As the protest movement rapidly grew in size and confidence, paramount leader Deng Xiaoping removed his ally Zhao as premier, installed hardline Li Peng in his place and ordered the military to violently suppress the protests in Beijing and nationally.
    The crisis of Stalinism

    The resort to such extreme measures was bound up with the profound crisis of Stalinism, not only in China but internationally. In response to deepening economic and social crises, a turn was underway in China, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union toward the dismantling of centralised bureaucratic planning mechanisms, encouragement of private enterprise and establishment of market mechanisms.

    After assuming the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, Mikhail Gorbachev introduced his keynote policies of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness and transparency) that laid the framework for greater autonomy for enterprises outside the central planning mechanisms and, under the guise of democratic reform, sought to establish a base of social support for the regime among the petty bourgeoisie.

    Gorbachev’s pro-market restructuring also encouraged the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe in their plans for capitalist restoration, making desperate bids to resolve their mounting economic and political crises. These processes dramatically accelerated as Gorbachev signaled that the Soviet Union would not intervene militarily to prop up its Soviet bloc allies, as it had done in Hungary in 1956 to crush the workers’ uprising and in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to end liberal reforms. In December 1987, he announced the withdrawal of 500,000 Soviet troops from Eastern Europe.

    In a very short period of time, during 1989–90, the Stalinist bureaucracies in one Eastern European country after another moved to restore capitalism, dismantling what remained of nationalised property relations and centralised planning.

    In Poland, talks between the government and opposition Solidarity leaders resulted in a deal in April 1989 to hold limited elections. This paved the way for the installation in August of Solidarity leader Tadeusz Mazowiecki as prime minister. He unleashed sweeping pro-market restructuring.

    Similar negotiations in Hungary, where the processes of pro-market restructuring were already advanced, led to a new constitution in August 1989. Multi-party elections in May 1990 resulted in a government that junked what remained of centralised planning and carried out wholesale privatisation.

    Amid a mounting economic and political crisis, Gorbachev visited Berlin in October 1989 to urge the East German government to accelerate pro-market reforms. Erich Honecker resigned as leader two weeks later. On November 9, the government announced the end of all border restrictions and Berlin citizens tore down the hated Berlin Wall. Before the end of the month, West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl unveiled a plan to integrate East Germany with capitalist West Germany—a process that was completed by October 1990.

    The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Czechoslovakia, Romania and Bulgaria quickly followed. By the end of 1990, governments throughout Eastern Europe were giving full rein to the plunder of state-owned property, an influx of foreign capital and the dismantling of social services, leading to a precipitous deterioration in living standards.

    Gorbachev’s policies in the Soviet Union gave rise to intense pressures within the Stalinist bureaucracy and the emerging layer of entrepreneurs for a far speedier dismantling of all fetters on private ownership and market relations. This found expression in the installation of Boris Yeltsin in July 1991 and the implementation of pro-market “shock therapy.” In December 1991, the Soviet Union was formally dissolved.

    The break-up of the Soviet Union and collapse of the Stalinist states in Eastern Europe led to an orgy of triumphalism in the capitalist media proclaiming the end of socialism. Pundits, politicians and academics, who had foreseen nothing and could explain nothing, exulted over the triumph of the market, even going so far as to pronounce the end of history. In other words, capitalism supposedly represented the highest and final stage of human development. A new period of peace, prosperity and democracy would dawn, they all declared.

    The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), based on the analysis made by Leon Trotsky of Stalinism, had rejected the universal adulation of Gorbachev and warned that his policies were rapidly leading to the dismantling of the gains of the first workers’ state. Its perspectives resolution entitled “The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International,” published in August 1988, made clear that the breakdown of the Soviet Union was not a product of socialism, but rather of Stalinism and its reactionary autarchic conception of “socialism in one country”:

    The very real crisis of the Soviet economy is rooted in its enforced isolation from the resources of the world market and the international division of labour. There are only two ways this crisis can be tackled. The way proposed by Gorbachev involves the dismantling of state industry, the renunciation of the planning principle, and the abandonment of the state monopoly on foreign trade, i.e., the reintegration of the Soviet Union into the structure of world capitalism. The alternative to this reactionary solution requires the smashing of imperialism’s domination over the world economy by linking up the Soviet and international working class in a revolutionary offensive aimed at extending the planned economy into the European, North American and Asian citadels of capitalism. [2]

    In the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the ICFI identified the root cause of the crisis of Stalinism in the processes of the globalisation of production that had been underway since the late 1970s, which had undermined all programs based on national economic regulation. While the crisis of Stalinism was the most immediate and acute expression, these same processes lay behind the international embrace of pro-market restructuring by Social Democratic and Labour parties, and trade unions, and their abandonment of any defence of the social rights of the working class.
    Capitalist restoration in China

    The events in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union had a profound impact in China, where processes of capitalist restoration had been underway since the 1970s. The CCP’s decision in June 1989 to use the military to brutally suppress the working class was in no small measure conditioned by its longstanding fear of a repetition in China of the mass strike movement in Poland in 1980–81 that led to the formation of the Solidarity trade union.

    China specialist Maurice Meisner explained that the involvement of masses of workers in the protests in Tiananmen Square on May 17 “did much to rekindle the ‘Polish fear’ among Party leaders, their decade-old obsession about the rise of a Solidarity-type alliance between workers and intellectuals in opposition to the Communist state. And that fear, in turn, contributed to their fateful decision to impose martial law.” [3]

    While Deng Xiaoping recognised the affinity of Gorbachev’s perestroika with the policies that he had already enacted, he did not embrace the political liberalisation of glasnost, fearing it would undermine the foundations of the CCP regime. When Gorbachev visited Beijing in mid-May 1989 to cement closer Sino-Soviet ties, the Chinese leadership kept him closeted from public view, anxious that his presence would give further impetus to the protests in Tiananmen Square. The rapid collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe only heightened the determination of the CCP bureaucracy to suppress any opposition.

    The roots of the crisis in China lay in the outcome of the 1949 Chinese revolution. The monumental events that brought the Chinese Communist Party to power ended more than a century of imperialist oppression that had mired the country of more than 500 million in squalor and backwardness. It expressed the aspirations of the vast majority of the population for economic security, basic democratic and social rights, and a decent standard of living. Decades of political upheaval and a war against Japanese imperialism from 1937 to 1945 had ravaged the country and left an estimated 14 million Chinese soldiers and civilians dead.

    Like the Soviet bureaucracy, however, the new CCP apparatus was based on the reactionary nationalist program of “socialism in one country,” which was a repudiation of socialist internationalism and Leon Trotsky’s theory of Permanent Revolution which underpinned the October Revolution in Russia in 1917.

    As a result, the course of the revolution and the subsequent evolution of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) proclaimed by Mao Zedong in 1949 was distorted and deformed by Stalinism, which dominated the CCP in the wake of Stalin’s betrayal of the Second Chinese Revolution of 1925–27. Stalin subordinated the very young CCP to the bourgeois nationalist Kuomintang, resulting in crushing blows to the Chinese Communists and working class in April 1927, and again in May 1927. CCP leaders and members who supported Trotsky’s analysis of the tragedy were expelled.

    In the wake of the 1949 Chinese Revolution, the pragmatic, nationalist ideology of Maoism led China rapidly into a blind alley. Mao’s perspective of a “New Democracy” sought to maintain a bloc with the national bourgeoisie, but the CCP government was driven, under conditions of the Korean War and the internal sabotage by bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, to go further than intended. By 1956, virtually every aspect of the economy was nationalised and subject to bureaucratic planning along the lines of the Soviet Union, but the working class had no say through its own democratic organs.

    The organic hostility of the Maoist regime to the working class was expressed in its repression of Chinese Trotskyists, all of whom were jailed in 1952 amid the rising resistance by workers. As with the Eastern European states, the Fourth International characterised China as a deformed workers’ state, a highly conditional formula that placed the emphasis on the deformed, bureaucratic character of the regime.

    The national autarky of “socialism in one country” generated worsening economic and social turmoil, and crises for which the CCP bureaucracy had no solution, leading to bitter internal factional warfare. Mao’s fanciful scheme for a peasant socialist society, which underpinned his “Great Leap Forward,” ended in economic catastrophe and mass starvation. His factional opponents, led by Liu Shaoqi, followed the Soviet model of bureaucratic planning with its emphasis on heavy industry, but this provided no alternative.

    The economic crisis was greatly worsened by the 1961–63 split with the Soviet Union and the withdrawal of Soviet aid and advisers, as the two Stalinist regimes advanced their conflicting national interests. In a last desperate bid to oust his rivals, Mao unleashed the Cultural Revolution in 1966, which rapidly span out of his control, leading to confused and convulsive social struggles that threatened the very existence of the regime. Mao turned to the military to suppress workers who had taken literally his edict to “Bombard the Headquarters,” resulting in mass strikes in Shanghai and the formation of an independent Shanghai People’s Commune in 1967.

    Incapable of resolving the immense economic and social problems wracking the country, and facing a military confrontation with the Soviet Union, the CCP bureaucracy forged an anti-Soviet alliance with US imperialism that laid the basis for China’s integration into global capitalism. While Deng Xiaoping is generally credited with initiating market reforms, Mao’s rapprochement with US President Richard Nixon in 1972 was the essential political and diplomatic pre-condition for foreign investment and increased trade with the West.

    The process of “opening and reform” went hand-in-hand with the imposition of strict discipline and emphasis on boosting production in workplaces. Maurice Meissner noted: “Factory managers dismissed during the Cultural Revolution were restored to their former posts, accompanied by calls to strengthen managerial authority, labour discipline, and factory rules and regulations—and to struggle against ‘anarchism’ and ‘ultra-leftism.’ There were dramatic increases in foreign trade and in imports of foreign technology. Veteran party leaders attacked during the Cultural Revolution were ‘rehabilitated’ at an increasingly rapid pace; by 1973, it has been noted, ‘the pre-Cultural Revolution cadres were running the government ministries.” [4]

    From 1969 to 1975, the value of foreign trade increased from $US4 billion to $14 billion per annum. From the end of 1972 until mid-1975, China imported whole industrial plants, valued at $2.8 billion, mainly from Japan and western Europe.

    Deng Xiaoping who had been ostracised during the Cultural Revolution as the “No 2 capitalist roader,” was rehabilitated, appointed a vice premier of the state council under Zhou Enlai. Deng led the Chinese delegation to a special session of the UN in 1974 where he declared that the “socialist bloc” no longer existed and China was part of the Third World. In the factional power struggle that followed Mao’s death in 1976, Deng emerged as the dominant figure in the Stalinist bureaucracy. He embraced US imperialism ever more closely, formalising diplomatic relations in 1979, launching a border war against neighbouring Vietnam, and defending US allies such as the Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    From 1978, Deng greatly accelerated the “reform and opening” pro-market reforms. Four Special Economic Zones (SEZs) were established in 1979 in Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou and Xiamen, where foreign entrepreneurs and joint ventures produced goods for export and enjoyed tax breaks and other concessions. A similar system was later implemented in key port cities such as Shanghai. In the countryside, the collectivised communes were dismantled and restrictions removed on the operation of private enterprises. Prices for agricultural produce were lifted. In the cities, moves were made to transform thousands of state-owned enterprises into profit-making corporations. Private enterprises were permitted, the market was increasingly allowed to determine prices for consumer goods, and a “labour market” was initiated, allowing the hiring and firing of workers.

    The pro-market reforms led to the rapid rise of social inequality. Millions of former peasants were left landless and forced to seek employment in the cities. In the SEZs, where the capitalist market was given free rein, corruption and criminal activity was rampant, including smuggling, bribery and the theft of state-owned property. The sons and daughters of the top party leaders took full advantage of their political connections to establish their own business empires. With the lifting of price restrictions, inflation rocketed to 18.5 percent in 1988, to which the regime responded by drastically reducing credit and re-imposing import restrictions. Hundreds of thousands of workers lost their jobs, as private enterprises reduced their workforces or closed down altogether. Unemployment, the loss of job security, as well as skyrocketing prices, combined with disgust at the corruption and enrichment of CCP bureaucrats, fueled the social unrest that erupted in the mass protests by workers the following year.
    Capitalist restoration following Tiananmen Square

    In the aftermath of the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square and the police dragnet throughout the country, the factional battle inside the CCP leadership sharpened in the next three years over Deng’s program of capitalist restoration. In ordering the troops against workers and students, Deng had removed his chief ally in pro-market restructuring, Zhao Ziyang, as premier. Former Shanghai party leader Jiang Zemin was installed as a compromise choice to the top post of CCP secretary general. The initiative shifted to the so-called hardliners—Li Peng and Chen Yun, who, in criticising Zhao, were also criticising Deng’s policies.

    However, in advocating restrictions on market relations, Li and Chen based their policies on the status quo ante and the nationalist perspective of “socialism in country,” which had already proven to be a dead-end. They were looking toward the Soviet Union, even as the deformed workers’ states in Eastern Europe were collapsing and Gorbachev’s policies were undermining centralised planning and nationalised property relations. Their so-called “Soviet faction” represented sections of the Chinese bureaucracy whose power and privileges resided in their control of key sections of state-owned industry and the central apparatus in Beijing.

    At the Fifth Plenum in November 1989, Li delivered the main report, based on the recommendations of a revived State Planning Commission. The adopted plan called for cutting inflation to 10 percent in 1990 and economic growth to 5 percent by maintaining tight controls on credit and balancing the national budget. Rural industries would not be allowed to compete with state-owned enterprises. While keeping the SEZs and “open door” policy in place, the new restrictions hit rural and provincial industries, particularly in the south of the country.

    While Deng no longer held any official party or state position, he still retained considerable political clout, especially in the southern provinces where the new profit-making industries were concentrated. Deng had sided with the hardliners in opposing any political liberalisation and, above all, supported the 1989 military crackdown, but he was adamant that the restrictions on private enterprises and foreign investment had to be completely dismantled.

    The snowballing crisis in the Soviet Union brought matters to a head. An attempted Stalinist putsch in August 1991 to oust Gorbachev and Yeltsin and wind back their program of pro-market restructuring ended in dismal failure. China scholar Michael Marti explained: “This one event changed the thinking about the political equation within the Chinese leadership, including that of Deng Xiaoping. The failure of the Soviet Red Army to support the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in its bid to regain control threw the CCP into a panic. The Chinese leadership feared that a precedent had been established.” [5]

    The factional battle lines were drawn. While the “Soviet faction” began to call into question the entire agenda of pro-market reforms, including the establishment of the SEZs, Deng insisted that the levels of economic growth were too low to maintain employment and social stability. “If the economy cannot be boosted over a long time,” he told a meeting of party elders as far back as late 1989, “it [the government] will lose people’s support at home and will be oppressed and bullied by other nations. The continuation of this situation will lead to the collapse of the Communist Party.” [6]

    Deng was also concerned that the crisis in the Soviet Union, following the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe, would greatly change geo-political relations. Not only had Deng’s strategy sought to balance between the US and the Soviet Union, but his economic policies depended on a large influx of foreign investment, which could potentially shift to exploiting new opportunities opening up in the former Soviet republics.

    Along with provincial leaders in the southern provinces, Deng counted on the support of People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The generals had been shocked by the way in which US imperialism and its allies had deployed hi-tech weaponry in the 1990–91 Gulf War to rapidly destroy the Iraqi military. Their conclusion was that China had to invest heavily in modernising the PLA and only Deng’s policies could transform the economy and produce the growth needed to supply that investment.

    Deng set out on his “Southern tour” in January–February 1992, just 20 days after the formal liquidation of the Soviet Union in December 1991, accompanied by top generals, the state security chief Qiao Shi and party elder Bo Yibo. As he visited the SEZs and southern cities, he declared that there would be no reversal of economic policies in the face of the Soviet collapse. Dismissing concerns about growing social inequality, he is said to have declared: “Let some people get rich first.”

    In a showdown with Chen Yun in Shanghai, Deng reportedly shouted: “Any leader who cannot boost the economy should leave office.” Openly backing capitalist restoration, he declared: “We should absorb more foreign capital and more foreign-advanced experiences and technologies, and set up more foreign-invested enterprises. Do not fear when others say we are practicing capitalism. Capitalism in nothing fearsome.” [7]

    Deng prevailed, opening the door for wholesale capitalist restoration that transformed the whole country into a giant free trade zone for the exploitation of cheap Chinese labour. The crocodile tears shed by Western politicians over the Tiananmen Square massacre were rapidly cast aside as foreign investors recognised that the police-state regime in Beijing was willing to use any method, no matter how brutal, to discipline the working class. In 1993, the CCP proclaimed that its objective was a “socialist market economy,” giving a threadbare “socialist” disguise to its embrace of capitalism.

    In 1994, the CCP formally established a “labour market,” by legitimising the sale and purchase of labour power. State-owned enterprises were corporatised into companies run for profit. The unprofitable ones were restructured or shut down. The better equipped, in sectors not designated as strategic, were sold off or converted into subsidiaries of foreign transnationals. A small number were preserved as state-owned “national flagships.”

    Between 1996 and 2005, the number of employees in state- and collective-owned enterprises halved, from 144 million to 73 million workers. Along with guaranteed life-time employment, the “iron rice bowl” of cradle-to-grave services was also dismantled. Essential services that had previously been provided by state-owned enterprises—childcare, education, health care and pensions—were now left to individual workers.
    Chinese capitalism today

    The restoration of capitalism in China over the past 30 years has only exacerbated the underlying social tensions within Chinese society and compounded the political and geo-political dilemmas confronting the CCP apparatus.

    The extraordinary economic expansion of China to become the world’s second largest economy has rested, in the first place, on the immense gains of the 1949 Revolution that unified China for the first time in decades, created an educated and skilled workforce, and developed basic industries and essential infrastructure. The flood of foreign investment into the country transformed China into the sweatshop of the world and produced a massive 11-fold increase in the economy between 1992 and 2010. This rapid growth, however, did not reflect an inherent strength of the Chinese economy, but rather its role in the world economy, dependent on foreign investment and technology.

    The imperialist powers, above all the United States, were more than willing to exploit cheap Chinese labour as long as China’s economic expansion did not challenge their own established geo-political interests. However, the vast quantity of raw materials and energy that Chinese industries require from around the world have increasingly brought it into conflict with the US and other major powers, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and internationally. Moreover, as China has sought to create its own hi-tech “national champions” such as Huawei and ZTE, the US, under the Trump administration, has declared economic war on Beijing, not just in matters of trade. It has openly opposed Chinese plans to develop and expand hi-tech industries and to more closely link Eurasia to China through massive infrastructure projects under Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative.

    The delusion promoted by CCP leaders that China could, through a “peaceful rise,” become a world power on a parity with the US has been shattered. China’s expansion has brought it into conflict with the global imperialist order dominated by the United States. Under Obama and now Trump, the US has begun using all means at its disposal to ensure its continued global hegemony. Trump’s economic war goes hand-in-hand with a military build-up in the Indo-Pacific, escalating naval provocations in the South China Sea, under the guise of “freedom of navigation operations, and more open preparations for a war between the two nuclear-armed powers.

    The CCP leadership has no answer to the mounting danger of war, other than desperately seeking an accommodation with imperialism, while engaging in a frenetic arms race that can only end in catastrophe for the working class in China and internationally. Capitalist restoration, far from strengthening China’s capacity to counter the US, has greatly weakened it. The regime is organically incapable of making any appeal to the international working class, as that would inevitably lead to social struggles by the working class at home.

    Having abandoned even its previous nominal commitment to socialism and internationalism, the CCP has increasing relied on whipping up Chinese nationalism to try to create a social base in layers of the middle class. There is nothing progressive about Chinese chauvinism and patriotism, which divides Chinese workers from their class brothers and sisters internationally, and within China from non-Han Chinese minorities. Its repressive measures against Uighurs, Tibetans and other ethnic groups have provided an opening that the US is seeking to exploit. Under the bogus banner of “human rights,” Washington is promoting separatist groups as part of its ambition to fracture and subordinate China to its interests.

    Thirty years after the Tiananmen Square massacre, the CCP leadership is terrified of a renewal of working-class opposition, the first stirrings of which have been seen in the more numerous reports of workers’ strikes and protests, and, significantly over the past year, in a turn by a layer of university students to assist workers in their struggles. Since 1989, the working class in China has vastly expanded to an estimated 400 million and as a proportion of the population. One indicator is the growth of the country’s urban population from just 26.4 percent of the total in 1990, to 58.5 percent in 2017.

    The CCP leadership boasts of having lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty, using the UN’s very austere measures of poverty. Such benchmarks ignore the many factors that are fueling discontent among workers, including the common practice of late or unpaid wages, unhealthy and dangerous factory conditions, harsh corporate disciplinary practices, and the lack of basic social rights for tens of millions of internal migrants in the cities. All of these oppressive conditions are monitored and policed by the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, which functions as an arm of the CCP bureaucracy in workplaces.

    Capitalist restoration has produced a dramatic rise in social inequality: from one of the most equal societies in the world, China has become one of the most unequal countries. It is home to more dollar billionaires than any other country except the United States. While Chinese workers struggle to survive on the minimum wage of $370 a month, the wealthiest individual, Tencent chairman Pony Ma, has a personal fortune of almost $40 billion. These super-rich oligarchs, who in many cases have built their fortunes through naked corruption and the looting of state-owned property, are represented in the Chinese Communist Party and sit on powerful advisory bodies.

    The gulf between the super-rich and the vast majority of the workers and the poor is generating huge social tensions that, sooner rather than later, will explode on a scale that will eclipse the rebellion by workers and students 30 years ago. The lesson drawn by the Stalinist leadership from the 1989 events was that it had to suppress, through all available means, any expression of opposition that could become the focus of a broader movement against the regime. Incapable of meeting the pressing social needs of the majority of the population, the CCP has vastly expanded its police-state apparatus, now spending more each year on its internal security forces than it does on external defence.

    The working class must also draw the necessary political lessons from the defeat of that movement in 1989, which was rapidly assuming revolutionary dimensions. What was lacking was not determination, audacity and courage, nor numbers, which were rapidly swelling across China, but the essential problem facing the international working class in the 20th century—the absence of revolutionary leadership.

    James Cogan summed up the issue in his analysis “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre,” stating:

    Inexperienced politically and lacking a political perspective outside of opposition to the existing regime, the workers’ leaders advanced no alternative to, and deferred to, the student bodies. The workers of China knew in their life experience what they were against—Stalinism and capitalism—but they were not able to articulate any perspective for an alternative social order.

    Decades of domination by Stalinism and the active suppression of genuine Marxism in China meant there was no revolutionary socialist, that is, Trotskyist, tendency in the working class. No organisation within the country could spontaneously advance the program that was implicit in the actions and sentiments of the Chinese working class—a political revolution to overthrow the Stalinist regime and introduce major reforms into the economy for the benefit of the working class. [8]

    The essential political task of building a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class as a section of the International Committee of the Fourth International remains. None of the oppositional tendencies that emerged out of the 1989 protests offer a viable political perspective for the working class. Advocates of independent trade unions such as Han Dongfang, who was prominent in the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation in 1989, have underscored the political bankruptcy of syndicalism by lurching to the right and into the arms of US trade union apparatus, in other words of US imperialism.

    A layer of youth, intellectuals and workers have turned to Maoism, and its banal “revolutionary” slogans, for answers. Capitalist restoration in China, however, was not a break from Maoism. It flowed organically out of the dead-end of “socialism in one country.” Maoism could aptly be termed Stalinism with Chinese characteristics, with its hostility to the working class, its emphasis on subjective will, and above all its putrid nationalism. It is diametrically opposed to genuine Marxism, that is the perspective of socialist internationalism, which alone was upheld by the Trotskyist movement, including the Chinese Trotskyists.

    The establishment of a genuinely revolutionary party in China, as part of the ICFI, requires the assimilation of the essential strategic experiences of the international working class, of which the Chinese revolutions of the 20th century are a critical component. The CCP leaders are petrified that workers and youth will begin to work over the lessons of history. They attempt to censor and black out any knowledge and discussion of the events of 1989, and continue to perpetrate the lies of Stalinism about the course of the 20th century.

    The crucial political lessons of the protracted struggle of Trotskyism against Stalinism are embedded in the program, perspective and documents of the International Committee of the Fourth International. Workers and youth should make a serious study of the political issues involved, beginning with the documents of the ICFI on the Tiananmen Square massacre, republished this week on the World Socialist Web Site. We urge you to contact the International Committee of the Fourth International, which is the first step toward forging a Trotskyist leadership in the Chinese working class.


    [1] Cited in “Workers in the Tiananmen protests: The politics of the Beijing Workers Autonomous Federation,” by Andrew G. Walder and Gong Xiaoxia, first published in the Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, No 29, January 1993.

    [2] The World Capitalist Crisis and the Tasks of the Fourth International: Perspectives Resolution of the International Committee of the Fourth International, August 1988, Labor Publications, pp.30–31.

    [3] Maurice Meisner, Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, The Free Press, Third edition, 1999, p.508.

    [4] ibid, p.389.

    [5] Michael Marti, China and the Legacy of Deng Xiaoping: From Communist Revolution to Capitalist Evolution, Brassey’s Inc, 2002, pp.47–48.

    [6] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 1”, 26 November 2012.

    [7] Cited in John Chan, “Twenty years since Deng Xiaoping’s ‘Southern tour’—Part 2”, 27 November 2012.

    [8] James Cogan, “Ten years since the Tiananmen Square massacre: Political lessons for the working class,” 4 June 1999.

    #Chine #4689

  • China’s Racing to the Top in Income Inequality - Bloomberg

    By Anjani Trivedi, September 23, 2018 - During China’s greatest period of economic growth, fed by widespread industrialization that lifted millions out of poverty, inequality has also increased — at the fastest pace and to the highest level in the world. It may get worse.

    China’s Gini coefficient, 1 a widely used measure of income dispersion across a population, has risen more steeply over the last decade than in any other country, according to an International Monetary Fund working paper. Some inequality is to be expected with industrialization, but in China it’s happened at a staggering pace. One of the main drivers, the research found, is growing differences in education levels and skill premiums.

    In education, China is among the most unequal societies. Demand for highly skilled workers soared with rapid technological change. Access to secondary and higher-level education has blossomed since 1980. Last year, around 8 million students graduated from Chinese universities, 10 times more than two decades ago and double the number at U.S. universities. But the gap in tertiary education completion rose even more, comparing rural to urban areas and richer to poorer people. In the relatively deprived southern autonomous region of Guangxi, for example, around 19 percent of the college-age population is enrolled in tertiary education. In Shanghai, the comparable figure is 70 percent.

    The Rich Get Smarter

    The percentage of people enrolled in a tertiary institution out of the whole college-age population varies widely across provinces depending on income levels

    China’s capital-accumulation boom has been backed by state subsidies that encourage technological advances. Many R&D handouts are based, in turn, on employees’ educational qualifications.

    Take the Ministry of Science and Technology’s Innovation Company program. Access to its incentives include stipulations that research and development spending amount to 6 percent of sales for companies with less than 50 million yuan ($7.3 million) revenue; that at least 30 percent of employees have a college degree; and that 10 percent of the staff be involved in R&D. Plenty of big names have taken advantage of such policies, including the likes of Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co., the surveillance giant that we wrote about here.

    Other measures to bring home so-called sea turtles — qualified Chinese people living overseas — have deepened the divide. Under Beijing’s Thousand Talents program, launched a decade ago, returnees can get a 2 million-yuan research grant and a personal reward of more than 500,000 yuan, along with benefits. That program had attracted more than 7,000 Chinese scientists and engineers as of November 2017. Local governments, including Shenzhen, also have housing policies aimed at luring talent.

    On top of the influx of expertise, it’s harder for people to find good jobs as the population generally becomes better-educated. To be sure, inequality does diminish as workers change industries, for example from agriculture to sectors that add more value. But that hasn’t happened as fast, in part because of pro-farmer policies and the dibao system that guarantees rural incomes.

    Beijing is now trying to reduce the income-tax burden, adding a potentially powerful tool to address inequality. The working paper’s authors say this is especially the case in China, given the “limited role” fiscal policy has played in “moderating income inequality in China to date.”

    Under tax reforms announced last month by the finance ministry, for example, the greatest benefit accrues to about 20 million people who earn more than 100,000 yuan a year — just 3 percent of the total workforce — according to a Bernstein analysis. With a higher percentage of salary earners in Tier 1 and 2 cities, the gains there will be disproportionate.

    Deepening Divide

    The government also plans to introduce a household allowance for children’s and higher education next year. Spending on education, culture and recreation accounts for 11 percent of household consumption in China.

    Urbanization and an aging population no doubt have added to inequality. By 2008, China had slowed the growth of inequality from previous decades. Since then, however, the government has started running out of measures and now faces the challenge of deleveraging its financial system as the economy slows. As a trade war worsens and Beijing pushes its technological edge, the balancing act will get tougher. Alongside the recent income-tax breaks, the government also announced more stringent social-security collection from companies to fund pensions.

    In an ideal world, Beijing would balance the books sufficiently to slash taxes for the poorest people. Yet for funding, it’s having to turn to the very companies that are supposed to drive the “Made in China 2025” program, reducing their effectiveness. The latest change in social-security collection could cut machinery, industrial and telecom companies’ net profits by 11 percent to 15 percent, according to CLSA.

    The IMF paper suggests the most effective policies to reduce inequality are those “with the largest effect coming from social-protection spending and redistribution” of income. But as Beijing’s push-and-pull gets tougher, the policy avenue will narrow. As Thomas Piketty’s work has found, wealth accumulated in the past grows faster than output and wages. In doing so, “The past devours the future.”

  • Exclusive: Images show construction on China’s third and largest aircraft carrier - analysts - Reuters

    A satellite image shows what appears to be the construction of a third Chinese aircraft carrier at the Jiangnan Shipyard in Shanghai, China April 17, 2019.
    CSIS/ChinaPower/Maxar Technologies 2019/Handout via REUTERS

    Construction of China’s first full-sized aircraft carrier is well under way, according to satellite images obtained and analyzed by a U.S. think tank.

    The images from April, provided to Reuters by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, reveal considerable recent activity during the last six months on a large vessel at the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai.
    The CSIS images show a bow section that appears to end with a flat 30-metre (98-foot) front and a separate hull section 41 meters wide, with gantry cranes looming overhead.

    That suggests a vessel, which China has dubbed Type 002, somewhat smaller than 100,000-tonne U.S. carriers but larger than France’s 42,500-tonne Charles de Gaulle, analysts say.

  • The Geopolitics of China’s Maritime Silk Road Initiative

    China’s “One Belt, One Road” project is comprised of two components: the #Maritime_Silk_Road Initiative (#MSRI) and the Silk Road Economic Belt (SREB)—that were announced separately in 2013. Each component has the potential to transform the global geopolitical landscape through the construction of interrelated infrastructure projects including ports, highways, railways and pipelines. Such hard infrastructure requires the complementary construction of soft infrastructure, such as free trade and investment agreements, and other accords. We introduce a special section focusing specifically on the geopolitics of the MSRI that stems from a workshop hosted in November 2015 in Shanghai. The origins, scope and content of the MSRI are described, along with a summary of the current literature discussing the project, and dominant geopolitical representations. The MSRI is a geopolitical project that involves a number of actors (governments, private companies and Chinese state-owned enterprises) at a number of geographic scales (cities, provinces, states and continents). Arrghi’s twin logics of territorial and economic power help frame and connect the papers of the special section to illustrate the complexity and dynamism of the geopolitics of the MSRI. The articles provide insights into the geopolitics of a large connectivity project.
    #route_de_la_soie #Chine #article_scientifique #transport_maritime
    ping @simplicissimus @reka

  • Behind China’s Corruption Crackdown: Whistleblowers

    By Kent D. Kedl

    SHANGHAI – A top concern for most multinational companies doing business in China the last year has been the Chinese government’s dogged crackdown against corruption. Ask CEOs in China what wakes them at 2 a.m. in a cold sweat and their answer is simple: the dreaded “dawn raid.” What is less widely known is the outsized role that whistleblowers have played. Almost every major fraud or corruption crisis faced by multinational companies in the past year kicked off because of a whistleblower allegation. According to Chinese officials, four out of every five anti-corruption investigations are initiated by whistleblowers. Often these are former and disgruntled employees, suppliers, distributors, consumers, scammers and competitors—some complaints are legitimate, others not.

    Whistleblower complaints in China have historically been an internal matter; any reports were logged with senior management and subject to internal investigations. But there has been a significant trend toward reporting—or threatening to report—directly to Chinese regulators. Whistleblowers are discovering the power of involving regulatory authorities in China to help them achieve their objectives, which range from reporting and rectifying a genuine integrity and governance issue, to extortive attempts to extract monetary or other concessions from management, or simply to take revenge following disputes. In the new, turbo-charged China environment for regulatory oversight, such whistleblowers represent a significant source of risk for multinational corporations.

    Several market dynamics have converged to create this perfect storm of opportunity for whistleblowers in China. They include an uptick in regulatory enforcement, a slowing economy and new pressures on investigators.

    Regulatory oversight and enforcement began to increase in 2013 and shows no sign of down. Regulators that were quite passive in the past will maintain their more active and aggressive stance, and multinationals are on their collective radars. China’s political leadership has provided a mandate for regulator activity and we will continue to see high levels of enforcement, particularly in the key sectors of healthcare, automotive and consumer products, with likely increasing enforcement in energy, telecoms, infrastructure and real estate.

    The slowdown in the Chinese economy means two things. First, companies are not hiring aggressively and employees find it harder to seek alternative employment. Second, companies are restructuring commercial agreements with distributors and suppliers who are feeling the squeeze on their own business. The combined effect is that both employees and third parties have additional incentive to leverage information of potentially unethical or illegal activity. Threatening to blow the whistle to regulatory authorities is an often-successful way for them to retain their positions, even if they are themselves complicit in the activity they are threatening to report.

    Meanwhile, Chinese regulators are under pressure to deliver results. Pressure to resolve a case with a finding against a foreign company may come from the whistleblower, the media or their own peers; regardless of the legitimacy or accuracy of the claims being made. Within agencies, investigators have additional pressure and targets from their bosses. They will often confront the company with allegations taken verbatim from a whistleblower letter, typically without performing much (if any) due diligence on an allegation’s veracity.

    It often unfolds like this. A company is approached by a mid-level regulator with vague allegations of “impropriety.” The company might be told that “we have information that one of your distributors is taking bribes” and will be asked to investigate itself and report back to the authorities on the findings. The company will not be shown any specific evidence nor will it be given any legal basis for the regulator’s suspicion – but will often be threatened with legal or administrative action if it doesn’t cooperate (fines, loss of license, employee detentions, etc.). In many cases, regulators return the results of a company’s own investigation with additional “guidance” on other areas to examine, until the company presents the desired investigative findings and evidence: this is often what is meant by “cooperating with the authorities.”

    So what can companies do to limit their own risk of a regulatory investigation? It starts with thinking through the processes they use to accept and process whistleblower allegations. Getting ahead of any allegations and proactively correcting any perceived wrongdoing can help to stave off a visit from the regulators. Best practice in China includes four items:

    Understanding the regulators: Nearly every company’s stakeholder map in China has changed drastically in the past two years, so it is critical to take a fresh look at the broad spectrum of regulators against a given business and identify which regulators would be legitimately interested in what parts of the business. For example, a company that relies heavily on third-party distributors to sell to customers will be vulnerable to allegations of bribery and corruption, which would be investigated by local Administration of Industry and Commerce (AIC) offices to investigate. Companies with a fragmented business structure and many sales offices in China may get called out on not paying the proper amount in local taxes, resulting in a State Administration of Tax (SAT) visit. For each type of allegation, a company can identify which regulator might be interested and how active they are in each province where the company operates. From there, a company can begin to understand what the regulators look for and how they operate, and get ahead of any allegations of wrongdoing.
    Create a feedback loop to in-country management: Whistleblower allegations should be handled by a neutral party, not by the operation against whom the allegations are leveled. However, this does not mean a multinational company should keep its China management team in the dark about allegations of wrongdoing in China. In-country managers need basic information in order to monitor the risk of whistleblowers reporting to local regulators. Too often, an office in China will be dealing with a regulator but have no idea that an allegation along similar lines was made to their head office whistleblower hotline a few weeks earlier. Tracking allegations over geography and time is also essential. Companies who log and track the details of whistleblower complaints often see patterns that can be dealt with; ahead of any regulator getting involved.
    Investigate outside the four walls: All whistleblower allegations should be thoroughly investigated; a simple “audit” will not suffice. Looking outside of their own books and records allows companies to trace allegations back to activities of third-parties and other outsiders. Any confirmatory evidence of conflicts of interest or collusion will not be found within a company’s four walls.
    Don’t give in to extortion: Companies that receive an extortive threat to report information to a regulator must resist the temptation to immediately concede to any demands. It may seem like an effective short term solution, but there is a very high risk that it comes back to cause bigger problems in future. It is critical that multinational companies cooperate with Chinese regulators and one’s “attitude” will be important to reaching a conclusion; however, there are many ways to be “cooperative” and companies should consider all scenarios before responding.

    Kent Kedl is the Shanghai-based Managing Director for Greater China and North Asia at Control Risks, the global risk consultancy.

    #Chine #politique #corruption #tireurs_d_alarme

  • #Ghost_Towns | Buildings | Architectural Review

    Though criticised by many, China’s unoccupied new settlements could have a viable future

    Earlier this year a historic landmark was reached, but with little fanfare. The fact that the people of China are now predominantly urban, was largely ignored by the Western media. By contrast, considerable attention focused on China’s new ‘ghost towns’ or kong cheng − cities such as Ordos in the Gobi desert and Zhengzhou New District in Henan Province which are still being built but are largely unoccupied.

    By some estimates, the number of vacant homes in Chinese cities is currently around 64 million: space to accommodate, perhaps, two thirds of the current US population. However, unlike the abandoned cities of rust-belt America or the shrinking cities of Europe, China’s ghost cities seem never to have been occupied in the first place. So to what extent are these deserted places symbolic of the problems of rapid Chinese urbanisation? And what is revealed by the Western discourse about them?

    Characterised by its gargantuan central Genghis Khan Plaza and vast boulevards creating open vistas to the hills of Inner Mongolia, Ordos New Town is a modern frontier city. It is located within a mineral rich region that until recently enjoyed an estimated annual economic growth rate of 40 per cent, and boasts the second highest per-capita income in China, behind only the financial capital, Shanghai.

    Having decided that the existing urban centre of 1.5 million people was too crowded, it was anticipated that the planned cultural districts and satellite developments of Ordos New Town would by now accommodate half a million people rather than the 30,000 that reputedly live there.

    Reports suggest that high profile architectural interventions such as the Ai Weiwei masterplan for 100 villas by 100 architects from 27 different countries have been shelved, although a few of the commissions struggle on.

    It seems that expectations of raising both the region’s profile (at least in ways intended) and the aesthetic esteem of its new residents have failed to materialise. Instead, attention is focused on the vacant buildings and empty concrete shells within a cityscape devoid of traffic and largely empty of people.

    Estimates suggest there’s another dozen Chinese cities with similar ghost town annexes. In the southern city of Kunming, for example, the 40-square-mile area of Chenggong is characterised by similar deserted roads, high-rises and government offices. Even in the rapidly growing metropolitan region of Shanghai, themed model towns such as Anting German Town and Thames Town have few inhabitants. In the Pearl River Delta, the New South China Mall is the world’s largest. Twice the size of the Mall of America in Minneapolis, it is another infamous example of a gui gouwu zhongxin or ‘ghost mall’.

    Located within a dynamic populated region (40 million people live within 60 miles of the new Mall), it has been used in the American documentary Utopia, Part 3 to depict a modern wasteland. With only around 10 of the 2,300 retail spaces occupied, there is an unsettling emptiness here. The sense that this is a building detached from economic and social reality is accentuated by broken display dummies, slowly gliding empty escalators, and gondolas navigating sewage-infested canals. The message is that in this ‘empty temple to consumerism’ − as described by some critics − we find an inherent truth about China’s vapid future.

    Anting German Town Shanghai

    The main square of Anting German Town outside Shanghai. One of the nine satellite European cities built around the city, it has failed to establish any sense of community. The Volkswagen factory is down the road

    Pursued through the imagery of the ghost town, the commentary on stalled elements of Chinese modernity recalls the recent fascination with what has been termed ‘ruin porn’ − apocalyptic photographs of decayed industrial structures in cities such as Detroit, as in the collection The Ruins of Detroit by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffe. These too dramatise the urban landscapes but seldom seem interested in enquiring about the origins and processes underlying them.

    In his popular work Collapse, Jared Diamond fantasised that one day in the future, tourists would stare at the ‘rusting hulks of New York’s skyscrapers’ explaining that human arrogance − overreaching ourselves − is at the root of why societies fail. In Requiem for Detroit, filmmaker Julian Temple too argues that to avoid the fate of the lost cities of the Maya, we must recognise the ‘man-made contagion’ in the ‘rusting hulks of abandoned car plants’. (It seems that even using a different metaphor is deemed to be too hubristic.)

    In terms of the discussion about Chinese ghost cities, many impugn these places as a commentary on the folly of China’s development and its speed of modernisation. Take the Guardian’s former Asia correspondent, Jonathan Watts, who has argued that individuals and civilisations bring about their own annihilation by ‘losing touch with their roots or over-consuming’. Initial signs of success often prove to be the origin of later failures, he argues. In his view, strength is nothing more than potential weakness, and the moral of the tale is that by hitting a tipping point, civilisations will fall much more quickly than they rise.

    In fact, China’s headlong rush to development means that its cities embody many extremes. For example, the city of Changsha in Hunan Province recently announced that in the space of just seven months it would build an 838 metre skyscraper creating the world’s tallest tower. Understandably, doubts exist over whether this can be achieved − the current tallest, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, took six years to build. Yet such is the outlook of a country with so much dynamic ambition, that even the seemingly impossible is not to be considered off-limits. At the other end of the scale, it was recently revealed that 30 million Chinese continue to live in caves − a reflection of under-development (not an energy efficient lifestyle choice).

    In the West, a risk averse outlook means that caution is the watchword. Not only is the idea of building new cities a distant memory, but data from the US and UK betrays that geographical mobility is reducing as people elect to stay in declining towns rather than seek new opportunities elsewhere. By contrast, China is a country on the move − quite literally. In fact the landmark 50 per cent urbanisation rate was achieved some years ago, driven by a ‘floating population’ of perhaps 200 million people, whose legal status as villagers disguises the fact they have already moved to live and work in cities.

    If cramming five to a room in the existing Anting town means easy access to jobs then why move to Anting German Town, accessible via only a single road, and surrounded by industrial districts and wasteland? But it is also clear that China is building for expansion. The notion of ‘predict and provide’ is so alien to Western planners these days, that they are appalled when particular Chinese authorities announce that they will build a new town with three-lane highways before people move there. How absurd, we say. Look, the roads are empty and unused. But in this debate, it is we who have lost our sense of the audacious.

    When assessing the ghost cities phenomenon, it seems likely that in a country growing at the breakneck speed of China, some mistakes will be made. When bureaucratic targets and technical plans inscribed in protocols and legislation are to the fore, then not all outcomes of investment programmes such as a recent $200 billion infrastructure project will work out. And yes, ghost cities do reflect some worrying economic trends, with rising house prices and the speculative stockpiling of units so that many apartments are owned but not occupied.

    But these problems need to be kept firmly in perspective. The reality is that meaningful development requires risk-taking. The ghost cities today may well prove to be viable in the longer term, as ongoing urbanisation leads to better integration with existing regions, and because by the very virtue of their creation, such areas create new opportunities that alter the existing dynamics.

    #chine #urban_matter #villes_fantômes #architecture

  • Islamabad a le pas qui se tend

    Le Pakistan est à nouveau dans l’œil du cyclone, au centre d’une tempête dont les implications peuvent cette fois aller très loin. Les frères ennemis du sous-continent sont en effet membres de l’Organisation de Coopération de Shanghai désormais, pleinement...

  • Huawei, un géant au coeur du choc entre Chine et Occident

    Le président américain Donald Trump et son homologue chinois, Xi Jinping, en 2017 à Pékin.

    Crédits photo : NICOLAS ASFOURI/AFP

    ENQUÊTE - Après l’arrestation de la fille du fondateur de Huawei, la planète télécoms est entrée en ébullition. Le bras de fer qui oppose Trump et Xi déterminera la suprématie technologique mondiale.

    À Shanghaï et Washington

    Coiffée d’une casquette mauve et d’un manteau noir, la « princesse de Shenzhen » a surgi mardi 29 janvier de sa maison cossue des quartiers ouest de Vancouver, sous les flashs des photographes. Sans un mot, Meng Wanzhou s’est engouffrée à l’arrière d’une Cadillac Escalade sombre, direction le tribunal. Impossible d’apercevoir le bracelet électronique qui enserre la directrice financière de Huawei, en liberté surveillée suite à son (...)

    #En_vedette #Actualités_internationales #Actualités_Internationales

  • #internet #culture Roundup #3: Not “Notable” Enough, That’s How Mafia Works

    If the internet is an ever-evolving collective consciousness of content, then #memes are it’s DNA. In this week’s edition of Internet Culture Roundup, we have a diverse array of memes take the spotlight including a mobile game with ads showing delusions of grandeur, a photobombing Fiji water bottle model, an ambitious content creator, a victim of an All-Star baseball player’s troll campaign, and a deleted Wikipedia page.Screenshot of a Mafia City adMafia CityThere are normal mobile game advertisements, and then there are Mafia City ads which are in the league of their own. Created by Shanghai-based Yotta Games, Mafia City gameplay consists of different clans competition to be the preeminent crime family of the city. But what has really taken the internet by storm is not the games, but the (...)

    #everipedia-partnership #twitter

  • See people’s faces from miles away in the 195 gigapixel photo of Shanghai.

    As an engineer this is amazing, as a citizen the #privacy implications are terrifying.Your average smartphone camera is around 12 megapixels. This image of Shanghai is 195 gigapixels. One megapixel equals one million pixels, a gigapixel equals one billion pixels.Put another way, this image is 16,250 times larger than the image you can take with your smart phone.Let’s see what that feels like through the BigPixel viewer looking at the roof top of a building a few miles where it’s due for finding MickeyHow about people on the street?credit where it’s dueCoordinated outfits or a glitch in the matrix? You decide.What about when the camera is up close?For a sense of how invasive this #technology could be for privacy try the BigPixel experience on a beach.BigPixel Planet - Patong BeachYou (...)

    #future #crime #big-data

  • Dealing with a Production Incident After Midnight

    by Dominic FraserA night worker on a very different infrastructure project takes in the skyline — Shanghai, ChinaFrom 21:22 UTC on Wednesday December 12th a sustained increase in 500 error responses were seen on Skyscanner’s Flight Search Results page, and in the early hours of the following morning 9% of Flight Search traffic was being served a 500 response.As a junior software engineer this was my first experience of assisting to mitigate an out-of-hours production incident. While I had previously collaborated on comparable follow-up investigations, I had never been the one problem-solving during the night (while sleep-deprived) before! This post walks through some specifics of the incident and, by describing the event sequentially (rather than as simply a summary of actions), hopefully (...)

    #aws #cache #redis #production-incident #postmortem

  • Chine : Shanghai teste le modèle des « villes éponges »

    Les rues sont construites avec des matériaux perméables et les terres-pleins centraux sont transformés en jardin pluviaux
    Crédits : DR

    Face au risque de montée du niveau de la mer, la mégalopole côtière innove sur la prévention des inondations.

    S’inspirer de la nature pour corriger les effets pervers des constructions humaines. C’est la voie empruntée par le gouvernement chinois afin de faire face au danger des inondations urbaines, aggravé par le réchauffement climatique comme par l’artificialisation des sols. Depuis 2015, il a lancé le programme « #villes_éponges », visant à promouvoir le développement d’alternatives écologiques aux systèmes traditionnels de prévention des inondations - fondés sur les seuls réseaux d’assainissement. Initialement limité à 16 villes, le programme en comprend désormais 30, dont Shanghai.

    Dans la ville la plus peuplée de Chine, particulièrement exposée au danger de la montée des eaux en raison de sa position côtière, le modèle de « #ville_éponge » est notamment testé dans le quartier de Lingang (dit aussi Nanhui), rapporte The Guardian. Les rues y sont construites avec des matériaux perméables, permettant à l’eau de pénétrer dans le sol. Les terres-pleins centraux, remplis de plantes, y sont transformés en jardins pluviaux. Une multiplication de parcs, un lac artificiel, des toitures végétalisées ou équipées de réservoirs complètent le dispositif.

  • Chine : Google aurait coupé ses équipes vie privée et sécurité du projet Dragonfly

    The Intercept révèle certains événements qui ont mené au projet de moteur de recherche destiné à la Chine, Dragonfly, dont un groupe de 500 « employés » a récemment demandé l’abandon, sous pression d’Amnesty International. Le média se fonde sur les témoignages de quatre employés. Selon nos confrères, le service s’appuierait sur un partenaire local, comme il est d’usage en Chine, avec des serveurs hébergés à Pékin ou Shanghai. Ce détail aurait été annoncé par des hauts cadres du groupe lors d’une première (...)

    #Google #GoogleSearch #Dragonfly #censure #filtrage #surveillance #web #géolocalisation

  • China blacklists millions of people from booking flights as ’social credit’ system introduced

    Officials say aim is to make it ‘difficult to move’ for those deemed ‘untrustworthy’.

    Millions of Chinese nationals have been blocked from booking flights or trains as Beijing seeks to implement its controversial “#social_credit” system, which allows the government to closely monitor and judge each of its 1.3 billion citizens based on their behaviour and activity.

    The system, to be rolled out by 2020, aims to make it “difficult to move” for those deemed “untrustworthy”, according to a detailed plan published by the government this week.

    It will be used to reward or punish people and organisations for “trustworthiness” across a range of measures.

    A key part of the plan not only involves blacklisting people with low social credibility scores, but also “publicly disclosing the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis”.

    The plan stated: “We will improve the credit blacklist system, publicly disclose the records of enterprises and individuals’ untrustworthiness on a regular basis, and form a pattern of distrust and punishment.”

    For those deemed untrustworthy, “everywhere is limited, and it is difficult to move, so that those who violate the law and lose the trust will pay a heavy price”.

    The credit system is already being rolled out in some areas and in recent months the Chinese state has blocked millions of people from booking flights and high-speed trains.

    According to the state-run news outlet Global Times, as of May this year, the government had blocked 11.14 million people from flights and 4.25 million from taking high-speed train trips.

    The state has also begun to clamp down on luxury options: 3 million people are barred from getting business class train tickets, according to Channel News Asia.

    The aim, according to Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research centre of the State Council, is to make “discredited people become bankrupt”, he said earlier this year.

    The eastern state of Hangzou, southwest of Shanghai, is one area where a social credit system is already in place.

    People are awarded credit points for activities such as undertaking volunteer work and giving blood donations while those who violate traffic laws and charge “under-the-table” fees are punished.

    Other infractions reportedly include smoking in non-smoking zones, buying too many video games and posting fake news online.

    Punishments are not clearly detailed in the government plan, but beyond making travel difficult, are also believed to include slowing internet speeds, reducing access to good schools for individuals or their children, banning people from certain jobs, preventing booking at certain hotels and losing the right to own pets.

    When plans for the social credit scheme were first announced in 2014, the government said the aim was to “broadly shape a thick atmosphere in the entire society that keeping trust is glorious and breaking trust is disgraceful”.

    As well as the introduction in Beijing, the government plans a rapid national rollout. “We will implement a unified system of credit rating codes nationwide,” the country’s latest five-year plan stated.

    The move comes as Beijing also faces international scrutiny over its treatment of a Muslim minority group, who have been told to turn themselves in to authorities if they observe practices such as abstention from alcohol.

    #Hami city government in the far-western #Xinjiang region said people “poisoned by extremism, terrorism and separatism” would be treated leniently if they surrendered within the next 30 days.

    As many as a million Muslim Uighurs are believed to have been rounded up and placed in “re-education” centres, in what China claims is a clampdown on religious extremism.
    #Chine #surveillance #contrôle #liberté_de_mouvement #liberté_de_circulation #mobilité #crédit_social #comportement #liste_noire #volontariat #points #don_de_sang #alcool #extrémisme #terrorisme #séparatisme #Ouïghours

    via @isskein

  • Géographie du souvenir. Ancrages spatiaux des mémoires de la #Shoah

    Comme l’écrit Denis Peschanski dans sa préface, le livre de #Dominique_Chevalier apporte une pierre importante aux études sur la Shoah et, de manière plus générale, à la réflexion sur les relations entre mémoire et #espace qui furent au cœur des travaux de Maurice Halbwachs. L’ambition de l’ouvrage est en effet d’articuler des régimes de spatialité à des régimes d’historicité, voire de #mémorialité, dans la lignée de la réflexion alimentée depuis les années 1990 sur les « lieux spatiaux », alors même que la notion de « #lieux_de_mémoire » esquivait en partie la relation au territoire.

    Pour mener à bien son entreprise, Dominique Chevalier définit une problématique, un objet, des espaces et une méthodologie. Les politiques mémorielles et patrimoniales de la Shoah, dans leur dimension spatiale, constitue l’objet de cette recherche dont le pari est d’étudier sous l’angle géographique les différentes formes de territorialités et de mémorialités des principaux musées-mémoriaux urbains mondiaux consacrés au judéocide. Les connexions entre échelles spatiales, échelles temporelles et échelles mémorielles, corrélées aux relations des rapports sociaux/spatiaux permettent la co-construction et la co-production de lieux de mémoire singuliers si remarquables qu’il paraît tout à fait légitime de parler de « régime de spatialité », nous prévient l’auteur (p. 18). Le questionnement se déploie alors dans plusieurs dimensions : géopolitique d’abord, territoriale ensuite, spatiale, à l’intérieur des musées, pour finir. C’est ainsi que, de l’échelle la plus réduite à la plus grande, se constitue un continuum entre des espaces distincts qui dessinent in fine une forme de mondialisation de la mémoire de la Shoah, tissée de circulations intenses. Encore fallait-il échapper aux pièges que tend la mémoire de la Shoah d’un continent à l’autre : aux États-Unis, le terme de « survivor » désigne tous les Juifs ayant survécu aux années 1930 et 1940, y compris ceux installés en Amérique, alors que celui de « rescapé », dans la tradition européenne et israélienne, ne désigne que ceux qui survécurent à l’expérience des camps.

    Quelles sont les répercussions spatiales, géographiques et géopolitiques de cette mémoire qui semble constamment et partout présente, bien au-delà des lieux d’exclusion, de concentration et d’extermination des Juifs pendant la guerre ? L’enquête commence à une échelle « macro » où sont situés les lieux commémoratifs mondiaux, avec une attention particulière pour ces lieux « délocalisés » spatialement, loin du terreau des souffrances, loin des « lieux-témoins » centre-européens. Ces lieux ex situ, qui n’utilisent pas le substrat tangible des camps comme « ressource mémorielle » (p. 205), échappent donc à la concordance mémoire/lieu. Ils constituent une ressource idéelle accentuant une production culturelle et spatiale inédite et spécifique : Yad Vashem, les musées de Washington, de New York, de Los Angeles, de Montréal mais aussi de Budapest, de Berlin, de Paris et de Varsovie, sont ainsi mobilisés. Quant à la méthode, Dominique Chevalier s’appuie sur des observations in situ et des témoignages qui dénotent un goût pour les rapports subjectifs des individus à l’espace, notamment en ce qui concerne l’analyse des pratiques des usagers.

    La première partie de l’ouvrage identifie quatre temps de la mémoire de la Shoah qui correspondent à quatre investissements spatiaux distincts. Le premier voit l’affrontement du mémorial de Paris et de Yad Vashem, à Jérusalem, dans les années 1950. La double concurrence, idéelle et idéologique, qui résulte de ces projets contraste avec le projet du kibboutz Lohamei Haghetaot, fondé par 196 rescapés de la Shoah. Le deuxième temps est celui de la guerre froide, de la guerre des Six Jours et de la guerre du Kippour qui contribue à lier étroitement la mémoire de la Shoah à celle de l’existence, un temps compromise, de l’État d’Israël. C’est sur ce substrat que la Shoah s’américanise rapidement, à partir de 1974-1977. Troisième temps, celui du Rideau de fer et de la chute du mur de Berlin où l’Allemagne s’impose comme un épicentre européen de la mémoire de la Shoah puis, dans son sillage, certains pays de l’Europe centrale comme la Hongrie et la Pologne. Enfin, à partir des années 2000, on assiste à une extension mondiale qui touche aussi bien l’Australie que l’Afrique du Sud, la Turquie ou, dans une moindre mesure, l’Iran.

    La deuxième partie de l’ouvrage se concentre sur les stratégies spatiales de chacune de ces créations ex situ qui révèlent une forme de globalisation des rapports au passé. En géographe, Dominique Chevalier avance une sorte de typologie des territoires mémoriaux de la Shoah sans s’éloigner du fil conducteur de sa réflexion qui est le phénomène de métropolisation des lieux de mémoire. Dans un premier cas de figure, le musée-mémorial s’articule de manière essentielle à l’histoire des Juifs dans un territoire donné : à Paris, le mémorial s’implante très tôt à proximité du Pletzl mais aussi, de façon plus étonnante, à Shanghai, Los Angeles ou Montréal, les musées s’implantent dans le quartier des rescapés. Deuxième cas de figure : la co-présence d’autres mémoires blessées qui établissent avec la Shoah un lien existentiel. À Melbourne, la mémoire du judéocide se trouve associée à celle des Aborigènes ; au Cap, à celle de l’esclavage ; à Fukuyama, à celle des bombes atomiques. En troisième lieu, les musées-mémoriaux s’enracinent dans des lieux symboliques mais dont la récurrence mémorielle n’est liée ni à un passé juif, ni à la possible communion avec d’autres mémoires douloureuses. Là, ils valorisent des territoires dans lesquels s’ancrent des architectures médiatisées, telles que celle de Berlin où intervint Daniel Libeskind mais aussi l’Holocaust Mahnmal de Peter Eisenman, et l’Holocaust Memorial Museum à Washington. La quatrième catégorie concerne les espaces offrant l’opportunité d’embrasser de larges paysages naturels, comme le mémorial de San Francisco, le Jewish Heritage Museum de New York et Yad Vashem à Jérusalem. Pour finir, Dominique Chevalier souligne combien la Maison de la Terreur, à Budapest, relève d’une logique à part qui est celle du non-lieu, d’un lieu excentré. Tous ces exemples ont en commun de constituer des instruments essentiels d’aménagement et de communication territoriale et politique, que ce soit celle de la catastrophe revendiquée pour légitimer a posteriori la création de l’État d’Israël, ou bien celle des culpabilités embarrassantes qui servent à expier les fautes, comme à Washington ou à Berlin. En bref, pour Dominique Chevalier, l’espace urbain est un « miroir social sur lequel se réfléchissent des intentions, des logiques d’acteurs, des temporalités, des références identitaires, des relations passé/présent et des rapports local/global particuliers » (p. 132).

    La troisième partie s’intéresse à la micro-échelle des lieux où se noue la connexion entre le lieu et le sujet sur le mode de l’expérience individuelle et collective. Accéder au musée, se déplacer en son sein puis franchir la distance qui sépare l’observateur d’un objet difficile à comprendre comme l’est la Shoah : tels sont les passages obligés auxquels se confrontent les visiteurs des lieux étudiés. Les corps sont de plus en plus mis à l’épreuve des mémoires blessées par des dispositifs architecturaux et muséographiques qui favorisent le déséquilibre, les troubles et les vertiges de l’espace. L’usage des sons et du jeu lumière/ténèbres y est intense. L’architecture se veut volontiers anxiogène afin de reproduire le récit mémoriel développé par les institutions muséales. Ces lieux mettent en scène trois formes spatiales privilégiées : l’espace de méditation, sorte de « cabinet de réflexion » (p. 167), qui prépare le visiteur à devenir témoin et à transmettre ce qu’il vient de voir ; des micro-territoires de reconstitution (une rue de ghetto, un wagon à bestiaux, etc.) ; des espaces de sacralisation de la nature qui sont autant de lieux de purification, de ressourcement moral à la gloire du Créateur ou de l’État, selon les versions. Cette mythification de la nature n’est pas propre aux musées de la Shoah mais elle y joue un rôle essentiel. L’auteur montre ainsi que les micro-agencements muséaux, organisés à travers des seuils, des passages, des déambulations, des frontières, des discontinuités, traduisent et incarnent des récits chronologiques et muséographiques. L’expérience souvent douloureuse de ces lieux cherche à se rapprocher, sur un plan physique et émotionnel, des trajectoires individuelles des victimes et des diasporas européennes.

    La dernière partie de l’ouvrage est consacrée au tourisme de mémoire, c’est-à-dire aux destinataires de tels lieux. L’expérience muséale n’a pas la même signification que le visiteur soit étudiant, chercheur, touriste, enfant de rescapé, juif ou pas, etc. Dominique Chevalier tente alors une comparaison des publics pédagogiques, qui constituent partout la part la plus importante des visiteurs, sur la base de trois cas d’étude (Washington, Jérusalem et Paris). Puis elle se concentre sur le touriste dont elle souligne les similarités avec les autres touristes patrimoniaux, culturels et urbains. À l’inverse, le thanatotourisme (dark tourism) des lieux de massacre ne trouve pas là de terrain privilégié dans la mesure où la relation matérielle et historique avec les lieux de la catastrophe y est distendue.

    En conclusion, l’auteur, à travers l’exemple de la Shoah, a indéniablement réussi à démontrer que la mémoire constitue (aussi) un objet spatial, et ceci à plusieurs échelles. La mémoire produit de l’espace « en conjuguant le global au local, le général au particulier » (p. 209). Ces lieux permettent à leur manière la circulation de savoirs entre les lieux mêmes de la destruction des Juifs d’Europe et les autres lieux attestant diverses mémoires douloureuses. Ces musées, qui sont bien souvent des vitrines architecturales, sont des éléments de valorisation des territoires, outils et produits du marketing culturel et patrimonial performant. En effet, le propre de ces lieux n’est pas le contenu de leurs collections mais leur capacité à raconter une histoire difficile. Au total, cet ouvrage remarquable ouvre une foule de nouvelles pistes de réflexion, des formes de l’autonomie du sujet à l’invention sociale des territoires. Il mérite indéniablement d’être lu.
    #livre #mémoire #géographie #géographie_culturelle
    ping @reka

  • Amazon contre Alibaba et les 40 dragons

    Juin est le mois des courses de bateaux-dragons à Shanghaï comme à Chicago. On y voit des équipes de vingt pagayeurs parfaitement synchronisés filer sur leur pirogue à la proue de démon. Bateau-Dragon est aussi le nom de code du plan d’Amazon pour devenir un acteur global de la logistique. Comprenez un monstre d’efficacité et d’innovation dans le transport international de marchandises qui, un jour, dépassera tous les autres, y compris Alibaba et ses 40 dragons. Un géant de la logistique Quand Jeff (...) #Darty #Amazon #Amazon's_Prime #bénéfices #concurrence #marketing #profiling #DHL #UPS (...)


  • #erreurs_médicales en #Tunisie : #vide_juridique, impunité et omerta

    Avec un dispositif juridique insuffisant, un gouvernement qui traîne à adopter et soumettre au législateur un projet de loi et une omerta corporatiste, la crise du secteur de la #santé en Tunisie ne cesse de s’accentuer, notamment en favorisant l’impunité des erreurs médicales. Des proches de patients victimes témoignent.

    À ce jour, il n’y a pas de lois sanctionnant les erreurs médicales en Tunisie. En cas de #décès d’un patient par négligence médicale, faute d’une loi spécifique, les poursuites judiciaires se font conformément à l’article 217 du Code pénal portant sur l’homicide involontaire. Il punit de « deux ans d’emprisonnement et de 700 dinars d’amende, l’auteur de l’homicide involontaire commis ou causé par maladresse, imprudence, négligence, inattention ou inobservation des règlements ». Mais la question dépasse cette éventualité puisqu’il y a des erreurs médicales qui n’entraînent pas de décès. « Une erreur médicale est l’exécution d’une action non-conforme à l’action prévue, ou l’application d’un plan incorrect », ainsi est-elle définie par l’Organisation Mondiale de la Santé (OMS). Il s’agit donc d’un cadre juridique insuffisant pour certains dont Sara qui a perdu sa mère en 2016. D’après elle, l’anesthésiste a confondu deux seringues lors d’une opération, mais a gardé le silence au lieu d’informer le médecin en charge.

    Insuffisances du dispositif juridique

    « Lors de l’admission de ma mère à l’hôpital, le médecin nous a assuré que c’est une opération sans danger et qu’au bout d’une heure, elle sera de nouveau en bonne santé mais ce n’était pas le cas. Ce qui nous a poussés à chercher son dossier pour découvrir qu’il y a eu une erreur médicale. Mais on ne pense pas que les poursuites que nous avons engagé nous rendraient justice », nous confie Sara. Les erreurs médicales récurrentes durant les dernières années ont poussé le ministère de la Santé en collaboration avec le Conseil national de l’Ordre des Médecins et l’Association des Jeunes Médecins à élaborer un projet de de loi dont Nawaat a eu exclusivement une copie.

    L’incrimination de l’erreur médicale et l’indemnisation du patient sont les principaux apports du nouveau projet de loi actuellement en examen par le ministère de la Santé. Le projet a été finalisé le 25 janvier 2018 mais n’a pas encore été soumis à l’Assemblée des Représentants du Peuple. « Je pense qu’il n’a même pas été adopté au niveau du conseil ministériel. J’espère qu’il ne tardera pas à l’être car cette loi portant sur la responsabilité médicale et paramédicale est d’une importance capitale pour les patients ainsi que pour la sérénité du milieu médical », déclare le député Souhail Alouini, président de la commission de la santé et des affaires sociales à l’Assemblée des Représentants du Peuple. « J’ai eu le projet de loi pour lecture après la fin des travaux de la commission ministérielle et je pense que c’est un excellent travail. Concernant la caisse de dédommagement, je pense qu’il faudra trouver un système plus efficace car la formule adoptée ne sera pas suffisante et la participation des assurances doit être incluse, même pour le secteurs public », estime cet élu, également médecin.

    Déficit de communication et crise de confiance

    Au-delà du traitement clinique, un volet de la prise en charge médicale est généralement négligé en Tunisie, celui de la communication avec les patients et leurs familles. « Une meilleure communication dans la relation médecin-patient améliore habituellement le suivi des traitements, les résultats cliniques et la qualité de vie des patients. Mais cette relation est plutôt conflictuelle en Tunisie. Les médecins oublient souvent l’importance de créer un lien de confiance avec le patient ou ses parents, ce qui renforce le manque de confiance dans le corps médical », relève Amina Ben Hamoud, médecin diplômée de l’école de médecine de l’Université Jiao-tong, Shanghai. Et d’ajouter : « Il est très important d’accorder plus d’attention au rôle du patient dans des décisions médicales qui le concernent, puisque ça contribue à améliorer sa satisfaction, diminuer son anxiété et, par conséquent, éviter les erreurs médicales ».

    Parmi les témoignages concernant la communication avec les médecins, celui de Dorsaf Bedoui est le plus symptomatique. Son père, Belgacem, a été hospitalisé le 24 janvier 2016 et est décédé le lendemain à 66 ans. « C’est vrai que mon père n’allait pas bien mais nous n’avions pas d’autres choix que de faire confiance à son médecin et à la clinique. On ne s’attendait pas à ce qu’il nous quitte. Il fallait changer le stent qu’il avait depuis 2012 en urgence », se souvient Dorsaf, avant d’essuyer une larme et poursuivre : « Malheureusement, il est mort parce qu’il était admis dans l’une des cliniques impliquée dans l’affaire des stents périmés. Nous n’avons pas porté plainte tout simplement, parce qu’on sait que ça ne ramènera pas mon père en vie ».

    Omerta corporatiste

    Pour sa part, Dr Issam El Amri, président de l’Association Tunisienne d’Aide aux Victimes d’Erreurs médicales (ATAVEM), dénonce l’inexistence de quelconque recensement des erreurs médicales en Tunisie permettant d’estimer l’ampleur et la gravité du phénomène. Toutefois, il a relevé que le nombre de plaintes reçues par l’association a considérablement augmenté depuis près de 2 ans, surtout contre des médecins pratiquant la chirurgie esthétique, expliquant que de tels actes sont souvent pris en charge par des chirurgiens non spécialistes. Mohamed, 45 ans, a affirmé que l’ATAVEM est d’une grande aide. « J’ai perdu ma fille âgée de 5 ans en juillet 2018, je ne savais pas vers qui me tourner. Elle avait juste une simple fièvre au début. On était dans un hôtel, alors on a opté pour le médecin de l’hôtel. Il nous a assuré que tout va bien avant de lui prescrire une ordonnance avec des médicaments. Mais le soir elle n’arrêtait pas de pleurer et son état s’est détérioré. Alors, j’ai contacté le médecin de nouveau qui nous a proposé de la ramener à une clinique. Mais c’était trop tard. En route, elle a rendu l’âme », nous a-t-il confié.

    Bien que la sécurité du patient doive être la priorité des médecins, dans certains cas, les membres du corps médical soutiennent inconditionnellement leurs collègues. Ce soutien est souvent justifié par les conditions dans lesquels ils travaillent. De quoi empêcher un traitement du problème et prolonger l’impunité. « Une infirmière s’est tout simplement trompée de la dose à prescrire de chimiothérapie à ma sœur âgée de 35 ans, une dose huit fois supérieure à la prescription », nous a confié Lamia Jerbi. Et d’ajouter : « L’hôpital a tout fait pour cacher cette erreur. C’est vraiment dégoûtant. Ça a coûté à ma sœur sa vie. Depuis, notre famille a du mal à faire confiance aux médecins ».


    El Watan
    17 AOÛT 2018
    Le revirement précipité du ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche scientifique relatif à ses affirmations centrées sur le peu d’intérêt porté par l’université algérienne, au prix Nobel, ne changera pas l’image peu reluisante de l’université algérienne.

    Ses propos du 07 août 2018 nous rappellent ceux d’un autre responsable qui avait dit, toute honte bue, en 1996, « qu’il était prêt à fermer l’université algérienne », au moment des grèves des enseignants. Ces propos des deux responsables montrent le peu d’enthousiasme des décideurs algériens et notamment des responsables du secteur de l’Enseignement supérieur, pour tenter de donner une âme scientifique à l’université algérienne.

    Il est alors plus aisé de persister dans une rhétorique du « tout va bien », toujours appuyée par des données quantitatives « flamboyantes », faisant valoir de façon arrogante la massification en termes du nombre d’étudiants, d’établissements universitaires, d’enseignants, de revues scientifiques, etc., apparaissant comme le seul résultat majeur mis en avant par les responsables de l’université algérienne.

    Image peu reluisante des savoirs en Algérie

    Sauf à refuser de regarder la réalité en face, la fiction des savoirs est prégnante dans l’université algérienne. La fiction est une construction sociale qui permet d’affirmer, sans un examen critique, autocritique et détaillé de la réalité des savoirs dans notre pays, que tout va pour le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes.

    Ce mode d’appréhension des savoirs est « aveugle » et de surcroît, piteux. Il est dominé par le primat donné à la logique politico-administrative en matière de gestion et de communication. Celle-ci ne se limite pas à l’application des textes juridiques. Elle représente un véritable mode d’action, avec ses propres codes, ses propres espaces de pouvoir, s’imposant comme un moyen de fonctionnement hégémonique au sein de l’université, en éjectant à la marge la dimension scientifique et pédagogique.

    On ne parlera jamais à l’université de la hiérarchie scientifique, de sa valorisation, des libertés académiques, du mérite et de l’autonomie dans la gestion et le fonctionnement. Il semble que cela n’a pas de sens ! Il faut au contraire se faire tout « petit » pour ne pas froisser les susceptibilités des acteurs importants de l’université qui ont d’autres préoccupations plus importantes que celles de redonner de façon forte et déterminée la priorité aux savoirs, et rien qu’aux savoirs dans une société encore profondément sous-analysée, c’est-à-dire insuffisamment appréhendée dans toutes ses facettes.

    C’est pourquoi, les propos de M. Hadjar sur « l’inutilité » de tout prix Nobel pour l’université algérienne, en mettant sur le même plan, les élèves qui ont 19 et 10 de moyenne au baccalauréat, intègrent parfaitement les façons de faire de l’université algérienne : distribution tous azimuts des diplômes, plagiat, laxisme temporel pour la soutenance des doctorats, la primauté de l’administratif sur la science et la pédagogie, les violences multiples, le refus de toute reconnaissance sociale du travail assuré, pour privilégier de façon dominante la médiocrité « normalisée » et « institutionnalisée » qui se substitue au travail continu, à la rigueur et à l’émulation scientifique, seuls gages de réussite dans le champ des savoirs.

    « Restez tous les mêmes »

    Monsieur Hadjar a contribué à noircir davantage le statut des savoirs en Algérie, réfutant toute hiérarchie scientifique entre les jeunes bacheliers qui vont découvrir pour la première fois l’université. Le slogan au cœur de ses propos peut aussi être lu comme un appel implicite ou inconscient à toute absence d’efforts : « Restez tous les mêmes. »

    Alors qu’il faut constamment se remettre en question, s’inspirer en permanence, en son for intérieur, de cette phrase lumineuse du philosophe grec Socrate : « Je sais que je ne sais rien », pour se surpasser, M. Hadjar nous renvoie de façon expéditive à un égalitarisme affligeant et primaire, qui laisse perplexe sur le devenir des savoirs en Algérie. Pourtant, le développement des connaissances scientifiques est indissociable de la concurrence, de la critique constructive et des remises en question perpétuelles entre les chercheurs. Avouons humblement que nous en sommes loin !

    Déconsidérer de façon aussi maladroite le prix Nobel ne peut étonner les observateurs avertis du fonctionnement de l’université algérienne envahie par des certitudes et des prétentions, tout en étant, aujourd’hui, orpheline d’une production scientifique crédible, critique, libre, discutée et débattue collectivement. Peut-on encore se complaire dans la reproduction d’une université sans autre ambition, que celle de gérer les flux des étudiants, en continuant à se mouvoir de façon béate et silencieuse dans le statu quo ?

    Les propos du ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche scientifique nous semblent d’un défaitisme ravageur, renforçant le nivellement par le bas. Les prétendants au moindre effort, à la paix sociale, seront indéniablement confortés par ces déclarations publiques qui vont nécessairement marquer le fonctionnement au quotidien de l’université. Evoquer de façon aussi lapidaire et simpliste le prix Nobel, considéré dans toute sa banalité, c’est faire peu cas du travail immense et des multiples sacrifices pour celles et ceux qui ont eu à concourir pour cette distinction scientifique prestigieuse.

    Peut-on effacer, d’un trait de plume, l’histoire prestigieuse des différents prix Nobel ? Le silence et le respect auraient été, nous semble-t-il, de rigueur face à ces « monstres » scientifiques qui ont réussi le pari de révolutionner avec un courage intellectuel et une ténacité inouïs, les différents paradigmes scientifiques existants. On aurait applaudi M. Hadjar s’il avait, avec humilité, tiré sa révérence aux chercheurs scientifiques de haut niveau qui ont voué toute leur vie à la science, pour accéder à un tel niveau scientifique qui est celui du prix Nobel.

    Mohamed Arkoun, grand penseur algérien de l’islam, mort dans l’indifférence et le silence le plus total en Algérie, avait évoqué à juste raison, « la sainte ignorance » ou « l’ignorance institutionnalisée » qui s’interdit toute possibilité de comprendre dans sa complexité un fait social donné.

    Or, l’absence de toute référence historique aux grandes découvertes scientifiques dans le monde n’a sans doute pas permis au ministre de peser ses mots à propos du prix Nobel, pour comprendre les souffrances, les privations, les exclusions des hommes qui se sont rebellés contre l’ordre social pour imposer de façon courageuse et autonome les résultats de leurs recherches scientifiques respectives.

    A propos des classements des universités

    Si les classements des universités et des centres de recherche ont été l’objet de nombreuses critiques, il aurait été important que les décideurs les prennent en considération pour définir les stratégies nécessaires et pouvoir ainsi adopter les critères adéquats.

    Concernant le lien que fait le ministre entre le prix Nobel et le classement des universités, il importe de rappeler que le nombre de prix Nobel et de médailles Fields parmi les anciens élèves ne représente que 10% en matière des critères de classement Shanghai. Par contre, le nombre de prix Nobel parmi les chercheurs en exercice dans les universités est considéré comme un critère de qualité de l’institution avec une pondération de 20%. Les autres critères concernent le nombre des chercheurs, les publications (articles publiés dans Nature et Science, articles indexés et les plus cités dans leurs disciplines) et la performance académique au regard de la taille de l’institution.

    En outre, le ministre accorde une importance démesurée à la visibilité des travaux sur les sites web qu’il considère comme le principal critère dans le classement. Il affirme, à la conférence nationale des universités, « que l’ensemble des critères de classement ne tient pas compte de l’enseignement, mais de la conception et des contenus des sites électroniques des universités » et que « les instances internationales se basent dans leur classement sur le contenu des sites électroniques des universités et non sur la qualité de l’enseignement » (publié dans le site du ministère :

    S’il est vrai, en partie, que la visibilité des travaux sur le web est relativement importante, notamment dans le classement de Times Higher Education, cela ne suffit pas, évidemment, d’avoir un site bien fait avec une masse d’informations et de publications, contenant tout et n’importe quoi, pour être bien classé ! Car il s’agit, de prime abord, de rendre visible les connaissances scientifiques et techniques.
    En effet, 80% des critères adoptés par les autres classements des universités comme ceux de Shangai, Heeact, Global University Ranking, pour ne citer que ces quatre institutions, tiennent comptent de la qualité de l’enseignement. Aussi paradoxal que cela puisse paraître, tout en critiquant le classement mondial des universités, le ministre n’hésite pas à se féliciter quand une université algérienne gagne une place ou deux dans ce même classement. Ce qui lui permet de déclarer que « l’université algérienne va bien ! » (El Moudjahid, le 05 juillet 2018).

    De tels propos discréditent l’université algérienne. Ils banalisent la compétition et la production scientifique. Ils mettent mal à l’aise la communauté scientifique, qui devrait s’inscrire dans les critères académiques mondiaux fondés sur la qualité et l’excellence. Ils créent un sentiment d’angoisse auprès des nouveaux bacheliers. Enfin, de telles considérations renforcent le statu quo extrêmement prégnant dans les universités algériennes.

    Les propos du ministre de l’Enseignement supérieur auraient été plus pertinents en se focalisant sur le nécessaire encouragement des acteurs sociaux de l’université, dans le but d’accéder à un haut niveau scientifique, d’affirmer de façon forte la priorité politique de la recherche scientifique comme une activité incontournable et centrale pour une nation qui a pour prétention de rompre avec la rente pétrolière.

    C’est la lumière des sciences et non la violence de l’argent, qui permettra de donner plus de crédibilité et de dignité politique, culturelle et économique à la nation algérienne dans le monde. Or, la stagnation et la consommation mécanique et administrée de savoirs dans nos universités bloquent tout nouveau souffle novateur, pouvant donner un sens plus dynamique et autonome de la recherche scientifique dans notre société.

    In fine, en écoutant les propos du ministre à propos du prix Nobel et sa conception de l’université, nous comprenons pourquoi cette dernière opère une régression fulgurante et dangereuse, banalisée à l’extrême dans un contexte sociopolitique dominé profondément par la paix sociale, au sens où rien ne doit changer.


    Références :

    Arkoun, M. (2010), La question éthique et juridique dans la pensée islamique, Paris, Vrin, 2010.
    Salmi, J. & Saroyan, A. (2007), Les palmarès d’universités comme moyens d’action : usages et abus. Politiques et gestion de l’enseignement supérieur, 19, (2), 33-74.
    Stuart, D. (1995), Reputational Rankings : Background and Development, New Directions for Institutional Research, no 88.
    Eloire, F. (2010), « Le classement de Shanghai. Histoire, analyse et critique », L’Homme & la société, vol. 178, no. 4, 2010, pp. 17-38.

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