Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Yehuda Bauer and China

Yehuda Bauer has an op-ed about Burma and the futility of most ways of bringing down tyrants. I think his use of the name Burma is a reverse of the colonial-studies-theology: since Myanmar is the name insisted on by the native thugs, he prefers the good old colonial name of Burma, and he's right.

Bauer himself is quite something. He's in his early 80s, but has the intellectual curiosity of any intelligent 20-year-old, and the same vitality he had when I first studied under him, 25 years ago, all of which has him still at the cutting age of his field almost 50 years since he first got there - tho the field is of course vastly broader since then, since he's been working at it all those years.

The reality behind his op-ed is that China is probably the major malign power of our day. He's probably right. Well: Left. He's a good social-democrat, after all, who probably still defines himself as left. But no self respecting Left theologian of our day would talk as he does. By way of testing this, I just spent more than half an hour on the website of Johann Hari, one of the best journalists the Left has. His archive contains a catagory called "China", which sounds promising, until you notice the titles: How We Shop until Chinese Workers Drop, for example. (Hari has helpfully linked his other China articles to the bottom of that one). The synopsis of his thesis: That the Chinese regime is made up of brutal, murderous thugs, and it's all our fault - meaning we of the West, obviously.

Hari is an ideological foe of worthy stature, and I expect I'll argue with him from time to time. The point here, however, is that in his Weltanschauung, the Chinese (or Congolese, or whatever miserable country he visits) cannot really be as bad as they appear, they must be the lackeys of the real bastards, the Rich of the West in general, and if it's possible to be more specific, (the Americans, for example, or the Israelis), all the better.

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