'A Debate About Violence Vs. Non-Violence'

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china-liu-di-nov-2003.jpg A file photo shows Liu Di at her home in Beijing.

Beijing-based writer Liu Di, known by her former online nickname "Stainless Steel Mouse," rose to fame in 2002 after being sentenced to a year in jail for blogging about China's Internet restrictions as a university student. Since then, she has continued to write online about Chinese society. Here, in a commentary broadcast on RFA's Mandarin Service, she comments on violence, recent events in the Ukraine, and the fragility of dictatorial regimes:

We have seen massive changes brought about by the political opposition in Ukraine recently, with the deposition of President Viktor Yanukovych, and the announcement by parliament that presidential elections will be brought forward to May 25.

Taking this as a starting point, netizens have begun a debate about violence vs. non-violence [in bringing about change]. I have a one thing to add to this debate: All you obscenely violent revolutionary comrades should start a fight club.

Why? Because those who spend all day preaching violence online seem to be the types who have never been in a fight in their whole lives.

According to [Chinese blogger] Wu Li: Children who have experienced minor violence grow into adults who are more willing to negotiate and compromise, because they understand the effects of violence. Such people will be very, very cautious about using major force.

Mature adults have to suppress their wild inner child in the unconscious, only to allow it out as a last resort. Most of the time, they must rely on negotiation and compromise and exchange of interests to solve their problems.

However, they have also been at the receiving end of huge amounts of propaganda, even hate speech. For example, "the last battle for the future of China between the darkness and the light," and "class struggle."

Today, only children who lack the opportunity for a fight [with siblings] have nonetheless witnessed a lot of violence on television. While violence on television can have a cathartic effect ... people also become inured to it.

Neither does it increase people's understanding of violence and its consequences, nor does it improve people's ability to use and control violent tendencies.

A fight club would give them just that; the ability to experience violence first-hand in a controlled environment. After violence has been personally experienced, that obscene, fantasy-type violence may disappear.

Of course, there are other possibilities. In the novel "Fight Club," its role was to mobilize people and give an outlet to the subconscious instinct towards revolution, and in that sense is a form of antisocial sabotage.

But those who experienced and practiced violence at the fight club were more able to use and control it.... A fight club allows people to be more rational about violence.

However, it's not without risks. In the novel, the founder of the fight club gradually drifts into schizophrenia. More fragile and incomplete personalities may be driven mad by such an outlet, while healthy people are able to embrace their darker side.

Much in the same way, some events will cause a healthy country to become more vibrant, and a dictatorship to collapse.

Translated by Luisetta Mudie.


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