Their cause is idiotic but I defend their right to assemble

I’VE listened to 2GB blowhards raving on all day against 1) the proposed BLM protests; and 2) the Queensland Premier’s decision to maintain border restrictions. The whataboutism of Ray Hadley and his stablemates is no less irrational than the inconsistencies of our “medical officials.” In any case, the NSW government didn’t bring this action in the Supreme Court to control the (non-existent) community transmission of COVID-19. No, they brought it to maintain a charade. Put simply, Gladys Berejiklian was persuaded the political cost of a lockdown double-standard would be far bigger than any damage done by shutting down a race grievance gathering. What Italy was at the start of coronavirus hysteria, America became this week in the local reading of electoral costs and benefits in relation to Floyd-mania. Australia’s current leaders are the worst, shallowest, dumbest and most easily distracted in history. Back to the court decision : I like the sugar hit of schadenfreude as much as the next man but I cannot celebrate a ruling that presumes to “ban” Australians from their own streets to say whatever it is they want to say. Good luck to the BLM clowns if they choose to defy the court.

Posted in Freedom | 95 Comments

Legal use of force by private citizens in the US

The legal situation in the US re violence and protection of self and property.

[1.] In all states, you can use deadly force to defend yourself against death, serious bodily injury (which can include broken bones and perhaps even lost teeth), rape, or kidnapping, so long as (a) your fear is reasonable and (b) the danger is imminent.

[2.]  In basically all states, you can use nondeadly force to defend your property—and if the thief or vandal responds by threatening you with death or great bodily harm, you can then protect yourself with deadly force

And in some states, you don’t even need to expose yourself to such increased risk, if you reasonably fear at the outset that nondeadly protection of property would be too dangerous. In those states, to quote the Model Penal Code formulation (which some have adopted), deadly force can be used [under various circumstances].

There was a long delay before this came  up as a post so it is in the open thread in case it did not appear here.

Posted in American politics, property rights, Rafe, Rule of law | 42 Comments

Not only are the media lying to us about everything, everyone knows it

Does anyone really believe that people supporting Black Lives Matter are not on the left? Does anyone anywhere seriously believe that the media ever say anything that would diminish the possibility of defeating Donald Trump in November? It is astonishing to witness it for myself, but everyone on the left lies.

I no longer ever have to discuss politics with anyone on the left since I know exactly what they will believe about every issue, and I will also know which issues they are worrying about at any moment in time, by watching the ABC or reading the local press. So this story is news to no one: The Media Are Lying To You About Everything, Including The Riots. But it’s no more noteworthy than to be told that in the middle of a battle, the other side will be aiming cannon shot at their enemies across the battle lines, and that every one of the soldiers lining up inside their trenches are one hundred percent behind their artillery.

Democracies work when both sides see politics as a contest between groups with different possible solutions to whatever happen to be the social issues of our time where both can and do contribute. Democracy does not work if those on one of the sides in a political struggle refuses to accept there is any merit at all in the proposals being put forward by the other side. That is where we find ourselves today. No one with an ounce of sense or reflection anywhere believes or believed any of the following, but everyone I know on the left will say that they do:

1) Russia tipped the scales of the American election in favour of Trump.
2) Global warming is an urgent issue that requires us to subvert our system of power generation.
3) Something happened in the Ukraine – who knows what? – that proved – again who knows what? – that Donald Trump should not be president.
4) The Chinese Virus did not originate in China, but wherever it arose, now requires us to shut down our economy until there is no longer even the slightest danger that anyone might die from its effects.
5) A black man was murdered by a white policeman right in front of large number of witnesses, many of whom were carrying mobile phones through which they could record the event, which has exposed massive racist beliefs across the United States and elsewhere that require major levels of civil disorder and rioting to achieve something, although no one exactly knows what that is.

How monstrously stupid people would have to be to believe any of this! Anyone with an IQ over around 95 is perfectly aware this is all just politics on behalf of some objective. Those who push these arguments just want to win power for themselves and for their side. It’s all very well to demonstrate that they are wrong, but it will not settle any of the battles going on today. Almost none of it is about reason and debate. Especially in the US, we are into mob violence that transcends public discourse and finding accommodation between two views.

There is no debate. The issue is to convince a vast majority they have much to lose and nothing to gain by lining up with these mobs, which are given support through institutional forces such as politicians on the left, the media and the academic world, all of whom know so far as each issue goes, the truth is not represented by what they say. They just believe there are bigger issues involved, although what they are cannot be explained.

What is essential for us is to demonstrate that those on the left have an agenda and mean to put their agenda into practice. What we must therefore do on our side is expose that agenda, what the end-point consists of. All of this, from items 1 to 5 are means for the left to achieve their ends that have nothing to do with political justice, racism or less pollution. If we neglect to highlight their agenda and continue to deal only with their tactical issues, we will be overwhelmed.

The argument must be based on explaining why are they lying and what the left is trying to achieve. What must be the core of our own agenda is to explain why there is nothing gained for anyone by falling for the individual issues of the left. If the majority cannot see in the devastation wracking cities all over the United States that there is nothing but ruin in following the agenda of the left, then we will be swept into the dustbin of history sooner than you might ever have believed possible.

Posted in Politics of the Left | 52 Comments

The Ku Klux Karonavirus

Democrat Mark Levine is the Chairman of the New York City Council health committee:

Along with dracula duo Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, he presided over one of the most heinous crimes against humanity in American history: the malicious warehousing of the COVID-positive elderly in nursing homes where they infected-to-death thousands. Like his two infamous principals, Devine – founder of the Barack Obama Democratic Club of Upper Manhattan – has never apologised.

Posted in Politics of the Left, Tough on Crime, tough on criminals | 22 Comments

Boris G: Were lockdowns justified? What’s the reference?

Initially, when people witnessed exponential rise in death toll, public opposition to lockdowns was extremely limited. But as the threat appears to have passed in most western countries, the patience runs out, and economic impact becomes apparent, views questioning and even condemning lockdowns have become an integral part of the mainstream debate. Unfortunately, a lot of the debate on this issue has been either highly emotional or ideologically driven, or both. Data are often included but if data are not consistent with one’s views, then some even say data is wrong, manipulated etc.

But let’s try to look at it objectively. I will take a data driven approach and will take data as imperfect as it is.

So, when are lockdowns justified? Some civil libertarians say never: most mandatory lockdown measures in peacetime are unlawful, unconstitutional etc., and the right approach should only involve voluntary measures. But it appears that most opponents of lockdowns are closer to the view expressed by Donald Trump: the cure shouldn’t be worse than the disease.  This implies that lockdowns could be justified if the disease (potential death toll) is really bad. Most critics of lockdowns are of this view; they just do not see Covid-19 as dangerous enough to justify lockdowns.

So, it comes down to the question: what is the potential death toll that justifies lockdowns? We can estimate this reference number N in a number of ways. Let’s specifically talk about the US, which in its views on lockdowns is now split right down the middle.

One reference that was mentioned in early debates was a million deaths in the US (or N1=3,000 per million of population). This number is not based on any science, it is just a big number many people do see as horrific and to be avoided at all costs. Incidentally, 3,000 per million people was the US death toll in the three and a half years of the Second World War. I am sure there will be those who will question this number as unacceptable but let’s keep it as one possible reference.

Another reference comes from influenza deaths. Over i=34,000 Americans are estimated to have died from influenza in 2018-2019 season, and this is apparently typical. Of course, they never shut down the economy for a bad influenza season, so 2 or 3 times the influenza death toll won’t justify lockdowns. But ten times? Maybe. Then let’s set another reference as 300,000, or N2=1,000 deaths per million people.

Then there is economic analysis. Economists say that a modern way to estimate how much an average life is worth is based not on the earning potential (that’s an old method) but on how much people themselves are prepared to pay to reduce the risk of their own death. Apparently, governments use this number to assess the importance of various safety regulations. US federal agencies estimate the life of an average American to be worth about L=$10 million. And it is not dependent on age even though you would think someone who has life expectancy of 2 years should be worth less than a 20 years’ old… but this is not taken into account in such calculations or it would lead to all sorts of unintended consequences (they say putting price on life is already controversial).

Based on this, we can estimate the number of projected deaths that would justify lockdowns by dividing the total economic damage E from lockdowns by cost of life L. The trouble is that it is very hard to know the total economic impact of lockdowns, or more precisely, the marginal impact of lockdowns compared to the impact of voluntary measures like in Sweden. One obvious way is to compare economic impact in Norway, Denmark or Finland compared to Sweden. But this wouldn’t be fair. Sweden is part of the EU and is affected not just by the domestic situation but also by lockdowns across Europe. One Australian economist says he estimates the cost of lockdowns in Australia to be about E=AU$100 billion. I have no idea how he got this number, looks like he took it out of thin air, but let’s think of it as a data point. Apparently, Australian governments (federal and state) use the lower cost of life than the US: L=AU$5 million (US$3.3 million; this isn’t because an Australian life is worth 3 times less than an American one; it is just they use a slightly different methodology). This will mean that Australian lockdowns would be justified if projected deaths were N=E/L=20,000, or about N3=800 deaths per million. So, we get the number again in the same (not so wide) interval between N1 and N2. An advantage of N3 as a reference (compared to N1 and N2) is that it is based on a real quantitative analysis. Its disadvantage is that cost of life L is somewhat abstract and poorly and defined while marginal cost of lockdowns E is very hard to estimate.

Now, were numbers of deaths N1, N2 or N3 in America realistic? Or more precisely, was it realistic to expect such a death toll in America without lockdowns? Early on, there were models that projected over 2 million deaths if nothing was done (and this number was repeated by Donald Trump in justification of his support of lockdowns at some point). While such projections were done with advanced models, you could get this number if you expect say 70% of people infected and mortality of one per cent. These numbers have been questioned by sceptics. But this is a moot point. It is a false dichotomy. Most opponents of lockdowns do not advocate doing nothing; they advocate voluntary measures such as in Sweden. Until now, Sweden has had over 450 deaths per million people compared to 100 per million for Denmark, 56 per million in Finland and 45 per million in Norway. Given that these countries are very similar in many ways, one can say that lockdowns reduce the number of fatalities (per million people) by a factor of 4 to 8.

The US has just reached 100,000 confirmed deaths (300 per million people) and counting. No doubt it will reach (or get close to) 400 per million people. If we multiply this number by 8, we get over N1, the emotionally unacceptable number (and above the economic-based reference N3).

If we multiply it by 4, we get 500,000 (or over 1500 per million), which is above our lower estimate N2 (but not by very much), but below N3 and N1. This is still a very big number (20 times the number of flu deaths in a season). Personally, I think this justifies lockdowns but not unequivocally.

But this isn’t the whole story. New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have already exceeded 1000 deaths per million. Multiply this by a modest factor of 4, and you get 4000 deaths per million people, which is higher than our upper bound N1=3000 per million people. Thus, strict lockdowns in these states appear to be fully justified.

And what about Sweden itself? Did the voluntary measured work there? Critics would point out the stark differences between the death toll between Sweden and its neighbours (most dramatically shown in the plot linked to above) to condemn the Swedish approach. But this is a wrong comparison! By this approach, Finland bungled it completely as its death toll is 10 times worse than Australia’s (4 fatalities per million people). We should compare it to the agreed reference numbers N1, N2 or N3, not against other countries. By this measure, Sweden’s eventual death toll is likely to be somewhere around 500 per million people, which is two times lower than N2, the lowest of the three reference numbers. And clearly, Sweden has flattened the curve and avoided overwhelmed health system. Many people would still say they would prefer to be in Finland than Sweden… but this opinion might not be shared by unemployed Finnish cooks, day care workers or sauna operators… Let’s stick to our reference numbers and avoid emptions.

So, if the Swedish experience is a qualified success, isn’t it the right approach for all other places? Not necessarily. We now know that even in many places that are in lockdown (New York, New Jersey, the UK etc.) the current death toll is already higher than in Sweden. This does not mean that lockdowns increase the death toll; it means that conditions are different in different countries, be it population density, age structure, lifestyle, health system capacity, climate, virus strain etc. As discussed earlier, the lockdowns are likely to reduce the death toll by at least a factor of 4, and thus bring the death toll to an acceptable level.

Several additional points need to be made:

  1. Another reference suggested by my daughter is the number of hospitalisations that would overwhelm the health system. Early on, there were concerns about availability of intensive care units and lung ventilators. Then the concern shifted to lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers and nursing home staff. In the end, we know that the hospitals were overwhelmed in Wuhan and in parts of Northern Italy but apparently not in many other places. But data on this is patchy and confusing so it is very hard to calculate this reference even across the western world. One thing is clear. Initial concerns about overwhelmed health systems were based on exponential growth of infection rates. It is now clear that no exponential growth occurs in countries where only voluntary Sweden-style social distancing measures are in place. Sweden’s infection rate changed from exponential to linear about four weeks into the epidemic, and its health system was never overwhelmed. That is a good thing. That this linear trend has until now continued without much of a slowdown is the downside.
  2. Were /are lockdowns justified in places with much smaller death toll and rate of infections, such as in some rural US states or Australia? We will never know if these death toll numbers would have eventuated in Australia. This virus is rather mysterious; it is not entirely clear why, say, Greece has completely escaped it while Italy was hit so hard. Yes, the Greek government acted swiftly but is it all there is to it? Why there are very few deaths in Lebanon and Jordan and, apparently, zero in Vietnam? Why did California come out relatively lightly even though it was one of the first states to get infection, was completely unprepared and has a large population of homeless people? It may be that Australia would have never gotten it anyway. But maybe it was reasonable for the government to expect to be hit similarly to Italy, especially with our close ties with China as well as Italy. So, from the precautionary point of view, this seems to have been a reasonable step to take.
  3. In the above brief analysis, I only looked at the death rate and economic damage. The virus effect is broader. Many people suffered severely but survived. Others were left with lasting injuries. Likewise, the damage from lockdowns is not just economic. It is also psychological, emotional, social and physical (lack of exercise), etc. etc. In this sense, my analysis is simplistic and incomplete, as it counts the first-order effects only. I believe the input parameters and hence the estimates have such a large uncertainty that any attempts to include all these other important factors would be pointless.
  4. What about poor countries where people rely on a daily wage to get food (or like in some areas of Peru, they don’t have fridges, so they need to buy food daily – and this is not even Africa!)? Well, these countries need to make a different calculation and may have to make different choices.
  5. And what about herd immunity? Could it be that Sweden will be immune from further waves, while Finland will be hit hard and will eventually get a similar number of deaths? Well, even if this were true, by the time the second wave hits, we may have a cure or a vaccine, or, the virus mutates into a more benign strain. In any case, hospitals and nursing homes will be better prepared.
  6. And finally, what about opening up? Many countries are now gradually opening up. Is this reasonable or reckless? Critics say new outbreaks are inevitable; a recent example is in Seoul, where, in response to a new and relatively large outbreak, authorities have closed all schools and shut down entertainment venues. The true picture won’t emerge for a few weeks after the beginning of opening up in many European countries but it is already becoming apparent that outbreaks may occur but will more than likely be manageable and won’t even come close to the reference numbers N1, N2 or N3. Thus, in my view, Australian states have been way overcautious in their reopening. They forgot that the lockdowns were, ostensibly, to flatten the curve and avoid overwhelming the health system, not to eliminate the virus altogether or avoid a single extra death.
Posted in COVID-19, Guest Post | 75 Comments

David Bidstrup: Excuse me while I vomit.

I have been trying to turn off from the drivel that our “leaders” spout about “the virus” and how smart they have been in “beating it”. The smoke is clearing a bit now to reveal the magnitude of the economic fuck up that was apparently required to avoid countless millions of folk dying a grisly death but this morning’s Australian had a front page photo that has destroyed my fragile equanimity.

There is the treasurer looking suitably statesmanlike, with flags waving on each side as he announced that we were in recession, but it was the caption that tipped me over the edge:

“We’ve climbed this mountain before, we’ll climb it again”

I did not have the strength to read the rest of the story but I am sure there would have been a few “unprecedenteds”, perhaps some mention that we are “all in this together” and the latest decisions by the “national cabinet” – that mysterious body, strangely absent from mention in the constitution, that is comprised of the idiots that run each sovereign state and who are unable to agree on the time of day and some idiots from the federal government.

What I find most offensive is the faux hairy chested stuff about how “we” will prevail when it is clear that the politicians who fomented this national disaster and their public service “experts” will be excused from any “mountain climbing” while thousands who have lost jobs, houses, families and hope will be trying to get up the north face alive but probably falling to their deaths on the way.

This situation has shown the perils of our “commonwealth” where the states are sovereign and the federation was an optional extra, agreed to over 100 years ago, whereby a “federal” government would have defined responsibility to manage some things that all states needed in common.  Section 51 lists them but mission creep over time has blurred the edges. We have a commonwealth “Chief Medical Officer” and each state and territory jurisdiction has one as well. This is just one thing among many.

We now have the farcical situation where members of the “national cabinet” have decided that they will maintain closed borders, (in contravention of section 92), and other Orwellian things even though it is clear to blind Freddy that the coast is now clear.  There is cabinet solidarity when the feds set the emergency agenda and fund the various “packages” meant to stop folk from fossicking in the garbage for food, but none when someone wants to take their power away.

To put it bluntly, the Covid-19 response was a cock-up that was completely unnecessary and which has done great damage to a lot of people. Happy mountaineering everyone, don’t expect any help from the elites.

Posted in Guest Post | 28 Comments

Internal Quality Control

Ok.  TAFKAS is not a fan of President Trump, but he does not go around blaming President Trump for every single problem under the sun.  Take for example the George Floyd matter.  Given some of the commentary, you’d think President directed the Minneapolis police.

But writing in today’s Oz is this nugget of stupidity from Niki Savva writing about the subject:

The Opposition Leader, campaigning in Googong, near Queanbeyan, for the July 4 Eden Monaro by-election, pointed the finger at US President Donald Trump. Ditto to all of that. And then some.

The opposition leader pointed the finger at President Trump for the events and Niki Savva agreed with a cherry on top.  And this nugget came from an article titled:

A word of advice: Don’t go to Trump’s G7, Scott Morrison

Why would anyone take your advice Niki?

No doubt the George Floyd killing is horrible, but perhaps before typing her nonsense Savva should have read the Australia’s cousin publication the Wall Street Journal where Heather MacDonald wrote this:

In 2019 police officers fatally shot 1,004 people, most of whom were armed or otherwise dangerous. African-Americans were about a quarter of those killed by cops last year (235), a ratio that has remained stable since 2015. That share of black victims is less than what the black crime rate would predict, since police shootings are a function of how often officers encounter armed and violent suspects. In 2018, the latest year for which such data have been published, African-Americans made up 53% of known homicide offenders in the U.S. and commit about 60% of robberies, though they are 13% of the population.

The police fatally shot nine unarmed blacks and 19 unarmed whites in 2019, according to a Washington Post database, down from 38 and 32, respectively, in 2015. The Post defines “unarmed” broadly to include such cases as a suspect in Newark, N.J., who had a loaded handgun in his car during a police chase. In 2018 there were 7,407 black homicide victims. Assuming a comparable number of victims last year, those nine unarmed black victims of police shootings represent 0.1% of all African-Americans killed in 2019. By contrast, a police officer is 18½ times more likely to be killed by a black male than an unarmed black male is to be killed by a police officer.

But never let the data get in the way of a good narrative.

Posted in Uncategorized | 17 Comments

No thank you

Well TAFKAS never.  In today’s AFR, Tony Boyd writing as Chanticleer suggested that:

It would be smart for the national cabinet to follow the lead of tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes, who views the global recession as an ideal opportunity to expand his business.

How do you say it …. HELL NO.

Now is certainly not the time for the National Cabinet to expand it’s business.

During the financial crisis Atlassian, in effect, offered one of its key software platforms used by business customers for free. Cannon-Brookes says this hit revenue in the short term but it underpinned a decade of expansion.

Yes.  Get’em liking your product, like welfare, and when they are hooked, milk it for “a decade of expansion“.  Yeah.  No again.

And another thing says Canon-Brookes:

We started hiring as much as we could in a weaker environment. As other people were letting staff go we were hiring.

Yeah.  No again.  Australian governments already employ 4 times the population of Tasmania.  No more no how.

Perhaps, rather than lionising the bearded oracle, he and his very profitable company be treated as similar pariahs as the other tech companies that minimise their tax in Australia.  In 2018:

Australian agile poster child Atlassian, which had a taxable income of $138 million on $1.04 billion in revenue.

But still paid NO tax:

Tech darling Atlassian paid zero tax in Australia despite drawing in more than $1bn in local revenue, after using research and development tax credits to offset $137m in taxable income.

The New York-listed software company was among the 21 per cent of 2000 large companies and multinationals operating in Australia that paid no tax during the 2017-18 financial year, according to the fifth annual report on corporate tax transparency, published by the Australian Taxation Office on Thursday.

Where is Emma Alberici?

It must be the beard and hat that confuses the journos.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Windwatch report 4 June. Wind crashes to 1% of demand and negative in Victoria

Update this evening, at the peak of demand between 6 and 7 and the sun off duty. The wind edged up to 10% of installed capacity to provide 740MW that was 2.5% of demand. Coal and gas kicked in 82% and hydro 15%.

At 9pm wind has improved to reach 3.6% of demand but Victoria is still in the red, draining 5.7MW from the grid, not a huge amount of power I suppose as long as the coal clunkers keep going to provide it.

Interesting wind today, after roaring winds on the weekend and into Monday a decline started on Monday and after a meandering downhill run the supply bottomed at 3pm this afternoon at 3.2% of installed capacity and 250MW. That was 1% of the demand, surely close to a record!

In Victoria, the new wind leader for installed capacity (2.77GW) the contribution was negative after 12.15 (-5.6MW  at 2pm) and it was still negative at 7pm.

Tasmania, the battery of the nation, was being charged at 2.00 but has since turned around and is delivering to Victoria that is the usual state of affairs.

Trouble in the solar paradise of Queensland as well.

As Paul McArdle of WattClarity saysthe NEM* is becoming increasingly dependent on the weather

Saturday week ago in Queensland was cold enough to break records. Brisbane “only” made it up to 17.9C (64F). It hasn’t been that cold there in May for 40 years. At the same time a band of cloud covered the populated slice of the state.

The cloud cover meant all the large solar “farms” in Queensland — with a total rated capacity of 1.7GW — produced only 79MW as an aggregate average daily output.

Posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe | 9 Comments

Remember, remember the fourth of June

What to know about Tiananmen Square on the 30th anniversary of the ...

It may not rhyme but you should remember it all the same. These were protestors with a genuine mission, bravely seeking change in the face of a tyrannical government that sent tanks out onto the street. What they sought in China is what we already have but which so many of our own “protesters” are prepared to squander. For those on the streets in Beijing and elsewhere, this was known as the Chinese Democracy Movement. Our “protesters” here would be the ones ordering the tanks onto the streets in Beijing. They would be the ones who are trying to suppress the pro-democracy, pro-freedom protesters, no quotation marks there, in Hong Kong today. What you see below is from Wikipedia. It should be a reminder of what’s really at stake.

The Tiananmen Square protestsTiananmen Square massacre, or the Tiananmen Square Incident, commonly known as the June Fourth Incident (Chinese六四事件pinyinliùsì shìjiàn in mainland China, literally the six-four incident), were student-led demonstrations held in Tiananmen Square in Beijing during 1989. The popular national movement inspired by the Beijing protests is sometimes called the ’89 Democracy Movement (Chinese八九民運pinyinbājiǔ mínyùn). The protests started on April 15 and were forcibly suppressed on June 4 when the government declared martial law and sent the military to occupy central parts of Beijing. In what became known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre (Chinese天安門大屠殺pinyintiān’ānmén dà túshā), troops with assault rifles and tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military’s advance into Tiananmen Square. Estimates of the death toll vary from several hundred to several thousand, with thousands more wounded.[2][3][4][5][6][7]

Set off by the death of pro-reform Communist general secretary Hu Yaobang in April 1989, amid the backdrop of rapid economic development and social changes in post-Mao China, the protests reflected anxieties about the country’s future in the popular consciousness and among the political elite. The reforms of the 1980s had led to a nascent market economy which benefited some people but seriously disaffected others, and the one-party political system also faced a challenge of legitimacy. Common grievances at the time included inflation, corruption, limited preparedness of graduates for the new economy,[8] and restrictions on political participation. The students called for greater accountability, constitutional due process, democracy, freedom of the press, and freedom of speech, although they were highly disorganized and their goals varied.[9][10] At the height of the protests, about 1 million people assembled in the Square.[11]

As the protests developed, the authorities responded with both conciliatory and hardline tactics, exposing deep divisions within the party leadership.[12] By May, a student-led hunger strike galvanized support for the demonstrators around the country, and the protests spread to some 400 cities.[13] Ultimately, Deng Xiaoping and other Communist Party elders believed the protests to be a political threat and resolved to use force.[14][15] The State Council declared martial law on May 20 and mobilized as many as 300,000 troops to Beijing.[13] The troops advanced into central parts of Beijing on the city’s major thoroughfares in the early morning hours of June 4, killing both demonstrators and bystanders in the process.

The international community, human rights organizations, and political analysts condemned the Chinese government for the massacre. Western countries imposed arms embargoes on China.[16] The Chinese government made widespread arrests of protesters and their supporters, suppressed other protests around China, expelled foreign journalists, strictly controlled coverage of the events in the domestic press, strengthened the police and internal security forces, and demoted or purged officials it deemed sympathetic to the protests.[17] More broadly, the suppression ended the political reforms since 1986 and halted the policies of liberalization in the 1980s, which were only resumed partly after Deng Xiaoping’s Southern Tour in 1992.[18][19][20] Considered a watershed event, the protests set the limits on political expression in China up to the present day.[21] Its memory is widely associated with questioning the legitimacy of Communist Party rule and remains one of the most sensitive and most widely censored topics in China.[22][23]

Posted in Freedom, Politics of the Left | 15 Comments