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No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems Hardcover – February 1, 2012
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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A prominent Chinese intellectual and activist, Liu won international renown when he received the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. Currently, he is serving an 11-year sentence, his fourth imprisonment in the past 22 years. Originally selected by his wife, Liu Xia, this collection of essays and a sprinkling of poems covers two decades of Liu’s writings about politics, culture, and human and civil rights in contemporary China and details his transformation from bystander to observer to advocate. Though he is an equal in many respects to Václav Havel, who contributed a foreword to this volume, Liu is not as literary a figure. Instead, his voice is humble and inelegant, if vigorous. Liu’s style reflects his enthusiastic adoption of the Internet and his strong identification with netizens everywhere. His writing would be simply informative if his subjects were not so urgent and the clarity of his moral stance not so gem hard, crystal clear, and necessary, as when he writes, Let’s face it, the only way to live in dignity, inside this depraved society that we inhabit, is to resist. --Michael Autrey
The message contained in this book is so powerful that Liu has been imprisoned solely for exercising his right to free expression. The awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu is a testament to the strength of his message and to all the Chinese activists who sacrificed their lives and so much else in the pursuit of freedom and democracy in China. The essays of Liu Xiaobo have inspired freedom loving people not only in China but around the world. (Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic Leader)
Liu Xiaobo insists on "living in truth." Each time I re-read his astute essays and merciless self-dissections, I am struck again: here truly is a different kind of Chinese intellectual. The essential value of the essays in this volume springs from that very source: Liu Xiaobo lives in truth; he is different. (Ding Zilin, Founder of the Tiananmen Mothers)
Presented in a lucid and persuasive manner with obvious but well restrained moral passion, this book offers a leading Chinese intellectual dissident's thoughts over the past two decades on his persistent efforts to bring about a free, democratic and civilized China. Liu's engagé writings keep alive the modern Chinese tradition of intellectual pursuit of liberal democracy and constitute another page of individual struggle for human freedom and dignity. This book is for anyone who is concerned with a better China and a better world. (Josephine Chiu-Duke, University of British Colombia)
The massacre in Beijing in 1989 turned Liu Xiaobo, almost literally overnight, toward passionate pursuit of democracy, constitutional government, and respect for the dignity of the individual person. The quest has sent him to prison four times, yet he insists that he "has no enemies." Some day, I am sure, his works will be available in China for his fellow citizens to read and discuss. He has never let go of the present, and is sure to win the future. He belongs to China--just as China, in part, belongs to him. (Pu Zhiqiang, rights lawyer, Beijing)
The voice of Liu Xiaobo, though silenced in his motherland, is a voice that conveys the long-cherished aspirations of the Chinese people. It is our good fortune that we now have this voice in English translation which, while faithful to the original meaning, also preserves the power of his original message. (Ying-shih Yu, Princeton University)
Liu Xiaobo's brilliant essays express more than political dissidence in China. They do that too, heroically. But they are also the work of a first rate literary intellectual, whose ideas are of universal value. In three words: sharp, witty, and above all, humane. (Ian Buruma, author of Bad Elements: Chinese Rebels from Los Angeles to Beijing)
I am happy to learn that the selected writings of Liu Xiaobo are being published in a book entitled No Enemies, No Hatred. In 2008, when hundreds of Chinese intellectuals and concerned citizens inspired by Liu Xiaobo signed Charter 08, calling for democracy and freedom in China, I was personally moved and expressed my admiration for their courage and their goals in public. The international community also recognized Liu Xiaobo's valuable contribution in urging China to take steps towards political, legal and constitutional reforms by supporting the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to him in 2010. Considering the writer himself remains imprisoned, this book is a powerful reminder of his courage and his vision for a new China. I believe that in the coming years, future generations of Chinese will enjoy the fruits of the efforts that Chinese citizens today are making towards the introduction of a more open and responsible governance. I would also like to take this opportunity to renew my call to the Chinese government to release him and other prisoners of conscience. (The Dalai Lama)
Freedom of expression may be irritating to some, but its absence is harmful to all. Without the freedom of expression there can be no lasting progress because without critical voices in the society there is no protection against error and abuse in the exercise of power. Liu Xiaobo is paying a harsh price for speaking out. I invite you to read his work, as a tribute to his courage, and as an inspiration for your own. (Thorbjørn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee)
During the Nobel ceremony in December 2010, an empty chair was placed in Oslo City Hall to honor Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, whose outspokenness not only earned him the prize but a prison term as well. The award catapulted him to international stardom, shining a penetrating light on his own imprisonment much as he had often shined light on the troubles of his country. These essays provide an up-to-date account of the country's current political and cultural climate, touching on a wide array of issues from the plight of the Chinese farmer to the eroding spirituality of Chinese youth. The essays are tempered by poems, many of which are interwoven throughout the book to provide a much-needed calming effect. Yet Liu Xiaobo's widespread appeal comes not from his poetry, but in his ability to move beyond platitudes and deal in personal stories--e.g., the tale of a local police department's gross mishandling of the rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl and the protests that developed soon after. Equally powerful is the author's assault on China's closed society, noting that while prostitution is technically illegal in China, thanks to sexual suppression, China is now "number one in the world."...For the world that knew Liu Xiaobo only for his empty chair in Oslo, this much-needed book fills the void. (Kirkus Reviews 2011-10-01)
Liu, the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate currently imprisoned in China for "incitement to subvert state power," registers wide-ranging dissent against the Chinese system in these withering essays and stark poems ("From the grins of corpses/ you've learned/ that it is only death/ that never fails"). Included are manifestos and trial statements denouncing China's dictatorship and calling for human rights, free speech, and democracy. Other pieces criticize the subtler corruptions of a repressive society: the frenzied nationalism of the Beijing Olympics; mass evictions and child slavery; soulless urban youth; the craze for Confucius, whom the author views as a mediocrity whose legacy is a Chinese "slave mentality"; the guilty compromises that prodemocracy leaders--himself included--make to protect themselves. Liu's alienation comes through in his strong, if conflicted, identification with Western ideals, Madisonian politics, and crypto-Catholic religiosity ("we will have passion, miracles and beauty as long as we have the example of Jesus Christ")...Though personal and idiosyncratic at times, Liu's ringing universalist defense of democratic rights and freedoms will resonate with American readers. (Publishers Weekly 2011-10-03)
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It is a very personal account, and anyone who is interested in human rights should read this book, and understand why this admirable man of conscience is being held in jail
The book is a selection meant to "reflect the breadth of his interests and the range of his erudition" (p. xxi). It also includes poetry, some of it of very high quality.
His "political views" are rather standard fare: "bottom-up approach" by an emergent civil society bent on slowly asserting its role in the country: "China's transition toward a modern, free society must necessarily be gradual and tortuous, and the amount of time it will take might well be more than anyone estimates." (p. 21). At this level of generality one would wholeheartedly agree - with a sidelong glance to all those ringside coaches who'd want China to leap into full-fledged democracy tomorrow.
No revolution, however, ever managed to handle diversity as the movement became victorious - not even the American one, which required a Civil War to settle the unspoken issue of slavery. Gandhi himself failed and paid for it with his life. The core issue in China would seem to be diversity, from Urumchi to Lhasa, and every county in between. The author does not even seem aware of this problem - Xinjiang is not mentioned in the Index. Yet, if one wishes for a "bottom up" approach, one would want to reflect on how to handle emerging diversity. Just flagging the issue would have been important.
A chapter is devoted to "land issues". Rightly so, for the Chinese peasant has suffered most from the events of the last century, and its dispossession at the hands of the CCP was disgraceful. The angle of the author's attack, however, is a strange one. The farmers he quotes wanting to "repossess the land" are not those who intend to farm it, rather to sell it to speculators themselves (p. 36). Windfall gains are allocated conventionally - there is no "self-evident" entitlement, and the state (but not its officials) has a justified claim on a share.
Another section deals with urban development. The high-handed fashion authorities use to get the job done is despicable. The wanton destruction in search of the "modern image" is senseless - but probably not much different from what Haussmann did to Paris in the XIXth century. Building capitals "from scratch" is, however, a Chinese tradition going back at least two thousand years, and the quarters for the populace in the new were not much better that military camp barracks (see: The Early Chinese Empires: Qin and Han (History of Imperial China)), laid out so as to guarantee effective surveillance rather than in accordance to the whimsy of the occupants. What counts, however, is whether the current one-storied housing park might be rehabilitated at a reasonable cost. The design (often screened structures) and lack of infrastructure (water, sewer) as well as the overly extensive layout pose difficult, possibly intractable problems. If one wants to build a civil society "from the bottom up" these would be core self-help issues worth addressing.
On "China as a great power" the author's thoughts appear muddled. In the same essay he writes: "Westerners sometimes stir up the "China threat" as a way to warn themselves, but in terms of the actual world situation such a view is unnecessarily alarmist. China's infatuation with its "rise as a great nation" is primarily a recoil from its feelings of extreme inferiority in earlier times..." (p. 236). He goes on to say: "The Chinese Communists have abandoned their ideology and are not pursuing global military confrontation in the way the Soviets did." (p. 238). Yet he concludes: "When the "rise" of a large dictatorial state that commands rapidly increasing economic strength meets with NO EFFECTIVE DETERRENCE (my emphasis) from outside, but only an attitude of appeasement from the international mainstream..." (p. 239). How could one deter - by economic means?
There is a moralistic tone of some of his chapters (e.g. "The erotic carnival in recent Chinese history"). One just needs to read some of the comments the Ancient Greeks made, or Confucius, about declining contemporary moral and sexual standards to see that nothing has changed under the sun. Not even Queen Victoria was her father's daughter (see: The Victorians): I'd take jeremiads about loose morals with a goodly (if not godly) pinch of salt. One would at least need to know how pervasive of all groups of Chinese society such a change is - or is it just trenzy froth?
The Chapter on Confucius is remarkable, and one would have wished the editors had included more such insightful pieces, rather than ephemeral ones like those on the uses of the internet.
Summing up, clearly the author is wholly ethically engaged. This is his great strength, and as a person he deserves our full respect and admiration. Analytically, however, his thinking is rather superficial (even Western mainstream conventional) and, what's more relevant, distant from the grassroots of his own country. When Gandhi returned from South Africa he travelled widely to learn issues first hand. There is no indication that the author did more than virtual travel on the internet. His failure e.g. to engage in this book with the extraordinary progress, yet invisibleness, of women in China underscores my point - not that his wife Tao Li failed to draw his attention to this (p. 124).
This brings me to the last remark, addressed to the editors - presumably the author was not involved in the choice of the articles to be included. LIU's views on international issues (the role of the US in Iraq, or the Palestinian-Israeli issue) are rather remarkable - in view of his overarching concern for "matters such as the fate of humanity, the future of the globe, or fulfillment in the lives of individual human beings" (p. 118). He is entitled to them, of course, but if the book is a tribute to the man - and not the icon - one regrets that this aspect of his thinking has been carefully elided.