Liu Xiaobo and the Decline of China – by Brett Stephens – NYT

“The core mistake is to assume that values aren’t inputs. “The process of abandoning the ‘philosophy of struggle’ was also a process of gradual weakening of the enemy mentality and elimination of the psychology of hatred,” Liu wrote in a courtroom statement that would become his Nobel lecture (delivered in absentia).

“It was this process,” he added, “that provided a relaxed climate, at home and abroad, for Reform and Opening Up, gentle and humane grounds for restoring mutual affection among people and peaceful coexistence among those with different interests and values, thereby providing encouragement in keeping with humanity for the bursting forth of creativity.”

Creativity requires freedom. Ideas need room to compete and collide, free of social and legal penalties. As economies approach the creative frontier, the need for freedom expands commensurately. The gap between available information and necessary information needs to be as narrow as possible. Much of what is economically necessary information is also political information, making censorship and repression incompatible with the requirements of a dynamic economy.

Liu understood that the Chinese model of economic modernization without political reform was destined to fail: The insight is at the heart of the Charter 08 manifesto that landed him in prison. “The decline of the current system has reached the point where change is no longer optional,” it warned.As if to prove it really didn’t get the point of Liu’s teachings, Beijing moved quickly to censor stories about him and expressions of sympathy on the internet. But at least one pointed anonymous message got out to the Wall Street Journal reporter Nicole Hong. China boosters, take note:

You want to bury him

bury into the dirt

but you forget

he is a seed.”

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