Nathan Gardels at Noema:

The old hierarchical system, in which the custodians of perception could impose an authoritative narrative, is doomed by the democratization of information. Just as, historically, the bourgeoisie created the space for civil society vis-à-vis royal absolutism in Europe, and just as women are today the makers of a democratic public sphere vis-à-vis theocracy and patriarchy in the Islamic world, so too the social networks of digital connectivity are the makers of an autonomous civil society in today’s China.


No one in the present leadership misses the fact that, with hundreds of millions of netizens, China’s cybersphere is the Tiananmen Square of the 21st century, with all the historical resonance that implies. To try to extinguish this incipient public space outside the Party-state, instead of accommodate it as a critical feedback loop for good governance, would be to invite the very fate of the Soviet Union they are so obsessed with avoiding