A Reflection of World Politics based on the video “The Tank Man” (http://www. youtube. com/watch? v=SB70mWXrzEE) I have a reason to believe that the world was made for the satisfaction of those living in it, especially man – the highest in the hierarchy of species. It is never the other way around. In the same sense, government was formed for the benefit of the people, even war was called for the common good and justice of men. But the word ‘satisfaction’ is so broad and quite relative. It may mean ‘hedonism’ if you use id, it may mean ‘utopianism’ if you use ego or it may mean ‘nirvana’ if you use super ego.
But in politics, ‘satisfaction’ means to indulge in your interests, material or ideal. But the question is, “who controls the tool to satisfy everybody? ” The video clip was a real life encounter with death. It is sensational. A simple, ordinary individual stopped the tanks without getting harmed. Almost impossible to believe, considering how hostile Chinese authorities are (in the news). The tank man’s act was a defiance of ‘power’, power which in its literal meaning a right vested in the state to use force.
I thought, if power only constitutes military forces, intellect, political influence and wealth, the drivers of the tanks would have shrugged their shoulders and run the engines of the tank to hit the man. They would have not stopped. This just shows, an individual can exercise power by virtually collecting the sympathy of the world. Its called influence, power without accountability. The oppressed proletariats of the capitalist society stirred Karl Marx’s thoughts expressed in his book ‘The Communist Manifesto’. It gave birth to other authoritarian ideologies that brought the world to wars (ex.
Nazi Germany, Fascist Japan, Communist Russia). From a few, from their concerted efforts, came competition for power. It is unwise to disregard them. Individuals complete the whole of humankind. This whole creates governments to represent them. If the government fails to carry out their mission, its existence will someday be dissolved by the whole, the whole composed of individuals. In the same way, it is irrational to underestimate the impact of the ‘tank man’. China was aware of this, learning upon history. That is why they surveyed the buildings near that place and searched for videos to clear the evidence.
Due to technology and global communication that enhanced interdependence among countries, it is good to hear that communist states are no longer as isolated as they seem. States are now porous. At that captured moment, the audience was the world and the tank man was the actor. As I witness a mysterious man, bravely stands in front of the moving tank, ‘alone’, I knew it was more than a protest. I was so moved by the scene, I almost cry due to mixed emotions. About the idea that he set aside the value of his life for a personal demonstration. It disturbs me deep down to see how he mocked the giants.
It felt like I was interpreting a painting, not just a mere video. He was so determined yet so fragile. That subtle intangible power challenged the tangible power. There was no sign of force on either side, its like potential energy on both sides. No violence, just violent feelings. If you watch a man, willing to risk his body as an offering, would you take the pleasure of killing him? Would you hurt a madman? You will start to think twice. But you will also ask yourself, ‘why would a sane man be crazy enough to do that? ‘ That sort of mood compels you to reflect what emotions or belief preoccupied his well-being at that instant.
Then you would discover a deep-seated opposition of a human being against a hidden force – a cold-hearted monster representing tyranny. In the context of international relations, power without ‘will’ leads to failure. This was how US lost the war with Korea. ‘Will’ is important in determining who is powerful and what degree is his power. ‘Will’ for me, is synonymous to ‘political culture’. It is being nurtured by a specific authority, our parents for instance, at our young age; it is being reformed by a general authority like our government, as we become citizens; and it is being confirmed by ‘everyone’ when we become mature individuals.
I guess, the secret why the ‘tank man’ was unharmed is that he possessed a willpower. Perhaps, we can say that the ‘tank man’ reached his maximum tolerance while the foe, represented by the tanks, did not. Was it luck that saved him? Was it a psychological attack? No one can tell what his real motives are. But one thing is for sure, such surrender graced the world. That spirit of the tank man incited the phenomena of revolution among other countries who wanted freedom. Just as how Mohandas Gandhi’s civil disobedience (ex. fasting), a nonviolent resistance policy, won the Indian mass that led to India’s independence.
I think when all else fails, material wealth would not matter, even life. Such surrender cannot be crushed by tanks. Another example was Jose RizaI who was not deterred, risking everything, intelligence, status and life just to write novels satirising the Catholic church and the sectarian government of Spain. This is the essence of comparative politics, we look at the internal aspect of how people and government interact in one area and we identify with them, feel for them, and take ownership of a problem and treat it as our own. There is no doubt, one man cannot change the world, with its complexity and diversity.
No one can change the world to reflect his own world. In political science, although we cannot prescribe exact solutions, we can rely on chances, to increase the probability that a certain movement will succeed. China is communist and Philippines is democratic, so you can predict that you can massacre an assembly of people in China but you cannot do so in the Philippines. The EDSA Revolution marked a success, the Tiannenmen Square did not. Yet, the ‘tank man’ gave a lasting impression to the world because it is believed this incident influenced Russians to demand the collapse of the Communist Soviet Union.
A proof that, same means may not meet same ends, as far as Politics is concerned, compared to positive means that result to positive ends in Business. So what was the secret of China staying in power? And what went wrong in USSR, another communist form of government? My analysis is that if you are an individual exercising political participation, you will be bound by specific laws, legal laws but if you are an individual expressing political culture, you are bound by universal law, moral laws. You will come to realise that everyone who watched the ‘tank man’ as a social entity, was touched.
It was a cause of celebration. Humanity was held triumphant over state. And ‘everyone’ who spread the humor has consolidated the humanitarian principles that made a big impact on international politics, so great it diffused the Cold War upon the collapse of communist USSR. It brings us back to the question we raised at the beginning. Who holds the power to control the tool to satisfy everybody? My answer is people, human beings, State is just a symbol, an object, a representation of the united mass. Individual is the thinking and feeling entity so it should be held supreme.
In the movie “The Firm”, a military cannot just sacrifice a few individuals for the security of the state. Certain standard procedures, legal and moral, should be followed. This is the concept of realists, that we cannot exercise power without moral ends and constitutional safeguards. This is a challenge. How will democratic states emancipate the people in a few communist states while sovereignty of these states rely on their form of government? Individuals ought to figure out, so everyone should be involved.