Han Han: My 2011 (Updated)

ChinaHush has translated an essay by race car driver and superstar blogger Han Han in which he reflects on his past year and a transformation in his writing:

After a long time of thinking, I gradually began to feel that the good writer who slaughters the powerful elite should also be slaughtering the masses. My posts started to change in early 2011, beginning with my piece on the village head, Qian Yunhui, “Do we need the truth or just the satisfying truth?”《需要真相还是需要符合需要的真相》。Of course, if we put the governing and the governed side by side, we should criticize the rich and powerful first, since it’s easy. The rich and powerful act and the rest of society suffers. But a good writer shouldn’t be unconditionally seeking the good graces of the masses. You talk about how good the average person is, how right, how kind, how noble, that they should receive such and such, that they should enjoy this and that. But people’s eyes aren’t all bright like stars, don’t all have double eyelids— that kind of serial ass-kissing is no different from what Mao Zedong used to promulgate. Perhaps the masses were his most valuable stepping stone to consolidating power. Many years ago, I was still a resolute revolutionary. I believed that as long as a one-party dictatorship existed, we needed to overthrow it. There had to be multiple parties. There had to be separation of powers. The army had to belong to the country, not the party. At the time there were still friends who’d debate me. People will die, they argued. There will be chaos. We’ll go backwards. At the time my point of view was: Not necessarily, how do we know if we haven’t tried? Plus, there’s a price for everything, if you aren’t extreme, aren’t radical, how do you eradicate social ills. Order arises from chaos. We’re already in troubled times, and it’s not like I can’t be Robin Hood. But as time went on I realized that this type of attitude is no different from those dictators who say “After I die, who cares if the world ends.” The feeling is pretty much the same. The extreme idealist who’s escaped reality isn’t necessarily too different from the reality of an authoritarian dictator. In fact they’re from the same stock. It’s just that they’re holding different flags. It isn’t impossible to become the person who once disgusted you.

Han Han recently wrote a trio of articles on the topics of freedom, democracy and revolution
which inspired a heated debate in Chinese cyberspace. Southern Weekend interviewed Han Han about these three essays (translated by ESWN):

Q: I spoke to your colleague Ma Yimu recently. He said that he did not know what you were thinking or doing, but suddenly these three essays appeared. He thought that this was very mysterious.
A: Many people thought that I had an abrupt change in attitude. Actually, my attitude has not changed in any way. Any change is superficial. I did not change much inside, because I basically detest extremism. I think any form of extremism is frightening. In 2010, my attitude was very clear already. If readers bothered to read my essays carefully, they knew that the so-called change did not occur abruptly. It has always been inside me.

Q: Did it begin with the essay on Qian Yunhui in early 2011?
A: It was there before the incident, including speaking out on behalf of Sharon Stone, opposing the boycott of French merchandise and Carrefour and so on. I have always stood on the opposite side of the people. But the opposite side in those cases was relatively speaking more readily acceptable to the liberals or elites. Today I may be standing on the opposite of these liberals or relatively radical liberals. I think all this is quite normal, because I don’t want to belong any particular side and be used as a gunner.

Q: Previously you give everybody the impression of being somewhat incisive, but now you seem to be moderate. Does this change have anything to do with your maturation or becoming a father?
A: I don’t think so. Because I think that when a person becomes a father, he should have even less to fear because he has already completed the mission of leaving behind his genes according to anthropology and biology. He should be able to do what he needs to do in an even more carefree manner. What many people think is the expression of my conservatism is actually the expression of my radicalism, because I will offend even more people. That is radicalism. But no matter how far I traveled on what they considered to be the radical path, nobody will take action against me as long as I don’t go over their bottom line. That attitude is actually conservative. Every day, I can scold the ruling party, I can scold the government, I pander to the masses and I lick the stinking feet of the public intellectuals. But now I have offended many more people, including the rightists, the leftists and the masses.

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