28 June 2011

Death and Taxes or, The Evolution of Show Trials

It is interesting to witness the evolution of show trials - back in the Stalinist days, Soviet officials were compelled to admit to various counterrevolutionary deviations. And then they were exiled to rot in the frozen waste or simply executed. If we are to judge from the recent experience of Ai Weiwei the Chinese seem to have refined the process in a contemporary way: no executions, just forced detention, a "confession," enforced silence, and then . . . a visit from the Tax Collectors. Of course, there is still the persecution of Liu Xiaobo and many other critics. So, perhaps the regime has not gotten more refined after all.

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