On Oct. 1, the People's Republic of China was to have "celebrated" the 50th anniversary of the Communist state. The traditional definition of "celebrate" is "to demonstrate satisfaction by festivities or other deviation from routine." The tanks, guns, and planes planned for much of Communist China's observance will not be a deviation from routine. It is the routine. According to The Black Book of Communism: Crimes, Terror, Repression (Stephane Courtois, Editor, Harvard University Press), 65 million Chinese have died under the Chinese regime, as have 6 million Tibetans. The dead include those unarmed citizens massacred 10 years ago in Tiananmen Square, the site where the military was to parade. Adding to this human tragedy and its affront to the supposed ideals of all free people will be the presence of many Fortune 500 CEOs. The color of money apparently is sufficient atonement for the color of blood spilled by the Beijing butchers. China's Xinhua news agency reports that police departments have rounded up more than 100,000 "escaped criminal suspects" in advance of the anniversary celebration. A Ministry of Public Security official says that includes more than 10,000 people who "surrendered to police under great pressure." The government rewarded individuals who turned in people on China's most-wanted list. All of this, we're told, is to secure "social stability and safety" during the celebration and the upcoming return of the Portuguese colony of Macao. Some American businesses have become as indifferent to human rights as the Clinton administration, which welcomed Chinese arms dealers to the White House and Chinese campaign cash in reelection coffers. And some believed Clinton when he said he wouldn't "coddle" the Chinese as he accused the Bush administration of having done. The investment company Morgan Stanley Dean Witter commissioned a competition of orchestral works. Morgan Stanley Asia Chairman John Wadsworth said the company is a friend of the mainland. The South China Morning Post quotes Wadsworth as saying that he sees nothing odd in a financial services firm funding a celebration of a Communist revolution. "I think that the past 5,000 years are about change, especially the last 50 years have been a dramatically different period of change for China," said Mr. Wadsworth. "Change is bringing about more freedom, more wealth creation, and opportunities for the skills which Morgan Stanley can offer." If one accepts the Orwellian view of things, then I suppose a case can be made that death is freedom because the dead person no longer has to live under communism. But most people, including those about to die, might be forgiven if they don't see the illusion that Mr. Wadsworth envisions. The Central Intelligence Agency has named China one of the three top countries "extensively engaged in economic espionage." Is it Morgan Stanley's position that it is perfectly acceptable to make money while ignoring the massive abuses of human rights and the potential threat to American lives should China decide to militarily challenge U.S. interests in Asia? In Courtois's Black Book, the editor commits the sin of confronting liberals' century-old infatuation with Marxism. In the Booklist review, the reviewer notes the lack of an intellectual accounting for communism "because academic historians tend to loathe such accounting as being subjective." It's more than that. To properly assess the bloody failure of communism, including the Chinese variety that has been as evil an empire as the now-defunct Soviet Union, academics (as well as journalists and intellectuals) would have to criticize not only their own but themselves. Many of them and their intellectual predecessors have defended or failed to properly chronicle communism's abuses. Many have embraced the social and economic policies of the system, claiming it wasn't communism, per se, that was wrong. Advocates simply failed to "get it right." Communism can never be "gotten right" because its founding principle-that the state is god-is wrong. It survives only because aging dictators don't mind killing a lot of people to stay in power. Whatever Friday's parade is, it ought not to be thought of as a celebration. Let's save the celebrating for the day of China's ultimate liberation, perhaps by the children of the bloody generation.
-© 1999, Los Angeles Times Syndicate