Tag Archives | authoritarianism

How Censorship In China Allows Criticism But Silences Collective Organizing

censorship in chinaVia the American Political Science Review, Harvard researchers pinpoint the surprising heart of authoritarian state censorship — anti-government criticism is in fact allowed, but not references to collective action of any sort:

We have devised a system to locate, download, and analyze the content of millions of posts from nearly 1,400 different social media services all over China before the Chinese government is able to find, evaluate, and censor (i.e., remove from the Internet) the subset they deem objectionable. We compare posts censored to those not censored.

Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not likely to be censored. Instead the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. Censorship is oriented toward attempting to forestall collective activities that are occurring now or may occur in the future—and, as such, seem to clearly expose government intent.

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A Serious Challenge to the Milgram and Stanford Prison Experiments

“Authority allows two roles: the torturer and the tortured” – V for Vendetta, Alan Moore.

Picture: PaulR (CC)

A serious challenge to theories regarding human behaviour based upon the ground breaking Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments has been reported. Humans who choose to follow roles given them by authority figures actually relish the process more than was previously imagined, even when it involves gross acts of cruelty, according to The Telegraph:

Professor Stephen Reicher, Professor in the School of Psychology at the University of St Andrews, and Professor Alex Haslam of the University of Queensland, Australia, have published [a] paper in the journal PLos-Biology on the nature of tyranny and evil.

[…]

Professor Reicher said: “In short, people do harm not because they are unaware that they are doing wrong, but because they believe that they are doing right.

“It is this conviction that steels participants to do their dirty work, and that makes them act energetically and creatively to ensure its success.”

The study began when the two researchers ran their own prison experiment, which was broadcast by the BBC in 2002.

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