Interesting column in the Times today from Hao Qun, a novelist and blogger from China. He was having a meal with some other bloggers, trying to figure out who will be the next person to be arrested by the government. Microblogging, according to Hao, has become the public square for China, the only way for information to quickly spread around the country. Popular microbloggers in China have literally millions of followers, so even in a vast country, information on blogs can spread quickly.
A quote from Hao:
I have been asked if I’m afraid. A couple of years ago, in the early days of my blogging, I was scared. Now I am not. I think my shift is representative of that of many popular bloggers, who have been emboldened by the freedom we’ve found online, as my friends have.
I’m moved by Hao’s courage. Nothing appeals to me more than an individual’s struggle for freedom of expression. But Hao’s column gives me great hope for China. In Poland, the communist regime collapsed when the opposition stopped being afraid and started to organize and agitate in the open. If democracies rule with the consent of the governed, dictatorships rule by the fear of the governed. When enough people stop being afraid, even the harshest dictatorships can collapse.