‘All You Want Is Money! All I Want Is Revolution!’

‘All You Want Is Money! All I Want Is Revolution!’

‘All You Want Is Money! All I Want Is Revolution!’

Before the Tiananmen Square massacre, everyone loved China; now everyone loves the renminbi.

Facebook
Twitter
Email
Flipboard
Pocket

Before the Tiananmen Square massacre, I was a rebel poet, volatile and impulsive, who liked picking fights and telling tall tales. I’d won more than 20 state literary prizes, and I figured that one day I would earn international fame in the literary world. But all my poems earned me was a stint in jail. That dreamy poet’s look was flayed from my face. Then I was released. It felt as though my world had been turned upside down and I’d been abandoned.

The massacre of thousands of students on June 4, 1989, was a turning point. Before June 4, being patriotic was in fashion, and everyone loved China. After June 4, everyone loved the renminbi. As a penniless former labor-camp inmate, I could tell people despised me. I got home and saw my wife, my parents, siblings, and old friends for the first time since jail. Upon seeing me again, my family seemed impassive, and there were none of the emotional scenes you read about in books. Born more than half a year after I was jailed, my daughter was now 3. She was scared of my shaved head and began to cry. Then she hid behind the door and whimpered, spitting at me.

Men in prison are all, by definition, single. Many of my fellow inmates hadn’t seen a woman in years or decades. Everyone talked about sex all the time, even the political prisoners with their supposedly lofty ideals. It was our default subject of conversation. The only difference between ordinary criminals and politicals was that when the former steamed up the cell with one of their group masturbation sessions, the political prisoners had to either pretend they didn’t notice a thing or slip away quietly. I once shared a bunk bed with a man who was in for human trafficking. Whenever the prisoners got a special treat at dinner, he would jerk off that night. Sometimes he made the whole bed shudder, and I would rap on the iron bed frame in protest. The man on the lower bunk would yell up to me without missing a beat: “Hey, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it!”

I scoffed then, but upon my release, I realized that I had indeed lost it. That part of the longed-for reunion with my wife was underwhelming—in fact, it was over before it had even really started. She picked herself up and said, “I wasn’t really in the mood, but I figured we’d have to since you were home.”

The blank look on my face hid my inner turmoil. I quickly got dressed. Three months later, after a violent argument, we got divorced. I was distraught. Life beyond prison had turned out to be a living hell. What was I to do with my insatiable sex drive, sexual dysfunction, and politically suspect past? The world had moved on and left me behind. My former friends would answer the phone the first time I called, but they never answered a second time. Even those who were generous enough to treat me to dinner when we met would then vanish.

My wife had edited the entertainment weekly published by a Chengdu nightclub. She was afraid that my shaved inmate’s head was too conspicuous, so she bought a wig and forced me to wear it. I once went to the club to pick her up because it was late and I was worried about her getting home safe. As soon as I entered the club, I ran into its co-­managers. One was fat and the other was skinny, and they were both drunk. They were also old friends who used to be poets. Together we’d run an underground poetry zine that poked fun at the Party. They were both even more patriotic than I was, and during the 1989 student protests, they had recited their anticorruption poems publicly on campus. The night of June 4 found them on Tianfu Square in Chengdu, bringing food and water to the students tussling with military police, and ferrying the injured to hospital.

They recognized me right away. The fat man seized my wig and cried, “What’s this counterrevolutionary doing in disguise?” The thin man cried, “A girl for the counterrevolutionary!” I broke out in a cold sweat. They both laughed heartily and took me to a private party room for a drink.

A few hostesses came in and started up the karaoke machine. The fat man produced his wallet and gave them all 100-yuan tips as if he were handing out candy. “Do you still write poems?” the skinny man asked. “I haven’t been able to—I guess I just don’t feel like it,” I said. “Well, if you do ever feel like it, try changing your tune and writing poems that sing the praises of nightclubs, Chengdu nightlife, sexy women, and spicy hot pot,” he said. “We can print your poems under a pseudonym in the entertainment magazine your wife edits.”

I was still dumbfounded. “You guys used to be dirt-poor poets who couldn’t even afford a decent bottle of beer,” I said. “Where did you even find the money for this place? The rent alone must be costing you hundreds of thousands of yuan per year.”

“Just take out a loan and you can spend all you want,” said the fat man. “There’s someone I know at the bank who’ll take the building and facilities as collateral. Unfortunately, the girls don’t count as collateral.”

“Being poor hasn’t been socialist since Deng Xiaoping spoke up for economic reform on his imperial tour of South China back in 1992,” said the thin man. “Protesting for democracy won’t get us places. Money is what gets you places.”

When my wife and I got home that night, I couldn’t help observing how quickly the people we knew had switched sides after June 4. “Sour grapes?” my wife said. “Be a man, beat them at their own game.” I said nothing, but that night I couldn’t sleep. It was a cold winter night. I didn’t want to wake her, so I sat on the balcony for what seemed like hours. Eventually, I took out my bamboo flute, but I was so disheartened that I couldn’t even get a sound out of it. I did, however, succeed in catching a cold. The following morning, I woke up with a hacking cough and wrote a letter to Liu Xia, my old friend and wife of the well-known political prisoner Liu Xiaobo:

Everything’s fucked up. The woman you used to know has changed; she’s completely focused on getting ahead. Then there’s the question of taking care of our daughter, and the fact that I have nothing more to say to my friends. My wife complains that she’s 30-something years old and still doesn’t have a place she can call home. She says I have to find a way of making money that will support our daughter. She despises our past, which is brave of her. My flute playing drives her crazy, so I’ve stopped playing it. Somewhere deep inside me I still love her, but I can’t love her the way she wants to be loved.


When I’m sitting at home alone, these are the voices I hear talking in my head: How’s it going? Shit. What do you mean? Fuck. Yeah, it’s fucked up. You loser. I’m a husband! You’re her dad! The nightclub. All you want is money! All I want is revolution!


My flute is supple and soft. Only at night can it slice through the air like a knife. Liu Xia, friend, will there come a day when I just can’t keep playing it any longer? I’m really worried that one day I’ll stop being able to play the flute altogether.

This letter was dated March 26, 1994. Not long thereafter, I separated from my wife and moved back to my parents’ place on the other side of town, where they took care of me as if I were a child. I often had only a few coins in my pocket, with which I couldn’t even leave the apartment. My older brother Damao lent me 10,000 yuan, which all went to child support. My daughter is now 21, but she was with me for less than two months altogether.

* * *

I drifted aimlessly, playing the flute for a living, and working on an account of my life in prison whenever I could find time. Life before June 4 became a distant memory. The months passed uneventfully. I figured I was the unluckiest man alive. Even my secret-police minder felt sorry for me. One day he paid me a visit, announcing that he had found a vacant storefront and arranged for me to open a store selling clothes. I said I wouldn’t know where to buy clothes, let alone how to sell them.

“What do you mean, you don’t even know where to buy clothes?” he said. “I’ll take you to the Lotus Pond Market for fake goods at North Gate train station. You’ll be able to stock up on shirts, pants, and name-brand clothing tags in bulk. Buy a bundle, spray them with water, brush them down, shake out the creases, iron them carefully, and they’ll look so shipshape that they might as well be the real thing. If you’re good at talking up your wares, you can sell a shirt you bought for 10 yuan for 50 or 100. You’ll be rich in no time!”

“Customers aren’t idiots,” I said.

“They may not be, but you’ve still got to tell yourself they are. Selling is a psychological battle.”

“What if someone realizes they’ve been sold a knockoff?”

“You’ve just got to stick to your guns and insist that you’d never sell them a fake. If they really make a fuss and refuse to let it slide, then you give me a call.”

“I’m not sure I want to run a business that wouldn’t survive without police protection,” I said wryly.

“Oh, if you can pull it off, there’s real money to be made,” he said. “I can get you a rent exemption for the first couple of years, and once the store really takes off, then you seize the opportunity and open a chain. Aim for 10 stores within five years, and 50 stores within 10 years. You’ll have the leading clothing chain in town. If you take it one step further, hire a few more people, and open up your own factory churning out fakes of foreign brands and exporting them cheaply, you’ll be the boss of a huge multinational company. Before you know it, even the Westerners will be shirtless and pantless without you.”

I laughed out loud, but as soon as I shut my mouth, I felt pathetic.

We drank late into the night and got completely wasted. One moment we were clapping each other on the back, and the next moment we’d be eyeing each other warily again. It was nearly dawn when we parted. “Think about it, Liao,” he said. “It’s not for me,” I said. “You can keep your primrose paths. I’ll stick to my single-log bridge.”

That single-log bridge was the prison testimony I was writing in secret. Who could have guessed that one afternoon a year later, that very same man, my secret-police minder and drinking buddy, would come charging into my apartment with a gang of men? “This is a legal operation,” he announced. He showed me his police ID and read out the search warrant. Then he and his men proceeded to search the place inch by inch: the bed, the table, the roof, the floor, and all the nooks and crannies that I usually didn’t bother dusting. They opened every drawer and turned all my pockets inside out. Although my old watchdog Yuzui protested loudly, they tipped out the contents of his dog bed and inspected it. Every written word in the house was confiscated: letters, notes, a missing-dog flyer, and the manuscript of my nearly completed memoir. I signed the list of criminal evidence they had collected. Then I was put in a police van and interrogated at a nearby police station until nearly midnight. At which point, the same man who had urged me to take up a career in the pants industry came to see me off. He shook my hand, patted me on the shoulder, and said, “You’re not to leave your house for the next month.”

I’d lost hundreds of thousands of words within the space of a night. Exhausted, I fell asleep cursing myself with every Sichuanese obscenity I knew. And then I started rewriting my testimony from scratch. I knew I didn’t deserve anyone’s sympathy—when we were all trying to scrape together a living, no one had time to spare for my absurd woes—but the heavens felt sorry for me and made up for my misfortunes by sending me an angelic girlfriend, Songyu. She encouraged me and stuck by me during the most wretched time of my life. My premature ejaculation was gradually alleviated, but although I was rid of sexual dysfunction, my mental dysfunction persisted. I was restless and plagued by extreme mood swings. At night, when I performed in bars, I would often be talkative and subdued by turns. I once smashed a bottle on a drunkard’s head in a bar fight that had to be recorded as a police incident.

I had fallen into the abyss of the urban underclass, which put me on a level with the city’s many homeless people. I had no direction in life, and no freedom. “If your heart imprisons you, you’ll never be free”: That was something my bamboo-flute master used to say—and where was he now? I started drinking heavily. When I was drunk, I would curse China, curse the police, curse the Communist leaders Deng Xiaoping and Li Peng, the intellectual elite, the democracy activists in exile, and all the millions who had taken to the streets in 1989. Why on earth had I decided to recite my poem “Massacre” in the early morning of June 4? Had it been worth it? It was all very well to be killed for what you believed in, but I had been condemned to indefinitely eking out a miserable existence.

Then the secret police returned. Maybe they’d bugged my house; they always seemed to know where I’d been and to whom I’d spoken. They even seemed to have mysteriously penetrated my dreams: I had a recurring dream of escaping, of being able to flap my arms like wings and soar away. Exhausted by the exertion of flying, I slept curled up in a fetal position, as if I wanted nothing more than to return to my mother’s womb, where I’d at least be free from surveillance. When I had nightmares, Songyu would wake me by shaking me gently, and hold me like a mother, until another nightmare of a day began.

What had brought the police to my door was the petition regarding “The Truth About June 4th” that fellow dissident Liu Xiaobo had sent me by fax. I had signed the blurred document without thinking and faxed it back. Two days later, I was taken away by the secret police without even realizing why and held in custody for 20 days. Songyu spent days outside the walls of the jail, trying to find out what was happening to me. When I got home, the first thing she said to me was: “If things go on like this, do we still have a future together?”

There was nothing I could say. The only words that came to mind were a line of a poem by Dylan Thomas: “On whom a world of ills came down like snow.”

A few years later, I met Ding Zilin, whose son was killed in Tiananmen Square. She listened as I told my story, and then she said, “You’re one of the lucky ones.”

* * *

A few years later, I met Wu Wenjian, the artist who’d painted scenes of the massacre. Before I even finished telling my story, he said, “You’re one of the lucky ones.”

“Yes,” I said. “At least compared to those who died.”

No, they both said, also compared to others who survived.

Ding Zilin’s son, Jiang Jielian, was only 17 in 1989, a high-school student swept up in the fervor of the patriotic student movement, who gave himself over to the street protests. On the night of June 3, he was shot in the chest and died before reaching the emergency room. His grieving parents decided to speak out about their family’s ordeal and publicly accused the government of their son’s murder. With Ding and her husband in the lead, those who had lost loved ones in the massacre spoke out one by one and became the Tiananmen Mothers movement. Now, 25 years later, the murderers still govern this country, while the parents who lost their children grow old and die under the gaze of the secret police.

Wu Wenjian was only 19 in 1989, the same generation as the Dings’ only child. Against his parents’ wishes, he joined the street protests on the morning of June 4, and he was lucky that the bullet only grazed his scalp rather than piercing his heart. He published a speech he’d written expressing his outrage, titled “We Demand the Repayment of This Debt of Blood.” It earned him a long spell in prison.

Wu Wenjian was the first of the street protesters I interviewed. Government propaganda referred to us as “thugs,” he said. Well, the millions of unarmed “thugs” were up against fully armed military police that night. The government’s tanks and armored vehicles cleared the way, crushing the barricades, and began to fire into the crowd. People started screaming. More shots rang out. More blood. Everywhere you looked, human beings were being mowed down like weeds.

The only protester people know about in the West is “Tank Man,” the guy in that iconic photograph who stood in the street, physically blocking the oncoming column of tanks billowing exhaust like gigantic farting beetles. They kept trying to make their way around him, but he kept getting in their way. You’re steel, and I’m flesh and blood, he seemed to be saying. Come get me if you dare! This moment was preserved for posterity because a foreign reporter happened to capture it on video. They say even Bush Sr. wept as he was watching the broadcast. But there were countless Tank Men whose deeds were not captured on camera.

The exiled writer Zheng Yi, who now lives in the United States, wrote in his memoirs: “At 9 pm on 3rd June, 1989, at Muxidi Bridge on West Chang’an Avenue, the crowds on the broad street linked arms to form a surging human wall two or three hundred meters deep. The slogans were deafening. The soldiers responsible for clearing the roads had helmets, shields, batons. They attacked the crowd mercilessly. The protesters fought back by throwing stones at them while retreating slowly. By 10 pm, the crowd had retreated onto the overpass, and the two sides were separated by a barricade of cars. The troops dared not circle past the streetcars to attack the crowds directly, so they sent their tanks to the front line.”

Another witness wrote: “One tank drove at full speed towards the streetcars blocking the overpass. But under the direction of a few people standing higher up, several thousand people rushed toward the wall of streetcars just as the tank was speeding toward it, on the count of ‘One… two… three!’ There was a terrific crashing sound, but the cars remained where they were. The crowds hooted and cheered. The two sides faced off like this for a while. The roar of the tanks was always followed by a simultaneous rush toward the streetcars. Then the tanks would retreat and the crowds would cheer again. This happened several times, until the troops began to fire tear gas on the crowds. The tear-gas canisters were shot past the streetcars and exploded among the crowds, who were forced to run for cover. The tank took the opportunity to power ahead toward the streetcars again. There was a terrific crash, and a couple of the cars were crushed, leaving a two-meter gap in the barricade. When the tank reversed so that it could pick up speed for another attempt, thousands of students and other protesters surged forward, pushing the overturned streetcars back to their original position to close the gap, and leaning up against the wall to prop up the swaying vehicles with their own bodies in defense against the tanks.”

Zheng Yi again: “In the early hours of June 4th, on Chang’an Avenue, just north of the congressional Great Hall of the People, the crowds began to march eastward, attempting to storm into Tiananmen Square in aid of the students who had been surrounded by troops. They clashed with the army outside the square. Linking arms to form a human wall, they advanced slowly, while singing anthems aloud. Time and again, their ranks would be depleted by gunfire, and they would regroup and continue to press forward slowly. Every time dozens of people fell, others would join in to take their place, so that eventually it became clear that the protesters were engaged in an unwinnable tug-of-war with the army. At dawn, the tanks rolled out of Tiananmen Square and took their positions in a row across the street. They revved their engines and began to advance toward the human wall.

“Suddenly, one reckless protester simply lay down in the street. Others followed, and soon there were several hundred people lying all across Chang’an Avenue.

“Despite the menacing tank treads, no one fled. The tanks lost this first battle of willpower and courage. The first tank screeched to a halt ‘so suddenly that the streets shuddered, and the top half of the tank lurched forward.’ Eventually, the tanks fired tear-gas bombs at the crowds to disperse them. They then mowed down the protesters who were fleeing the choking yellow smoke, and killed at least a dozen people on the spot. Five young protesters were killed at the southwest corner of Liubuko Junction. Two of them were crushed onto bicycles, their corpses mangled together with the bikes.”

The dictators had won. The murderer Deng Xiaoping finally made a public appearance to reward the troops who had succeeded in imposing martial law. Amid the endless rumors, many of the “thugs” were arrested, and several were publicly executed by firing squad. “I was lucky, too,” said Wu Wenjian. “I only got seven years. Many of the so-called thugs my age were ordinary workers, peasants, street hawkers, who took to the streets to resist the army. If the judge decided to convict them of ‘property damage and looting’ and gave them a harsh sentence, they might spend decades in jail. These were boys who’d never kissed a girl when they were arrested. By the time they were released, they were middle-aged men who knew nothing about society or about women, and had no skills worth speaking of—what could they do? Many have been reduced to sharing the apartments and the pensions of their aging parents. Some of them are afraid to even leave their apartments. Beijing has changed so much, they’re afraid of embarrassing themselves by getting lost in their own hometown.”

I winced in recollection. I, too, knew the feeling of getting lost in my own hometown. From 2005 on, I spent a few years following Wu Wenjian’s lead into the world of these marginalized people who had been forgotten by an economically booming, authoritarian China.

* * *

Over the next few years, I began to furtively conduct interviews with the Tiananmen survivors. The harrowing episodes recounted to me in dozens of interviews will never be published, because the victims refused to make them public. On June 4, armed police arrested scores of fleeing protesters, and many people were beaten to death. Of the first eight “thugs” convicted of arson because they had set cars on fire, seven were promptly executed. The only one left was a man called Wang Lianxi, a sanitation worker. He was found to have severe mental disabilities, as a result of which his sentence was commuted to life in prison on appeal. After 18 years in prison, he was released shortly before the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Then he was evicted from his apartment like many other Beijingers, as the city forcibly removed thousands in preparation for the games. Wang Lianxi ended up homeless and was eventually sent to a mental hospital. Those who knew him said that Wang had been sleeping on the streets and scavenging in dumpsters for food.

Another man called Lu Zhongqu, who’d also committed property damage by setting cars on fire, was nearly beaten to death by incensed troops. “We saw the soldiers drag him into a tank and take him directly to a detention center,” Wu Wenjian said. “By then, he’d already lost his mind—either he was mentally unstable to begin with, or the beating had driven him mad. He was covered from head to toe with bruises. He also had no bowel or bladder control left, and he would just pee in his pants. He walked around in his own world, and spoke to no one. He eventually disappeared, just like Tank Man, and no one knows what became of him.”

Almost no one I interviewed was willing to speak publicly about sex. That said, among former prisoners who are single men, the conversation inevitably turns to women. Many of the men I spoke to couldn’t stop talking about sex. Only afterward would they suddenly realize that the recorder was on, check themselves, and tell me that their outpourings were not for public consumption.

There must be tens of thousands of people all over China who were arrested after the 1989 protests: In Beijing alone, thousands were arrested. Many of them were teenage boys, virgins, like Wu Wenjian. Having spent years or even decades in jail, many suffered from various forms of sexual dysfunction.

Upon their release, they were middle-aged men dealing with erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation, and their recovery often took months or years. Wu Wenjian, whose sentence was relatively short, said that his erectile dysfunction lasted at least two years. “I was an art student, and not long after being released from prison I found a job in an ad agency, so I was doing well compared to the other June 4 thugs,” he said. “I often traveled for work, so I would be staying in hotels and frequenting places full of sexy women. But I couldn’t get it out of my head that the police might still be following me and could catch me in the act. My first kiss was a disaster: I managed to crack the skin on her lips, and as soon as I put my arms around her I came, which gave me a huge wet patch on my pants. I was nervous and extremely horny, but the hornier I got, the less I could get it up. That lasted all night. The girl was patient, and she kept stroking me and comforting me, but I was on the verge of tears, and I just wanted to slap myself in the face. Eventually she left and never came back.”

“That’s what happens when you’ve been sexually starved for such a long time,” I said.

Wu said, “Every time I saw a girl who was even a little sexy, I would feel the urge to walk up and strike up a conversation—but then I would worry about not being able to perform. In Chongqing, I managed to pick up a girl who worked at a hotel. She had real nice boobs. We sneaked into a room and started making out. She clung to me, her legs wrapped around my waist. I couldn’t hold it in, and seconds later I came. Damn it! She was really turned on, and I was done. She shot me a derisive look. We tried halfheartedly to keep going, and I was sort of feeling it, but as soon as we tried again, I realized it wouldn’t work. ‘Piece-of-shit loser!’ she hissed.”

“That was worse than what the Communists did to you, right?”

“If we’re losers, then how about the officials, tycoons, yes-men, and sellouts? What did we do to land in prison, and what were you doing that whole time on the outside—whoring with your ill-gotten gains? And when you’ve made enough money and whored enough, you figure you can call us losers… is that right?”

“It’s true, times have changed.”

“No, it’s me, really—I’ve become a freak. If I can’t perform, I can’t be wallowing in self-pity and blaming the girls. Recently, Kun and I were hanging out at the Front Gate in town, not long after his release. It was sunset, and we were having fun people-watching. Then a girl with long hair walked past us, trailing a faint scent of perfume. A hot piece of ass. I said nothing—I’ve been on the outside for long enough to have seen everything a man could possibly want to see. But 40-year-old Kun, who had once leapt up onto a car to make speeches while bullets whizzed past him, looked at her as though he would grab her ass with his gaze if he could. No ordinary person can imagine that degree of sexual craving. When the girl walked away, Kun collected himself and whispered to me: ‘Wu, I can’t get it up anymore.’”

I met Kun once. Wu Wenjian tried to talk him into giving me an interview, but he declined. Kun had been honorably discharged from the army. He was a real patriot. The night of June 3, he was at Muxidi Bridge, the exact place that Zheng Yi described in his recollections—in fact, he’d been one of the people directing the crowds from a height to collectively resist the tanks. He was later betrayed to the military police, convicted on charges of subversion, and given a death sentence that was later commuted to life in prison. His wife left him not long after, taking their child with her. By the time he was released, years later, he was single and living with his 80-year-old parents. “It’s hard finding a job,” he said. “If my boss finds out you’ve interviewed me, I’ll be fired right away.”

“What kind of job do you have?”

“My first job involved standing outside big department stores, watching their customers’ bicycles. It paid next to nothing. Out on the street on snowy days, I’d be constantly stamping my feet so as not to be frozen into a pillar of ice. Then my friends pulled some strings to get me the job I have now, working in a public bathhouse as a janitor. I clean toilets day and night, but at least it’s a stable income. In the ’80s, we learned from the movies that nightclubs are shady places full of playboys and bad guys. In the ’90s, as restrictions on the free market became looser, so did the morals of the hostesses at nightclubs, so that was what you were looking for if you went to one. In the first years of the new millennium, nightclubs went out of fashion. Now bathhouses are the new thing. Drinking, karaoke, mah-jongg, bathing, full-body massages, foot massages, back massages, hand jobs… We’ll satisfy the full range of the customer’s desires. You might think it’s not your thing, but let’s say you’re half-naked, a hostess comes into the room and starts giving you a massage. Then she works her way down to your thighs, groin, and starts playing with you. You think you wouldn’t get hard?

“In that den of vice, I’m just the janitor who cleans the toilets. When the fat cats and magnates come in with girls hanging off their arms, I stand respectfully to one side and hand them paper napkins. In the 1989 student movement, we ordinary people supported the students because we were sick of corruption. We wanted the top Communist officials to disclose their side income and private assets. We wanted a fresh start for our country. Government officials are still in league with big business, while ordinary folks can barely make ends meet. Society is suffering from a crisis of trust. Those of us who paid the price for supporting Chinese democracy are left waiting on the fat cats.”

“I feel for you, Kun.”

“Once, two businessmen came into the toilet. Neither of them was wearing a shirt. They actually recognized me: ‘Hey, it’s Kun, isn’t it?’ one of them said in astonishment. ‘I’m your old neighbor Hai. We were both there resisting the tanks on the night of June 4, remember? I got lucky and slipped away in the crowds. They had no proof that I’d taken part in the protests, and I denied my involvement strenuously. Eventually I got away with nothing more than making a self-criticism at work. Then Deng Xiaoping made the 1992 tour of South China that signaled economic reform. It was getting too costly to be patriotic, so instead we all responded to the Party’s call like good Communists and went into business instead. I work in food processing, and you don’t ever want to know how that sausage is made. I’ve made a fortune selling dead pigs as live ones, so to speak. As long as you never breathe a word of 1989, never reopen those old wounds, you can keep making money. Kun, it’s too bad you’ve come to this. Back then, you were literally on top of the world! There’s no predicting what will happen to anyone.’”

Dear reader,

I hope you enjoyed the article you just read. It’s just one of the many deeply reported and boundary-pushing stories we publish every day at The Nation. In a time of continued erosion of our fundamental rights and urgent global struggles for peace, independent journalism is now more vital than ever.

As a Nation reader, you are likely an engaged progressive who is passionate about bold ideas. I know I can count on you to help sustain our mission-driven journalism.

This month, we’re kicking off an ambitious Summer Fundraising Campaign with the goal of raising $15,000. With your support, we can continue to produce the hard-hitting journalism you rely on to cut through the noise of conservative, corporate media. Please, donate today.

A better world is out there—and we need your support to reach it.

Onwards,

Katrina vanden Heuvel
Editorial Director and Publisher, The Nation

Ad Policy
x