Monday, October 19, 2009

There's More To Literature Than Little Red Books

If this is how honored guests are treated, the Chinese would rather not be honored.

At the Frankfurt Book Fair, China expected to have a platform from which to hawk their Communist culture, and expand into yet another export market.

Sad to say, Beijing, but the world doesn't want your books.

Literature springs from free speech, from the right to express opinions that are often contrary to the party line. As this concept is anathema to those on high, Chinese books are worthless.

Then there's all those Chinese dissidents, invited by the book fair organizers and then uninvited when China complained. Wouldn't you know, with all that freedom in the Western World, that the organizers caved in to pressure and let them in after all. Freedom of movement is also troubling to the Chinese of Chairman Mao's Little Red Book.

When the message is controlled, it's so much easier to indoctrinate to the party line. That hasn't happened in Frankfurt.

They didn't come to be instructed about democracy, but the honored guests got a lesson just the same. Chinese censorship dictated what books the Chinese exhibit displayed, but all their censorship couldn't prevent participants in the German book fair from displaying those same works that criticized Chinese censorship and other aspects of the brutal regime.

Of course they complained mightily about the Germans, about the rudeness of the host and the focus on human rights when it was supposed to be about selling books.

That's the problem with literature. It's too much about human rights and the human condition, and even though publishing is a business, there's no controlling the readers who buy those books. So if there's no market for censorship, what's the point in selling it?

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