The primary implement used by the Chinese government to censor the internet within China is the ‘Great Firewall’: an amalgamation of legislation and projects that regulate the flow of ideas and communications on Chinese internet.
The Great Firewall is extremely effective at restricting internet access for the typical Chinese citizen and has become to the major impediment for companies that seek to access China’s massive digital market. The Great Firewall has caused monolithic western entities, such as Google and Microsoft, to engage in self-censorship in order to access the Chinese market and compete with Chinese companies like Baidu, despite the fact that top executives, such as Google’s Sergey Brin, have admitted that such censorship directly violates their company’s ethics. The Great Firewall would serve no benefit to China if its features were easily circumvented.
Since U.S. companies, as well as home-grown Chinese companies, have both invariably agreed to censor their information within China, the Chinese people have been immersed in one overarching national ideology, with no opportunity for dissension or difference.
The Chinese approach to growth might seem to be counterintuitive and controversial, especially from a western, liberal, perspective. However, two pre-eminent political theorists, argue that ideological uniformity is necessary in order for a state to achieve its maximum potential.
In Discourses on Livy, Machiavelli, a progenitor of realism, states that ideological uniformity is necessary within a state for that state’s political apparatus to function properly and for the state to avoid implosion.
Moreover, Montesquieu, a forefather of liberalism, outlines in Considerations on the Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline that the ideology within a state must adhere to the values and principles that made it successful and deviation from these values causes the state to collapse.
The teachings of Machiavelli and Montesquieu illustrate that China’s censorship and cultivation of an ideological homogeneity has a theoretical basis. In essence, from Machiavelli or Montesquieu’s perspective, the Great Firewall is, in large part, the cause of China’s economic progress and success. Due to the Great Firewall, even Western industry is being forced to abase itself and compromise its ethical principles in order to access the Chinese market, which further demonstrates the success that China has achieved via the implementation of its Great Firewall.
In closing, I leave you with this to ponder: China’s censorship of its citizens has certainly contributed to its ability to produce at remarkable levels. The implication is that benefits do exist for states that endeavor towards the suppression and restriction of its citizens and their liberty to act and think; if the state wishes to achieve its maximum productive capacity censorship is a possible strategy that holds many benefits. Consequently, with much of the West in staggering debt and in the grips of a recession, will the West inevitably follow China and exchange its once-vaunted liberty for economic prosperity?
This past summer, William was invited to present his research on the destabilizing effect of ideological migration at the International Association of Political Science Students (IAPSS) 2015 Autumn Convention in Prague on ‘New Threats to Security’. At the IAPSS 2015 Autumn Convention in Prague on ‘New Threats to Security’, William also functioned as a discussant and chaired, or captained, his team to victory in the Oxford Debate on national security vs. individual freedoms (William championed national security). William has also recently been invited to the International Conference in Latin America (ICLA) 2015 on ‘Contemporary Challenges in Latin America’ to present his research on Nestlé and the privatization of water.
Currently, William is writing a paper for the Ayn Rand Institute as well as searching for a Masters or a PhD program at an institution that suits his interests, and would love to entertain any suggestions or potential offers. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter: @WillPCBG