Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, a famed artist and activist, warned Americans during an interview that aired late last week that they are already under the control of an authoritarian state, they just don’t realize it yet.
Weiwei said that the situation in China has become “more extreme, in terms of censorship, in terms of their tolerance to dissidents.” He later added that he was not hopeful for China’s future given the direction that China is going.
Later, when asked about authoritarianism in the U.S., Weiwei said “certainly, in the United States, with today’s condition, you can easily have an authoritarian.”
“In many ways, you’re already in the authoritarian state,” he said. “You just don’t know it.”
When asked how so, he responded, “Many things happening today in U.S. can be compared to Cultural Revolution in China.”
“Like people trying to be unified in a certain political correctness,” he continued. “That is very dangerous.”
PARTIAL TRANSCRIPT PROVIDED VIA FIRING LINE:
MARGARET HOOVER, HOST: In your book, you were describing the directives of Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution that would be distributed publicly every night. … So do you see Donald Trump as an authoritarian?
AI WEIWEI, CHINESE DISSIDENT: I — well, I don’t — you know, he — if you are authoritarian, you have to have a system supporting you. You cannot just be an authoritarian by yourself. But certainly, in the United States, with today’s condition, you can easily have an authoritarian. In many ways, you’re already in the authoritarian state. You just don’t know it.
HOOVER: How so?
WEIWEI: Many things happening today in U.S. can be compared to Cultural Revolution in China.
HOOVER: Like what?
WEIWEI: Like people trying to be unified in a certain political correctness. That is very dangerous. You want to go deeper?
HOOVER: Yeah, because actually, that was the next thing I was going to ask you about it. So what kind of political correct extremism?
WEIWEI: I — it’s very philosophical. With today’s technology, we know so much more than we really understand. The information become jammed. But we don’t really — and really have the knowledge, because you don’t work. You don’t — you don’t have to act on anything. You just think you’re purified by certain ideas that you agree with it. That is posing dangers to society, to an extreme divided society.
HOOVER: Why do you think that’s happened here?
WEIWEI: I think, for a long time, the West’s material. We have much more than we needed. And we are not caring about global situation. But, eventually, all the policies and the politics we play has to be examined under the global situation, such as China become a very powerful state. And how the West should deal with it.
HOOVER: How should the West deal with Chinese increased influence?
WEIWEI: In China, we have a wisdom — to deal with anything, you have to be strong yourself. I don’t think West is strong themself enough to deal with China.