No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (5)

Compared with the Western media activism, there is a room for the independent media in the Chinese society to improve the methodology of their social movement practice. However, the same question is still here: what is the core factor causing this kind of “distance” between the Chinese’s and the Western’s? Is it related to the so-called “cultural difference” between the two civilization bodies[1]?

“Of course, there are some differences between the media activisms in the Chinese and in the West. However, are the differences related to culture? I do not think so. In fact, there are different political and social conditions for different communities in different countries of the world. Even in the entire Chinese society there are different political conditions for social movement practice. For example, the independent media movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong actually share different forms of media organization operation under specific socio-political circumstances. In the Mainland, it is impossible to carry out any social movement for any purpose because of the ‘special political climate’. General media in China are all monitored by the Communist Party. So, the factor causing the differences between the Chinese’s and the Western’s, from my point of view, is not connected with culture, but politics: how much pressure is put on the people in the political sense is just the core problem.” [2]

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] For example, there are cultural differences between the peoples in the East and in the West: “Dr, Richard Nisbett, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, observed in the New York Times in August 2000 that, ‘Asians [in a study conducted by Nisbett] tended to be more holistic showing greater attention to context, a tolerance for contradiction and less dependence on logic. Westerners were more analytic, avoiding contradiction, focusing on objects removed from their context, and more reliant on logic.’” See: Ng, Tai P. (2007). Chinese Culture, Western Culture. USA: iUniverse. p. 27.

[2] The content of the passage is extracted from the “Ip’s interview”.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (4)

Different from the Oriental’s thinking logic, the West has a long history of positioning and categorizing the “unknown” by constructing a stronghold of absolute knowledge system. For this, the rise of natural science[1] is a good example. The construction of so-called scientific knowledge as a Western civilization tradition has affected people’s spirit, thinking logic and way of life in every aspect of human society. In social sciences, the impact of the development of the scientific spirit embodies in the inclination of trying to present a “fixed picture” of social phenomenon: taking social movement practice as an example, why the people do it; how the people carry out the movement; what the major factors are the causes of the movement; what the approaches to participating in the movement are provided at the specific moment are all needed to be studied in the scientific methodology. Therefore, from this point we can understand the practice form of the independent media movement in the West is impacted by this kind of reasoning: for instance, social movement activists would carry out their action by creating a “systemic tool” for promoting their practice – building up an online website or blog as a public communicative platform for expanding their social influence. By clicking on the platform, people can understand the movement’s idealism and practical goal in an ordered context. After that, they can decide whether they want to support the activism ongoing. Through this approach, people’s social power can be brought together and strengthened further effectively.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] “By the mid-nineteenth century, science was having an ever-greater impact on European life. The Scientific Revolution of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries had fundamentally transformed the Western worldview and led to a modern, rational approach to the study of the natural world….Moreover, the technical advances of the early Industrial Revolution had depended little on pure science and much more on the practical experiments of technologically oriented amateur inventors. Advances in industrial technology, however, fed an interest in basic scientific research, which in the 1830s and afterward resulted in a rash of basic scientific discoveries that were soon converted into technological improvements that affected everybody. …The steadily increasing and often dramatic material gains generated by science and technology led to a growing faith in the benefits of science. The popularity of scientific and technological achievement produced a widespread acceptance of the scientific method, based on observation, experiment, and logical analysis, as the only path to objective truth and objective reality.” See: Spielvogel, Jackson J. (2010). Western Civilization. USA: Cengage Learning. p. 783.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (3)

Secondly, it seems Ip does not satisfy with the participation situation of local independent media in the Anti-WTO Movement, suggesting more positive feedback from the public to the movement should be given at that time. As mentioned, only four independent media participated in reporting the development of the dissenting movement in Hong Kong. The major work of the local independent media was offering the fresh news about the ongoing on their media platforms. However, compared with the foreign activists’ performance the media’s was “not enough”, according to Ip. Although the independent media had provided an alternative viewpoint for the movement that was different from the mainstream’s, it is still insufficient to effectively expand the social influence of the anti-globalization movement. For example, to establish an integrated media platform on the Internet for promoting the core value of the movement is a practical way to accumulate social power. Through the platform, people can search out integrated information related to the concerned conveniently[1]. The question is this: what is the core factor causing the different degrees of “maturity” of the media movement practices in the Chinese and in the West?

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] Besides the “IMC”, we can take a look at the “Occupy Wall Street Movement” as example. As introduced in Chapter One, the “Occupy Wall Street Movement” is one of the anti-globalization movements ongoing. On the movement’s official website, we can find out a lot of information, such as the history, the participation guidelines, the useful tools (e.g. forum, chatroom and map) and the up-to-date news of the social movement. Through the media platform, people are easy to step into the movement developing. This case reflects social movement practitioners and activists in the West look more “sophisticated” in carrying out their action with a methodology of asking why, what and how for such practice. At this point, the independent media in the Chinese are very easy to be seen as “immature”, still working in a “developing” stage for their social movement practice.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West (2)

“The local independent media participating in the social movement (Anti-WTO Movement in Hong Kong, 2005) were ‘Inmediahk.net’, ‘E-Politics21’, ‘People’s Radio Hong Kong (香港人民廣播電台)’ and ‘Video Power (錄影力量)’ only…. On the contrary, lots of foreign activists and alternative media at the time provided abundant commentating analyses, video footages and media materials about the global economic powers: the ‘G8’, ‘WTO’, and transnational corporations and the real-time development of the social movement. Through the information, people can know more and follow the ongoing progress of the movement. In our opinion, how to further expand the social influence of independent media is still an unsolved issue….[1]

First, Ip Iam Chong has his observation and opinion on the participation of “Inmediahk.net” in the “Anti-WTO Movement” in 2005. He argues foreign independent media practitioners and social activists in the movement were playing an important role in not only giving their energy to the dissenting movement, but providing sufficient information materials for global citizens and local people to further understand why the movement had been developed against the dominative blocs. All data, including texts, articles, multimedia files and photographs, were compiled by voluntary activists and campaigners, open to the public on the Internet. The circulation of the knowledge would encourage more people to participate in the anti-Establishment activism and facilitate the form of a powerful public opinion in Hong Kong. In a broad sense, these media works done by the sophisticated activistic practitioners helped enlarge the social influence of the movement, pressuring the “WTO” member states and local government to give more room for world citizens to realize the economic freedom and to stop any despotic decision-making for the interest of the rich around the world.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] See: Ip, Iam-Chong (2007). Small Media, Big Issue. Hong Kong: Step forward. pp. 68-69.

No Relationship with the Cultural Difference between the East and the West

In the practical aspect, there have been many differences between the independent media movement in Hong Kong and Taiwan and their counterparts in the Western world because social movements in the East (e.g. the Chinese societies) and the West are developing under different social conditions, bearing dissimilar political challenges and historical burdens. Generally speaking, “independent media” is a term firstly used by Western society for describing a new form of media for social movement practice. In Chapter Three and Four, we have analyzed the present situation of the independent media movements in the Chinese societies. We find out that the two activistic media do have their distinctive opinions and unique ideas for their social movement practices. However, their operation has some limitations, such as relatively difficult to motivate more locals to participate in social action through media activism. On the other hand, there is a common image of that Western independent media, like the “IMC”, are seen to be more active and sophisticated, keen to integrate the media running with an organizational expansion strategy[1]. It seems that they receive more attention from the global society than the independent media in Hong Kong and Taiwan.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

[1] For discussing the American “IMC”, Ip has shared his understanding: “There is a formal procedure for media movement activists to participate in the global ‘IMC’ project. If someone wants to establish an independent media platform in his or her country (or city) by using the logo of the ‘IMC’, he/she has to sign a contract with the media organization, having an obligation to promote the ‘independent media value’ defined by the ‘IMC’, to carry out the configuration standardization of the media website and to ensure the free-sharing of social movement information.” (The content is extracted from the ‘Ip’s interview’) For more details, please refer to the “IMC” official website.

No “Label” (6)

Independent media is one of the major forms of social movement practice based on the popularization of the use of the Internet and the rapid development of information technology in globalization. This kind of social movement practice is never come into existence in the past ages of human history. Hence, it is reasonable to say there would be lack of integral theory for analyzing and interpreting the significance of the social activism. Against this humanistic background, the two independent media’s founders Ip and Sun both understand that there could be no theory that can appropriately explain or interpret their local-globalized media activisms on the scene of globalization. Moreover, they both agree it is of no use to facilitate the future development of the independent media movements through idolizing a fixed principle, thought or ideology (e.g. the Left) as a “flag (label)” for positioning their social role. The operating strategy of “Inmediahk.net” and “Coolloud.org” must be timely adjusted based on the instant feedback from the public, the changing attitude of governments towards their activisms, the happening of social and political events and the developing tendency of the unstable world society. All in all, the two independent media’s opinion about not using a “label” to define their social movements not only allows their practices to be running in a high degree of flexibility, but also helps create a completely open stance on fostering the ideal development of world social activism contributed by all campaign groups and NGOs around the globe.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)

No “Label” (5)

Similar to the alienation of the use of currency, the reasoning method of “induction” – to label social phenomena by linking up known theories, thoughts and principles and by categorizing things as a typical approach to “scientific knowledge production” – is to be impotent and needed to be reflected nowadays. Through labeling, we seem to have deeper understanding on the things studied. However, by following this approach we would unconsciously ignore the importance of the nature and characteristics of the things developing within distinctive historical contexts when enjoying the “academic achievement” brought by the doing, being misled by the “power of human knowledge” based on the so-called “absolute effectiveness of the method endorsed by the name of “science”, blurring our original goal for understanding the existing within the Nature on the Earth. Human beings are not the “creator” of the world, but created by the world. However, human knowledge labeled by “science” makes everyone believe in it without reflection. This is a very obstacle of human civilization progression. Therefore, it is certain to say when we get used to put any social phenomena into a fixed understanding system of human knowledge development through labeling things, we lose a significant opportunity to rediscover the only world without the interference from power.

(See: The Theory and Practice of Anti-Globalization Movement: Case Studies of the Independent Media in the Chinese Societies – Hong Kong and Taiwan. Bonn: Bonn University. 2014)