I am sure many of you recognize this photo : ‘The Unknown Rebel’, a student halting the progress of several government tanks during the Tianmen square protests in China (1989). The protest denounced China’s economic instability and political corruption and was violently suppressed by the government. Over 3,000 died as a result of the suppression by armed soldiers. I will leave the history aside and try to look deeper in to the significance of this picture. Ofcourse it is a clear declaration of defiance, a powerful statement to the government that the will of the people cannot be abolished. But these are all general claims that do not take into consideration the actual individual act performed by this student – these claims justify this act through recourse to revolutionary rhetoric. What I mean is this : The person you see in this picture was not, during his act, thinking of the will of the people triumphing over the communist oppression, he was not trying to send a message to the Chinese government either (although, obviously, he did that indirectly) : He was performing an action with all his being, an action that was an absolute affirmation of who he is, an action that does not need recourse to any political justifications. And that is the only explanation of how he could stand, solidly, preventing several tanks from passing ahead. Doubt did not exist in his mind, nothing existed in his mind during those minutes – nothing but the euphoric feeling that, yes, he is a person, he knows who he is and that gives him the power to do the unthinkable.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s