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Di Leo: June 4th – A Reminder That Some Wars Never End




By John F. Di Leo - 

In the mid-19th century, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels popularized a new slant on utopian mob rule. 

There had been mob rule before – the rivers of blood in 1890s Paris predated Marxism by half a century – but what Marx and Engels popularized was a theory of permanence and universality. 

They imagined a global linkage between all the desperate, violent, bloody moments of history, and told their acolytes that their own individual quests to become commissars of their own towns were part of something bigger.  Even if they lost, they were part of the march of history toward worldwide “dictatorship by the proletariat.”

So it was that communism spread across the world in the century that followed Marx’ and Engels’ destructive lives.  Their acolytes conquered Russia, then the prize of Eastern Europe… they conquered China, then North Korea and Vietnam… they conquered Cuba, then Nicaragua and the prize of Venezuela… they conquered Tanzania and Zambia, then the prizes of Rhodesia and South Africa.

For 45 years, we called it a Cold War, that post-WWII struggle between the West and the Soviet Bloc, but then it ended, almost too suddenly to notice.  From cracks in the armor with Solidarity’s rise in Poland to the complete collapse of the Iron Curtain a decade later, the West cheered at the apparent defeat of communism.

But it was premature.  Only Russia, the FSU, and Eastern Europe were really freed.  It was wonderful, of course, but it wasn’t enough.  The Cold War didn’t really end.  We won on one front, but not on all of them.  Communism still infected the globe.

Even today, North Korea and Cuba remain as oppressive as they were before. Venezuela and South Africa continue to sink, reversing a trend of increasing freedom and increasing opportunities before, now becoming ever more enslaved, ever more impoverished.

And Mainland China – the “People’s Republic of China” – has only gotten stronger.

At the end of the 1980s, the whole western side of Asia and Eastern Europe, from Russia to the Captive Nations up and down its western border, was suddenly enjoying a great awakening, almost simultaneously finding the strength to throw off the shackles of leftism and declare themselves free.

At the same time, particularly in the spring and early summer of 1989, there were people in Mainland China who felt the same way, and thought the time had come for them as well.

Peaceful demonstrations commenced on April 15, primarily led by student protesters. Of course, they had to be students; how many adults in the PRC workforce could have the time or courage to participate, considering the fact that they all work for the state?

The ’89 Democracy Movement lasted over six weeks, most notably in Beijing, the very capital, of all places. These courageous demonstrators gained the respect of the world as we watched them on television, standing up to the very politburo that gave the orders to kill tens of millions of their neighbors just a generation before.

The demonstrators stood proudly, peacefully, and defiantly, in support of freedom, thinking the sands of time were on their side, that the progress of history was going to sweep communism away at last.  Their movement had spread; they had demonstrations going on in 400 cities across China. Surely this was their moment.

And then came the tanks.

On June 4, the politburo gave the order across the country, to put down the protests, firmly and permanently.

In city after city, but especially in Beijing, the epicenter, tanks rolled down the street.  One brave man in Beijing – even to this day, known to the world only as Tank Man – stood defiantly and stared them down. It was the last thing he ever did.

The time had come for the Russian politburo; it came for the Polish politburo. The clock struck its last chime for the politburos of Hungary, Czechoslovakia and East Germany.

But not for China’s.  Not then, at least.  Not yet.

On June 4, 1989, the government of Beijing started the arrests.  Thousands of protestors were killed; countless thousands more were wounded.  China was still a communist country, and was to remain so.  Its rulers had no intention of giving up absolute power anytime soon.


31 years later, China is still ruled by a politburo with absolute power.  For all intents and purposes, the government in Beijing owns every factory and every patent, every stock certificate and every human soul.  That’s just life, in the world that Marx and Engels designed, and so it will always be, as long as their heirs rule.

Less than ten years later, due to a foreign policy error some call unavoidable but all recognize as tragic, the United Kingdom turned over its territory of Hong Kong to China, after a century and a half of being a British territory.

Britain negotiated a treaty with Beijing; they got promises that Beijing would honor the individual freedom of Hong Kong’s people.  Beijing would preserve Hong Kong’s special status, as a financial capital based on economic freedom.  Beijing promised not to do to Hong Kong what it had done to the rest of the country. Beijing promised not to rule it as absolute dictators.

None but the most gullible expected this to be permanent.  The kind of people who sit in a politburo don’t give up power permanently, but there was hope that they would honor the treaty’s promised time period – for 50 years, at least, China was to allow Hong Kong to remain Hong Kong.

But then, in 2020, a full twenty years before the treaty allowed, China declared that it was revoking the special relationship, and was going to exert the full power of a ruling government over the 7.5 million innocents of Hong Kong.

The people of Hong Kong weren’t asking so much; they just wanted to live as their parents and grandparents had, as free people in the British tradition, voting and working, running their businesses, raising their children, carrying on the liberty and culture of a proud and civilized people.

Can’t have that.

Beijing has spoken, and it will not be appeased or dissuaded. 

The golden city on a hill, that stirring testimonial to economic and human freedom, is being snuffed out.  Leftist rulers are a jealous lot, their will never suffer others to breathe free if they have any say in the matter.

(A side note to the cities aflame in America today; don't delude yourself in thinking that Antifa and BLM wear that same badge as honorable protesters for human freedom. In fact, Antifa and BLM, just like the Occupy crowd of a few years back, are solidly on the side of the tyrants, as they clamor for the fundamental transformation of America, and the establishment of such politburos right here).

In the upshot of Beijing’s abrogation of the treaty, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken a visionary and honorable step: he is working to offer British immigration to the three million holders of British passports currently living in Hong Kong,  A ticket out, a path to freedom. They would be welcome in England, a win-win both for these immigrants themselves and for England.

The United States is working on the same issue; having offered fast-track immigration to the oppressed freedom-loving people of Soviet Russia, Cuba and Vietnam many times during the Cold War, there is precedent for offering such a plan here as well.

Under British protection and laissez-faire policies, Hong Kong went from being an impoverished rock in the 19th century to an economic powerhouse by the late 20th century.  The people of Hong Kong are a living testimonial to the success that is only possible through implementation of the freedom philosophy. They would be a welcome addition to any western country they grace with their presence.

May the hand of Divine Providence make it possible, and bless both the United Kingdom and the United States with the peaceful migration of these good people to safer, freer shores.

And may the good Lord help those who must be left behind, a living reminder that the struggle between freedom and leftism is permanent on this globe, that as hard as we may try, some wars never end.

Copyright 2020 John F Di Leo

John F Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based trade compliance trainer, writer and actor.  His columns are regularly found in Illinois Review.

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  1. John, once again right on the mark. Though I will admit I was surprised about South Africa. I missed that bit of history.
    It is beyond me how these people believe pursuing communism is in their best interests. We have to be very aware & diligent that they are not successful in America.
    Thanks John.