之前申請社會所博士班時，為了寫研究計畫再讀趙鼎新的作品，適逢六四，就用他這本也算在西方學界廣為流傳的The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement（天安門的力量：國家－社會的關係和1989年學生運動）來回顧那年的學運是如何開始的。
不過，若單從學術研究的角度來讀，這本書在描述學運起源時仍然有其有趣之處，例如，以我所讀到的趙鼎新，算是芝加哥學派生態理論（ Ecological school）的佼佼者（這也可能是我的誤讀，畢竟我不是社會系出身），而他連結了中國初創時代，中央為了控制知識份子把幾十間北京的高等學校擠在同一個範圍，後來這個狹小密集的校區加速了八九學運時各校學生的串連，像是這觀點我就認為是意想不到的原創。
What factors contributed to the student protests?
According to Zhao, there were at least three factors that contributed to the student protests. First, during the late 1980s, students and Beijing residents started to evaluate the state by its economic and moral performance. However, the top state elites still maintained their communist ideology. This contrast of understanding of state legitimation led to the conflict between the regime and general public (loc.271). Another key factor is that there were highly concentrated campuses being set up in the same district. This made for a perfect environment in which students from 67 universities could build close-knit networks and act collectively. This environment also facilitated interuniversity competition for activism. Finally, the effectiveness of state control on students was declining at the time. Given the above factors, when the Chinese economy was in a crisis and living standards of intellectuals worsened and students were having difficulty finding ideal jobs after school, crisis discourse became easy to spread on campus and mobilize the aggrieved population (loc.308-316).
Who were the primary organizers of the protests? How well organized were they?
On April 17 1989, 600 young teachers and students from the University of Political Science and Law organized the first protests. Then students in Beijing University followed. This demonstration was initially without an actual plan, and the demands of the protests emerged on the half way through the demonstration. Two days later, the student movement organization emerged. Zhao points out that even though there were several organizations and self-appointed student ladders mobilizing the protests, no one could control the direction of the movement. On the other hand, although the organized job structure was very random and messy, student leaders effectively used rumors to mobilized more students and successfully brought the movement to the next, more militant stage (loc.1806).
How would you apply Lichbach’s argument about repression and protest to the Tiananmen case? How did the regime’s approach to repression evolve over time? Was repression initially consistent?
Lichbach provides a Ration Actor model to explain how opposition groups (the tactics of contenders) and regimes (repressive tactics of government) interact. He argues that the regime is the key factor that influences opposition activity because it alters the costs of an opponent’s tactics (289). He also argues that whether an increase in the regime’s repression increases or decreases the opposition group’s total dissident activities depends upon the government’s accommodative policy to the group (293). In the Tiananmen case, the regimes’ indefinite concession and threat policies caused a different reaction from students. The students’ reaction was also changing rapidly and could remain consistent. After Hu Yaobang’s funeral, the regime was initially determined to take firm measures to calm the student turmoil as soon as possible.
However, the official newspaper People’s Daily’s editorial announced this threat of repression, triggering a large-scale demonstration. New protests caused the regime to shrink back. Its approach toward repression was also moderated by Zhao Ziyang. Top state elites stepped back and waited to see if Zhao’s concession could bring about an end to the movement (loc.2763). According to Lichbach’s RA model, opponents hence altered their tactics— regime concessions encouraged students to drive toward the next radical move as they underestimated the costs (loc.2904). After the protests upgraded to hunger strikes, the regime went back to their original plan of repression.
What factors contributed to the regime’s ultimate decision to crack down?
There is no doubt that the hunger strike was the turning point of the student protests, and the key factor which ultimately led regime’s military repression. Hunger strikes fundamentally challenged the regime’s ideology and morality. Moreover, it turned the movement into a zero-sum game (loc. 2822). At the time, Zhao Ziyang was the only top leader who still held the illusion that concessions could convince the students to stop hunger striking and withdraw from Tiananmen Square. Although until May 15, the Chinese government still tried to negotiate with the students, even the student leaders who initiated the hunger strike could not stop it. Also, among the expansion of the scale of the movement, those student leaders already lost control of the movement and the movement radicalized itself (loc.2341-2381)— which resulted in a deadlock between students and the regime.
The student occupation of Tiananmen Square caused many activities surrounding the Gorbachev trip to be canceled or rescheduled. That helped convince most of the top state elites to decide that the regime should take action. Those top state elites, include military leaders, who experienced the revolution before 1949 believed that military repression was the only way to solve this crisis (loc.2905).
今年四月份時西蒙非斯大學的歷史系教授Jeremy Brown出版了最新的六四研究June Fourth：The Tiananmen Protests and Beijing Massacre of 1989，他在一場新書座談會上提到，最近中國網軍總以George Floyd之死以及過去的美國奴役黑人史、和最近在BC省發現215具原住民小朋友屍體來質疑Brown作為一個美裔和加裔學者的立場，說他沒有資格談論中共在天安門廣場的「屠殺」。