Essay

Double Dissidents

The cognitive dissonance of overseas Chinese students – Xiaoyu Lu

“Why were you defending an authoritarian regime?”

Tina, a friend from Comparative Politics class, asked me this as we walked out of the seminar room. We had began our graduate course at Oxford three years ago, and both carried on with doctoral research in Politics. Despite the occasional hostilities between our home countries (China and the US), we quickly became close friends and suspended the ideological differences between us. Still, her question left me half shocked and half puzzled. During the past two hours, we had been debating furiously about the “doomed future of democratization” and the “crisis of liberal democracy.” As usual, I was critical of mainstream political thought, especially any definition of democracy that delimits itself to a few institutional yardsticks, along with a tone of moral proselytism that renders democracy as a dividing battle between us and them.