Chinese Artist: On Taking Individual Responsibility

Ai Weiwei In an interview with Rebecca MacKinnon

…We will never have a real civil society, a democratic society, unless people take responsibility. Why Chinese citizens don’t take responsibility and speak their views is partially for cultural reasons, and partially due to circumstances created by government policy. They don’t let people take responsibility, don’t let them vote, don’t let them say ah, I made the wrong choices and I take responsibility for them. Like Americans said, we made the wrong choice with Bush and now we choose Obama. Maybe they’ll decide that Obama was the wrong choice too. But they take responsibility for choices made according to their conscience and their duty. They say next time we’ll do a better job. Chinese citizens aren’t that way. They say well I didn’t choose this party and this government, how you build each road is none of my business. How you spend your funds you won’t tell me anyway. Why do I want to take any responsibility? Democracy is not a political ideal. Democracy is a means of handling problems. This method is effective, why? Because everybody in society takes responsibility. If nobody is taking responsibility, it shouldn’t be called “society.” Or its a slave society anyway.

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