The Entrepreneurial Mindset of Michael Anti

The impact of the entrepreneurial mindset – the mindset of just making things happen, no matter what (Entrepreneurial Rule Number One) - seems to pervade the activist set within China, which heartens me about the state of future cultural and political affairs.

At a certain point in the life of an entrepreneur he or she learns from their experience that the things they care about are not appreciated by others enough; I see much similarity to the gradual enlightenment of Michael Anti in his personal struggles with cultural identity in China. This realization is powerful, and motivating.

For Michael Anti, his transformative process from CPC shill to advocate was, in my opinion, an amazingly complete one. In crisis, his movement began at losing his self-perception and finding a new religion – an actual religion, as well as developing technical skills and improvised techniques to counter Chinese Public Security Bureau restrictions. Anti became empowered by his newfound skills and was knowledgeable enough to share them, thereby pushing out his sphere of influence by becoming an advocate and spreading the word.

Anti’s leadership development, advocacy, and thoughts in his “Manual for New Journalists” led others through the most critical parts of his leadership development process, enabling the viral spread of advocacy in China, like ripples from drops in the pond of Chinese self-expression.

As an entrepreneur, I can learn broad strokes from his progression.

The Business of Oppression

I am disturbed by the role of business and certain electronic products in government regimes that seek to target individuals and oppress them, and imprison, torture, or murder them.

I can see a role for policy and governance here. It strikes me that certain nuance should be employed likely at the State Department, or whomever regulates the Export Controls. If there was a clear risk for data collection capability, data or person tracking, data analysis for matching persons with accounts, or the like to  historically repressive non-democracies, I would recommend to the decision-makers that these countries be put on the no-sell list for products that generate and manage this kind of data.

So you know, I guess we need Engineers at the State Department.

The Business of Freedom

This knife of the open Internet cuts both ways, however.

Honestly, I’m not sure how to feel about the excerpt regarding the Chinese Parliament’s E-Parliament, simply due to the other activities of the Chinese CPC. However, it’s interesting, and good – how could it be anything else? – that the e-Parliament is group-sourcing their ideas for future policy suggestions from the public. This is kind of shocking to me, because it seems to be the only proactive way that I’ve ever heard of the CPC listening to the Chinese people.

So what’s the rule for democracy-supporting companies in non-democratic countries? The rule for when business should engage or not in non-democracies is a difficult rule to develop because the issue cuts both ways.

The closest I can get is: there’s always a way to try to do it right.

(Entrepreneurial rule Number Two.)