Angry Bears and China
I have a number of posts queued on this topic but this is the first quick one that I’ve been able to write.
I have been reading the book: ‘The Writing on the Wall.’ Mr. Will Hutton is the author.
The book is billed as a look at what makes China tick and what the west should do about it. …
… we take the west for granted…. and we are too willing to accept the criticism that we are hypocrites…
We also take western properties of China too seriously. The Chinese (actually all Asians) are also far too comfortable with vicious cruelty, far too concerned with what they call “order,” have a chip on their collective shoulders similar to that of the Islamic world: they are frustrated by the fact that their core philosophical tenets say that that they are the “best” but they are confronted with the failure of those tenets in the face of western innovation on a daily basis. They have far too much comfort with and tolerance for corruption, and the objective truth we take for granted in our exchanges is something that they are far to happy to ignore. Familial ties are still superior to individualism. They will be only too pleased to oppress the rest of the world if given the opportunity. By comparison the west distributed creatively destructive capitalism, Aristotelian logic, property rights, decreasing prices, technology, medicine, human rights, and laws wherever they took their colonialism. China has no compelling reason to go through their own enlightenment, and the west’s failings, like Rome’s, will look trivial in comparison to a future dominated by Chinese totalitarianism, pettiness, self-righteousness, and cruelty.
…[we complain but we are no better than they are]… [at least they make sure all citizens have a job]…
You may not understand this but the structure of your argument implies we understand what we do, when in fact, for most social and political functions, we do something then understand it much later – often a century or more. This error is probably endemic in your reasoning but it would bear consideration.
Secondly, his point was probably better stated as “reformation” rather than “enlightenment,” but for the purposes of his warning they are synonymous – it’s just easier to see China’s cult of nobility (Confucianism) as political rather than religious.
Thirdly, the consumerism that China is espousing is necessary to prevent civil war that will topple the regime. That is their main concern: to preserve the China myth.
Fourth, it is probably prudent to remember that innovation (entrepreneurship is only one form of it) on a large scale and the rate of that innovation in relation to the population determine long-term prosperity, and prosperity withdraws if the rate changes and the population does not. European culture has been spreading calculative technologies, as well as productive technologies since the Italian renaissance. Bringing these technologies to cultures is very different from any other form of colonialism.
Fifth, there is a difference between seeking experiential results for people today and seeking material results for generations that follow. These are preferential choices, not absolute truths. Your assumption is the opposite and your preference destructive. It is possible to do both, but only if one is aware of the differences so that compromises can be made.
Sixth, there are a small number of fundamental technologies that led to the prosperity of the seventeenth through twentieth centuries. Some of them were calculative (improvements in accounting, as well as insurance and banking, and questionably fiat money), and the others were largely to do with antibiotics, magnetism, and harnessing energy in different forms. Exploiting these technologies is a constant effort. The Chinese miracle is the consumption of these marginal increases in technology in exchange for labor arbitrage and reduced consumer prices in the west. However, there is a fairly short point where innovation and capital may be disconnected and the culture of China, and certainly not India, has no indication of being innovative (in terms of creative destruction).
I’ve been studying them for twenty years and they’re not that complicated. Like anything else, the little things are noise and a reflection of more deeply-held theories and values. From that perspective we seem similar on a day-to-day basis. But we are not similar as a trend over centuries, and they are moving capital away from our culture’s innovative tendencies, and there seems no way out of it.
That’s all for now, but if you see governments as parents that’s fine as long as you understand that populations must grow up or eventually live in poverty and dependence.
Observation of common people provides little insight into cultural tendencies, and makes us see just how similar we humans all are to each other. This form of observation and conclusion is a vanity we are all too comfortable to embrace.
But it is when we must form mobs, armies, and economies, and compete as groups, when we unite under the banner of our myths, when we express our metaphysics, our first beliefs in man, that those subtle tendencies en masse find free expression without the courtesy of daily conviviance, that we can compare the differences in our cultures, our nations, and our values.
The Chinese are still culturally a cruel and backward people with a need for vicious conformity, even if they have adopted modern European economically calculative technologies and employ western scientific technologies to produce goods and services by labor arbitrage.
What we see in them at present is the reflection of ourselves in a mirror we gave them. What we will see, if they have the freedom to prosecute their mythology on the rest of the world, is not that mirror but the cruel and nasty, obsessively compulsive, order-seeking, emotionally suppressed, and deceitful peasant we have already seen in how they prosecuted that mythology against their own people.
Do not take Greece, Rome, Christendom, and the Anglo-German reformation for granted. It was the forge that made us. It was a rare forge not seen elsewhere on the earth.
They did not embrace the abandonment of reason, as did the central Asians and the middle easterners. But in their past they still created a body of knowledge and myth to fight off the Aristotelians. And they hold to it now.