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Ian Morris on the West, China & Global Shifts

We take the long view on China’s rise and the West’s uncertain future.

President Barack Obama with China's President Hu Jintao in South Korea, Nov. 11, 2010. (AP)

For five hundred years, the trend and then the firm reality has been the West on top in world affairs. Western gunboats in Chinese rivers, not the other way around.

Now, the tide is changing. China’s voice – and clout and sway and reach – are exploding on the world stage. East and West have been eyeball-to-eyeball, most recently over the Nobel Peace Prize for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Historian Ian Morris has the long view of planetary power, of who’s up, who’s down, and what it will now take for the world to survive. We look at China, the West, and power in the 21st century.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Barbara Demick, Beijing Bureau Chief for the Los Angeles Times and author of “Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea.”

Ian Morris, professor of classics and History at Stanford University. His new book is “Why the West Rules — For Now: the Patterns of History, and What They Reveal About the Future.”

From Ian Morris’ “Why the West Rules”:

Chapter 1: Before East and West

What Is the West?

“When a man is tired of London,” said Samuel Johnson, “he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” It was 1777, and every current of thought, every bright new invention, was energizing Dr. Johnson’s hometown. London had cathedrals and palaces, parks and rivers, mansions and slums. Above all, it had things to buy—things beyond the wildest imaginings of previous generations. Fine ladies and gentlemen could alight from carriages outside the new arcades of Oxford Street, there to seek out novelties like the umbrella, an invention of the 1760s that the British soon judged indispensable; or the handbag, or toothpaste, both of them products of the same decade. And it was not just the rich who indulged in this new culture of consumption. To the horror of conservatives, tradesmen were spending hours in coffee shops, the poor were calling tea a “necessary,” and farmers’ wives were buying pianos.

The British were beginning to feel they were not like other people. In 1776 the Scottish sage Adam Smith had called them “a nation of shopkeepers” in his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, but he had meant it as a compliment; Britons’ regard for their own well-being, Smith insisted, was making everyone richer. Just think, he said, of the contrast between Britain and China. China had been “long one of the richest, that is, one of the most fertile, best cultivated, most industrious, and most populous, countries of the world,” but had already “acquired that full complement of riches which the measure of its laws and institutions permits it to acquire.” The Chinese, in short, were stuck. “The competition of the labourers and the interest of the masters,” Smith predicted, “would soon reduce them to the lowest rate which is consistent with common humanity,” with the consequence that “the poverty of the lower ranks of people in China far surpasses that of the most beggarly nations in Europe…Any carrion, the carcase of a dead dog or cat, for example, though half putrid and stinking, is as welcome to them as the most wholesome food to the people of other countries.”

Johnson and Smith had a point. Although the industrial revolution had barely begun in the 1770s, average incomes were already higher and more evenly distributed in England than in China. Long-term lock-in theories of Western rule often start from this fact: the West’s lead, they argue, was a cause rather than a consequence of the industrial revolution, and we need to look back further in time—perhaps much further—to explain it.

Or do we? The historian Kenneth Pomeranz, whose book The Great Divergence I mentioned in the introduction, insists that Adam Smith and all the cheerleaders for the West who followed him were actually comparing the wrong things. China is as big and as varied, Pomeranz points out, as the whole continent of Europe. We should not be too surprised, then, that if we single out England, which was Europe’s most developed region in Smith’s day, and compare it with the average level of development in the whole of China, England scores higher. By the same token, if we turned things around and compared the Yangzi Delta (the most developed part of China in the 1770s) with the average level of development across the whole of Europe, the Yangzi Delta would score higher. Pomeranz argues that eighteenth-century England and the Yangzi Delta had more in common with each other (incipient industrialism, booming markets, complex divisions of labor) than England did with underdeveloped parts of Europe or the Yangzi Delta did with underdeveloped parts of China—all of which leads him to conclude that long-term theorists get things back-to-front because their thinking has been sloppy. If England and the Yangzi Delta were so similar in the eighteenth century, Pomeranz observes, the explanation for Western rule must lie after this date, not before it.

One implication is clear: if we want to know why the West rules, we first need to know what “the West” is. As soon as we ask that question, though, things get messy. Most of us have a gut feeling about what constitutes “the West.” Some people equate it with democracy and freedom; others with Christianity; others still with secular rationalism. In fact, the historian Norman Davies has found no fewer than twelve ways that academics define the West, united only by what he calls their “elastic geography.” Each definition gives the West a different shape, creating exactly the kind of confusion that Pomeranz complains about. The West, says Davies, “can be defined by its advocates in almost any way that they think fit,” meaning that when we get right down to it, “Western civilization is essentially an amalgam of intellectual constructs which were designed to further the interests of their authors.”

If Davies is right, asking why the West rules means nothing more than arbitrarily picking some value to define the West, claiming that a particular set of countries exemplifies this value, then comparing that set with an equally arbitrary set of “non-Western” countries to reach whatever self-serving conclusions we like. Anyone who disagrees with our conclusions can simply choose a different value to exemplify Westernness, a different set of countries exemplifying it, and a different comparison set, coming—naturally—to a different but equally self-serving conclusion.

This would be pointless, so I want to take a different approach. Instead of starting at the end of the process, making assumptions about what count as Western values and then looking back through time to find their roots, I will start at the beginning. I will move forward through time from the beginning until we reach a point at which we can see distinctive ways of life emerging in different parts of the world. I will then call the westernmost of these distinctive regions “the West” and the easternmost “the East,” treating West and East for what they are—geographical labels, not value judgments.

Saying we must start at the beginning is one thing; finding it is another altogether. As we will see, there are several points in the distant past at which scholars have been tempted to define East and West in terms of biology, rejecting the argument I made in the introduction that folks (in large groups) are all much the same and instead seeing the people in one part of the world as genetically superior to everyone else. There are also points when it would be all too easy to conclude that one region has, since time immemorial, been culturally superior to all others. We must look into these ideas carefully, because if we make a misstep here at the start we will also get everything about the shape of the past, and therefore about the shape of the future, too, wrong.

Excerpted from WHY THE WEST RULES—FOR NOW: THE PATTERNS OF HISTORY, AND WHAT THEY REVEAL ABOUT THE FUTURE by Ian Morris, published in October 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Copyright © 2010 by Ian Morris. All rights reserved.

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  • Nick from Massachusetts

    I don’t understand the conflict with China. If this growing tiger is such a threat, why do we continue to feed it with our businesses moving there and borrowing so much money from them?

    I suppose the answer is because we are no longer a democracy but instead a plutocracy and most plutocracies end up ruining themselves because their only goal is the profit of the day instead of the longer view.

  • joshua

    Nick is absolutely right. The US elite are treasonous.

  • Zeno

    High altitude Nobel bombing.

  • http://www.pilatesshanghai.com Derrick

    I live in Shanghai and have seen China grow and develop over the last 20 years. I think engagement is the best policy. China needs to be engaged and pushed and pulled. Chinese are rough and tumble even though they often appear meek. That is just the facade that they like to show. Chinese know that there are universal values they just are loath to admit that the West is right. Don’t be fooled by China they have their eyes on becoming the largest economy in the world. The West must require China to be more transparent if it wants to join developed nations club

  • jeffe

    Our nation is in decline, look around. China, India and Brazil, yes Brazil, are going to be the economic leaders in the very near future.

    Brazil is larger than the US and has more resources as well as just discovering huge oil reserves off it’s coast which will make in a few years the 3rd or 4th largest oil producing nation in the world. Guess who there largest trading partner is. Brazil is also one of the largest iron producers.

  • Pancake in McAdenville, formerly Christmastown

    Derrick practices Pilates and jeffe watched 60 Minutes last night. (Wouldn’t you like to be Jerry Jones?) Notice that on their trip to Brazil the main contact was a billionaire. (Real Lara Logan methods.) Brazil may be more democratic than we, and China more repressive, but we are here, and we are us. Labor rights overseas would go a long way to fix things here, but that’s the opposite of trade agreement purposes. As top end tax cuts continue and inheritance taxes are suspended for our one half percent elite that money will be speculated on the very cheap labor dynamoes we are taught to fear. I am a woman kept by my grandpa’s investments, a caged bird, and even I know this is the time to give and enable those who are down like never before. Ellen talks about making our own jobs and I’m trying to find a way, but even my comrade and teacher, Jackie Homan is freezing to death in a cold house in Erie, PA this morning. We suffer partly because we do not respect the people who give their lives telling us the truth. If we had a Gandhi we would put him in restraints in a rest home. Confucius is just another way to confuse Chinese workers about human rights, like telling Grimm’s Fairy Tales to hungry children.

  • geffe

    Pancake in McAdenville, and your point is? China is a bad place. I already know that. By the way I already knew what I wrote about Brazil before 60 minutes. They are going to clean our clock as will China and India. You can sit there and say there government is bad or whatever you want. The reality is they are rising and we are falling.

    Brazil is already out greening us with energy and it is still a third world country with huge infrastructure problems. It remains to be seen if they can keep this up.
    Still they are at least thinking about how to move forward without using blind capitalism.

    China is going to be the largest economic force on the planet and there is nothing we can do about it. There schools are turning out smarter kids than ours who speak English and are scoring higher on the college entrance exams than our best and brightest. We should be ashamed and instead of giving wealthy people tax cuts the debate should be how do get our schools to work. Because they are failing.

  • joshua

    Geff writes: “there schools are turning out smarter kids than ours who speak English and are scoring higher on the college entrance exams than our best and brightest.”

    This is just not true. The education system in China is horrid and turns out non-thinking, un-caring drones, that devout their lives to exams and really dont know how to think. They cannot score well on Western college exams–im sorry that is just not true. As a teacher in China I know that most of them simply do not think, do not know how to begin to think–that is the fault of their culture and edu system. And theyare too cowardly and submisive to make any real changes in their society–all change comes from he top down. many kids are just fed up, miserable, cynical, and depressed, seething in quiet desperation.

    theyare good hackers–and good copy-cats–they excell at it. But original thought is few and far between. And that is most of their problem–becuase they really grasp social issues, humanities, philosophy, morals and ethics–to make reasonably, compassionate choices. Its going to impact the world in horrible dastardly ways. There are many sweet Chinese who would thrive in a healthy, innovative society, and these ones are either crushed by the weight of China’s inhuman culture, or leave China in search of greener pastures (if they can afford it or escape) and thus the enormous fluxes of Chinese immigration.

  • Nick

    It bothers me when news shows like this drool over the potential threat to US + world peace from China.

  • joshua

    the above statement should read And that is most of their problem–because they CANT really grasp social issues, humanities…

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Joshua, whereabouts in China? Since 2000? How fluent are you in Cantonese or Mandarin? Are you talking private schools, elementary — do you know the school system well enough to differentiate? Do you know the parents? Do you know the attitudes of the administrators, what they are trying to do?
    What a lot of conclusions…

  • Pancake, in self-defense

    joshua
    jeffe does have a tendency to give credibility to the boasts and threats of the Omni-garchy of Authoritarian Capitalism. “there is nothing we can do about it” is not my point. I just “found” some chump change for my cold author friend (“Classism for Dimwits”). My point is that we can’t go on assuming we are in the bus driven by our elite, and expect that bus to arrive at a better place. We’d be better off on our own bikes. ( Hell, China would be better off on bikes too.) Business minded know-it -all who have their TV minds fixated on competition are the very ones who trip you while you’re faithfully playing the game. The answer is to refuse their game (the wealthy) and start our own cooperative activity. Capitalism as we conceived it is dead, not in bygone theory, but by real circumstance. Invest with Chuck all you want, but you can’t wash that toxic feces off your paws.

  • geffe

    joshua and our students do? They just tested students in Shanghai from the better schools and they did better than European and Americans. I’m not saying they are perfect, far from it.

    What I see is very few American students with any idea about creative or critical thinking. Of course it’s not good to generalize, but I teach at the college level and what I see is not good. Right now the most creative person I’ve met recently has been home schooled. (a non-religious home schooling)

    Our schools are failing. To deny this is just bad policy.

    Getting back to the subject of the show, the government is repressive as their reaction to the Nobel prize.

    My point is that we live in pretty large glass house ourselves.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Pancake, I’m thinking the industrial production-line jobs crossed with TV viewing have made Americans into robotic pawns, easy to maneuver and dogmatic, and partly because of a tradition of helplessness. Once upon a time, it didn’t matter. Now it does.
    China, similarly, has traditions of helplessness, from what I read and learn from interactions. A Very Proud Tradition, rooted in Confucianism, and they are keen to explain they were an empire and civilized several millennia ago.
    What I don’t know is how to parse out the attitudes contributing to China versus here in the USA. I sort of get why the Republicans got their votes in November. I don’t quite see how the economic ripening of China is changing their, um, psychology.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    Ian Morris is projecting less of an East/West divide. I’m thinking can he de-fang Al-Kaida while he’s exercising his imagination? Muslims certainly see a stand-off. But the idea of stand-off is embedded in our psychology from the Cold War, and it doesn’t help that said war was not “won,” but rather fizzled. Somehow we ended up with huge military “responsibilities,” and let the world see us as the Masters of the Universe. For our own survival, we need to see the world as integrated. China could at least HELP US! Please!
    Oh, I know, we’ll wind up with the SuperPlutocracy running everything. With microchips to control our thoughts. Central planning doesn’t begin to adequately foreshadow the extent of police planet coming down the pike. IF we succeed in cooperating.

  • Pancake, on guard

    Mia was complaining last night that all the students, (but especially the college aged ones) routinely cheat by digital and other means in her Art History classes. I suggested she “test” them in scheduled 20 minute discussions in her office, or alternatively, have them answer individualized essay questions longhand outside class. She followed my ideas and by the end of this semester was terminated by the community college administration. We cultivate cheaters and criminals in our schools and penalize the honest. This is a direct reflection of the workplace, our homes, our churches and our media. But we can do some things about it, if those in charge really cared. I think building inspectors here and in China might be directly interchangeable in their habits of corruption. Some buildings are gonna fall and burn on both sides of the Pacific without terrorist assistance. The “fishing industry” rots from the head. Is jeffe “teaching a man to fish”? I’d hope not.

  • Pancake

    last month, not last night… I slap my forehead.

  • Jack

    While I support Mr. Liu Xiaobo fight for freedom of speech in China, I don’t see a big difference between this and last years Nobel Peace Prize. The selection is not based on personal accomplishment, but whether that person can fit the agenda. A number of Chinese dissidents and NGOs are more worthy of the prize, but Liu was selected because he was put in prison and the bad PR Chinese government did.

    I don’t like his fanatical support of US invasion of Iraq and the British colonization of the undeveloped countries, arguing that they brought civilization to those people.

    He asserted that China should have been colonized by the Briton for 300 years. Well, Chinese remember the two opium wars, looting and killing that UK and other western countries did on China 100 years ago. And Chinese remember the invasion of Japanese at the name of bringing civilization and prosperity to China and other Asian countries.

  • Jack

    I don’t like his fanatical support of US invasion of Iraq and the British colonization of the undeveloped countries, he argued that they brought civilization to those people.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    So the only way to survive is to adopt the collectivism of China? No thank you.

  • Scott Burns

    They want to be more Westernized. All children there are being required to learn English (as in Japan, as it’s the language of business, not to mention science. So they do look to the West, specifically the US, as the standard. But if the West is to influence their political values, the West would be wise to take a lesson recently learned from the Middle East and have them exposed to our culture through our television, and the lessons of the Iraq riots and use mobile media to get the Western message in.

    The bigger threat now could be militarily. I suggest reading the Dec 2010 issue of Popular Mechanics. They’re increasing their sub fleet with Russian subs and developing anti-ship missiles that we don’t have effective countermeasures for.

    Scott Burns
    Jamestown, NY
    WBFO – Buffalo

  • Brandstad

    Tom,

    China has just as many problems as the US. The only difference is in the US, we have some level of transparency and thus you can see our wounds. In china, the mistakes made by the government in running the economy, building buildings, roads, and cities are all hidden.

    Even Chinese government officials say all of the government released economic numbers are fairy tales. The only true judge is to track electricity usage since many factories and houses lay vacant.

    China also has the problem that if they don’t keep their population uninformed, and content, they will revolt!

  • Zeno

    China will implode at some point. That point will be when the imbalance of prosperity hits tipping point. The death count will be gigantic.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    The opium wars in China in my VERY uninformed opinion revealed a big crack in Chinese culture/society that led to great problems with addiction.

    Remind you of anything? Invasions of crack and opium from Mexico and Afghanistan?

    I see addiction (even to prescription medication) as the telltale sign of a slavelike inequality/helplessness, in short malfunctioning economy and culture.

  • Julie Grower

    Tom and Ian, you mentioned that China is a becoming a Authoritarian Capitalist state. Isn’t the U.S. the same thing masquerading as a democracy? The multinational corporations ultimately run everything in this country. Not recommending communism as an alternative, but we need to be honest about what is really happening in this country.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thank you.

  • Julie Grower

    Tom and Ian, you mentioned that China is a becoming a Authoritarian Capitalist state. Isn’t the U.S. the same thing masquerading as a democracy? The multinational corporations ultimately run everything in this country. Not recommending communism as an alternative, but we need to be honest about what is really happening in this country. Oh I am originally from the Northeast, now living in the Mid-south.

    Would love to hear your thoughts on this.

    Thank you.

  • Scott Burns

    Let’s not forget that China also lent us that $1Trillion so we could bail ourselves out, and aid other countries. What happens when if China says “Don’t go to the Nobel Peace Award” or we’ll demand immediate payment,”? What if they just eliminate the middleman and loans those countries we aid directly? Do we see more empty seats at those type of awards? Less international protests against the Chinese occupation of Tibet? Do more UN votes go their way?

    That Russia, Cuba, and such countries didn’t attend the Nobel Awards isn’t disturbing, they always seem to band together and do the exact opposite of the US. But that a country Saudi Arabia, that we’re so closely allied to, and rely on, and they to us, could be pressured to not attend should sound an alarm for the West.

  • Brandstad

    Tom,

    Food price inflation in China is booming well beyond the rate of the broader CPI.

    Do your guests think this could cause internal strife inside China since nothing makes people more upset then being unable to buy food.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/theres-only-one-inflation-number-that-scares-chinese-officials-2010-12#ixzz180VI9DTa

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    geffe: techy, techy. I try to blame the world for not only my own problems but all problems of all people forever more. What else? Blame God? I could become a monk and chant all day, but who would feed me?

  • Brandstad

    Julie Grower,

    First the US is not a Democracy, it it a Republic although the majority of Americans would not know this. Everyone should look into the founders and their reasoning why they didn’t want america to be a Democracy

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Listen to the recent comment: We all have a yin and a yang. The good must be encouraged, and the bad suppressed.

    That’s a frightening statement. The Chinese government suppresses what it considers to be bad, but do we all agree with that assessment? I don’t want to live in a world that follows the Chinese model.

  • Pancake

    If pitiful North Korea demonstrates its missile threat the worldwide implosion and death count will be gigantic to say the least. It is pointless to project your genocidal thoughts on the helpless billion in China. Realize that through corporate economies that our government IS their government. If people are not able to decentralize control and solve the wealth and income distribution concentration all humanity is doomed. There need be no organized conspiracy, just ecological consequences. Submarines, car sales, cyber-war and spy satellites will not mean s**t.

  • Ellen Dibble, Northampton, MA

    If the world voted on the Nobel recipient, I would care. But a small group of informed people in Northern Europe? A group who nominated Obama on the basis of a few speeches which are almost a necessary policy statement of a global power like the USA? How much do I care? I plan to do what I can, and hope everybody else will too. The particular criteria for the Nobel prize are interesting, but I think China should get over it.

  • http://www.peaceworkmagazine.org Sam Diener

    Hello,
    This is not the first time since 1936 that governments have prevented Nobel Peace Prize winners from attending. I haven’t checked if there were others, but both Aung San Suu Kyi and Andrei Sakharov were not allowed to attend the Peace Prize ceremony by the repressive governments they were protesting.
    Peace,
    Sam Diener

  • Zeno

    @Pancake Now that we know the angle of thought. Ivory tower based fear… To the poor the war means nothing to lose and everything to gain. From where I stand, I can see so much elite fear…the trickle down of their fearful sweat is all we ever got from Reaganomics.

  • Mari McAvenia

    From Quincy, MA

    The neighborhood where I live is now known as East Chinatown. Although most families are recent immigrants from Mainland China there is a tremendous focus on “Westernizing” their children.

    My observation: In the USA we have trained our kids to compete,compete,compete. Winner take all. Chinese elders know that this is defeating to the family unit.
    Traditional Chinese families cooperate with one another.Everybody is fed, housed and cared for in their elder years.

    The greatest fear I hear: That Western born Chinese kids will become so Americanized that they will desert and abandon their own families, like we do, leaving all those less fortunate to fend for themselves.

  • Pancake

    Ellen Dibble
    My college of Chinese knowledge is obsolete too, but I do know my local working people do not have much practical political expertise and are hungry for truthful information of that genre. They are messed up from being exploited and abandoned.

    Marie Winn, a teacher, diagnosed TV as an addictive and debilitating drug some decades ago. Internet is not much better. Facebook is more a drug than a useful device for the average person. It’s just a poultry farm for advertisers. All people are weak including me, and tend to take the easy path. We are so fragile it is hard to hold a profound or scary thought.

    When people, including myself, engage in productive co-operative activity together, their whole being changes and they find admiration and curiosity about one another. They forget ideology and get busy. Right now the idleness of 20 million people in this nation is a psychic threat to the status quo. They lose cable or satellite and regain perspective. Public radio is more conservative all the time. We have to police it. (pick up them butts.)

  • http://shulmandesign.net Alan Shulman

    I am not an authority on Chinese history but know enough to know that when China was previously a power in the world, it believed itself to be superior to other nations/cultures and demanded deference from its sphere of influence. I would be surprised if the centuries have changed this attitude.

    As to the school system in the United States failing, I wonder if we are not assigning sole blame to the wrong target. I have worked with uniformly fine teachers – very few exceptions there – so I see it more as a failure of culture and what students bring from their families to the school table. When I see what my students over the last fifteen years are interested in, have ambitions about (mostly popular culture, cars and electronic gadgets), I see a generation without a clue about the larger world. They grew up in the halcyon years of 90s and early 00s “prosperity” and may just now be coming to grips with how tough the world can be.

    For the corporate powers, there is no longer a United States to speak of; their concerns are elsewhere, their hugest profits are to be made overseas, in sweatshops where concern for workers’ health and the environment are laughable subjects. And we buy their goods – shame on us. It’s an old pattern; first happening within the U.S. itself, when corporations shifted domestic factories to parts of the country where labor unions were scarce or non-existent; that strategy has merely gone global.

  • Pancake

    Zeno, take heart, Mari McAvenia doesn’t watch much TV but actually talks with her Chinese extraction neighbors. (But she also remembers who Sherilyn Fenn played on Twin Peaks) You’d think she were a professional journalist or something because she has done as much to educate us in one post as this entire show. If Confusius teaches family love and nurturing rather than abandonment and nihilism we could use some too.

    “Humanity is so massive it must walk gingerly among the flimsy kingdoms of the financial elite.”

  • http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com Peter Melzer

    Her enormous population distinguishes China profoundly from the US and the EU countries, and these nations transitioned through industrialization and late stages of economic development with fewer citizens than today. Whether even the wisest stamocap will be able to address the needs and desires of a rising middle class of such daunting proportion without social upheaval remains to be seen.

    Read more about state-monopolized capitalism here:
    http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com/2008/12/stamocap.html

  • peter nelson

    I don’t understand the conflict with China. If this growing tiger is such a threat, why do we continue to feed it with our businesses moving there and borrowing so much money from them?

    I suppose the answer is because we are no longer a democracy but instead a plutocracy and most plutocracies end up ruining themselves because their only goal is the profit of the day instead of the longer view.

    I think it’s more complicated than that. China has put together a highly efficient modern manufacturing infrastructure with a highly-trained workforce and excellent communication and transportation links. The result is that no one can even come close to producing the manufactured goods Americans want with the efficiency and low cost of China.

    To ascribe this just to plutocrats and ignore the fact that Americans of all economic levels demand the goods they produce at the prices we expect is naive. How many plutocrats do you see shopping the aisles at Walmart? 9% of our GDP is deficit spending – – how much are you willing to cut GDP by to not have to borrow from China?

  • Kash Hoffa

    I’d like to quote that great Western Confucian thinker, Jan Brady, who said:

    “Well, all day long at school I hear how great China is at this or how wonderful China did that! China, China, China!”

    Now excuse me but I must be on my way to US Stores where I can use some credit to buy some more of that great Chinese swag!

    Respek!

  • peter nelson

    This is just not true. The education system in China is horrid and turns out non-thinking, un-caring drones, that devout their lives to exams and really dont know how to think.

    I’ve worked with lots of Chinese-educated engineers in the US and I’ve seen many Chinese-educated grad students in US universities who seem to provide counter-examples to your observation.

    Remember, we used to say the same thing about the Japanese. Until they took over the car market, the consumer electronic markets, and the photography/optical products market.

    Maybe they have two tiers of education – mindless drones for factory jobs and smart engineers for beating the west.

  • Sam Wilson

    @ Peter Nelson @ 12:25 P

    I totally agree with you Peter, most of us think that American Education system is best, however my dealings with Indians so far, turns out to be that even Indians are much ahead of the US counter parts esp in High School level kids.

    Also the Irish and British Kids are much ahead in terms of General Knowledge, Math, Science and Literature than our American kids in Primary and Secondary Education system.

  • Brandstad

    The “China story” is alive and well: China can expand its money supply by 19.5% a month forever, because hey, the Central State controls everything–except inflation, of course, which is running rampant. And the Shanghai stock index has fallen 13% this year, but no worries, mate, China’s appetite for everything will grow forever. That will fuel a global rally in commodities to at least 2525.

    Wasn’t it incipient inflation which sparked the unrest that led to Tiananmen Square in 1989? Oh never mind, pour me another one. This time it’s different.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/8-ingredients-ingredients-the-new-punchbowl-2010-12#ixzz181CRqC7M

  • Lando

    I was hoping to hear the author talk more about the incredible challenges that China needs to overcome if it’s going to be a great power. He made it sound like we need to come to some sort of cultural bargaining table now, compromise our values, and just accept our place.

    China is an aging country with serious environmental dilemas, health issues, a cavernous divide between the haves and have nots, a corrupt government infrastructure, poor efficiency due to government over-involvement, etc.

    Sure, it’s currently the hottest item on the market but please … folks are acting like the Chinese machine is humming like a Ferrari … it’s not! Exploding GDP can look great, but we should know first hand how those glossy stats often smooth over a rotten core. Also, look at the nations around it most are democracies and if you combine they’re GDP, they’re bigger than China!

    I often feel like this dialog is less about China’s actual evolution and more about our own trepidation when we look to the future. Irrespective of who the competition is, we’re having an identity crisis – which is a good thing … but I hate to think we’re wasting all this energy looking at the rise of another country, assuming that they hold the answers, instead of engaging in serious reflection on our internal affairs.

    Finally, there was an interesting pieces on India vs. China is important in this debate as well:http://www.2point6billion.com/news/2010/03/09/china-and-india-the-proverbial-hare-and-tortoise-4364.html

  • peter nelson

    Wasn’t it incipient inflation which sparked the unrest that led to Tiananmen Square in 1989? Oh never mind, pour me another one. This time it’s different.

    Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/8-ingredients-ingredients-the-new-punchbowl-2010-12#ixzz181CRqC7M>/i>

    We don’t need to read more – you quoted all their comments verbatim and didn’t add any thoughts of your own!

    Lots of countries have periods of inflation – we’ve had it several times and no big disaster ensued.

    The stars are aligned for China – bright, talented energetic workforce, modern infrastructure, lots of investment capital, political unity, domestic production capacity. They have the money and influence to secure foreign sources of raw materials they need to continue their industrial expansion, and are expanding into technologies of the future like solar power and lithium-battery production.

    Don’t minimize the challenge this represents to America, with its political stalemate, deep debt and slothful population. Also don’t overestimate the impact of tensions in China involving ethnic minority groups. The US had its longest economic growth starting right after the Civil War and through the 1960′s when Jim Crow was in full force, oppressing a bigger % of our population than the ethnic minorities in China – the Han Chinese are 92% of their population.

  • joshua

    Jack writes:”And Chinese remember the invasion of Japanese at the name of bringing civilization and prosperity to China and other Asian countries.”

    What does this have to do with liu? China is not the only country to suffer int he world. Please stop dwelling on your victimization. China is prosperous today–solely because the west propped china up with factories and technology and continues to do so at the expense of western workers and middle-class.

    Chinese buildings and infraastructure is pathetic–it is crumbling and shabby even when new–molding and leaking everywhere. And it is not stable. A small earth quake will bring the housedown. There is NO rule of law, corruption and nepotism are rampant–and that is cultural–5000 years of it.

    We should not competing. We should be cooperating to make the world economy sustainable, localized, green, and we should be working on changing our objects of desire. China is obsessive with status, power, and possessions–narcotic capitalism.

    Ellen Dibble–I am in China now, and have been since 2006. i have taught at several universities in three different majors, and I do private tutoring. I have traveled extensively in China. I have relations with local people. I have spoken to many many many people and colleagues. Even the top universities are drone factories. These are key universities–all that means is they are controlled by government totalitarianism, bureaucracy, and so do not function. But these are the so-called best schools. Education in China is a farce.

    I dont think that western education can be that bad–i went to school after all and my education was very good, and the professors could evaluate us any way they wanted and it was usually by essays and dissertations. We went to the library. We did research. Plagiarism has always existed but not any where near the same level as in China. Trust me. They make no attempt to hide it. I think for the most part people in western universities do their own work, at least at semi-good schools. I really cant imagine a teacher being fired for orally testing students.

    I would like to see China change, because if it doesn’t, the human world will not survive.

  • Roy Merritt

    I suspect there’s an inherited desire the Chinese possess that demands they punish the imperialist west for past grievances i.e. The rape of their land, the removal of resources, The Opium War, The Boxer Rebellion, extra territoriality, etc., etc. The eastern mind is capable of making these horrors from the past relevant to their present thinking. Islam has had a chip on it’s shoulder for thousands of years as a result of the Crusades. But the greatest pressure these capitalistic commies may feel is from a citizenship which will demand more and more jobs. The only way I can see China creating enough jobs to satisfy their increasingly uneasy proletariat is to lure more and more American jobs to their shores. Yet this will only exacerbate the tension and anxiety that is plaguing our nation. Regardless the outcome of either seems to make for an uncertain future for us all.

    Roy Merritt
    Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Zinovy Vaayman

    Synopsis
    Sometime around 1750, English entrepreneurs unleashed the astounding energies of steam and coal, and the world was forever changed. The emergence of factories, railroads, and gunboats propelled the West’s rise to power in the nineteenth century, and the development of computers and nuclear weapons in the twentieth century secured its global supremacy. Now, at the beginning of the twenty-first century, many worry that the emerging economic power of China and India spells the end of the West as a superpower. In order to understand this possibility, we need to look back in time. Why has the West dominated the globe for the past two hundred years, and will its power last?
    Describing the patterns of human history, the archaeologist and historian Ian Morris offers surprising new answers to both questions. It is not, he reveals, differences of race or culture, or even the strivings of great individuals, that explain Western dominance. It is the effects of geography on the everyday efforts of ordinary people as they deal with crises of resources, disease, migration, and climate. As geography and human ingenuity continue to interact, the world will change in astonishing ways, transforming Western rule in the process.
    Deeply researched and brilliantly argued, Why the West Rules—for Now spans fifty thousand years of history and offers fresh insights on nearly every page. The book brings together the latest findings across disciplines—from ancient history to neuroscience—not only to explain why the West came to rule the world but also to predict what the future will bring in the next hundred years.
    Library Journal
    Archaeologist Morris (Classics & history, Stanford Univ.; coauthor, The Greeks: History, Culture, and Society) draws on his vast knowledge of the ancient world in a risky attempt to make sense of the future as well as our past. He posits four benchmarks for comparing societies: their success or failure in energy capture, organization/urbanization, war making, and information technology/literacy. For each criterion, he provides measures of comparison that allow him to address the question of the West’s dominance over the East in the past two centuries and to ask whether the West’s lead is sustainable. He admits that the measures he uses are crude but argues that they allow us to examine dynamics of social change from early times onward. He predicts that, barring catastrophe, China will take the lead in 20 to 50 years. As with Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel and Collapse, Morris’s conclusions will provoke controversy, but he asks the right questions. Ultimately, his book is more successful in its goals than Diamond’s. VERDICT Accessible and solid, this may be as popular as Diamond’s work. It should be in every library.—David Keymer. Modesto, CA
    Biography
    IAN MORRIS is Willard Professor of Classics and History at Stanford University. He has published ten scholarly books, including, most recently, The Dynamics of Ancient Empires, and has directed excavations in Greece and Italy. He lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.

    Features
    Table of Contents
    List of Illustrations
    Introduction 3
    PART I
    1 Before East and West 39
    2 The West Takes the Lead 81
    3 Taking the Measure of the Past 135
    PART II
    4 The East Catches Up 175
    5 Neck and Neck 227
    6 Decline and Fall 280
    7 The Eastern Age 331
    8 Going Global 384
    9 The West Catches Up 434
    10 The Western Age 490
    PART III
    11 Why the West Rules … 557
    12 …For Now 582

    Who were the Huns? They might be Indo-Europeans.

    Not “the West” but “the Germanic Northern Europe” including the British Isles, France, Padania, countries on the Baltic Sea including the Way from Varangians to Greeks [Germanic connection with the Hellenic culture which was also developed by the Indo-Europeans (Iranians-Aryans)].
    Second, race [and culture] is indeed a function of geography. But geography itself loses its formative influence after isolated tribes start to form their intentional communities and practice arranged marriages. Racial traits and cultures are stubborn and can be eliminated only by something like holocaust or self-annihilation, i.e., not having children. More than that, the successful Homo sapiens choose the right piece of real estate.
    Many groups of people—some of them could be Turkic or even Mongoloid—from the Eurasian steppe pushed into better “cul-de-sac” lands of the Germanic Europe.
    This book is praised on its cover: “Deeply researched.” Nope, it is deeply misleading.
    The author finds “lucky latitudes” only in the northern hemisphere. How about the countries under the constellation of the South Cross? They are conveniently ignored.
    But the map on the Fig 4.3 shows Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Ukraine as the Eurasian entities more than 2,000 years ago. It is laughable. To increase confusion among students and scholars the author places Sri Lanka island around the same time. And on Fig 7-8 he plays with time frames again showing Uzbekistan back in…11th century AD.
    Page 197 is a riot—“The Hyksos of modern Israel and Jordan.” It is like Julius Caesar attending the Sorbonne and/or walking in Brussels. It confuses hapless students big time.
    Why not call {Israel+Jordan=Paalestine} Canaan or Judea? The name of Judea is on the triumphal arch in Rome!
    Fig 7-6 helps to illustrate Ian Morris’ train of thought which is chugging into the poor Arabs “who […} reunite the Western core.” Does Mr Morris expect handouts from the Saudis or lavish receptions in Cairo or Beirut? The corresponding map shows non-existing Poland but no Germany which along with other Germanic countries constitute the backbone and brain of the prevailing civilization for the last 2,000 years.
    The hasty “treatise” is so flawed both in its concept and its details it makes me sad.
    The author erects this gravestone

    “WESTERN RULE
    1773-2103
    R.I.P.”

    The word “west” is of the Old High German origin!
    The word rule is from Latin (Indo-European, perhaps, Germanic origin), the chronology uses the birth of a Jew.
    The word “rest” is an Old High German word.
    The word “in” is also Old High German word fused with Old Greek and Latin.
    And, finally, “peace”—Latin.
    This civilization takes from the Roman Empire which was continued by Judaized Germans.

    The Germanic rule and the Germanic shining example started long before the 18th century.
    And it will continue long after our century in spite of the fact that Germanic people are not more than 15% of the world population. However they are strengthened by other nations which want to emulate them in South America, in Asia and in Africa.
    North America, Australia, Japan and—to the lesser extent—Russia, China, India, Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, South Africa and Aryan Iran are already Germanized.
    Take Jews–they are not numerous but their phenomenal success along with the Germanic nations is a good guide.

    Better read my recent haibun:

    The Longfellow House Lawn

    The New England Poetry Club NEPC invited three poets to read under the huge linden tree and sign their neatly manufactured books on the house porch.

    my friend states
    his love for poetry and
    his hate for poets

    “Poets of Conscience” Fred Marchant and F.D. Reeve read first. Fred promised no rain and my amity and high regard for him grew. I learned that he served the US as a marine. He talked about “poetry of witness” and recited his lines including “war smell” and “long swim back with my complicity in tow.”
    Founder of “Poets Against War” Sam Hamill became a Buddhist while serving on Okinawa.
    He proclaimed “peace with justice” and he turned to be “a conscientious objector to Vietnam war”. Sam repeated the word “privilege” many times during his speech and let us know that he was invited to
    the White House. He recalled that Robert Lowell went to jail protesting military expeditions but Stanley Kunitz succeeded to secure some civil service. All of a sudden Sam mentioned… Musashino Field near Tokyo. Ah, Mr. Hamill translated Japanese poems and made a couple of exquisite haiku books with Kaji Aso and Shambhala Publications, Japan is on his mind…

    bullet train speeds up:
    picture book rice paddies
    become fallow fields

    Mr. Hamill complained about “ad hominem attack” on him by the media and recited his lines about the “abiding shame” of his country, meaning the USA.
    “And gazing up we swoon… equally holy your country and mine… there is nothing I could not forgive.” He compared how we, the people gobble up our planet Gaia before the Gaia gobbles up us. And he ends his last poem with a question. I drew back instantly since the task of a poet is to answer and to show the way, not to interpellate the ruling elite or catechize ignoramuses.
    After the reading I distributed my book of haibuns, my own attempts to answer the questions of war and society, of war and peace, of peace and war.
    I boasted on the lawn, “My Political Haibun takes on Sam Hamill’s pacifist rhetorics.
    Japan was nuked and colonized spiritually. Germany was utterly defeated and Americanized. And now they live better than diversified residents of the United States”.
    War with its postwar benevolence is the answer. Defeat a chosen enemy utterly and decisively and help people rebuild their glorious fatherlands and allow them to restore their docile motherlands.
    Or as sly Russians say

    better not do it
    yet if we gonna do it
    let us do it grand

    To my amazement many rank any file poets on this lush summer afternoon disagreed with me.
    I threw at them another argument, “You’re standing on the blood-soaked soil. You contracted people to exterminate the native population of the huge colonized continent and its islands. You are now feasting on unmarked graves of the Amerindian tribes. There was the law on books until recently which forbade Native Americans enter Boston.”
    The poets and readers on the Longfellow lawn were not convinced. Finding themselves in Cambridge
    as a result of the natives genocide, they did not want wars anymore. Not in their names.
    Yet I fired again, “Go back to Europe, or risk hypocrisy. You have no right to use agricultural bounty of this ethnically cleansed land. (Russians name Amerindians Indeans but people on the subcontinent in Asia they designate as Indians.) Indeans could not be slaves and you exterminated them. Your government is you.”
    I invited Mr. Hamill to visit Kaji Aso Studio that night or the next day but he was scheduled to fly back next morning. A Buddhist Poet Against War is a jet setter!
    You cannot have a good life based on the highest energy consumption in the world ( one sixth of all energy and one sixth of all slaughtered animals) at the expense of other countries and nevertheless assume a non-participatory stance of a critic while flying from the West Coast to Boston just to read for 20 minutes, take part in an exclusive reception with local literati and their friends and dine in a fancy restaurant which throws out 30% of its food in the end of the day .You even didn’t have time for your audience questions! Why didn’t you send us a flick with your 20 minutes reading your stuff? Or printouts of your poems to all the people on the lawn? Or ask a hungry student to recite your verses and give him or her $100? Or just $50? Or $20?

    Jewish genius
    Grisha Perelman refuses
    his fat prize money

    pergola talk:
    a stone throw from it
    war on American roads

    hereby I am a founder
    of poets against poets
    who abuse environment

    I rehearsed this non-sequitur haibun; it took me 5 minutes to recite it.
    To my chagrin Harris Gardner limited open mike people to 3 minutes.
    I warned my friend that the President of the New England Poetry Club Diana Der Hovanessian won’t like me saying these insinuations about the Eden of Poetry on the Brattle Street in Cambridge.

    Save your hearing!
    King of Denmark was poisoned
    through his left ear

    Tapestry of Voices event at the Liberty Hotel took an unexpected turn. After book signing both feature readers—the stately President of the NEPC and humorous author X. J Kennedy –left the former jail; they decided not to listen to peon poets who were reduced to a much thinner audience. Poor poets read to themselves like my fried Alex does in his building which he converted to a rooming house for renters and a prison for himself which is much less expensive than a typical house of correction charging the state $30,000-40,000 per inmate. Alex spends no more than $10,000 a year and sometimes allows short furloughs for his persona.
    Since the NEPC President’s of Armenian descent a couple of Armenian women joined us;
    they did not stay after Diana’s Der Hovanessian’s departure..
    I recognized one of the women—an Israel basher Ms. Hagopian whom I sternly asked two years ago to concern herself not with Jews but rather with her fellow Armenians who –20 years ago— occupied vast swaths of Azerbaijan (formerly the country of Absurdistan) and ethnically cleansed hundreds of thousands Muslims in and around Karabakh mountains on the border with friendly Iran.
    Save Jews, save Jews, oh, valiant Araratians! Once Jews are finished, they’d come after Armenians…

    highway to oblivion
    poets and writers stuck
    in their road rage

    A strange-looking character showed up and ignored our “time fascist”—Harris Gardner called himself this way—to keep his recital to three minutes. The character who wore sunglasses announced that he came from afar and would finish his poem no matter what.
    Harris backed down. The character read his long verse and marched to the exit. The door did not slam but the character bung on the wall from outside. The wall clock fell off. Harris rushed to the door…
    I guess the spirits of the long-gone inmates got possession of the character and directed him to strike…

  • Brandstad

    peter nelson,

    Where do you get your knowledge of China? Do you have any first hand knowledge of the country or the people?

    I do have first hand knowledge of Chinese people, businesses and country since I have been there. People that have been to China see a different country than the fairy tale version you see in the US.

    1) Class mobility is non-existent Example:if you are born a farmer, you are 100x less likely to become an engineer, accountant, or CEO than in the US

    2) If you are a member of the middle or upper class you can get a good education, but not a great one and even if you get a good education you are far more likely to copy than think if given the chance. This is why the chineses govenment requires foreign firms to do joint ventures with domestic companies in an attempt to teach workers to think and not copy. I have yet to understand why but I have found this even in US schooled Chinese that return home to work there.

    3) China has modern but deficient infrastructure. Roads, bridges, factories, houses all crumble decades before equivalent structures would in the US because Quality and efficiency is not as important as getting the job done and moving on to the next.

    4) China is just as dependent on the US as the US is on China. If either power falls, they both economically fall.

  • peter nelson

    1) Class mobility is non-existent Example:if you are born a farmer, you are 100x less likely to become an engineer, accountant, or CEO than in the US

    If this was true then China wouldn’t have a growing middle class. Who’s buying all the cars and cell phones and TV’s and air conditioners and driving up the prices of real estate in Chinese cities?

    Forbes Magazine, on December 10th says that the Chinese middle class is now as large as the US population.

  • G. Paul

    I kept asking myself during this program, “What about India?”. It is a more accessible culture, vibrant and innovative. We already practice yoga and meditation. Bollywood is popular with developing countries.

    As to China, when Nixon and Kissinger were commuting to China, the media was all aglow with speculation about the democratization of China through capitalism and the prospect of all those Chiese buying American goods. The reality is that as China grows economically, it invests in the million man army, navy and air corps while still controlig it’s citizens and accepting factories moving from the U.S. Where was any discussion of the consequences of opening the Chinese market? It wasn’t happening, certainly not in the corporate media.

  • http://WUOM Nancy Buchanan

    Are we not being arrogant to believe the Nobel prize which we value and revere is not as relevant to the Chinese, because their culture has existed since long before America was discovered? When I heard they were issuing their Confuscius award, it seemed to me they were acknowledging our respect for the Nobel Peace Prize with their own immitation, while maintaining their own cultural values. Although their pride does not allow them to recognize our prizes, they acknowledge the value of issuing their own.

  • Mari

    Next: Please do a piece about neighboring Mongolia.
    A free, democratic, mineral rich country in economic shambles. Ripe for the picking.

    Subtitled: Who do you put YOUR money on? (heh heh, one thing Americans and Chinese have in common- the love of gambling with other people’s land.)

  • DavidH

    About trying to decipher China’s foreign policy reactions: they have factions, just as we do. Think about how our foreign policy would look from outside if it were under the control of people such as John Yoo, John Bolton, and Dick Cheney.

  • joshua

    Brandstad,

    “Do your guests think this could cause internal strife inside China since nothing makes people more upset then being unable to buy food.”

    NO. Food is still really cheap in China. and the Gov. has reduced or eliminated all gas taxes on truckers so shipping cost have been eliminated, keeping the prices down on food. I still pay the same food and drink i always have.

  • joshua

    Brandstat: “China is just as dependent on the US as the US is on China. If either power falls, they both economically fall.”

    Nonsense. America does not need china. create jobs at home and invest in green technologies, health care and education at home. We don’t need Chinese exports-its toxic junk and harmful to the environment to ship things such long distances. We have the best most skilled and smartest workers on earth in America.

    And money is just an illusion. the states should control the banks. Empower local banks and local businesses. Boycott multi-national companies.

  • joshua

    “If this was true then China wouldn’t have a growing middle class. Who’s buying all the cars and cell phones and TV’s and air conditioners and driving up the prices of real estate in Chinese cities?”

    China has always had a large middle class, but they had little or no buying power–not so much as they do now-they consist of teachers, government officials, factory owners, small-businessmen (who have discovered new opportunities in Americanized, westernized cafes, donut shops, etc)

    But they have a huge peasent class in china who virtually have no chance of mobility–it exists but it is slim. They are looked down on and discrinated against. they are grossly un-educated and filthy and treated as slaves. but more and more some of them rise. They find a way. They build up construction companies–there is lot of shabby construction projects, too numerous to count. Some think they can rise by saving factory money, and then startign a business but that is often a myth. Many educated chinese find ways to make money such as english tutoring, herbal medicine, import/export, and other simple entreprenurial jobs. Opportunities are abound really for those who look for them, or who are willing to cheat and manipulate.They can sell almost anything because there are few laws to stop them, and nobody willing to enforce it, and people buy–they have no fear. Also, money goes a lot further here in China than it does in the west. everything is dirt cheap, so the RMB goes very very far. Americans can go broke just putting food on the table. but here in china you can fill your stomach with 2yuan. Sometimes less. They save and buy cars. But they are also learning about credit and getting in debt.

  • joshua

    What we should really be worried about is that the Chinese are doing away with the idea that the world is overpopulated. Chinese teachers are now preaching that China needs a larger population–and that this will bring them prosperity. A total disregard for the environment, other people of the world, resources, health, etc…they are power crazy. They think a larger population will bring more western companies and make them stronger. Damn to hell the planet! Damn the worlds resources! Damn to hell western workers! It is sick. These young minds are so impressionable–more so than western kids. 21 year olds have the minds of ten year olds here. Its frightening to say the very least.

  • joshua

    peter nelson: “I’ve worked with lots of Chinese-educated engineers in the US and I’ve seen many Chinese-educated grad students in US universities who seem to provide counter-examples to your observation.”

    As I said–they are good at tinkering–but thought -real critical thinking is almost non-existent. they are parrots–they repeat what they’ve been told–but if you question them further you will see they dont understand why or sometimes even what they are saying. They donot understand social issues, world events and dont care. But then neither do most Americans, especially engineers and business people–they understand their vocations but for the most part are totally unaware of the world and uncaring. Most of them having never picked up a book. Most of whom dont know they are slaves to empire and narcotic capitalism–or pawns of it. Drones.

    seem to is the key word. they are very good parrots. they a5re taught to memorize, but never analyze and synthesize outside of maths. They conform always. mass drones. But in private, sometimes, some of them speak out, but never in groups. The culture of the cultural revolution is still with them-that was not a bizarre phenomenon–it is their culture Silent freedom is freedom silenced) and they fear the other–because they will be condemned. Innovation cannot thrive in this environment. little has changed despite the rhetoric and the shiny appearances of capitalism. And they are extremely nationalistic, jingoists. If they cant win an argument they freeze up, sulk, and then more often then not–shout ‘i love china’ as if that wins the argument.

  • justanother

    *** Remember, we used to say the same thing about the Japanese. Until they took over the car market, the consumer electronic markets, and the photography/optical products market.

    Maybe they have two tiers of education – mindless drones for factory jobs and smart engineers for beating the west.
    Posted by peter nelson, on December 13th, 2010 at 12:25 PM ***

    Peter, you are making a real good point.

  • justanother

    *** I often feel like this dialog is less about China’s actual evolution and more about our own trepidation when we look to the future. Irrespective of who the competition is, we’re having an identity crisis – which is a good thing … but I hate to think we’re wasting all this energy looking at the rise of another country, assuming that they hold the answers, instead of engaging in serious reflection on our internal affairs. ***

    Great point!

  • ageofaquarius

    joshua, what’s your motivation and goal keep staying in a place you call “junk”?

    Take your age old western superiority somewhere else, not in today’s China!

  • Yun fengyang

    I am a Chinese university student, and also a person caring about the future of our planet. Chinese economic development,in fact, comes from western stress, just like many American people think that China is a tiger threatening their survive. It is high time that western civilization and eastern culture should know ,repect and ,more importantly, collaborate with each other to solve the common challenges.

  • Jos

    They say ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ and perhaps to an extent we ought to do just that, or at least level the playing field by learning their language (and of course a whole new level of understanding).
    Learning Chinese might seem like a huge task and reciprocally unnecessary, however with a clever, innovative new system it is very much within reach – just add a spoon of effort and a couple more of diligence.
    ‘Pictorial Mnemonics for Writing Chinese Characters’ app is very much a soft approach to a flint-faced problem. It harnesses the inherent graphical nature of Chinese characters by developing pictures which mimick and simulate the strokes and structures of Chinese characters.
    These pictures act as very effective and efficient memory pegs to the often inscrutable Chinese script, a bridge over troubled waters which leaves the learners’ confidence and enthusiasm intact and eager and exhuberant to learn even more. So, with the right approach, learning Chinese may well be challenging but more so, a fabulously, rewarding achievement.

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