Chinese culture and global politics (was: [DIS] Progress etc)

Gerold Firl (
14 Jul 1995 13:44:48 -0700

In article <3tu8ig$7jr@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM> claird@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM (Cameron Laird) writes:

>does this say about the nature of culture? Is Gerold's
>narrative about the diffusion of "Western culture" of
>service in understanding the raid on the Rainbow War-
>rior II (or why Burmese and Chinese authorities haven't
>simply executed Aung San Suu Kyi and Harry Wu)?

I'm not particularly familiar with the facts involved in Wu's situation,
but the problem of china, in the context of global politics, is one that
emerges very clearly from a cursory examination of history.

It's probably more accurate to view the globalization of western culture
not so much as a process of diffusion but of homogenosation. It may not be
particularly visible, but as the outward manifestations of western culture
appear around the world, the *inward* realities of non-western culture are
being adopted by the west. The values of buddhism have had a profound
effect on the west, starting in the 1950's, and in the long run I expect
that the more fundamental tenets of hunter-gatherer/shamanistic outlook may
prove even more influential.

Contrast the process by which the west is learning from other cultures, and
in the process achieving a more mature tolerance for others and a deeper
self-knowledge, with the narrow xenophobia and brutality of china. Tibet
serves as a clear example of both an overtly violent physical and cultural
imperialism and a clear indictment of the ethnocentrism imbedded in even
the chinese avant-garde. The chinese student movement has not championed
the cause of tibet; until it does, it can make no claim to moral
superiority over the butchers of the central committee.

There is risk involved in opening the doors to foreign influence. It is
destabilizing. The student unrest of the 60's was one of the consequences
of the openness of the west. Young people rejected the western legacy of
the conquistador throughout all the countries of the west; not just the US,
mired in the moral dilemma of vietnam, or in france, smarting from the
defeat in algeria, but throughout the entire western world. This expansion
in our worldview was not gained without cost, nor was it achieved without
resistance. The struggle continues, with traditionalists still fighting to
uphold the rule of the gun. The carter policies of the late 70's were an
explicit repudiation of violence for political gain, and the extension of
domestic american guarantees for human rights were extended, finally, to
citizens of other nations. (Note the similarity to the battle against
slavery in the previous century; britain ended the trans-atlantic slave
trade early in the century, and the US ended domestic slavery a few decades
later - for *moral* reasons, it must be understood.)

China is still operating according the old rule of the fishes - big fishes
eat litle fishes, and little fish need to be fast - without recognizing
that china is not the Big Fish anymore. This has been the cause of chinese
decline for the last 150 years. Signals of a mature china will be autonomy
for tibet, relinquishing claims on the spratleys, and normalization of
relations with taiwan. Is china ready to assume control of hong kong? It
doesn't really look like it, does it?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf