Thursday, November 15, 2012

China's Social Conscience


China's Social Conscience

I've always been curious about China.
When we learned of China in elementary school, it was always in terms of their ancient history, achievements, geography or economic exports. (The classic encyclopedic cut and paste, before computers.) My teachers may have also brought up religion or politics, wars or social life, but never more than a skimming over: "none, communist, plentiful or difficult."

My parents were no help to me in truly understanding China, although they would have had opportunity to influence my opinion of it. I can not recall my father ever mentioning China, except in reference to population. My mother had a strong dislike for China's political and social movements and had personal memories of "Chairmen Mao in the news." My father was a card carrying New Democrat raised in Vancouver, British Columbia. My mother was an ex-Republican raised 
in Freeport, Illinois.

Then in 1989 there was the Tiananmen Square Protest in Bejing. I was aware that there was some sort of protests taking place, and of course, like everyone else I saw the iconic photo of the lone student standing in front of a line of tanks.  However, to be perfectly honest, I had other things on my mind at seventeen. These memories of my past represent the totality of my Chinese experience, which is to say, even to this day, I haven't any real understanding of China at all. 
Of course, I'm not seventeen anymore. I'm over forty now and a much more educated and wise person, or at least, this is the hope. Yet, I still know nothing substantial about modern China. Those of you who know me or have read me before must be aware that when I say "know" I mean a true knowing, via experiences beyond that of being told, as what we are told in the west is so often skewed. (Isn't it ironic that such concerns are valid in spite of having "China" as the subject matter?) For instance, in the west, China is "bad" because it is communist and, perhaps more specifically, not democratic. (I over-generalize, because it's true.) However, despite being a fan of democracy, I don't believe that any true democracy exists on our planet. There are only degrees of democracy to be found, some nations rate higher on this scale than others. Canada, for instance, would rate fairly high in comparison to China on any democratic scale, but I'm not sure that really matters at all.

The problem (already?) is one of definitions. This is due to a nearly complete inability for modern humans to truly understand what it is they even are discussing, due to "the Semantic Deception of Dialectical Theses" and "Hyper-Manipulation." (Anyone wishing to delve into the "Rampant Ineptitude of Modernity" will find everything they need on this website, or in my book, "Anti-Social Engineering the Hyper-Manipulated Self." But really what all this philosophical gobbledly gook means is: "Anything can be broken down and rendered meaningless in a reality you create. Now realize that people have known this for over one hundred years and have been manipulating you.")

So why does my curiosity about China continue to grow? Indeed, what is the point of this essay? It's simple, China is pro-social conscience. This may seem contradictory, considering what many consider to be a near infinite list of Chinese human rights abuses. A "social conscience" is "a personal consideration of one’s role and responsibility in society." It is like an understanding of your duties and obligations to citizenry; or "what you can do for your country and its people."

China is working toward something. The Chinese people do so consciously and cooperatively. (What it is they work toward is of no consequence, but just to be thorough, they work toward becoming as wealthy and powerful as America.) The point here is that they aren't there yet, it's been a long road, yet they stick to their path and together, the steps they take lead in the right direction: toward peace, prosperity, happiness for each other. The same old groovy things that we all want, to leave the world better off than when we got here. (Obviously, a topic for another essay.)

So contrast that with what (ironically, again) we in the western world work toward: peace, prosperity and happiness for ourselves. We are economically conscious. We are selfish, greedy and spoiled. Of course, there are selfish and greedy Chinese people, (call them the people in power.) And this is not to say that there are not problems in China that need to be addressed. It's just that the bulk of the people in China are what we would consider impoverished and yet they still carry the social contract. In much the same way, America used to be full of Americans who carried in their hearts and minds a social contract. But a social contract is difficult to adhere to in the face of blunt force success. Why would anyone wish to remain altruistic when one can be selfish and get rich? These prizes are what await China in it's successes, if they are not careful. Perhaps it doesn't matter if you advocate democracy or communism when it comes to capitalism.

Other countries, call them Muslim, also purport to live up to a contract, but theirs is religious. This is the most ridiculous and damaging social contract or consciousness to attempt carrying throughout your society. This is not a comment on any particular religion, but rather the transformation of that religion into civic duty. If you think China has issues with human rights abuses and America has issues with greed, this is nothing compared to the concept of beheading a man because he drew a caricature of a fictional entity. Religion is window dressing in America's social contract, it's irrelevant in China's. Kudos China. Arguments that morality stems from religion and China has "morality issues" are semantically flawed: Religion comes from having morals, not the other way around. (This is yet another concern for yet another fruitless essay.) Look at it this way: America lets it citizens do and say anything they want, (almost,) and they force their ideologies on the rest of the world. China may not let it's citizens do and say anything they want, but they leave the rest of the world alone. (Which is worse?) A Muslim's contract is to the worst of both worlds.

The next President of China, Xi Jinping, grew up in a cave as a peasant on a farm during Mao's cultural revolution, despite being from a wealthier family. (These were the sorts of things that we're forced on the Chinese people during the time. These were the concerns my mother warned me about. And yes, tens of millions of people died during the revolution. Mao's plan was flawed, despite the level of correctness in his intentions. But I still fail to see how, at least for Jinping, this could be anything but educational and socially grounding.) Jinping then returned to his city life and went to University, having lived on both side of the tracks, as it were. Now he's to be given ten years to convince the Chinese people that life is getting better for them rather than worse. Although China has been booming economically lately and even concerns about rights are voiced less and with greater infrequency, with the world going to shit at the hands of the Americans, China's still going to have it's hands full. I feel that China will continue its "hands off" approach and I like that. Consider the following quote from Jinping, who's most often described as "pragmatic:" "There are some bored foreigners, with full stomachs, who have nothing better to do than point fingers at us [China]. First, China doesn't export revolution. Second, China doesn't export hunger and poverty. Third, China doesn't come and cause you headaches. What more is there to be said?" Indeed.

Don't concern yourself too much about the fact that China is the last and greatest bastion of Communism. The reasons to let this slide are as numerous as the reasons you must let any other governmental concern slide: it's all a slippery slope of ball and cup magic. Is Canada "almost communist" because it's socialist? Is America democratic to offer only two parties to choose from? Is Russia democratic when Vladimir Putin has been in office since 1999? All of these countries I mention as examples of either an absent or misguided understanding of their own politics: either due to selfishness, greed, confusion or ignorance. China is not an exception to these apparent rules of the game: Greed exists because there are humans in positions of power. As this is not communism, a real and true communism where all things are equal amongst people, Communism is not any less real than Democracy, where an informed citizenry make relevant decisions on subjects that matter. It's all just a question of what we tell ourselves. The Chinese people get up every day and exercise together, (so I've read,) that in and of itself puts the rest of us to shame. I hope for the sake of all humanity, China doesn't fall into the traps of Western Culture, because really, that would put them to shame.

Communist corruption is not really any different than Democratic corruption. The thousands of Chinese officials who lived the good life by way of Uncle Sucker are only differentiated from their western counterparts by the fact that the communist says nothing and the capitalist lies. The problems of our systems lead to greed and corruption the same as in any system where there is a buck to be made, this human fault is universal. For the communist, so conservative, believing the system to be right, finding error or admitting mistakes is almost sin. These are the problems of pride. Read THIS  How is this problem any different than say, "Government Sachs," or the Finance Minister who comes to office with a balanced budget and seeks re-election with the promise of balancing the budget? How is the Chinese politician's adherence to his "political morality" any different than right wing Republicans? Corruption is an accountability problem. Every government in the world has this problem. If there was a way to make your politicians accountable, they'd have to do the will of the people. That would mean a true communism, a leveling off. This would be due to the scientific fact that fairness has a way of coming through, eventually.

I happen to be of the opinion that the military budget of the US alone could solve almost every single problem the world faces, if used properly. But since money is about to be returned to the imaginary realm from whence it sprang forth, I'm counting on the intentions of a citizenry to spring forth. When everyone stops getting paid, who's still gonna show up for work? I'll bet on China.