Is China the World’s Fool?

September 10, 2007 at 7:00 pm Leave a comment

Wow! While China is definitely unique in our world’s history, the question of the moment is: to what end? Thousands of years of contiguous culture and history have added up to… this? Contaminated food products, recalled children’s toys laced with lead, contaminated rivers and what could be argued as slave labor? How the mighty have fallen! Now seemingly always a step behind the pack of “developed nations”, the latest incarnation of the People’s Republic of China seemingly makes it the worst of the worst, focusing on money and status rather than the historically noble pursuits of its culture such as scholarship and philosophy.

China has become the epitome of careless, capitalist behavior by ignoring our environment as well as its workers’ health and safety standards. Having once mocked the capitalist system, they now kowtow to their new God: Money. They have embraced the worst of capitalism – pure consumption for consumption’s sake and now prostitute the resources of both land and labor for the wealth and power of a few. If actions speak louder than words, then the PRC’s continued stance toward Taiwan and Tibet say enough, but their choice to support regimes of dubious intentions in their search for energy sources make them a more dangerous monster than the original! So, like Al Queda, it has become part of the problem – complaining about the world around it, but offering no new solution, only oppression and control.

It’s unfortunate, because China possesses the philosophical roots of social sustainability in its Confucian past. He believed the most effective government began with self-regulation of the individual — an ideal that is both counter-intuitive and difficult to achieve, even here in America. Rather than trying to control people’s behavior, people must feel free enough to reveal their own brand or morality. Behavior will be moderated by natural social tensions where actions reap appropriate consequences rather than through legal regulation.

Unfortunately, there is no leadership coming from the country that constitutes almost 20% of the world’s population. While Chinese are among the brightest in the world and have a rich history to draw lessons from, they are also subject to the limitations of “Group Think” that they are so vulnerable. China is trapped by its collective ego — forged from its past and controlling its future. I’m not sure if the Chinese put all their faith in authoritarian governmental styles because they fundamentally don’t trust each other or like an abused woman they constantly go back to the same abusive boyfriend – because it’s what they know. However, at this point if where we need to go is a 90% reduction in our global consumption of resources, any country not contributing to the solution is part of the problem.

From this corner of the world, if all China is offering is more of the same and our consumption behavior is the problem, they are part of the problem and unable to recognize the price they are paying in both resources and reputation. They are pursuing the same policy line as us – self-interest at the expense of less powerful countries – an unfortunate present, disconnected from its rich past. Oh well, I think it was considered an honored position to play the court’s fool…

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Entry filed under: Consumerism, Environment, Philosophy, Population, Sustainability.

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