My Photo
Follow UselessTree on Twitter



  • eXTReMe Tracker
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 07/2005

« Why Snow Matters Politically in China | Main | Way is Vast - More Vast than even the Best Scientists can Know »

February 04, 2008


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Sam’s conclusion: "It’s not really about culture at all, it's just about politics and their desire to hold on to power"... How true! Sam, you hit nail right in the head. If Hus and Wens don't hold on to their power and steer the Chinese ship through the Terra Incognita, namely, changing an ex-semi-colonial continental country from an agrarian to industrial country, somebody else will, at least Ian Buruma and Norman Podhoretz and their armies would gladly fill the gap. For them, if it is too late to prevent it from happening, at least they would like to delay it.

Democracy is nothing but another game for the empire builders. If it is not clear enough to the Chinese in the 1980s, after so many color revolutions, the dim witted Chinese could at least learn an expensive lesson now. As to culture excuse, let's me assure you, with a very some amount of western brain washed or western money brought Chinese, it is just some lime excuse to keep the western preachers from performing the same over-used ritual. It used to be gunboat and Bible, now it is aircraft carrier battle group and democracy. It sounds attractive for a while, but after so many repetitions...well... it is just doesn't sell well...

Well, there is a genuine culture thing here: due to the oriental mentality, a host has an obligation to be agreeable as much as possible, so next time an Chinese start to use the culture excuse again, he or she might just want you to be off his or her back while murmuring to himself "Laowai just don't get it..." or “don’t pull the same trick on me again…”.

I guess the moral of the story is: in talking about democracy to an third world country and not talking about the West’s last 500 years’ colonialism, imperialism, Zionism and NOW (globalization ), it is just “too simple, too naïve.” Chinese know where they are coming from: when the British pushing opium and bible to China in the 19th century, China’s GDP was the highest in the world. After China lost the empire to the then Anglo world order, China was the beggar of the world. After Ottoman Empire was brought down by the joint effort of Zionism and Anglo Empire, Middle Easterners are still the beggar of the world. But according the time honored Anglo tradition, the down trodden should always take the blame because of the aggressive backward culture. Therefore, the yellow perils of the yesteryear and clash of civilization of today are just slogans of internal mobilization and democracy, regime change, nation building (burning down a village to save it) are just for external consumption and tactical implementation. There is nothing new under the sun.

Don’t mention Taiwan to mainland Chinese. For us, it is either comical tragedy or tragically comedy. We know the strings of these puppets, DDP and KMT, are pulling from Washington or Tokyo. For 90% of the Chinese, there is but only one priority concerning Taiwan: national unification and territorial integrity at whatever price. The rest are just trivial.

For the benefit of those who don’t know the color of Ian and his buddy: Civilization warriors and Master of the World and the universal and beyond...:

His Toughness Problem—and Ours
By Ian Buruma

Norman Podhoretz
World War IV: The Long Struggle Against Islamofascism
by Norman Podhoretz
Doubleday, 230 pp., $24.95
Not so long before the war in Iraq was launched, I was the only European at an American dinner party in Brussels. My fellow guests were a motley group of youngish diplomats, think-tank pundits, ex-spooks, and journalists, most of whom had established reputations as promoters of neoconservatism. Many topics were discussed, but two stand out in my memory: French wines and the "projection of force." Despite the praise for fine French wines, "the Europeans" were rather sneered at, as namby-pamby, frivolous, anti-Semitic appeasers, too far gone in spineless pacifism and political decadence to share America's burden of projecting force to make the world safe for democracy. They spoke with great confidence about military matters, of which...

In case I misunderstood Ian:

( Oh,why I am feeling so sad for the Empire and its muscles : the decent, hard working, and reliable mid-west farm boys ... at least according to the old saying, there IS comfort for the oppressed, this, too, will pass... just think an empire without external brain... )

Embracing the Empire ( and the Empire's war for the benefit of the money changers, my note )

by Ian Buruma

Ian BurumaBernard Kouchner, France’s new foreign minister, has a long and distinguished record as an advocate of intervention in countries where human rights are abused. As a co-founder of Doctors Without Borders, he stated that “we were establishing the moral right to interfere inside someone else’s country.” Saddam Hussein’s mass murder of Iraqi citizens is why he supported the war in Iraq. One should always be careful about attributing motives to other people’s views. But Kouchner himself has often said that the murder of his Russian-Jewish grandparents in Auschwitz inspired his humanitarian interventionism.

One may or may not agree with Kouchner’s policies, but his motives are surely impeccable. The fact that many prominent Jewish intellectuals in Europe and the United States – often, like Kouchner, with a leftist past – are sympathetic to the idea of using American armed force to further the cause of human rights and democracy in the world, may derive from the same wellspring. Any force is justified to avoid another Shoah, and those who shirk their duty to support such force are regarded as no better than collaborators with evil.

If we were less haunted by memories of appeasing the Nazi regime, and of the ensuing genocide, people might not be as concerned about human rights as they are. And by no means do all those who work to protect the rights of others invoke the horrors of the Third Reich to justify Anglo-American armed intervention.

But the term “Islamofascism” was not coined for nothing. It invites us to see a big part of the Islamic world as a natural extension of Nazism. Saddam Hussein, who was hardly an Islamist, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is, are often described as natural successors to Adolf Hitler. And European weakness, not to mention the “treason” of its liberal scribes, paving the way to an Islamist conquest of Europe (“Eurabia”) is seen as a ghastly echo of the appeasement of the Nazi threat.

Revolutionary Islamism is undoubtedly dangerous and bloody. Yet analogies with the Third Reich, although highly effective as a way to denounce people with whose views one disagrees, are usually false. No Islamist armies are about to march into Europe – indeed, most victims of Revolutionary Islamism live in the Middle East, not in Europe – and Ahmadinejad, his nasty rhetoric notwithstanding, does not have a fraction of Hitler’s power.

The refusal of many Muslims to integrate into Western societies, as well as high levels of unemployment and ready access to revolutionary propaganda, can easily explode in acts of violence. But the prospect of an “Islamized” Europe is also remote. We are not living a replay of 1938.

So why the high alarm about European appeasement, especially among the neo-conservatives? Why the easy equation of Islamism with Nazism? Israel is often mentioned as a reason. But Israel can mean different things to different people. To certain evangelical Christians, it is the holy site of the Second Coming of the Messiah. To many Jews, it is the one state that will always offer refuge. To neo-conservative ideologues, it is the democratic oasis in a desert of tyrannies.

Defending Israel against its Islamic enemies may indeed be a factor in the existential alarmism that underlies the present “war on terror.” A nuclear-armed Iran would certainly make Israel feel more vulnerable. But it is probably overstated as an explanation. Kouchner did not advocate Western intervention in Bosnia or Kosovo because of Israel. If concern for Israel played a part in Paul Wolfowitz’s advocacy of war in Iraq, it was probably a minor one. Both men were motivated by common concerns for human rights and democracy, as well as perhaps by geopolitical considerations.

Still, Islamist rhetoric, adopted by Ahmedinejad among others, is deliberately designed to stir up memories of the Shoah. So perhaps the existential fear of some Western intellectuals is easier to explain than their remarkable, sometimes fawning trust in the US government to save the world by force.

The explanation of this mysterious trust may lie elsewhere. Many neo-cons emerged from a leftist past, in which a belief in revolution from above was commonplace: “people’s democracies” yesterday, “liberal democracies” today. Among Jews and other minorities, another historical memory may also play a part: the protection of the imperial state. Austrian and Hungarian Jews were among the most fiercely loyal subjects of the Austro-Hungarian Emperor, because he shielded them from the violent nationalism of the majority populations. Polish and Russian Jews, at least at the beginning of the communist era, were often loyal subjects of the communist state, because it promised (falsely, as it turned out) to protect them against the violence of anti-Semitic nationalists.

If it were really true that the fundamental existence of our democratic Western world were about to be destroyed by an Islamist revolution, it would only make sense to seek protection in the full force of the US informal empire. But if one sees our current problems in less apocalyptic terms, then another kind of trahison des clercs comes into view: the blind cheering on of a sometimes foolish military power embarked on unnecessary wars that cost more lives than they were intended to save.

Another piece of Ian Buruma... this time... on China... with his 2008 good wishes... ( Why I smells foxy? What is your guess, would Master Buruma spare a dame for the Chinese people stuck in Guangzhou, or would he rather sending them some more snow storm , if it is within Master Ian Buruma's power??? As the old saying goes, beware what you are wishing for....Dream, dreaming on, Master Buruma... that is your priviledge...Isha)

The Year of the “China Model”
by Ian Buruma

Ian BurumaIt will be China’s year in 2008. The Olympic Games – no doubt perfectly organized, without a protester, homeless person, religious dissenter, or any other kind of spoilsport in sight – will probably bolster China’s global prestige. While the American economy gets dragged down further in a swamp of bad property debts, China will continue to boom. Exciting new buildings, designed by the world’s most famous architects, will make Beijing and Shanghai look like models of twenty-first century modernity. More Chinese will be featured in annual lists of the world’s richest people. And Chinese artists will command prices at international art auctions that others can only dream of.

To come back from near destitution and bloody tyranny in one generation is a great feat, and China should be saluted for it. But China’s success story is also the most serious challenge that liberal democracy has faced since fascism in the 1930’s.

This is not because China poses a great military threat – war with the United States, or even Japan, is only a fantasy in the minds of a few ultra-nationalist cranks and paranoiacs. It is in the realm of ideas that China’s political-economic model, regardless of its environmental consequences, is scoring victories and looking like an attractive alternative to liberal democratic capitalism.

And it is a real alternative. Contrary to what some pundits say, Chinese capitalism is not like nineteenth-century European capitalism. True, the European working class, not to mention women, did not have voting rights 200 years ago. But even during the most ruthless phases of Western capitalism, civil society in Europe and the US was made up of a huge network of organizations independent of the state – churches, clubs, parties, societies, and associations that were available to all social classes.

In China, by contrast, while individuals have regained many personal freedoms since the death of Maoism, they are not free to organize anything that is not controlled by the Communist Party. Despite communism’s ideological bankruptcy, China has not changed in this regard.

The China Model is sometimes described in traditional terms, as though modern Chinese politics were an updated version of Confucianism. But a society where the elite’s pursuit of money is elevated above all other human endeavors is a far cry from any kind of Confucianism that may have existed in the past.

Still, it’s hard to argue with success. If anything has been laid to rest by China’s rising wealth, it is the comforting idea that capitalism, and the growth of a prosperous bourgeoisie, will inevitably lead to liberal democracy. On the contrary, it is precisely the middle class, bought off by promises of ever-greater material gains, that hopes to conserve the current political order. It may be a Faustian bargain – prosperity in exchange for political obedience – but so far it has worked.

The China Model is attractive not only to the country’s new coastal elites, but has global appeal. African dictators – indeed, dictators everywhere – who walk the plush red carpets laid out for them in Beijing love it. For the model is non-Western, and the Chinese do not preach to others about democracy. It is also a source of vast amounts of money, much of which will end up in the tyrants’ pockets. By proving that authoritarianism can be successful, China is an example to autocrats everywhere, from Moscow to Dubai, from Islamabad to Khartoum.

China’s appeal is growing in the Western world as well. Businessmen, media moguls, and architects all flock there. Could there be a better place to do business, build stadiums and skyscrapers, or sell information technology and media networks than a country without independent trade unions or any form of organized protest that could lower profits? Meanwhile, concern for human or civic rights is denigrated as outmoded, or an arrogant expression of Western imperialism.

There is, however, a fly in the ointment. No economy keeps growing at the same pace forever. Crises occur. What if the bargain struck between the Chinese middle classes and the one-party state were to fall apart, owing to a pause, or even a setback, in the race for material wealth?

This has happened before. The closest thing, in some ways, to the China Model is nineteenth-century Germany, with its industrial strength, its cultivated but politically neutered middle class, and its tendency toward aggressive nationalism. Nationalism became lethal when the economy crashed, and social unrest threatened to upset the political order.

The same thing could happen in China, where national pride constantly teeters on the edge of belligerence towards Japan, Taiwan, and ultimately the West. Aggressive Chinese nationalism could turn lethal, too, if its economy were to falter.

This would not be in anyone’s interest, so we should wish China well in 2008, while sparing a thought for all the dissidents, democrats, and free spirits languishing in labor camps and prisons. We should hope that they will live to see the day when the Chinese, too, will be a free people. It might be a distant dream, but dreaming is what New Year’s is all about.

Two things:
First, what is your point on Buruma? Yes, he is critical of China. But he also obviously takes it seriously and understands its current rise and power as real and significant. Indeed, he uses China, at one point, to turn the critique back on the West:
"Still, it’s hard to argue with success. If anything has been laid to rest by China’s rising wealth, it is the comforting idea that capitalism, and the growth of a prosperous bourgeoisie, will inevitably lead to liberal democracy."
Also, I don't take him as a neo-con...
But all of that is besides the point. I can cite passages of one of his articles without agreeing with all of that he says everywhere. I'm sure I do disagree with him on some points. There is really no need for a comprehensive take down of him, however, if we are not demanding ideological purity of one sort or another. I do not expect such purity.
Secondly, your invocation of imperialism and Chinese victimization raises a question: is it possible for an American to advance an argument critical of China without being tagged as an "imperialist"? Or is any utterance by an American that involves China by necessity imperialistic, since it emerges from the political-cultural milieu of the imperial power? Are all arguments about the possibilities for democracy in China made by an American by definition imperialistic? Or are only arguments that agree with the nationalist narrative of the Party free of such an ideological taint? What are your criteria for what can be legitimately argued by a person from one culture about another? Or is such interchange hopelessly and eternally reflective of political interest?

On the Taiwan point.
This is why mainland media relentlessly try to
convince people that taiwan democracy is
very Bad. To a large extent, this strategy works.
Ask a Chinese about his/her opinon on taiwan
polictics, someone will even tell you that, if anything,
a "dysfunctional" democary in taiwan precisly proves that it can not
work in a Chinese culture.

We can agree to disagree on whether he is a neo-con.

My point on Buruma is that he has been advocating the clash of civilization rather than the dialogue of civilizations. He and his circle will never have to perform active duties to face the danger, but he is performing the other task, the justification of the state violence. But because he and his buddies have the power to influence public opinion and through it, influence the formulating of policy, he can do real harm. Just turn on the TV to see it. (the actually using of the muscle of the empire).

If Buruma is such a humanist as to care about the welfare of the Chinese, then why could he so steadfastly ignore the plight of the Palestine’s and ignore the evils of global Zionism ? (Just because he personally benefited from the system?) People there are dying every day in front of your eyes like the drop of the flies, silently, with no name, no recognition, and yet he is pitying these poor oppressed Chinese (an abstract concept to him at most ) who is he trying to kid?

Secondly, on my “your invocation of imperialism and Chinese victimization” and the possibility of cross cultural interchange.

A. The Victimization process is a material fact, not just a fiction for emotional outlets or political manipulation . As a student of development, you must extremely familiar with the late development of Ireland, that is,comparing with other Western European countries. The colonialization process deprived the Irish people the opportunities to accumulate the initial capital to industrialize. And the under the dog eat dog Darwinian international system at that stage, under industrlization means continuous underdevelopment. Under military occupation, domestic industry can’t be developed. Chinese industrialization has to be extremely brutal toward its own people (the scene in Guangzhou) before of the exploitation from Britain and Japan, in particularly. Chinese learned from its own history (are we so stupid we have to be brainwashed by the Party, actually, comparing with the brainwashing machine of the media here, PRC system can at best be termed “primitive” in terms of manipulation of information) that the first and foremost prerequisite of national development is the ability to defend its own national territory and independence in formatting national policy (which means the right to learn from your own mistakes). These new cons hate China because they can’t manipulate China as easier as in the other countries.
B. As an intellectual one can criticise any country or culture. But, my person line is drawn on here: As long as one don’t advocate the use of the state power, especially the use of military power , to implement one’s agenda, it is legitimate and should be accused of imperialistic but friendly interchange. It is not true for a lot of opinion makers now, be it “left” or “right”. (Sometimes, they are the same bunches, right, in terms of new cons).


should NOT be accused of imperialistic but OF friendly interchange.

Sorry... Isha

While I think much of what Isha says goes too far, there is kernel of truth buried within it. But more importantly, I think one should ask whether democracy is even desirable for China, culture or no culture. While it would be fundamentally dishonest, I don't think it would be a bad thing if someone were to argue that the sort of 24/7 coverage of Brittany Speares/Anna Nicole Smith/random-rich-white-trash-blonde-bombshell-in-crisis were culturally unacceptable for America or other places and did their best to discourage people from partaking in it because of that. Sure, the media can cover that 24/7, but I think it is to the detriment of the American people. I think the same can be said of democracy, well, in much of the world.

On the Taiwan point.
This is why mainland media relentlessly try to
convince people that taiwan democracy is
very Bad. To a large extent, this strategy works.
Ask a Chinese about his/her opinon on taiwan
polictics, someone will even tell you that, if anything,
a "dysfunctional" democary in taiwan precisly proves that it can not
work in a Chinese culture.

Two more points on Taiwan democracy:
1. Taiwan independent movement has its roots in U.K., U.S. and Japan;
2. DDP was developed first in U.S.;
3. I have many Taiwanese friends here, both mainlanders and " Taiwanese", so I can get both sides of the story. And KMT legislator personally told me that U.S. was finanacially support DDP even they are developing military alliance with KMT, an hedge tactics which is also very good in terms of pressuring KMT to follow its will.

4. Chinese democracy have to be developed after the national unification, not before that. Otherwise, Chinese would be divided and conquered just as before. Look at Kenya!

First, what we agree on: yes, I absolutely accept the point about the use of state power. I was against the Iraq war from the start. And I would reject an American use of force against China (which strikes me as highly, highly unlikely in any event.)
Here's a question: at what point does historical victimization end? Mao said "the Chinese people have stood up" in 1949. China is now a powerful country; it is the fastest growing sector of the world economy; it has transformed itself is all sorts of ways (though not so much politically).Many students want to learn Chinese, and I encourage them . There really isn't a question about its ability to defend its national territory, is there?
At what point, then, does historical victimization become merely a historical footnote as opposed to a reason invoked in contemporary debates? Yes, Ireland was victimized by the UK but people in the Republic of Ireland don't bandy that victimization about all that much these days - save, perhaps for arguments in the pubs. They don't seem to worry about territorial threats from the hated British. Instead, they seem quite comfortable with surrendering sovereignty to the EU and hoping for better results in the World Cup. They seem to be over their victimization. So much so, that the problems in the North have settled down in recent years as people there look to the comfort of the South. I suspect democratic politics has something to do with it...
I know: China isn't Ireland. But at what point will the Chinese victimization narrative dissipate?


I am a devoted admirer of America's Republican virtues. When I visited New England and see the documents from the prigames, there is resolution to forbid the celebration Christmas. Now these "sort of 24/7 coverage of Brittany Speares/Anna Nicole Smith/random-rich-white-trash-blonde-bombshell-in-crisis " are classicial " bread and circus" practiced by the Rome empire. They have nothing to be with independence of the press( which Sam accused of China as lacking, with I agree but ...). After all,they are all controlled by several families, each with their own commerical and political and phisophicial agendas.


If you do not believe that Taiwanese democracy is genuine and indigenous, and that it is now deeply inscribed in a distinct Taiwanese national identity, then you fundamentally misunderstand Taiwan. And if many people in the PRC share that misunderstanding, I fear many people - which would be "Chinese" people, by your definition - will die if the PRC attacks. Should Chinese kill Chinese to undo what imperialism has wrought?

"the Republic of Ireland don't bandy that victimization about all that much these days"

1. How about IRA, which only desisted from their business several years ago and after U.K. agrees to be civlized.
2. English first invaded Scotland and then incoporate them into their invading enterprises.Then they do the same to the Irish to a smaller extent. Then they do the same things in various subcontinental indians groups...

2. "But at what point will the Chinese victimization narrative dissipate?"

Simple... afternational unification with Taiwan...because it is the legacy of Japanese imperial conquest and is still under foreign military protection... and then China is become a fully independent country.


"a distinct Taiwanese national identity" is so easily to be manufacturer. When the first British missionary translate Bible to Minnang dialect, they already has this in mind.

Should Chinese kill Chinese to undo what imperialism has wrought? "


Should Lonclon kill Americans( remember Sharman's March to the Sea and Atlanta ) in order to preserve the Union?

That is called civil war. in terms of legal status, China is in the state of civil war, just people across the straits are too polite to recognize this simple fact.

Just imagine what will happen to the U.S. if Lincoln just let the South ( which are certainly democraticially elected ) go.

It's sad to see how nationalism, which imperialism bequeathed you, takes you away from Confucianism and Taoism.

Tao Te Ching, 31:

It is because arms are instruments of ill omen, and there are Things that detest them, that the one who has the way does not abide by their use.
The gentleman gives precedence to the left when at home, but to the right when he goes to war.
Arms are instruments of ill omen, not the instruments of the gentleman.
When one is compelled to use them, it is best to do so without relish.
There is no glory in victory, and so to glorify it despite this is to exult in the killing of men.
One who exults in the killing of men will never have his way in the empire.
On occasions of rejoicing precedence is given to the left;
On occasions of mourning precedence is given to the right.
A lieutenants place is on the left;
The general's place is on the right.
This means that it is mourning rites that are observed.
When great numbers of people are killed, one should weep over them with sorrow.
When victorious in war, one should observe the rites of mourning.

Lau translation

Yes, you will relish in the killing of men, just as Americans killed their own, and Chinese killed their own, but:

One who exults in the killing of men will never have his way in the empire.

Too bad. Such thinking suggests that China has lost Way.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Aidan's Way

  • :

    Understanding disability from a Taoist point of view