I've just read this thread. Discussion on politics or social issues can contribute to understanding between people if we start from the position that we don't know enough about some issues, especially concerning another person's country, culture or politics; if it is to gain more understanding by being reasonable and keeping an open mind; and while holding to our own views, we stand ready to see the other person's point of view. We may at least end up agreeing to disagree.
Originally Posted by claude
My view is that eric appears to look at mainly one side of things. For example, the comment about Arabs does not help to reach out to reasonable people (and it's not fair). The blanket condemnation of people in China as "shit youth" and as "insane citizens and country" are attitudes that lead to the extreme acts that some people commit (I'm not talking about eric here).
As a Chinese, I believe that my views here represent the vast majority of Chinese. First, the Chinese people want the understanding and friendship of other people who are not Chinese. They hold no inherent animosity towards anyone (excepting extremists, which all countries have). Second, they know from their daily lives the good and the bad about their own country. Third, they do not wish for other people to be their "saviours" however well-intentioned.
China is a country with a recorded history of 5,000 years. Its people have experienced all manner of hardships, going through longer periods of feudal and tyrannical rule than most other peoples. They do want a good life, greater freedom of choice, and personal rights, and know that oppression can be from within and from outside of their country.
I have been fortunate to have had an education which included the history and geography of all of the Western world, but unfortunately not much about Africa or Latin American. It has given me an understanding of other cultures to a certain degree. Most of all, it helps me to try to be open-minded.
Many in the West, for example, do not know the history of China. Many do not see it and its people in the total context of its history and development, as a process which their own countries have undergone, and do not put this in comparison. But many Europeans (but unfortunately not enough Americans!) do, because they have gone through parallel periods in their history and development into more democratic societies. A process that affected the lives of ordinary people to the extreme, that involved civil, religious, national and continental wars (Cromwell, Luther, the Spanish Inquisition, to name just a few). Americans too had their war of independence and the Civil War that held their country together.
In short, the Chinese people had suffered even more and worse before Communist rule (the rich ravaged the poor, fathers had to sell two or three year old daughters to appease or repay rampaging landlords, people ate grass and the barks of trees when natural or man-made disasters struck). There are few things in life and in a people's history and growth that is without cost. Is it better now that China has undergone economic reform? Some would definitely agree because they have a better material life, but a huge number (especially the less able and fortunate) have lost the bare minimum for survival and material stability (however threadbare that existence), etc that existed for a while as a trade-off between overall social stability and livelihood, and authoritarian rule. Will poverty, injustice and all the ills go away if China is a Western democracy? Just think of India as a close example.
Are the vast majority of "democratic" countries like India better off? Is Taiwan free of corruption? What is China today is the start of a long process that the Chinese people must undergo towards both greater material and social freedom. Does "democracy" (more than ballot-box democracy) guarantee material prosperity, justice and a corruption-free society like a wishing wand. Where IS and where WAS democracy in, say, Taiwan, or Hong Kong under British rule? Did British Hong Kong have elections?
True friends of China will help China moderate the development of this process. In the ruling communist government, there are true patriots as well as the most rampacious beasts in sheep's clothing. As a large country, China has fought the fewest aggressive wars of conquest in its long history. Even smaller nations (Jenghis Khan, for example, and Japan in particular towards Korea and China) had larger ambitions and long repeated cruel attempts at coveting and subjugating other nations. Perhaps, this is because China is large enough as it is. As a nation, the Chinese have not proved to be an aggressive and conquest-seeking power.
The Amercians are fortunate to have had a fresh start as a nation. Its founding fathers had the lessons of history on their side. America was built by people who had tasted tyranny, material deprivation, etc but they had a new land and society to build from. Nevertheless, they couldn't completely escape the injustices that many of the strong "naturally" wreak on the weak. But even the civil rights struggle and the bitter Civil War cannot be compared to the tribulations of other societies (that is not meant to belittle these noble struggles). Throughout its short history, America did not have others trying to exploit their internal process of change and struggle, ill or well-intentioned, in the name of democracy, liberation or whatever. It had never been encircled, bullied, threatened, humiliated or occupied by other nations. The Cold War was an ideological struggle following the destruction wreaked by WWII and the rise of communism as a result of extreme tyranny, oppression and Czarist rule for centuries in Russia.
No large nation had ever been bullied as China had been at its weakest. Neither the Americans, the British and other Western nations had ever suffered colonisation, where foreigners ruled as masters in your own land. Scotland struggled against English tyranny during feudal times, and under tyrants like Edward the Long Shank. That, for example, was too long ago for most Western people to have the faintest idea of what it meant to face in your own land a sign that says "No Chinese or dogs are allowed (into this park)".
But today any American, German, Briton, French, Dutch and people from the host of nations which had in the past inflicted aggression upon China and ordinary Chinese, who by accident or choice have visited China can testify to the warmth and welcome that the ordinary Chinese (excluding exceptions by demented individuals) genuinely extend to these guests to their country. And that's not because they have forgotten about this history (which was not that long ago). That's because the Chinese do not bear such meaningless grudges. It's because also that even the illiterate Chinese, because of our own long history and experience, understand that those were events that were born of the times and societies then in Europe. How much have European societies changed? Perhaps we can only see in the number of Western people who are true friends of the Chinese people. And such Western people are held in appreciation by all civilized people.
China and the Chinese people have both friends and intractable enemies among Americans. Some people believe that its wishful to think that China (or some other big or powerful nation in the future) and America, as big nations, can ever "live on the same street". They believe in strength and power as the only arbiter of differences. They do not look at history in context and try to understand the times, motivation and types of socities and leaders behind the most aggressive and destructive wars waged throughout human existence.
True friends of the Chinese people will not exploit the Taiwan issue. Enemies and traitors (which all countries have) hope for eventual war, and will stoke the fires. What have the Taiwan people to fear? The Chinese in China are testimony to that. The vast majority go about their lives in peace, trying to make a living. Crime, corruption and injustice occur, practised by ruthless officials and private individuals. Which country is free of this? The battles against these ills must be fought within China as a nation, just as Britain and America evolved their democracies. China will take a longer time and friends will hope at as little heart wrenching cost (cultural revolution, etc and all the tribulations of the past 5,000 years) to the Chinese people as is destined for the Chinese people. Chinese who love their motherland for all its good and bad can hold high their heads, just as we admire and respect others who love their nation. Such Chinese do honour to themselves and their own identity, their families, their ancestors, their nation and their true friends from other countries.
I am honoured to meet Claude and Farmer on this forum, and all our Western friends who treat us with goodwill and friendship.
Hi farmer! Noticed that you've just joined this forum. May I extend my welcome to you.
Originally Posted by farmer
Glad you got your Masters and congratulations (if it's not recent, my congratulations is still not too late).
My grandparents were poor too and they came south to Nanyang from Guangdong, which is why I'm in Singapore today.
I always look forward to having more friends everywhere, including this forum through which I had the honour to meet Red5, Ronbee, TDOL, Casiopiea, Shane and Mike who are all teachers/experts here to answer questions.
I do not have a big number of friends in China although I've been there many times to different parts. But I do have some good friends (excluding friends from Singapore working in China) among the China Chinese. Quite naturally, I like China very much. Imagine, Singapore has four million people (including a million who are expatriates working here) which is not even the population of many cities in China.
I think British society has changed beyond recognition, but that is not necessarily reflected in the foreign policy.
Originally Posted by jwschang
Although I let it pass without comment, I definitely disagreed with Eric's comment about Iraqis. I don't remember a comment about Arabs in general. (Apparently, I missed one or two other things also.)
(Edited to note that I have seen the comment about Arabs, and it seems relatively mild. (I think I understand Eric's point. The US was not attacked by extremist Muslims from China.) I do think we need to reform our immigration policy.)
- "Never speak to me of profit," India's legendary leader Pandit Nehru once said to that country's leading industrialist. "It's a dirty word." Policies based on that attitude cost millions of Indians a better life for decades, by stifling India's businesses.
Indian businesses flourished around the world -- except in India. Only after India's severe restrictions on business were lifted in the past dozen years has its economic growth taken off, creating rising incomes, employment and tax revenues. This poverty-stricken country could have had all those things 40 years earlier, except for a prejudice against a word.
Hi,jwschang.Glad to meet you here. My english is too poor that I can't express my opinions well.
Originally Posted by jwschang
I got my Master more than 10 years ago, I disagreed with Eric's comment about school education in china. My family was too poor to support my study, I finished college study by the support from government. My parents and brothers are all farmers, this means that everyone in china have their chance if they study hard.
Most of my classmates are working in Singapore, and USA. Some of them come back china recently. I think china do have many problems, but china will become a strong nation both in economic and political in the future.
I do think so. The modern-day British people, as a whole, can be fairly said to be a generally fair-minded people. That can be said of many other modern-day Europeans and Amercans. The good German is respected highly for acknowledging past mistakes committed by a section of the rabid right.
Originally Posted by tdol
Crimes against other nations and their own people are committed by a rabid section who overwhelm or brainwash (as Farmer said) their fellow countrymen into a frenzy of fear and aggression. Regretably, a section of Japanese people refuse to acknowledge heinious crimes not only against China and Korea, but all of Southeast Asia. At the same time, there are many very good Japanese who feel sorry for what happened and are vowed to prove themselves as a peace-loving people.
There are so-called human beings (in all countries) driven by greed and power. They have no conscience and are a breed not even comparable to beasts of the jungle. Their will kill, maim, torture, etc even their own brothers, sisters or parents if anything or anyone should stand in their way of profit. The overt ones are such as Hitler and Saddam. The greater numbers sit in boardrooms, rapacious and cunning. The rip-offs of pensioner's retirement livelihood do not manifest themselves directly in bloodshed, but the unseen despair and anguish of the victims. Communism was born from the torn souls and guts of victims of rapacious capitalists.
White Americans who fought for civil rights and justice for black Americans, at great cost to themselves, are that special breed of human beings whose souls are the image of the God who made them. They represent the hope of America as a great nation of courage and justice. But some call them fools and brand them as "liberals" or "nigger-lover". It is this shining image of such brave Americans that balances what is seen by many as an aggressive America dominated by a minority of the extreme fundamental right (not overtly), as seen over the past many decades.
When a country is powerful, often the most ruthless few succeed in usurping power (even through a "democratic" process), because it is only the ruthless who crave for such heights of power and have the souless resolve needed to rise to the top. They are aided (for different reasons and objectives) by powerful business interests, and a population of decent people with moral values and beliefs that makes "the bigger the lie, the more it is believed" and the "bigger the unpleasant truth, the more it is disbelieved".
Most Americans are such decent people that it is almost impossible to reconcile this fact with the image of the USA in Vietnam, Napalm, the Shah of Iran, the Saddam of US prodigy, etc. And US leadership is not Hitlerian, far from it. So, what drives the United States of America? What drives anti-Americanism? It conflicts totally with the spontaniety and decency, and bravery, of the ordinary American.
Threats to peace-loving people are not only bred in dictatorships and authoritarian states. The industrial revolution was the engine of colonisation of the third world, the siesmic changes resulting in the horror of the conflicts, the defeat of Germany in WWI, that ultimately led to WWII.
My own view is that American experience of world history, given the USA's quick rise as a nation (especially after Europe was destroyed by WWII), suffers from a lack of perspective, experience and understanding of the rest of the world. This young kid grew up fast and strong, and quickly learned that he has to cope with a real tough world no more an ocean away. That notion of security was shattered by Pearl Harbour and WWII, the rise of Communism and the Cold War. So, the kid must always be bigger and stronger, must act in a pre-emptive manner, must be street-smart, machiavellian, cynical, but underlied by an innate decency, a Richard Nixon who at the same time extended the first hand of friendship to China.
Geography and economics contributed to America's lack of deeper contacts with the rest of the world, especially beyond Europe and the Americas. How many Americans felt the need to use another currency for accounting, another language to build bonds and business, another place for a holiday? How many Amercans learn other nation's history at school? How many felt the need for this, until perhaps more recently.
China, as just as big a country, was for long periods equally self-sufficient and inward-looking. There were centuries and centuries of peaceful living for the ordinary people, marred occasionally by dynastic changes, internal wars, natural disasters, floods, etc which brought untold miseries. Harsh injustices, deprivation and cruelties (which I described in the previous posting) were at village levels, or during periods of inept governance, perpetuated by greedy officials, an all-powerful magistracy and bureaucracy, rapacious landlords or village chiefs. But from the utter chaos and incessant wars of the Spring and Autumn period and the Period of the Warring States (some 2,500 years ago) were born the great philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism, as the way to order in society, stoicism, acceptance, obedience, etc. There were perhaps equal numbers of bad and benevolent emperors, but none sought conquest of other nations. The more war-mongering rulers fought pre-emptive wars around China's borders and in most cases peace was quickly concluded with the defeated opponent.
Confucianism helped to bring order to family relations and society for centuries. But it also retarded the growth of the Chinese people in many ways. Absolute obedience to the male head of the family was the equal of a sacred duty, as was filial piety, a deep-rooted consciousness of duty to one's ancestry and long dead forebears, etc. The place of women in family and society was nothing more than service to the male.
But it speaks for the Chinese people's adaptability (at least within Chinese society, but not external relations because China looked inward) that Chinese women's position has improved vastly (except at conservative village level) without any great upheaval or liberation movement. Chinese philosophies also reinforced a great capacity to accept hardships and sacrifice. Peasant rebellions occurred only when large sections of the population were in economic despair. Not until foreign nations parcelled various parts of Shanghai and coastal China in the dying decades of the last Imperial dynasty (the Ching), were there politically-inspired uprisings by ordinary people (dynastic challenges were political movements though). This brief narration is to explain why Chinese are generally peace-loving, non-aggressive and non-conquest seeking. But China's inwardness hurt itself only. America's inwardness has great consequences for the world.
It is my personal hope that Americans make a serious effort to learn about the histories and cultures of other peoples and nations, not only of the Chinese, but various Islamic nations, etc as well. Only with this will America be able to play its leading role as a nation to be truly admired.
It's not only the Americans- Tony Blair said that we are living in times where history can't teach us much, which struck me as alarming and hubristic.
India's outlook, under Nehru, was left leaning and "socialist". Not surprising, because of its largely agrarian economy, vast poverty, and cultural system, where there were deep barriers between a small upper class and the vast majority lower classes (not only in economic terms, but parallel with social divisions - the Caste system). India was also a leading nation of the Non-aligned Third World during the Cold War.
Originally Posted by RonBee
I think he saw more the bad side of "profit" as representing greed and rapacious capitalism. As you said, it would have made a difference definitely to India's progress as a nation. But it takes more than economic success to translate to a better and freer society for countries such as India and China.
Like China, how much freedom (not just political) do poor Indians enjoy? Out of pressure, poverty, fear, etc, does the poor Indian truly exercise a free vote? He will say Yes (because the safety and livelihood of his family counts more than "stupid" bravery and honesty). He has learned to play the reluctant victim if it means some money in his pocket for rice for the next two months, so you can have my willing voluntary vote of support. You can have laws, but laws must be enforced, and in such societies (not only India) both the social network and wealth translate into power above the law.
I think that political and social reform, like most changes, destabilises many aspects of a nation and people's lives, especially nations starting from a deep-rooted "grid". A small country like Singapore, or a relatively new (and mixed) society like America can effect changes with less downsides and at a faster pace. Even a company trying to enforce, say, workplace changes or a new wage system, has a number of things to consider. So every society and nation must be allowed to do it its own way.
Who leads the way of internal "reform"and how leaders are chosen are also an internal struggle. What are the limits of outside intervention against a clearly genocidal regime, such as Saddam's was? My personal view is economic sanctions by the world community. Yes, this will cause more suffering to its people, but who is to play God beyond this limit? Peoples and societies must fight their own battles (and bear with the consequences) ultimately. Dictatorships cannot last forever, as history has repeated shown.
However ineffective sometimes, the UN has some legitimacy to impose economic sanctions as long as it represents the world community. At least, it stands a better chance of not being a conspiracy of a few nations against a "victim", because even allies' interests do not align all the way.
Americans are used to quick fixes, and I believe many ordinary well-intentioned Americans do believe that some Western model of democracy is really the solution. Personally, I hold a different view.
Democracy essentially means a spread of power (among various branches of government, institutions, etc) as a principle in itself, and as an effective check on power concentration and the resulting abuse of it.
As a process, it is believed that the ballot box, a free press, an independent judiciary, etc is an effective means to ensure that power devolves to those chosen by the majority of the enfranchised. In practice, how is governmental power devolved in the US system? More important, what considerations drive the exercise of that power? An given these forces and considerations, does it result in the exercise of the power always (or most times) and STRATEGICALLY for the good of the nation and its people, and in relations between nations.
Bush (or any other President) has to face an election, and the election of his party to Congress to ensure the necessary support for his policies and programs. Is staying in office primary or secondary to suicidal policies that Bush honestly believe are fundamentally right for Americans and longer term international relations or world peace. Which ultimately dictates which? Is using SPIN the way? Power is in this sense truly shared in the US system, with business interests, political powerhouses, ideological cores that can deliver votes, etc. So, it is a sophisticated form of oligarchy. No one is still really sure why JFK was killed. Or RFK, etc. America is such a powerful nation that the levers of power can never be truly devolved DEMOCRATICALLY.
I am not justifying authoritarianism. Simply, that democracy is not the cure-all, or even fulfilling its noble principles. It's parts of democractic practices that can be perhaps, made more effective, like somehow finding a way to ensure a free Press through a spread of ownership and limits on that, etc. The Internet may be one light through this blind alley.
If Americans can first distinguish the fundamental fact that America's political experience and system is not (not just not necessarily) to way for other nations, that's a seismic change in thinking. America (like all nations) is unique, and societal systems and changes cannot be "one size fits all" or even "adjusted one size fits all". America can be truly a friend to other nations' political reform by exerting some pressure (to a clear limit) on outright, say, genocidal practices. No nation condemned the bloodshed of the Civil War. No nation even wants to say if it was right or wrong, good or bad. It was an American affair, they solved it their way, and hopefully it brings ultimate good to America.
Thank you for your brief lines, to which I have responded too lengthily. I'd better stop here. Anyway, its just a discussion and they are only my views. We can't change much of things that are wrong, except to at least communicate at the individual level. :wink:
:mad: For goodness' sake - Drop this expounding, or at least move it to a political forum or private message board!! Fair?
.... I wouldn't be surprised if you all started being "experts" on the state of African nations too!! [Yes, you forgot to touch on them, as far as I can see, although you have all other continents covered].
A GOOD IDEA - Remove this posting in it's entirety!!
Originally Posted by intakaslave
- Remove this posting in its entirety.
I can do that, but it seems a rather odd request.
If you don't like reading the opinions of others, then don't read them. This is practically the only thread on the whole forum with any political commentary in it. It shouldn't be hard to avoid. Click on the link that says Stop watching this topic. You won't be bothered with it anymore.
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