Monday, June 26, 2017

China vs populism

I have earlier described how civilizations have individual traits. The present Western civilization like the two Chinese civilizations and old Egypt were characterized by dynasticism, a historic sense, an ability to long term planning ahead, organization and care for ones whole nation and the future. We see a splendid example of this last phenomenon in the Bible where Joseph after interpreting the dream of Pharaoh ordered the long term storage of food.

I have also described how for some civilizations some traits change to the opposite in their modernity, especially in its late phase. This way old China, Meso-America and now the West lost the historic sense and veneration of the past.

The Greco-Roman world had other characteristics such as short time thinking, lack of historic sense and anti-dynasticism. This is why the old Greeks had a chaotic democracy in the classical phase where we in our case had absolute monarchy.

In our modernity dynasticism was replaced by democracy. In the mature modernity in the 20th century this was tempered to a certain degree by the still persisting long term planning and organization. But now in late or declining modernity we are approaching the old Greek chaotic democracy.

This is partly a result of the changing or inversion of certain traits to the opposite in late modernity. On the other hand, most civilizations grow disorganized in their late modernity. The Greco-Roman civilization turned utterly chaotic in its later modernity. Therefore in our case the development is both the typical dissolution and the inversion to the opposite of the classical traits. We can only hope that this double causation will not make the dissolution even worse.

But will the process affect all parts of the world equally? Here it is important that not all of what is now part of the Western world has always been parts of our civilization. Rather, they have their old heritage, as they are in the areas of old civilizations. And these old traits still characterize the new Westernized nations.

These old traits mean that the Western nations are different depending on whether they have foreign earlier civilizations as heritages or not. We have examples of this in the Greek and Roman modernity. The Ptolemaian Egypt was the Hellenized version of old Egypt. It showed more continuity than other post-Alexander the Great states. Probably as a heritage from the old Egyptians with their well organized thinking and planning. Perhaps also the surprising strength of Carthago against Rome could be a heritage from the second Mesopotamian civilization, where the Assyrians demonstrated long term planning indeed in their large scale deportations of peoples in order to change demographics. Both Hellenized Egypt and Hellenized Carthago deem to have better resisted the chaos in the modernity in the Greco-Roman world.

Now in our case we see that China with its heritage of planning and organization show the same resistance against the increasing disorganization in other Western nations.

That we are sliding into new more chaotic times is clear from numerous examples. The recent elections in France was one of the few good developments. But it does not in itself guarantee stability or signify a persisting mature modernity. Very few voted. The new parliamentarians are inexperienced and could in an anarchistic nation like the French soon split into fractions. Reforms can only be sustained if they are followed by immediate results.

In a disorganizing Western modernity a big power which because of its heritage keeps stable has an immense advantage. Only China seems able to make, implement  and sustain long term plans. Both for itself and globally. And as opposed to Cartage it also has  resources matching those of its politically dissolving competetor.

The best example of Westernized China's organized long term policies is the modernization and opening started by Deng Xiaoping and his colleagues. This program has been continued ever since with formidable results. Another great example is the present plan to revive and extend the Silk Road. On the practical level the continuity manifests itself in structural terms and the one -party rule. The confluence of party, business people and intellectuals gives a coherent elite. This is in many ways comparable to and a replacement of the old Confucian elite who secured stability for centuries. But it is a capitalist version. In the old Confucian system capabilities in the form of literacy and administrative abilities gave merit. In the new elite these are supplemented by economic success. Perhaps the most important element in the long term stability and long term policies are the mechanisms and and traditions by which the top of the CCP supplements itself and chooses capable administrators and leaders. This kind of stable meritocracy gives clear advantages, not least compared to democracies decaying into populism. China has become the carrier of some the important traits of the Western civilization, organization, continuity and care for the future. The oppression may be excessive or not, but as opposed to personal dictatorships, it is for a cause: avoiding chaos and securing the future.

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