Monday, June 02, 2008

The swooping flight of the Oozlum

From the singing springs of an unseen bed,
To the silent velvet of an unseen box,

An errant flicker
through the summer night:
Glowed, twittered and fed,
Incandescent, fluttering on the wings of a ticking clock.

The Fudd Haiku - Life
David Seaton's News Links
The great house of Dior has literally had to kowtow to China, and Sharon Stone is going to be out a huge amount of money for making her new-age, karma-babble, remarks about a disaster that has cost the lives of tens of thousands of Chinese.

Beyond the obvious, callous, stupidity of Ms. Stone's tuppenny-ha’penny, pseudo-Buddhist, blather, there lies an interesting point; an ideological fault line of ours stands exposed.

As part of our post-Cold War heritage, we have made it an article of faith that capitalism and democracy are joined together at the hip, that, in the words of Sammy Cahn, "dad was told by mother, you can't have one without the other", but to the contrary, today we are learning that in the words of Ira Gershwin, "it ain't necessarily so".

The Slovenian, philosopher-gadfly, Slavoj Zizek has written a very interesting contrarian article on the Tibetan question published in the International Herald Tribune. Here is a sample:
In recent years, the Chinese changed their strategy in Tibet: De-politicized religion is now tolerated, often even supported. The Chinese rely more on ethnic and economic colonization, rapidly transforming Lhasa into a Chinese capitalist Wild West with karaoke bars and Disney-like "Buddhist theme parks" for Western tourists.
What the media image of brutal Chinese soldiers and policemen terrorizing the Buddhist monks conceals is a far more effective American-style socioeconomic transformation. In a decade or two, Tibetans will be reduced to the status of Native Americans in the United States.
It seems the Chinese Communists finally learned the lesson: What is the oppressive power of secret police, camps and Red Guards destroying ancient monuments, compared to the power of unbridled capitalism to undermine all traditional social relations? The Chinese are doing what the West has always done, as Brazil did in the Amazon or Russia in Siberia, and the United States on its own western frontiers.
This takes us back to the Communist Manifesto:
The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It ... has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest, than callous “cash payment” ... for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation
Zizek ends his article with these words:
There is a further paradox: What if the promised democratic second stage that follows the authoritarian valley of tears never comes? This is the most unsettling thing about China. There is the suspicion that its authoritarian capitalism is not merely a reminder of our past, the repetition of the process of capitalist accumulation, which in Europe went on from the 16th to the 18th century, but a sign of the future.

What if the "vicious combination of the Asian knout and the European stock market" proves economically more efficient than our liberal capitalism? Might it signal that democracy, as we understand it, is no longer a condition and motor of economic development, but an obstacle?
Although practically simultaneous, the "Enlightenment", the Encyclopedia, the Rights of Man and the French Revolution came before the Industrial Revolution and the advent of capitalism and although many seem to think so, there is no immovable reason to consider them of one flesh. Perhaps our age will see them all sorted out.

As to the Chinese:

People trained in Marxist-Leninism, the "36 Stratagems" and Sun Tzu as practical methods of operation and not as a way of wowing pretty young students, have no ideological "capital" invested in capitalism per se.

For them it surely nothing but a force, a "terrain of Yang" to be occupied to further their goals. Their main goal, in my opinion, is the full sovereignty of China, something which cannot coexist with American hegemony... I say "hegemony", not with American power or super power, but with American hegemony.

Knowing that capitalism is history's greatest solvent, they are inviting us to dissolve ourselves in our own invention. Sun Tzu, wherever he is, must be glowing in pride. To defeat an opponent without ever coming to battle is the height of his art.

We have confused the freedom to buy things with the freedom to say things and perhaps even to think certain things. If we are not to lose our way, we must face with sober senses, our real conditions of life, and our relations with our kind.

If, in fact, we really see Liberty as the true path to Equality and Fraternity. if we truly believe that every human being has a right to health, education and peace, then, instead of lecturing others on democracy,
we had better mind our knitting. DS


RC said...

I miss a lot, I can't keep up on everything. Where was it said, and when, that democracy would come to China? I never heard that. I'll check the Zizek work.
Also, the Chinese are pretty vocal about the Tibetan Theocracy of the recent past being very abusive, so this is a public relations push too, not just Disneyfication. As to the Tibetans being in the same unhappy position as North American indigenous, that's accurate.

Anonymous said...

China has been working for some years to introduce Anglo-style "democracy". There are already elections in rural areas. This is however purely because of the added stability and just the same as the organization of other parts of the state also following the Anglo model.

A pseudo-democracy like in England or the USA is a great thing to calm your population and deny them any meaningful participation, after all.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think the Chinese Communist Party is a "listening-learning" organization, with their ear to the ground. In that sense they are already democratic and as we saw in their reaction to the earthquake, in a meaningful way.

RC said...

I'll repeat the question. Where was it said, and when, that democracy would come to China? Please point me toward some references. I'm also somewhat oblivious about how the rescue missions {which I am not faulting} and other disaster management following the recent Chinese earthquake are democratic.
What aspect makes them so? I'm not denigrating anyone's opinions here, it's just that, as I said, I'm missing something.
Now that I know that there is group of persons out there that see democracy on the rise in China, I guess I'll have to add that to my list of birds I haven't sighted yet. Something is not quite right about this notion, but, China is also the country where there are more English speakers than anywhere else in the world. However, visitors there report to me that it is a type of English that no native English speakers understand a word of. Maybe they have that kind of democracy too.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

There is more to "democracy" (the rule of the people) than being able to vote for either Tweedle Dee or Tweedle Dum every four years.

RC said...

Agreed, but my sincere request for references for my own study stands.

Anonymous said...

Here's a book on Chinas 'rural democracy'