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William Hooper: “The Scientific Development Concept”

September 29th, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

According to William Hooper, Western lead Democracy has peaked. He believes the baton will be passed unto China, and a new Age of Enlightenment, one that is going to be improved upon with China’s concept of Scientific Development, will start. Those of you who observe China may know that this political philosophy was advanced and officially adopted into the CPC (Communist Party of China) constitution in 2007. Hooper has taken a lot in and articulated this idea for the Western audience.

This essay touches upon many topics we have pondered on this blog. In my discussion (see “Newsy.com, breaking the mold of Western media bias?“) with Rosa Sow, Kai Pan, Maitreya Bhakal, and our very own Allen, we asked ourselves how the mold on Western media bias can be broken. Our consensus seems to be, in MIT Professor Chomsky’s words, “the only way to break it is education and organization, and working hard to create alternatives.”

I posed that same question to Hooper, though with a slightly different context. How can we fix a West (perhaps mainly the U.S.) that is dominated by ideology, where scientific empirical evidence can be trumped in the public discourse? (Yes, I have conflated Democracy with freedom of expression.) In response, he said:

I don’t think the West is going to be fixed. But the future for the West probably lies in Germany I think. I think that Germany might gradually realize that democracy stinks and move toward an authoritarian system. Over the next few years we can expect to see many countries abandon democracy, Pakistan, Japan, one day maybe failing European powers such as Greece.

In the Chinese eyes, “Democracy” as practiced by the U.S. has tons of problems. (See other perspectives on Democracy: “Understanding Democracy” by Allen; “Reflecting on Western Democratization” by former Deng Xiaoping interpreter, Zhang Weiwei; “Topics on Democracy (Part 1) — Democracy War Game” and “Topics on Democracy (Part 2) — A Model for the 21st Century” by Chan.)

Many feel the various flaws of Democracy (or freedom of speech, individualism, and etc) do exist, but they are outweighed by the benefits. I think that is a totally valid position. Though, personally, at the moment, I think China’s “Scientific Development” is a better vision.

Hooper’s essay, “The Scientific Development Concept,” is a rare articulation for the Chinese vision for the Western audience. China observers in the West or people within China will find this essay thought-provoking. China has millenniums of experience in engineering society and governance. Don’t ever discount that fact. Below is the essay in full with permission from the author:

“The Scientific Development Concept”
An Essay in Political Philosophy, William Hooper, September 2010

The Scientific Development Concept, or Scientific Development Perspective, is the current official guiding socio-economic philosophy of the Communist Party Of China. It was ratified into the CPC’s constitution in October 2007 under the leadership of President Hu Jintao.

Key ideas include: (*) A post ideological vision of scientific government driven by pragmatism, experimentation and empirical validation. (*) Maintenance of broad popular support for government based primarily on performance not democratic participation. In other words, maintenance of Lipset Legitimacy. (*) An increasing degree of openness and policymaking participation at the popular level supported by increased control of information and guidance at the popular level. (*) Full transparency, debate and participation in government policy making at the elite academic level, also an emphasis on collective expert decision making, also a commitment to better lawmaking and regulation. In other words a Weber bureaucracy running a Weber legitimate government under scholastic supervision. (*) Interventionist policy making designed to maximize economic efficiency, social justice and environmental conditions. The realization that as China progresses, policymaking must expand beyond purely growth centric goals. (*) An emphasis on development, on the evolution of China, contentment in the future rather than the present. (*) The guidance of society towards advanced values, even Classical Music and Spiritual Growth.

One recent author, writing about China, Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom, argues that it is more helpful to think in terms of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World than George Orwell’s 1984 – “Orwell emphasises the role of fear in keeping people in line, while Huxley pays more attention to how needs and desires are created, manipulated and satisfied”. Yet this statement sounds too cynical, this article will reveal the Scientific Development Concept to be a genuinely idealistic vision of paternalistic government.

Another recent author writing about China, Martin Jacques, asks if democracy is a necessary component of ‘modernity’. Over the course of this essay we will develop a new elitist model of modernity, which we call the New Eastern Perspective. For example, Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of Singapore 1959 to 1990, has said “Americans have become as dogmatic and evangelical as the communists”. We will explore how moral dogma can be conceived of as the precise opposite of modernity. So when Lee Kuan Yew says democracy is turning America into an increasingly ideological society, he means America is regressing, is moving away from modernity. He does not limit himself to American politics, for example, he has described how so called progressive American intellectuals have turned political correctness into an absurd religion. Western politics has become a debate between the morality of compulsion vs the morality of inequality, instead utilitarian Chinese government employs whatever methods promote the greatest good. To Western eyes the New Eastern Perspective appears heartless and authoritarian. To Eastern eyes Western government appears naive and individualist. Lee Kuan Yew’s New Eastern Perspective underlies both the Scientific Development Concept and the Singapore Model.

Over the course of this essay the New Eastern Perspective is revealed by examining the mechanics of the Scientific Development Concept. Sometimes this perspective is simply described as ‘pragmatic’, but a proper description goes much deeper, it includes rationality, elitism, self-sacrifice and an evolutionary time perspective. This essay shows how the Western and New Eastern perspectives have their roots in fundamentally antithetical religious models. Whereas Christianity preaches a nurturing utopia, Confucianism preaches competitive evolution; whereas Christianity is egalitarian and individualist, Confucianism is elitist and collectivist. Ultimately this essay presents the New Eastern Perspective as a combination of 18th Century Enlightenment Rationalism, 19th Century Social Darwinism, and 20th Century Technological Empiricism. Although the philosophy essentially dates back to Ancient times, it has only recently begun penetrating human culture, and is being embraced by the East not the West, hence the ‘New Eastern’ label. Note, instead of including detailed footnotes, I have simply put the more famous concepts / phrases / words / people etc in quotes and / or brackets.

History

One fascinating aspect of the Scientific Development Concept is the extent to which it reflects the traditional Confucian model. Over the next few paragraphs, we will quickly explore the evolution of Chinese government, contrast it with Western Government, and highlight the similarities between modern and traditional Chinese government.

Looking back at the evolution of Western government, the separation between Church and State is extraordinary. Long ago, when despots competed for territory by dint of military conquest, the separation between Church and State was understandable. Yet as society became increasingly idealistic, it is deeply surprising that the Church was not given responsibility for policymaking. At one time in Europe, almost every citizen was deeply religious, so why wasn’t the Church put in charge of policymaking? If the Pope is God’s representative on earth, surely we want him to design our government. The answer revolves around the nature of Christianity, it is not a very practical moral philosophy which can be sensibly applied to government, it suggests a socialist utopian state, a model which would have been highly controversial and ill equipped to deliver growth.

Confucianism, however, is very different from Christianity. Confucius (551BC – 479BC) was more a philosopher that a conventional religious figure in the Christian tradition who preaches faith and forbearance. Just as Plato focused on government (eg “The Republic” c380BC), so did Confucius. Both Plato and Confucius concerned themselves with the techniques of self development, the evolution of society, and the ideal form of government. Consequently, Confucian philosophy was ideally suited to government, and the separation between ‘Church’ and State vanished as society evolved. So, in a sense, Chinese and Western government began diverging in 400BC because Plato didn’t win over the masses the way Confucius did, and the religion the West did later adopt was unsuited to the challenges of government.

By about 600AD Chinese government had reached a stable form which persisted for the next 1,300 years up until around 1950. The traditional Confucian Model of Government during this long time period relied on policy experts – the “scholar bureaucrats” or “imperial elite”. The “Imperial Examination” was an examination system designed to select the best administrative officials for the state’s bureaucracy. It was open to a wide cross section of Chinese society, the core of its syllabus was Confucian Philosophy, and those who passed it were appointed to the civil service. Whereas in Europe the military, the rich, the masses and the church all fought for power, in China the civil servant scholar bureaucrats enjoyed unrivalled authority. Some of them worked in the court as state officials, the majority remained at the local level. Only about 5% of those who took the exam passed, those who failed often took junior civil service roles such as teaching. Becoming a civil servant was not a route to riches, it was an idealistic profession, akin to joining the priesthood, or the academic ivory tower. It was not a vertical power structure, it was a scholastic form of government, essentially China was run collectively by the academic elite.

The Confucian Model of government was widely admired, and it consequently persisted despite occasional upheavals. For example, even after the Mongol Invasion of China in 1276, the Mongols embraced Confucian government. Confucian government spread to neighbouring counties. In Japan it took on a militararistic form – instead of elite intellectuals, the shoguns were elite warriors. In general China was politically stable, peaceful and prosperous. However, by around 1800AD China was clearly being left behind by the West. Why? Perhaps Confucian philosophy stagnated and became too traditional, it lost its rationality, the elite turned into naive moralists, and Chinese government became as dogmatic and evangelical as 20th Century Communism. Perhaps also war was a vital driver of European economic reform and China was too peaceful and too isolated. Whatever the reason, in the 1800s China’s relative backwardness became increasingly unsustainable. British traders began smuggling Indian Opium into China, when the Chinese Government tried to prohibit the dangerous drug, the British went to war with China in order to safeguard British trading profits (“Opium Wars”). China lost Hong Kong to the British, later Vietnam to the French, then Korea to the Japanese, then Taiwan, Manchuria, Tibet etc. By the mid 20th Century China had been utterly subjugated.

With the Chinese State facing extinction, the government of scholar bureaucrats was utterly discredited and Mao Zedong, leader of China 1949 to 1976, put in place a completely different form of government. In fact Mao’s government was the very antithesis of Confucianism, instead of elite academics making policy by consensus, Mao created a proletarian personality cult which revolved around his personal leadership. Academics were persecuted and the Chinese Communist Party was filled with hard-nosed and frequently violent peasant revolutionaries. Although Mao and Confucius both believed in equitable society, Confucius was a humanitarian not an egalitarian. Mao Zedong’s violent populist socialism was famously unsuccessful, yet despite killing millions he remains a popular historical figure in China today simply because he defeated the foreign armies occupying the country and restored independence.

Since Mao’s death China has been gradually restoring a more Confucian model. The Scientific Development Concept clearly echoes Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore Model. Lee Kuan Yew was the Prime Minister of Singapore from 1959 to 1990, and he is generally regarded as the Philosopher King who built modern Singapore. He was educated in the West, yet his political philosophy is Confucian. Western intellectuals generally consider him to be the world’s most eloquent and convincing autocrat.

Singapore has a degree of “people’s democracy”, but it is best described as an authoritarian country run collectively by elite academics, many of whom have scientific backgrounds, it is a modern take on the traditional “scholar bureaucrat” model. Also following the Confucian model, government in Singapore has unrivalled authority over both society and the economy, and is deeply paternalistic. The government exercises control over the press, and government-linked corporations produce as much as 60% of the country’s GDP. At the same time Singapore is consistently rated one of the least corrupt countries in the world, and has a highly developed market economy with income tax peaking at just 20%. Singapore has a population of 5 million, 20% of whom are non-resident. Despite her wealth, fourth highest GDP per capita by PPP in the world, Singapore achieved the highest rate of growth in the world in the first half of 2010, 17.9%. According to the Economist Intelligent Unit, Singapore also enjoys the highest quality of life in Asia, and the eleventh highest in the world.

Famous acts of social engineering in Singapore include: creating the best school system in the world in terms of academic achievement in science, creating by far the most cost effective and enviable health care system in the world, creating the best government housing in the world which has an 85% share of the market, creating probably the best social security and pensions model in the world, forcing government schools to teach all lessons in English, killing native languages (such as Hokkien), banning chewing gum, forcing hippies to have hair cuts in the 1970s, promoting eugenics, occasionally imprisoning or exiling political activists without trial. Westerns find some of these policies laudable, others outrageous. This essay sets out to explain the philosophy behind such policy decisions.

Utility

During the Age Of Enlightenment Western philosophers (eg Auguste Comte) began re-examining traditional moral assumptions based on the idea of rationality and science. Judaism, for example, defined good and evil primarily in terms of moral laws such as those listed in the “Ten Commandments”. Christianity stressed more generalized moral principles such as “Turn the other cheek”. Nevertheless, neither of these ethical systems proved very effective in real life. For example, killing in self defence is vital to the survival of both men and nations. Although all men have an intuitive sense of right and wrong, Enlightenment philosophers searched for a rigorous definition.

Science’s emphasis on functionality clearly suggests the following definition: Right is that which makes the world better, and wrong is that which makes the world worse. A well meaning act is one motivated by the desire to make the world better, a good act is one which does make the world better.

Utilitarianism, the concept that ethical dilemmas should be solved by the rational maximization of human contentment, became popular. The theory tore apart the idea of moral laws and human rights, horrified Christians, and famously inspired the French Revolution.

The English politician Edmund Burke, who is now considered to be the founder of political Conservatism, not only criticised the French Revolution, he correctly predicted that it would end in disaster. Burke had three essential arguments, one rational, two anti-rational. His rational argument was pragmatic, he believed the revolution was too heavily driven by radical, untested, and idealistic metaphysical arguments. He said: “What is the use of discussing a man’s abstract right to food or to medicine? The question is upon the method of procuring and administering them.” This line of reasoning advocates caution, an essence the French Revolution sadly missed. Deng Xiaoping once said words to the effect of: Don’t leap across the river, wade across feeling for the stones. Burke’s other two arguments were intrinsically anti-enlightenment. He rejected Hobbese’s argument that politics can be reduced to a deductive system akin to mathematics, he claimed the complexities of human society are too great, and human intellect is too limited. Consequently he advised against radically challenging the accumulated behavioural inheritance of the ages. Burke also rejected the cold rationality of Rousseau and Voltaire, and described himself a believer in “human heart-based” government which values man’s instinctive moral prejudices. Enlightenment critics rejected these anti-rational arguments. In one case we have the traditional morality associated with Conservatism, in the other case we have the humanitarian morality associated with Liberalism.

Yet utilitarianism does have a problem. Would utility increase if a student stole some money from a rich man? Probably yes (because the marginal utility of money is much lower for the rich man). Should the incompetent be allowed to breed? Probably not (survival of the fittest promotes evolution).

The problem is that utilitarianism assumes citizens are perfectly selfless and will happily sacrifice their lives and property for the greater good. In the real world humans do not have the communal idealism of ants, consequently society would rebel against utilitarianism. We can understand why Burke called for human heart-based government.

Burke also has a point on complexity. Marx reasoned that equality increases utility, but he failed to anticipate that humans, not being ants, are often motivated by personal gain. The failure of central planning is testament to the difficulties of calculating utility. Clearly there are limits to what can be achieved.

By limiting the scope of utilitarianism, allowing it to operate only across increasingly broad groupings, complexity reduces, decisions become steadily less radical, and the results increasingly resemble conventional human law. For example, if we treat all mankind equally, the optimization can no longer prevent the reproduction of incompetents. Although this technique gives good general principles, it fails on specific cases. Utility grouping is at the heart of jurisprudence, elsewhere it is of limited use. (Note: Kant’s deontological ethics are essentially this technique. Under Kant: We generalize to get should the poor be allowed to steal from the rich, apply universal law and there are no rich any more, negating the proposition. Utility grouping is not a purely rational ethical system because there is no justification for grouping. For example, why should incompetents be treated the same way as all other humans?)

So even though utility is theoretically the correct measure of good, it suffers from a mismatch between human idealism and utilitarian theory, also it is too complicated to calculate. Yet all is not lost, utilitarianism still works very well in some applications, indeed it is the foundation stone of economic science. There is also a way to overcome the idealism and complexity problem. Ensure the utility maximization is constrained by the level of idealism prevailing in society (use existing laws or opinion polls to set the boundaries), and proceed in small steps continually validating the results. This principle is the key to the Scientific Development Concept, as we see shortly.

This idea of bounded utilitarianism is not as radial as one might think. In Plato’s Laws he discusses the problem of forcing idealistic policy decisions onto society without their consent (a problem he failed to address in The Republic). He says force should not be used, instead we should imagine a doctor administering treatment, he has to explain the procedure to the patient and win his consent (see Laws section 720a in Plato’s Complete Works by Hackett).

Legitimacy

In order to understand the Scientific Development, or any other system of government, we need to understand the extent to which government aligns itself with the common good. For example, Fredrick the Great, King of Prussia 1740 to 1786, was an example of a famously benevolent and progressive despot who transformed his country from a relative backwater into an intellectual and military superpower. An interesting question is what mechanisms, if any, protected the Prussians against selfish / incompetent Kings? The answer is brutal: in 18th Century Europe incompetent regimes tended to be annihilated by their neighbours, because in the long run the common good, the flourishing of society, brings economic success and military power. For example, the Ottoman Empire eventually disappeared because its failure to embrace Prussia’s progressive values left it weaker than its European neighbours.

Today Political Scientists talk about the concept of “government legitimacy”. Legitimacy is best defined as utility maximization with constrained idealism. In other words:

A government is legitimate if and only if the people generally believe that:
(a) Policy is fair (b) Policy is optimal.
By fair we mean reasonably compatible with prevailing moral ideology.
By optimal we mean performing at least as well or better than that all fair alternatives.
By performance we mean increases in the public good, especially economic growth.

Notice that the principles of both competence and consent are integral to this definition. Following Plato’s example of a doctor administering treatment, we would define a legitimate doctor as one who administers the best treatment his patient will accept.

This utility maximizing model of legitimacy echoes the 20th Century American political sociologist Seymour Martin Lipset. He explained how “performance legitimacy” (utility) is the source of a government’s stability. A loss of legitimacy ends in tyranny or collapse. For example, the Soviet Union was an example of an illegitimate regime. Growth underperformed the West and citizens regularly tried to escape. Increasingly despotic policy was forced on the people, and they in turn became increasingly revolutionary, until eventually new leadership threw in the towel.

How does democracy, as a general system of government, relate to legitimacy? Obviously (a) holds, but what about (b)? If it is generally believed that voter choice guarantees optimal policy, then democracy achieves a sort of automatic “democratic legitimacy”. However, political scientists, including Lipset, do not believe this to be the case, and instead the persistence of democracy is still believed to revolve around its ability to generate “performance legitimacy”. (Why? Because history has many examples of poorly performing democracies electing tyrants)

Until very recently, Western political scientists generally believed that 20th Century Western democracy was economically outperforming all other models of government, demonstrating superior performance legitimacy. If this was ever proven widely incorrect, the decline of democracy follows axiomatically. For example: Robert Kagan, foreign-policy analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has said: “We lived under the illusion that economic success required political liberalisation. All the [democratic] optimism of the 1990s rested on this assumption. Now it appears that the causality is less certain… The old struggle, the one that long predated the Cold War, has returned.”

Now that we have equipped ourselves with the concept of legitimacy, we can analyze the Chinese model of government. In fact the Scientific Development Concept essentially targets Lipset legitimacy directly.

Instead of democracy, China employs policy experts, today generally scientists and engineers, who optimize policy in order to maximize Lipsettian goals such as economic growth subject to the fairness constraint, the popular support constraint. Chinese officials are not allowed to use terror, which is egregious “despotic power”, such as that employed by Joseph Stalin or Mao Zedong (In Scientific Development Concept see “harmonious” & “liberal”).

In the last thirty years these experts have delivered an average annualized GDP growth rate of 10%, approximately matching the “Japanese post war economic miracle”, but outclassing it given size and starting point differences. It is an unparalleled achievement, and just as Lipset predicts, Chinese government is consequently hugely popular with the Chinese masses and politically stable.

By far and away the biggest threat to legitimacy in China today is, according to popular opinion polls, corruption. Many Chinese believe that corrupt civil servants at the local level are damaging their living standards. Responding to those concerns is a top priority; and the expected next Chinese President, Xi Jinping, is a famously scrupulous fighter of corruption.

Plato’s Laws opens with the question of government legitimacy, he naturally chooses a utilitarian definition as well. However, because Ancient Greek states faced huge military challenges, they defined utility in terms of military rather than economic power. So we have:

“PLATO (The Athenian): [So] the definition you gave of a well-run state seems to me to demand that its organization and administration should be such as to ensure victory in war over other states. Correct? CLINIAS: Of Course. MEGILLIUS: My dear sir, what other answer could one possibly make, especially if one is a Spartan” (626c)

Yet Plato then reveals a number of failings in this definition of utility. For example, in his Sea Battle example (706a), Plato points out that optimization of military power is not a monotonic function, short terms gains can lead to long term negatives. He goes on conclude that military power is only a component of virtuous government, and he offers a better definition of utility which so completely defines the concept that “[all government needs to do is] constantly aim, like an archer, at that unique target… ignoring everything else”. Plato’s definition of utility, in my opinion the ideal definition, is described later in this essay.

Non-Ideological Scientific Policymaking

The vast majority of people believe that reason has limits; government policymaking can not be derived from a set of intellectual axioms; science and ethics are irreconcilable. Readers who try to grasp the concept for the first time, will invariably find themselves shocked by it, and will tend to demonize it. For example, Saul Alinsky was an American community organizer who is hated by many non-specialists and has even been called a ‘Role Model for Satanists’. In his book “A Pragmatic Primer for Realistic Radicals”, Alinsky said we must forget our obsession with ethical value judgements and root our decision making in pragmatism. What does he mean here by pragmatism? It is letting go of assumption, of dogma, of morality, of emotion; it is creating something arguable, measurable, objective, scientific (further reading “William James on Pragmatism”). Deng Xiaoping once said: “I don’t care if it’s a white cat or a black cat. If it catches mice it is a good cat.” This rejection of morality, this dehumanization of truth, this elevation of functional analysis over idealistic judgements, horrifies many people. Depending on your perspective, priest or scientist, it is either Satanism or truth.

Recall: “Edmund Burke rejected Hobbese’s argument that politics can be reduced to a deductive system akin to mathematics” Of course Hobbes though it could be done, but he didn’t know how. Now the Scientific Development Concept adds flesh to his idea.

Recall that under the Scientific Development Concept, the goal of government becomes the maximization of utility constrained by the necessity of maintaining public support. Now we consider the mechanics in more detail and see how it transcends ideology and becomes purely scientific.

Chinese technocrats translate the concept of social utility into a basket of numerical indices which include, for example, a growth index, a green index, a poverty index (“Glasshouse Forum – China Model”). The goal of policy makers then becomes the optimization of this basket. Behind the calculation and optimization of policy are vast numbers of academics, economists and statisticians (eg “IFTE CASS”). Chinese technocrats regularly experiment with new policy ideas at the provincial level, and if successful introduce them nationwide. In democracy politicians are generally elected by asking people what they think and then adopting similar positions, in China the government cares far more about how people feel. From that data it is in principle possible to calculate the best basket of statistics which most accurately reflects social utility. Policy making loses all ideological colour, it becomes a purely scientific process, a vast optimization problem driven by statistics and experimentation.

Massive localised infrastructure investments have leveraged the type of economy of scale economics which Paul Krugman won a Nobel Prize describing. Shanghai has magnetic levitation trains and sky scrapers, but out in the countryside many peasant farmers still plough their fields with oxen. Although these localised investments have dramatically increased inequality, the benefits gradually trickle out across the entire economy, even the peasants gain. Now China leads the world in bullet trains, and Chinese scientists are discussing a magnetic levitation train running in an underground evacuated tunnel at 1000Km/H (faster than a plane). In China there are cities that specialize in steel manufacture, other in solar panels, others in paper towels, others in plastic toys, there are even entire towns devoted to the manufacture of hand painted reproductions of famous artworks. In the West development is generally left to market forces and democracy, but leveraging economies of scale is hugely benifical. Had China more equitably distributed resources it could not have so rapidly achieved mastery. Whereas governments in most advanced democracies spend less than eight percent of government revenue on capital investment, this figure is close to fifty percent in China. In Western democracy, voters choose welfare as the overriding government priority, but analysis shows that infrastructure investment usually delivers greater social gains. The creation and incredible expansion of a highly competitive science and engineering focused educational system has also greatly contributed to the economic revolution. In the West competitive education systems are often seen as morally unfair, but Chinese scientists focus on results not value judgements. Of course, if the Chinese people absolutely insisted on children of all levels attending the same school, policymakers would have to work with that – yet they push the envelope as far as they can. Many senior Chinese officials, including President Hu Jintao, have engineering degrees and industry backgrounds. Abandoning Western conceptions of fairness and freedom in the rational engineered antlike pursuit of net social gain is the key to China’s success

Exploring the popular support power boundary, we can see that better policy generally exists, but not better policy which is ‘feasible’ given the public’s conception of fairness. In a country of strong individualists, neutral observers would likely judge actual scientific policy to appear excessively laissez-faire. Yet the science of policy making, the maximization of utility, transcends ideology and is purely mathematical. The subjective slant is a consequence of the popular support condition. The gap between ideal government policy and actual government policy making is therefore determined by the wisdom of policy analysts and the public support their suggestions command. As the ability of the government to inspire public confidence in policy innovation improves, it is able to close the gap between the ideal and the feasible, therefore creating better policy, further improving public support in a virtuous circle. When this process plays in reverse, as is occurring in some Western Democracies where support levels are at historic lows, a vicious circle takes an increasingly damaging toll on growth (eg American health care reform).

Returning to Plato’s example of a doctor administering treatment, a good doctor is not only one who correctly identifies the correct treatment, he is one who can persuade his patient to accept it. To Western eyes, one of the most controversial aspects of Chinese government is control of the media. We will return to this point later, yet we can see here how vital it is to educate the public about policy choices.

In 400BC Plato talked about the concept of non ideological government, of government by reason instead of opinion or tradition, so it is hardly a new idea, but the breakthrough is in the framework scientists have built to embody the principle. The public support constraint was too often missing in the past, resulting both in hopelessly ambitious policy, and hopelessly unpopular policy. Also, statistics and science have made it possible for the first time to objectify policy, greatly purging policy making of human foibles.

Consequently modern China and Singapore are the first enviable examples in history of ‘scientific government’ / ‘ideology free government’ / ‘enlightened authoritarianism’.

Weber

Before Lispet, the 19th Century German sociologist Max Weber offered the most compelling definition of legitimacy. Weber, who was skeptical of democracy, which he believed regularly elected charismatic tyrants, defined a type of legitimacy based on (1) The perception that a government’s powers are derived from efficient set procedures, principles, and laws which are not arbitrarily violated by government officials. (2) Government being run by a dehumanized expert bureaucracy inseparable from pure rationality, and within which decision making is based on concrete rules and tactics developed solely around concrete goals.

Weber explains how a dehumanized expert bureaucracy inseparable from pure rationality is incorruptible – because it is the ant colony, the machine, the subjective human motivations of policymakers are infinitely diluted by perfectly objective rationality. Plato describes (715b) “laws which are not established for the good of the whole state are bogus laws, and when they favour particular sections of the community, their authors are not citizens but party-men… [those who make genuine laws] are usually referred to as ‘rulers’, but I call them ‘servants’, not to mint a new expression, but because I believe the success or failure of the state hinges on this point more than any other…”. How does man achieve this selflessness and objectivity? Plato says the common man must develop piety, the exceptional man intellect. Weber’s expert bureaucracy echoes Plato’s exceptional man.

Recall: “Edmund Burke rejected Hobbese’s argument that politics can be reduced to a deductive system akin to mathematics” Weber’s legitimacy is precisely this type of government, the infinite rationality results in the perfect solution, Weber and Lipset define the same end point in different ways. Christians object, science and ethics are irreconcilable, pure rationality is impossible – but the New Eastern Philosophy follows Enlightenment idealism. What condemned the Enlightenment revolution? Western attachment to individualism is the key. The problem of individual suffering and freedom (problem of evil & free will) condemned the acceptance of a pure rationality which transcends human individualism. The ant hive has no individual rights, nor any morality, nor any dogma, it is the perfect machine completly devoted to the wellbeing of the hive (Plato’s Laws uses the expression “swam of bees” where I use ‘ant hive’).

Looking at Singapore and China today we see a Webber like government structure evolving. Hu Jintao, President of China, along with most of the current leadership, was educated at a top Chinese university and studied science. The days of an all powerful leader, such as Mao or Deng are gone. In China, especially since Hu, a scholastic government of expert scientists has evolved, and the media profile of leaders is very low. What about ‘Grandpa Wen’, Prime Minister of China, who was famously seen on television during the Qinghai Earthquake wielding a shovel? He puts a human face on government for the sake of the masses, but behind the scenes decision making is collective.

In the West authoritarian governments once revolved around charismatic despots with vertical power structures. This is also true of Russia today. In Democracy leaders try to embody popular ideological principles and court publicity. Supporters encourage the leader to be strong and impose his vision on the bureaucracy, detractors complain the leader is a tyrant and he should demur to opposing voices. Weber is about the depersonalization of power, the antithesis of old-fashioned despotism and democracy.

Weber’s model of government also allows transparency, because decisions are rational and empirical they can be subjected to scrutiny. Long a feature of Singapore, Chinese politicians had worried that too much transparency would feed unhelpful debate at the popular level, but the SARS crisis, which occurred under Hu, demonstrated the importance of transparency. So in China and Singapore today we have a transparent Weber legitimate government under academic scrutiny. Proper scrutiny of rational policy making is impossible at the popular level because the masses have limited skills. Instead the popular press is controlled, an issue we will come onto later.

Both Christian and Democrat thought process are coloured by the assumption of egalitarianism. This is a moral philosophy which holds that all human persons are equal in fundamental worth and moral status. Out of this principle, one can derive various egalitarian political doctrines, including democracy. In opposition to this moral philosophy is the Platonic, Confucian and Nietzschean concept of the “Superman”. This philosophy is associated with Hitler who infamously treated the masses as being as expendable as farm yard animals. Yet Hitler was an uneducated violent psychopath, and was despised by the German elite. True elitist philosophy, exemplified by Socrates and Confucius, is extremely intellectual and selfless.

Although elitism deeply disturbs egalitarians, Weber would not say that the policymaking experts are perfect Philosopher Kings, simply that they practise their speciality with a great deal of perfectionism, and therefore within this sphere of knowledge they achieve a much higher level of wisdom than non-specialists, achieved by moving past assumption toward objectivity. So the ancient philosophical concepts of inequality are also expressed in the increasing specialization of knowledge in advanced societies.

Transparency International rates authoritarian Singapore as the third least corrupt nation on earth. This absence of corruption comes about because government ends up in the hands of specialists who love their subject and practice it scrupulously (Eric Gill is a marvellous example of a contemptible man, but an admirable specialist).

Note: On Weber in The Scientific Development Concept, see “laws and rules of procedure”, “Human Resources”, “Cadres”, “Think Tanks”, “power exercised in the sunshine”.

Competition

Fredrick Hayek argued that the distributed competing opinions of the marketplace are the closest we can come to objective knowledge. He argued that by handing Napoleon unrivalled responsibility for objective knowledge during the French Revolution, the results were not only imperfect, they were disastrous, and created a horrific tyranny. Hayek disliked democracy generally because he rejected the ability of popular consensus to divine objective knowledge. For example, he famously said of Pinochet: “Personally I prefer a liberal dictator to democratic government lacking liberalism”. Although he did not advocate “woodenheaded laissez-faire”, he became associated with “small government” and “privatisation”.

What does Hayek mean by marketplace? He believes market prices perfectly reflect utility. Therefore individuals must compete to maximize utility, we must never assume a particular individual has access to greater truth, he must prove it by competition. In essence Hayek is saying that objective knowledge and authority can not be assumed, and must be won by demonstrable gains in utility.

So Hayek’s competition echoes Lipset’s demonstratable gains in performance legitimacy, and as already mentioned, Weber’s definition of legitimacy amounts to exactly the same thing. Yet Weber’s definition is the most positive, because Hayek ignores the capability of rational counterparties to debate theory and coalesce around an agreed opinion. Philosophically, the need for competition comes out of the imperfections of human comprehension.

So the endpoint of human governmental evolution is complete rationality and objectivity, and with it maximal effectiveness, maximal power. What about the individual? Plato and Confucius both argued that total devotion to the community is a feature of enlightenment, perfect love if you will. Combining these, the end point of an individual’s evolution, enlightenment, is infinite objectivity and infinite selflessness. So the nature of enlightenment can be derived by considering unconstrained utility maximization, we have the Pythagorean concept of pure rational divinity. We will return to this concept later, it is the Eastern theological viewpoint which is antithetical to Christianity. Man begins the self-centred animal steeped in genetic instinct, he evolves to become a pure rational atom in the infinitely powerful hive, his sense of self vanishes, he conquers his human ego, his species evolves into omniscience and omnipotence, man becomes God.

Of course, even though we have derived the end point of human evolution mathematically, science can not tell us how the ideal state would look, because the complexity of the problem is too great, and even if it could any less than perfect society would rebel against it. Instead we must slowly progress toward the ideal, applied science works forwards not backwards, toward the pure perfectly simple goal.

What constraints holds us back from this goal? Lets give an example. The classic example of immoral policy which appals many Westerners is Plato’s termination of disabled infants described in The Republic. Greek City States, however, faced horrendous military and resource challenges, so these policies were relatively uncontroversial in his day. Lawyers in the supreme court of the United States would reject this policy as utterly immoral, but long ago it was widely accepted because it was vital to human survival. It is not just that policymaking has to have pragmatic and rational foundations that transcend ideology, in fact ideology is no more than an unexamined transitory consensus built on emotional attachment to past judgements concerning past challenges.

Yet these constraints can not be thrown off so easily, for they are tools of the mind designed to lead us toward the truth. Unlike the mindless computer, the human Chess player does not analyze every path, he builds up a system that helps to focus his analysis. If we threw out all our principles we would be blathering babies. So we must work though them, maintaining detachment, dropping the bad and embracing the good. That is the path to enlightenment.

Earlier I mentioned that Plato objected to the defining of utility in terms of military power and offered an alternative. That alternative was reason – so an optimal state is one which optimizes the collective intelligence of the society. Military power, economic power, and all good things flow from this enlightening essence, so naturally it is the correct target. How does a legislator try to inspire states with good sense and purge them of folly? Primarily by education. Plato talks about the artistic pursuits of singing and dancing. He explains that songs and dances echo particular thoughts, circumstances, objects, feelings etc. These particular forms set off emotional reactions, which ultimately resolve into feelings of pain or pleasure. Good education is primarily about aligning good forms with pleasurable feelings, and bad forms with painful feelings. In this way, even naïve individuals behave wisely. Eventually individuals develop an intellectual capacity which allows them to transcend this instinctive training, those who excel at this are called wise. The old wise members of society should mingle with the young, and inspire them (Dionysus discussion). Looking back at human history, societies that loose the ability to associate pleasure with good and pain with bad disintegrate; dictatorship is poisoned by the personality of tyrannical rulers, democracy is poisoned by populism. Managing cultural forces effectively is a key aspect of statecraft.

Propaganda

Hayek’s market competition principle is sometimes used to justify democracy and a free press. Yet this theory misses the gigantic disconnect between popular opinion and truth, there is no market price mechanism accurately measuring utility. The BBC once ran an opinion poll asking who is the greatest Brittan of all time, Princess Diana placed higher than Newton. An expert opinion poll that didn’t mention Diana wouldn’t have sold. Today 30% of Americans believe that Sep 11th was a CIA plot, this is an absolutely extraordinarily stupid idea, yet it sells!

Earlier we spoke of Plato’s ideal doctor educating his patient in order to accept the treatment. Education is everything, not just because individuals require specialist skills in the workplace, but also because the government needs to pursue good policy. In fact the Western world is tottering on the brink of total disaster precisely because of its free press.

For example, consider the words of Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the UK 1997 to 2007, in the postscript of his autobiography: “Three years out of office have given me time to reflect on our system of government… I think there is a tendency for those of us in democracies to become smug about the fact that we are democratic, as if universal suffrage and no more were enough to give us good government… Democracy needs to mature; it needs to adapt and reform. I would say that the way we run Westminster or Whitehall today is just not effective in a twenty-first-century world. Many might say the same about congress in the US… [Also] The role of modern media in modern democracy is an issue every senior politician I know believes is ripe for debate. Yet it is virtually un-debated… Every walk of life involving power is now subjected to regulation except one: the media.”

So control of the popular press is a widely used tool in China which helps (1) Maintains popular support and shrinks the gap between ideal and feasible policy (2) Steers the masses towards more productive and ethical behaviour. At this lower level there is no rational debate, so the masses need to be manipulated by a well meaning paternal force (“guidance”, “core values”). The Western alternative has a negative impact on society. In the UK, for example, the self serving media tycoon Rupert Murdoch inflames the passions of Sun readers in order to sell copy, and the English are consequently famous for their naive viewpoints on Europe. In other words, a laissez-faire market in news and opinion does not optimize long term human virtue, the government must intervene for the greater good. Essentially all intellectuals concur, but some are wary of the practical difficulties and dangers interventionism can give rise to. Nevertheless, Western popular opinion is clearly incorrect in so far as it fails to recognise any degree of goodness or idealism whatsoever in Chinese Government media control. Western popular opinion rejects paternalism both because it can not conceive of a Weber legitimate government which has the people’s interests at heart, and also because it rejects elitism and believes popular opinion is worthy.

Perhaps the potent example of media failure in the West is Nuclear Power. The arguments for nuclear power are absolutely overwhelming, yet the masses remain implacably opposed, despite a looming environmental catastrophe. In China the popular press is overwhelmingly positive towards nuclear power, and the Chinese masses are enthusiastic about it. In the West politicians are still trying to build Nuclear plants, in China 153 new reactors are in the pipeline.

Although the average Chinese man is allowed a certain degree of awareness-raising power, petitions and populist campaigns may be quickly clamped down upon. Blatantly challenging government, for example by publishing a petition for democracy, carries a jail term. After the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake the collapse of several schools became an issue which a number of people blamed on corrupt builders. Once the issue was brought to the attention of authorities continuing debate was deemed unhelpful, particularly given the emotive nature of the issue and the way in which it was descending into a witch hunt, so the press was ordered to stop writing about it. In China today, press censorship is not a major threat to popular support (the sense of fairness vital to legitimacy), rather local government corruption is the major issue.

The government do not need to clamp down on academic debate, because a Chinese intellectual debates the advantages and disadvantages of democracy with his intellectual fellows, he does not condense policy ideas into simple ideological messages designed to inflame the masses, he does not publish his thoughts in the popular press, he certainly does not publish petitions. An intellectual who wishes to change policymaking must convince his fellow intellectuals, he can not approach the masses directly. Notice this is the precise opposite of censorship in tyranny, eg Saddam Hussein and Pol Pot primarily targeted the intellectuals – enlightened censorship is about controlling the masses, despotic censorship includes the elite.

Freedom

John Stuart Mill was a utilitarian, yet he saw no conflict between utilitarianism and personal freedom because he embraced Adam Smith’s arguments about invisible hand. Smith argued that in a free market, an individual pursuing his own self-interest tends to also promote the good of his community as a whole, because the total revenue of society as a whole is identical with the sum total of individual revenues. Mathematically this argument is complete and utter non-sense! Most obviously, it fails to account for the decline in the marginal utility of money as individuals acquire more of it. Also, it fails to account for more complex paths to greater social good. Forget the mathematics, what about the soldiers who fought for their country in WW1? Were they optimizing their self-interest? Socrates must have rolled over in his grave.

As we have already mentioned, utilitarianism actually assumes the collective idealism of an ant. Ants have no notion of personal freedom, the success of the society is everything. For example: In Brazilian ant colonies (Forelius pusillus), some ants remain outside the nest at sunset and seal the hole to protect the colony inside. Since they cannot enter after it is sealed, they remain outside and die by morning. If the Spartan’s had known they would have made a song about it! In Sparta childcare was collective. In Plato’s republic he explains how the nuclear family corrupts children. Instead of giving their love to the community, they give love their family.

In fact the rational philosophy of the New Eastern Perspective totally repudiates the work of John Stuart Mill who argued for personal liberty, ie the idea that “over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign”. Mill failed to understand that freedom is an illusion, primitive man was imprisoned in a cruel untamed world of Darwinian challenge, advanced man is imprisoned in society. Mill also failed to realised that as individuals evolve rationally they become more idealistic and less individualistic. The naturalistic doctrine of the Soul holds that just as an acorn is destined to grow into an oak tree, so the human soul has, to some degree, an evolutionary destiny. Hegel described the Ancient Greeks as conceiving of human life being free only within nature…. remaining confined by nature… advancing to pure thought only in philosophy and not religion… Hegel rejected this limitation, this grounding of spirit in nature, bogging down of spirit in immediacy; and he speculated that the purpose of life is to suspend immediacy, to find freedom, by the raising up of consciousness in religion. Yet Hegel’s objection to immediacy, his idea of individual escape from it, came out of his blindness to the time dimensionality. Eventually mankind masters nature and constructs his own, so becoming, in a sense, God.

Individualism

Plato’s Republic makes much of the link between democracy and individualism. In fact Plato believed democracy actually creates an increasingly individualistic society. Democracy, he believed, leads not only to the destruction of collective idealism, it also becomes increasingly irrational and unethical because man refuses to subject his consciousness to higher standards, believing himself already worthy. For example from Plato’s Republic:

Democracy?… In the first place, are they not free, is not the city full of freedom and frankness, a man may say and do what he likes. And where freedom is, the individual is clearly able to order for himself his own life as he pleases. Thus in this kind of State there will be the greatest variety of human natures. This, then, seems likely to be the fairest of States, being an embroidered robe which is spangled with every sort of flower. And just as women and children think a variety of colours to be of all things most charming, so there are many men to whom this State, which is spangled with the manners and characters of mankind, will appear to be the fairest of States… Eventually we find… complete equality and liberty in relations between the sexes… the father standing in awe of his son, and the son neither respecting nor fearing his parents, in order to assert what he calls independence… the teacher fears and panders to his pupils, who in turn despise their teachers and attendants… You would never believe – unless you had seen it for yourself – how much more liberty the domestic animals have in a democracy. The dog comes to resemble his mistress, as the proverb has it. They are in the habit of walking about the streets with a grand freedom, and bump into people they meet if they don’t get out of their way. Everything is full of this spirit of liberty….What it adds up to is this, you find that the minds of the citizens become so sensitive that the least vestige of restraint is resented as intolerable, till finally, as you know, in their determination to have no master they disregard all laws written or unwritten…

So democracy deteriorates, at first it’s a light hearted disregard for the ideals of statesmanship and honour, but the decline becomes progressively more serious. Eventually the individualism results in total moral and intellectual breakdown and then tyranny. Roman Democracy suffered from the same problem, the society became increasingly corrupt, violent, sexualised, chaotic. The first Roman Emperor, Augustus, was hugely popular for restoring values. Another example is Weimar Germany. We have sudden increases in sexual liberation, then the notorious German Cabarets, increasing rates of prostitution, homosexuality, drug taking, also economic chaos, a bitterly divided partisan public who can not agree on policy, Jewish conspiracy theories, finally tyranny. One of Hitler’s popular priorities was reinstating German values.

Why is democracy so popular today? Considering a list of history’s famous philosophers, it is striking how few supported democracy. Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas and Hobbes where all clearly opposed. Lock, Rousseau, Voltaire and Kant decried the despotic monarchs who clearly failed to govern either in the interest, or with the consent, of their subjects; yet none of them advocated democracy. Rousseau, for example, championed the aristocracy of Sparta compared to the liberal democracy of Athens. Kant described democracy as a tyranny of the majority. Marx and Nietzsche were clearly opposed. Even Foucault, a 20th Century philosopher, objected to liberal democracy. Perhaps the first heavyweight champion of modern democracy is John Rawls, yet his seminal Theory of Justice was only published in 1971. So, serious philosophical support for democracy only developed within the last 40 or so years.

The 18th Century historian Edward Gibbon, writing in his famous book “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire”, describes the height of the Roman Empire as follows: “If a man were called to fix the period in the history of the world during which the condition of the human race was most happy and prosperous, he would, without hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death of Domitian to the accession of Commodus. The vast extent of the Roman Empire was governed by absolute power, under the guidance of virtue and wisdom”. Winston Churchill wrote “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried”. So Churchill argued that democracy is a necessary evil because power corrupts. Yet he certainly didn’t believe, as modern political scientists generally do, that democracy outperforms authoritarianism in the short term. (Note, Churchill failed to appreciate Webber’s point, a government inseparable from pure rationality is uncorruptable)

Today democracy, once derided by intellectuals as incompetent and morally bankrupt, is often described euphorically as the ‘end point of government evolution’. However, the intellectual climate in the West profoundly changed during the 1960s. For example, in the 1960s sociologists began arguing that the differences between men and women are a consequence of nurture not nature. By the 1970s intellectuals coalesced around a nurture viewpoint, and critics were vilified. In the 1980s the discovery of the psychological impact of testosterone completely undermined the theory. Yet looking back, the nature vs nurture debate was totally absurd, intellectuals allowed political morality to poison common sense. The Credit Crisis is the most recent example of modern wisdom failing, rational expectations and invisible hand are clearly fallacious, but they were adopted for primarily political reasons. So some argue that not only has the Western intellectual world not progressed since the 1960s, it has regressed back to the 1600s when Galileo’s theory of the earth revolving around the sun met massive opposition, and Enlightenment philosophers would surely be horrified by the prevailing state of blinkered and herd like Western thinking.

Evolutionary Development

The goal of maximizing human contentment splits into a deep philosophical divide according to the emphasis one places on the present as opposed to the future. Philosophers such as Plato stressed evolutionary development achieved by challenge rather than measures of contentment such as the absence of pain or want in the here and now. For example, for Plato fulfilment is not a passive possession, it is rather productivity in the strife for enlightenment. Also, for Plato, the aim of government is not simply the fulfilment of its people, but also the fulfilment of future generations achieved by the evolution of society. We may have to wait until tomorrow for our milk, but it will be better milk.

As a young man Deng Xiaoping was sent to France to participate in a work study program. The night before his departure, Deng’s father took his son aside and asked him what he hoped to learn in France. Deng replied: “To learn knowledge and truth from the West in order to save China”. Deng had been taught that China was weak and poor and needed to be rescued by learning from wealthy neighbours. Inside this sentiment is a strong emphasis on evolutionary growth not the simple fulfilment of human needs in the present. Democracy, especially in mature developed economies, by contrast emphasizes primarily maximization of contentment in the here and now – ie ‘humanitarian’ goals. The Scientific Development Concept, with its idealistic intellectual foundations is not just development orientated, it goes as far as explicitly mentioning “spiritual growth” in a clearly Platonic sense.

The One Child Policy and the Three Georges Dam are down to earth examples of Scientific Development Concept compatible policies which policy makers in a less future centric system would likely reject. A more idealistic example is the government’s drive to promote Classical music in China motivated by the calculation that advanced aesthetics are an important component of human spiritual growth.

Speaking of the rise of China and the intellectual hegemony developing around it, Niall Ferguson wrote in the Financial Times: “I am trying to remember now where it was, and when it was, that it hit me. Was it during my first walk along the Bund in Shanghai in 2005? Was it amid the smog and dust of Chonqing, listening to a local Communist party official describe a vast mound of rubble as the future financial centre of south-west China? That was last year, and somehow it impressed me more than all the synchronised razzamatazz of the Olympic opening ceremony in Beijing. Or was it at Carnegie Hall only last month, as I sat mesmerised by the music of Angel Lam, the dazzlingly gifted young Chinese composer who personifies the Orientalisation of classical music? I think maybe it was only then that I really got the point about this decade, just as it was drawing to a close: that we are living through the end of 500 years of western ascendancy.”

In Taoism this divide between the present and the future is an example of a classic Yin / Yang duality. For Platonists, it is an example of a classic Mortal / Immortal duality. The Western political system is Yin, it is exemplified by the nurturing love of the mother. The Chinese system is more Yang, it is exemplified by the challenging father who encourages his son to climb trees, even though he may hurt himself and it requires physical exertion, because it stimulates the child’s growth.

The cohesive nature of China’s society, compared to more individualistic modern Western societies, combined with a greater focus on growth and tolerance for pain brought about by a lower per capita GDP, allows the Chinese government to pursue far more idealistic policies than citizens in the West would tolerate. Historians of The Great Leap Forward marvel at the self sacrifice displayed by the Chinese people who were prepared to put their children into nurseries and work day and night for the cause. Press censorship also allows popular support for painful idealistic government policies to be pushed far further than in Western democracies.

These several factors give the Chinese Government the ability to follow policies with levels of evolutionary idealism that shock Westerns democracies. In Russia a great deal of personal idealism was wiped out by the excesses of Stalin who turned his people into a nation of pessimistic materialists. This is certainly not the case in China. Her people are today easily the hardest working on the planet. In the segment showcasing the Chinese invention of movable type at the Chinese Olympics, the nearly 900 performers who crouched under 18kg boxes donned adult nappies to allow them to stay inside for at least six hours. Despite the sacrifices, performers were grateful for the opportunity to participate in the historic event and viewed it as an honour.

Yet goes further, the pace of change in China, and in Asia generally, is having a profound impact on the psychological makeup of the people, evolution is not a distant scientific theory, it is at the very heart of life. Thirty years of 10.5% GDP growth works out as 120 years of 2.5% growth. Imagine all the Western growth between 1890 and today being squeezed into 30 years. I once watched a television program in which a Western reporter was shown a model of Shanghai in the future. The official excitedly described the total transformation of the city. The reporter asked, and was was shown, where the official currently lives. “But that’s a park!” he said incredulously. Laughing, and proud, the official said “Welcome to Shanghai!”. How did the Industrial Revolution change Western Society? Love of technology of course, no wonder the Japanese love electronics. Did the expansion of education and entrepreneurship contribute to a sense of justified elitism? More strangely, what about Victorian Morality and the Gothic Revival? More obviously, “Social Darwinism”. Human evolution is now China’s theme, more so than anywhere else on the planet.

The Eastern Model of God, Man, Enlightenment

Although non-ideological policymaking policy appears immoral, this was Plato’s ultimate form of government, his Republic, which would transcend the ossified traditions of Spartan Timocracy (meritocratic aristocracy). Plato rejected the assumptions underlying Greek society and religion, but instead of embracing postmodernism his sense of teleological positivism actually intensified. The process of acquiring wisdom, for example by pragmatically solving problems in order to survive, the process of rational thinking, of discarding ideology and illusion, was Plato’s process of ‘spiritual enlightenment’, the movement of consciousness from the flawed subjective human perspective back to the flawless objective divine. Man begins in separate selfish incompetence and evolves into perfect cohesive selfless rational unity. The most famous Neo-Confucian philosopher, Zhu Xi, espoused the same idea. He called his enlightening principle “gewu”, which is the “investigation of things”, the “paying attention to books and affairs”. He was also anti-traditionalist, also pragmatic, and he described God as a rational principle. It must be quickly added that one of the reasons people find the concept of ‘rationality’ so offensive is that the word carries excessively linear connotations – what we are really talking about is an objectivity described by Buddhists as “detachment”.

It is interesting to digress briefly here and consider the difference between Confucius and Plato. As mentioned earlier in this article, Platonic Philosophy was essentially rejected by Western Society, whereas Confucian Philosophy effectively became both China’s state religion and its governing philosophy. The essential failure of Plato was his almost total focus on the rational path. Confucius realized that not every member of society could follow in Socrates’ footsteps, consequently he created two parallel paths, one philosophical and rational, one traditional and moral. Confucius: “By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” When reading Confucius, it is vital to keep this in mind, he frequently mixes the approaches, so in one line he might recommend piety, and in the next radicalism.

This concept of the righteousness of detachment from ideology goes to the very heart of metaphysics. There are in fact two completely different conceptions of God. Instead of detached pragmatic intelligence, the Christian religion advocates love, traditionalism and faith. The concept of good & evil reverses: In one case ideology is evil and pragmatism is good, in the other case the precise opposite is true. The Christians say God is the loving shepherd who cares for his sheep, the other conception describes a God infinitely detached from finite humanitarianism and only concerned with evolutionary idealism. Instead of a single lifetime on Earth, there is reincarnation, death is meaningless, human life is not sacred. The black death was not a tragedy, it was just a moment in man’s evolution. Just as the St Matthew’s Passion is a mixture of harmony and discord, plague is an integral part of the celestial music. Instead of egalitarian utopia, we have evolutionary struggle, exceptionalism is good and mediocrity is evil. Yet this exulted viewpoint is far beyond the masses, so the Jewish Religion taught a single lifetime of passive sufferance followed by eternal utopian bliss in the hereafter (Christianity added nurturing love). As this perversion spread beyond the lower classes, the truth was completely lost to Western Society. The rot goes way beyond the technical details of the Western conception of God, it includes the moral system, the concept of enlightenment, the purpose of life (the infamous idea of a Semitic perversion of civilization – Max Müller). Because this description of God is patently absurd (problem of evil), it has become increasingly unsustainable as humans have advanced, and an unwarranted and destructive pessimism and atheism has now taken hold of Western Civilization.

Conclusion

I hope readers have enjoyed my big picture philosophical arguments designed to put the detail into perspective. I hope readers can grasp the validity of the scientific approach, which is so radical on first exposure, and grasp the essence of Eastern philosophy. In fact this article has presented the reader with several key converging lines of reason: the detachment from ideology, the inequality of knowledge, the evils of individualism, the illusion of freedom, the evolution of society. In my opinion a new chapter has turned in the pages of history, and it will be the most dramatic and exciting one yet. I believe we are looking at a new Age of Enlightenment. Blinded by Christianity, Western philosophers in the 18th Century failed to grasp the importance of the time duality, which condemned their revolution. At last the new era can begin. It’s probably not the end of history, but it is certainly the opening of a new chapter.

  1. Rhan
    September 29th, 2010 at 19:34 | #1

    I not yet finish reading the whole essay, will do it when time permit. An instant observation, whooper presents his thought solely from the elite and intellectual viewpoint, and I think he presumes human mind is static. People evolve and progress, and come to certain stage, the same “formula” will not work. Read website like The Temasek Review and The Online Citizen to get a better feel of the “commoners”.

    Democracy may not be as dynamic as we wish, but the price pay to initiate changes is far less.

  2. whooper
    October 1st, 2010 at 05:11 | #2

    Rhan, that’s not true. A pure elite system would be unbounded utilitarianism. I do however spend a lot of time explaining what a perfect system means, becuase you can’t understand the an IBM PC without understanding what a computer is. William

  3. October 2nd, 2010 at 21:09 | #3

    I read all that was necessary to confirm my view that intellectuals and engineers are usually hopeless idiots. Intellectuals have the stupid Socialist ideas which they then get the idiot engineers to build the infrastructure to accommodate them.

    Why is the simple so hard for you types to see? You lambast individualism while promoting Socialism. Individualism only works when each individual is totally responsible for himself. Individuals protect themselves, promote themselves, educate themselves, build their own home, pay NO taxes to any elite grouping of intellectuals who need their cash to build their ant colony utopia.

    Individuals by their very nature form NO groups. They are not a collective. They want to be left alone and they respect others as long as they are left alone.

    For the intellectual the ant colony is more important than the individual ant. I agree when you are discussing ants.

    I believe that right now most humans are ill informed but whose fault is that? You got it—those bureaucratic intellectuals within the ant hill who have been in charge of the bureaucracies that provided all the schools and the housing and the medicines that are all right now in the state of collapse.

    You rabbit on about the Confucian model when it would be better named the Confusion model if all it has produced after 2000 years is the CCP. China would not have been so backward for so long if it was not for the past idiot Chinese intellectuals deciding for them. They would probably have all been better off if opium was legalized and they had the right to choose for themselves what they did to their own bodies. But no, the bureaucrats just can’t help themselves. They have to interfere.

    Your argument against democracy is that people will always vote for politicians who will give them Socialism, otherwise known as someone else’s money. Better to let the engineers work out the best way to deliver that money after all it is just a mathematical problem on how to take from the productive and spread it amongst the unproductive.

    The sum total of all past human endeavors is what we have now and what we have reached now is a tipping point. Very soon all the edifices that have supported collectivism will turn to dust because we are all about to enter a Golden Age where individualism backed by gold is paramount and collectivism a relic.

    Here is an excerpt from ‘What is the Primary Fundamental Right?’

    “Few politicians actually have much control over a large government. It usually controls itself and its prime objective is always to grow larger. This growing action is usually supported by the ‘Intellectuals’ within society. Dwight D. Eisenhower supposedly noticed that “an intellectual is a man who takes more words than necessary to tell more than he knows.” Many intellectuals are probably more often than not rabid Socialists thereby proving their inability to be realistic. ”

    http://www.primaryfundamentalright.org/index.php?pageName=pfrWhatIs

  4. October 11th, 2010 at 13:44 | #4

    @bernard palmer,

    Not sure how to respond. How much do you know about the opium war? The British fought in the name of open market. So you did get your open market – with devastating consequences for the common people.

    Perhaps you are a libertarian. As far as I am concerned within the American society, I probably am one, too. But your problem is that you extract theories within a particular political, historical context to everyone else.

    If people always lived for themselves and did not congregate to form societies, governments – however inequitable that act may be – we would all still be in the caves (or trees or plains) – living as animals.

    A friend and I were just discussing the other what is the essence of capitalism that drives people to produce. We concluded it was inequity. It is the possibility for arbitrage – for disproportionate profit – that drive people in capitalistic societies to work harder than people in communist societies. So if we want progress, perhaps we have to have inequity. Different societies could argue about what types of inequity is fair – but for me, inequity is inequity. Everything else is just ideology…

  5. Karl
    October 23rd, 2010 at 01:49 | #5

    I did read the whole essay, and I must say that I find the conclusions unsatisfying. I have spent a great deal of time in China, talking to locals from many walks of life and from multiple generations. I do agree that most western democracies suffer from the short-terminism of an electorate looking out for their own interests, and the associated short-sightedness of marginal politics. However I am dubious that a rational group of intellectuals can be responsible for continued far-sighted decisions and market interventions that will result in continued increases in prosperity at the current rate.

    The essay does not make much, if anything, of China’s start from a low developed base. Nor does it address the fact that there are many in China who are, and will continue to, demand greater accountability from government and a greater say for non-intellectuals and those outside of the “inner circle”. I hear more and more from young people in China about their frustration with corruption in the bureaucracy, and also about increasing materialism and selfishness in China corrupting the moral fabric of their society.

    I do agree that the current Beijing government has done a very good job in investing in nation-wide economic infrastructure (much better than India) which has assisted with attracting investment, allowing domestic business growth, encouraging mobility and creating access to education and training for its workforce. But from a low base in many parts of the country, massive gains in productivity can be had for relatively low investment. Things will become harder as the population becomes more educated, and as the development of infrastructure catches up with the west. The intellectual class will find it more difficult to make pragmatic and rational decisions as their level of development approaches that of their developed models. I don’t believe enough has been made here of this start from a low developed base on the enlightened Chinese miracle.

    Inequality is increasing in China, and whilst many are enjoying the material fruits of success, I don’t believe the time is all that far off when the Chinese government will need to earn its legitimacy through greater social inclusion in the governing process (note, this does not necessarily mean elections). Economic growth will slow as China becomes more developed. Though I do agree, their government has done a very good job over the past three decades.

    By the way, Hidden Harmonies, you are providing some very interesting content. Keep it up.

    • October 23rd, 2010 at 11:59 | #6

      @Karl,

      Welcome to Hidden Harmonies and thx for dropping in.

      Nor does it address the fact that there are many in China who are, and will continue to, demand greater accountability from government and a greater say for non-intellectuals and those outside of the “inner circle”.

      In my view, in Western countries like the U.S., that “demand” is largely being satisfied by “freedom” and “democracy” on an ideological basis where the ideas themselves have taken on absurd and impractical meanings. “The scientific development concept” is essentially the polar opposite to that. In the end, this may become the “opiate for the masses” for the non-intellectuals. Confucianism was institutionalized in Chinese society. The CPC adoption of the concept is very much in the same vein.

      I do agree in the very long run, there is an inflection point; when the Chinese have achieved “developed” country status where their sense of where they are is near the “top.” What of the mindset then? Will the scientific development concept hold? So far, history tells us all civilizations rise and fall. Still, I personally share the same optimism Hooper has. This could be the breakthrough.

      I hear more and more from young people in China about their frustration with corruption in the bureaucracy, and also about increasing materialism and selfishness in China corrupting the moral fabric of their society.

      I hear that too from relatives and friends in China. For example, I have heard of doctors using hospital facilities to service patients and charge them separately off the hospital’s books. The situation seems to be getting worse as more people start to have more money. Corruption seems to be China’s “wild West” right now. But remember though, Chinese society has always counted on guanxi. That culture will not instantly go away. China has only begun in the last couple of decades towards the direction of a law based society. She still needs to build up the law professions necessary to make a law based society take deeper root. More commerce also demands more regulation and laws which in turn eat away at corruption. Think real property transactions where escrow procedures used rather no formal procedures. Without such laws, corruption is definitely more rampant. And it is not that China is not serious about anti-corruption. Few years ago, the head of China’s FDA was executed for taking bribes in approving drugs. Can you imagine that happening in the West?

      For the sake of comparing, I think the U.S. is very corrupt too. The U.S. media do not necessarily use the word ‘corrupt’ to describe the same types of behaviors. In fact, ‘lobbying’ is a whole category of corruption that is treated as “normal” behavior in American society. The same Chinese people you talk to will definitely tell you such activities are corrupt. Most will also tell you “business entertainment” expenses like taking potential customers (say government officials) to dinner is corruption.

      Like Singapore, Hong Kong, U.S., and anywhere else, I think corruption is a work in progress. A lot of it is driven out over time by demands for fair competition either in services or goods. Along with a legal culture taking deeper root, corruption becomes less and less. I see China trending in that exact same way.

      Things will become harder as the population becomes more educated, and as the development of infrastructure catches up with the west. The intellectual class will find it more difficult to make pragmatic and rational decisions as their level of development approaches that of their developed models. I don’t believe enough has been made here of this start from a low developed base on the enlightened Chinese miracle.

      I agree with your view. Even “the scientific development concept” requires us to wait and see when that inflection point is finally hit. :)

      Inequality is increasing in China, and whilst many are enjoying the material fruits of success, I don’t believe the time is all that far off when the Chinese government will need to earn its legitimacy through greater social inclusion in the governing process (note, this does not necessarily mean elections).

      You’ve probably read that China’s new 5-year plan will be phasing out the “hukou” system. This freedom of movement will help a great deal towards easing inequality over time.

      But it’s interesting you use the word ‘legitimacy.’ As you said yourself, the Chinese government has been doing great, and we would agree, in the last few decades, governance is excellent. I don’t think the Chinese people have ‘legitimacy’ as an issue of their government as does Westerners in viewing foreign governments. I just never heard of Westerners having issues with Western government’s ‘legitimacy.’ If we look at governance, the Chinese government would be much more ‘legitimate’ than most Western governments especially in the face of the current global financial crisis, no?

      “greater social inclusion”

      Could you elaborate on this? Curious what your thoughts are in this area and the things you have heard from the Chinese themselves.

  6. Karl
    October 24th, 2010 at 02:28 | #7

    Hi yinyang, thank you for the comments on your views.

    I find the area of differing economic and political governance models to be a very interesting topic. The chief misgiving that I have with the key ideas underlying the Scientific Development concept is one that also undermines the capitalist/democratic system. The idea that any actors in the system are dispassionate, rational, far-sighted decision makers runs counter to my own view of humans as being ideologically constrained, imperfect decision makers. This is why there are no perfectly efficient markets, and why, I also believe, it is extremely difficult for a group of anointed intellectuals to continue to make the right decisions. Even though they might be better able to think through their recommendations, rather than needing to react to opinion polls.

    My own assumption is that many of the foresighted and pragmatic decisions that have been made have been assisted by the existence of development models overseas which have provided guidance as to what is needed to encourage growth. I am sure that these decisions have been backed up by empirical studies, debate and prognostication. But infrastructure investment and institutional reform decisions have been made easier by the existence of these models. But there are emerging challenges which will make it much more difficult to select a correct course of action.

    In China’s current stage of development, where there is much still to be done with regards to investment in infrastructure, enabling physical movement of goods and people, ensuring power, water and other utilities are available across the country, providing education and, soon, greater freedom of movement for its workers, implementation of reforms are greatly aided by the current political system. There are many situations in the west where pragmatic and necessary infrastructure investment, or educational and workplace reform has been confounded by the short term pursuit of votes. Recently, near my hometown, a much-needed damn construction was vetoed by our environment minister due to the stress it would put on a population of green tree frogs. The effect of this veto is a continued shortage of water, even though our existing dams are nearing 100% capacity. I am aware of similar infrastructure projects which have been proposed in China, in particular in Sichuan province, where I am currently, where environmental opposition exists, but such opposition has not affected the decision to go ahead with an investment which required to support continued development in the region.

    But my reasons for caution with the Scientific Development model, which is an excellent concept, are more to do with the society which is being governed and how they complicate the Chinese model of governance. I will try to make my views on social inclusion and legitimacy more clear.

    Until recently, I had held the view that the Chinese population believed that the CCP made decisions with the best interests of the country at heart, and, more importantly, that any restriction on the free flow of information, ideas and media interrogation was also in the population’s best interest. My Chinese friends of a similar age usually toed the line on the utilitarian view that the greater good of the billion-strong Chinese population was the benefit of such restrictions. However in my recent journeys throughout the country I have been exposed to a younger generation of Chinese people. Mostly university students or recent graduates, who hold much more liberal opinions. They understand that there is censorship in the press and they seem to resent it. I was surprised when one student openly said to me that he believed the Chinese education system suffers from lack of exposure to ideas. He was then eagerly supported by his peers at the event I was attending. Since that day I have encountered many congruent opinions from that generation, even going so far as to say that censorship is keeping an educated class such as themselves from being able to properly participate in the governance of their country. It was a topic that brought out a great deal of passion.

    One of the key ideas underpinning the Scientific Development concept, from Hooper’s essay, was “an increasing degree of openness and policymaking participation at the popular level supported by increased control of information and guidance at the popular level”. I believe this “control of information and guidance” will put the government on a collision course with the newest generation of educated Chinese. This is what I am alluding to when I mention greater social inclusion. I think greater access to information and a greater ability to influence the debate on public policy is something that this new generation of educated people wish for and will demand more of.

    In the west, I do lament the current lack of “guidance”, one form of which is “leadership”, from the current crop of politicians who are sensitive to the whims of the electorate. Recently in Australia politicians sided with public opinion, rejecting the notion of a “large Australia” (relatively speaking), despite evidence that this was the direction we were heading. They effectively buried their heads in the sand so as not to offend the electorate, rather than acknowledging the truth and addressing the issue. The Chinese students I have spoken to believe that the Beijing government would act on the evidence in such a situation – which would be in accordance with the Scientific Development concept – but they did not agree that they should not have access to the policy debate.

    The reason I mention legitimacy in my post was because it was also referenced in Hooper’s article. I was not familiar with Lipset’s work, but looked into it whilst reading the article. From Lipset: “Legitimacy involves the capacity of the [political] system to engender and maintain the belief that the existing political institutions are the most appropriate ones for the society.” In this context, you are right that the western systems are facing a crisis of legitimacy at the moment, which manifests itself in reduced political engagement, less stable government, and perhaps most tellingly, politicians verbal attacks against economic institutions. Time will only tell if these signals will result in change. For China, I firmly feel that the vast, vast majority of people believe that the government is legitimate with respect to the definition above. However there are issues on the horizon which, considering the attitude I am perceiving from the young, newly educated class, will cause more questions to be asked of the Beijing government and for a greater demand for open debate of government policy.

    The issues I am alluding to are those of a large unemployed population (the only figures I have to go on are the Economist’s figure of 9.6% in 2009, which would be a huge number of Chinese), increasing affluence putting pressure on consumption – how many newly rich Chinese will be able to own and drive a car, live in a spacious apartment, eat 300 grams of meat every day, without exceeding the environment’s capacity to support this consumption? Environmental and quality of life issues are already acute in China, and I believe they will come to a head here before solutions are available from another model economy. In addition the problems of an ageing population is already putting palpable pressure on a younger generation, which is being asked to care for a generation that is living longer and has had fewer children. This last issue, though, is paralleled in many western countries, however no templates for a solution seem to exist.

    On the other points we have been discussing here, I do not necessarily advocate the “democratic” model as having the solutions. I do think there will be a trend towards smaller government in the next decade, particularly if the British example of bringing the budget under control proves to be successful. But smaller government still requires some marketplace intervention. And yes, corruption is a problem everywhere where the opportunity to be corrupt exists. However it is tempting to look at the world through the lens of the current economic difficulties facing America and Europe and proclaim their systems to be broken, whilst the sustained Chinese growth of the last decades points to a new formula for success. I suspect that more of China’s success than is generally acknowledged comes from it’s start from a low developed base, and its relative popularity as an investment location. I think the way forward will become much less clear – at least the popular support for government direction will become less firm – in particular areas in the coming 20 years.

    I recognise that my ideological upbringing will bias me, so I do try to look past the emotional debate. Having said that, I do recognise that many of the statements I am making here are only based on anecdotes and conversations with locals outside of the enlightened circle. I would appreciate any additional insights you might have on the points discussed here, in particular anything that I, as a non-Chinese, might be mis-understanding or mis-representing about the Chinese psyche. There are also many other topics that have come to mind based on this discussion, which I am trying hard not to clutter this thread with. But I look forward to discussing them here as they come up in the future.

    • October 25th, 2010 at 01:52 | #8

      @Karl,

      My own assumption is that many of the foresighted and pragmatic decisions that have been made have been assisted by the existence of development models overseas which have provided guidance as to what is needed to encourage growth.

      I agree. I can pesonally attest to that as well. While in college, I took a patent law class taught by a retired patent lawyer. He was a very key figure in the U.S. patent system. Guess what? During summers he spent his time consulting for the Chinese government. He obviously know the balance of needs between the individual inventor and the army of inventors in large corporations or universities. China would spend the money to absorb the experience and wisdom of individuals like him outside her borders.

      China is very outward looking right now and is benefiting from it.

      I was surprised when one student openly said to me that he believed the Chinese education system suffers from lack of exposure to ideas. He was then eagerly supported by his peers at the event I was attending. Since that day I have encountered many congruent opinions from that generation, even going so far as to say that censorship is keeping an educated class such as themselves from being able to properly participate in the governance of their country. It was a topic that brought out a great deal of passion.

      Some times we have to take what young people say with a grain of salt. I have similar conversations with my cousins and their friends who are younger. Think of it this way – why do you think Google still has some 15% search revenue ad from China despite their search in China is gone? That’s because Chinese people are searching for English content using Google.com.

      Do you or any of your Western friends search on Baidu.com in Chinese for what the Chinese scientists are publishing?

      Between national borders, China is a fat sponge for ideas right now.

      The seriously interested young Chinese will apply and join the CCP. They will earn their way up to have greater impact towards public policy. For the masses, I think the Chinese government is experimenting with putting draft legislations out to the public for debate and feedback. But “mass” public participation in public policy is really over-rated. My neighbors all work hard, tend to their families, and they have little interest and time to fully understand matters of public policy. Allen made the point here: Understanding Democracy.

      Previously I said, it’s possible that the scientific development concept become the “opiate for the masses” – for those not in the ruling elite.

      However there are issues on the horizon which, considering the attitude I am perceiving from the young, newly educated class, will cause more questions to be asked of the Beijing government and for a greater demand for open debate of government policy.

      From what I see in some online forums and talking with my friends, debates are raging within China on everything – even concerns of public policy. (Okay, except for serveral sensitive topics.) I’ve read about a number of very large scale public feedback/debates on draft legislations, so I think the government has been experimenting with ways to satisfy this genuine need for participation at the mob level.

      Actually, what I am shocked in the U.S. is the lack of interest in the young to want to protect Social Security for their generation. I am shocked they are not angered by the out of control government spending now, because their and subsequent generations will have to pay.

      In China, I think the 1989 Tiananmen generation really worshiped the West in the 80′s. They have since grown out of it. But China is prospering now, and given the country’s momentum, I can’t imagine another phenomenon like that taking place in the coming decades. I guess I simply don’t see “demand for open debate of government policy” becoming a problem.

      I think greater access to information and a greater ability to influence the debate on public policy is something that this new generation of educated people wish for and will demand more of.

      I think the Western media have this narrative that Chinese people don’t have access to information and don’t have “democracy.”

      So what if the anti-Chinese government perspectives on Tibet, Taiwan, FLG, and Democracy are censored? If you consider these subjects in the universe of information the Chinese have access to (again remember, they are reading in English and the West is much less in Chinese), this idea of “greater access to information” is rather silly. Who effectively accesses more information? Hands down, it is the Chinese.

      In the government needing to be more transparent, I think the trend is clearly towards more openness. The government is required by law to disclose various information and respond to inquiries. There has been many new laws passed in the last few years to address this.

      I recognise that my ideological upbringing will bias me, so I do try to look past the emotional debate. Having said that, I do recognise that many of the statements I am making here are only based on anecdotes and conversations with locals outside of the enlightened circle. I would appreciate any additional insights you might have on the points discussed here, in particular anything that I, as a non-Chinese, might be mis-understanding or mis-representing about the Chinese psyche. There are also many other topics that have come to mind based on this discussion, which I am trying hard not to clutter this thread with. But I look forward to discussing them here as they come up in the future.

      We welcome you in this ongoing conversation about China and the world. Your insights will be appreciated too.

  7. fancia
    December 9th, 2010 at 22:39 | #9

    After reading this article I can’t resist to share my opinion. I live in a country that could be said as an example of democracy’s failure. NOTE: I don’t mean a democracy is a failure but more of the government here are so POWER HUNGRY and CORRUPT that they abuse the so called democracy for their own personal gain.

    Enough to be said there was once a riot because of the financial crisis. Before the riot, we have 3 political parties but it’s just in a paper only. The fact was only one party that was always leading, so we have only 1 president for almost 30 years. Until the riot occurred then the people woke up, they now aware that what they had wasn’t a true democracy at all since the people wasn’t voting to choose president but parliament members and then the parliament members choose the president.

    After the people demand the government change her way, then of course it means more political party. So now we have from 3 political parties to 30-40 political parties (I can’t remember exactly how much since I have other things to do). Then for the first time, we could directly choose our president (It’s a success in democracy). In politic, there is no real friend or foe so could you imagine there are 30-40 political parties in the parliament who have their own agenda and personal interests?

    Yeah, there are all not interested to work together with the president to make the better country instead they work together to topple down the president. Whatever the project that the president wants to implant, the parliament just vote NO to it so nothing could get done in this country. Besides the media from TV station to radio station are owned by the rich peoples from the opposite political parties, hence, they have power to feed the public lies upon lies to work to their own advantages.

    The government here is so corrupt that the prisoner jailed sentenced for corruption could bribe the police so that he could go out to watch the tennis competition. He reserved his own airplane so that nobody knows he goes out from the prison. Alas, one of the cameramen accidentally recorded him and recognizes him with his wife.

    Given with this example, I hope China doesn’t follow this path. China already in the right track, just continue to experiment the different path until it suits china the most. Don’t feel the need to be hasty, we don’t want china to be destroyed and broken like in the past, do we? While democracy is good in nature but it might not be the best possible answer to solve this country problem. I just pity the ordinary people living here since they are the one who suffer the most but they are also the one who choose it so they must live with the consequences.

    In my opinion, China should study the Singaporean model of government more, who knows it might suit China the most. Once I visited Singapore, the taxi driver talked about their government, he didn’t say his government is the best but he is satisfied with his government. He said with a laugh that the government here is just like a father and we, the people, are his children. We need to be good children and in return the government will provide everything we need from housing, health care, job etc.

    He told us that the Chinese tourist once asked him “how much time it needed here to build the underground transportation?” the driver told him around 10 years. The Chinese tourist was so shocked that it takes so much time to build one. The driver told him that it isn’t like that; Singapore is a very small country, so if they build as fast as China, Singaporean will have no job to do. Since there is no major earthquake either, there isn’t much building that needed to be rebuilt.

    The government makes them to build in a slower pace so Singaporean could have job to do until government could come up with another project for them to do. He said the government right now is thinking to build a dam like in the Netherlands so that there would be no flood in the future. Well, good for them…

  8. December 10th, 2010 at 00:13 | #10

    @fancia

    Thanks for sharing your thought.

    There are those in the West who insist that the rest of the world adopt Democracy as practiced in the West; whatever that is. If any country don’t, then they are somehow “evil.”

    The irony behind that kind of thinking is itself undemocratic!

  9. Rhan
    December 10th, 2010 at 01:22 | #11

    Fancia,

    1) So which one is better? The one before riot or one with 30 to 40 parties?

    2) Instead of one Suharto and one LKY, China has nine Suharto or nine LKY, would this really make you feel better?

    3) I think most Singapore taxi driver have two version of opinion depend on who is the audience, they differentiate this by color and nationality.

    4) Just curious, do you think riot will most probably happen under one authoritarian regime or one that is with 30 to 40 political parties?

    Look forward your reply, I sincerely wish to know more.

  10. fancia
    December 10th, 2010 at 05:10 | #12

    @Rhan,

    1) I couldn’t answer for your question for I don’t have the answer myself. Maybe someone could do some survey to ask the ordinary people which one is the best for them. In my opinion, it is neither. It is just like the saying “Survive from the tiger’s mouth only to enter into the dragon’s mouth.”

    Still I would give Suharto his credit though, aside his hate feeling towards Chinese (and I’m Chinese born here), under his rule, the social economic and the country development were growing and stable until the financial crisis.

    Now, after losing their absolute leader, they are now trying to grab the power onto themselves creating the never ending power struggle and more battle in the parliament. They don’t really much care about the people; they only care about their own personal gain. So nothing really much accomplished; they only think the shortsighted plan to win them in the next election.

    If you talk about the corruption, In Suharto regime, the money went the most into the Suharto and family and then his underling. Now, well, it is divided to the 30-40 political parties; the more power they get the more money they have.

    2) Like I said China hasn’t yet finished reforming, it’s still just the beginning. I only said give the government time to experiment and find the best model to suit china. As the saying goes “Think outside of the box” If china can find a model better suited for them aside from western type democracy, why not have it? Why do you want silver if you can have gold?

    Give some credit to Chinese Government. At least, they are trying to improve and change in a positive way. I just didn’t want to see China choose to become what my country has become if She still have another better choice to have. She could become a great country if the government and the people choose carefully and not hastily like ours.

    3) Government is not a god but a human, and like a human, it has its flaws. There is no way a government could meet all the people satisfaction. In my opinion, if they could meet more than half of the people satisfaction then it could be said it is a good government. I cannot say the Singapore model of government is the best model either but it doesn’t hurt to study them and who knows it might give some idea to China to develop China own model of government.

    4) Since I’m no God, I couldn’t predict whether there would be another riot or not. In my opinion though, if the government could provide “at least” the basic needs of human (Food, Clothes and house) with a reasonable price; people here would think less about going to riot. When the people can’t have their basic need satisfied, it is possible that another riot happened. But human “in general” is greedy in nature; what they have would never be enough; they would never realize what they want or what is precious to them until they lose them.

    There’s a rumor, just like 9/11, that the riot in 1998 was being provoked by none other the notorious Suharto’s ex-Son-in-law himself who wanted and still wanting the president’s power. Since there was financial crisis at that time, the people who usually lived happy lives suddenly loses their wealth and to him it was the best time to “pour more oil into the existing fire” and then Chinese in my country became a scapegoat.

    I just can hope that the people here could be more mature by now; they should learn from the past.

  11. Rhan
    December 10th, 2010 at 07:23 | #13

    fancia, thanks for the reply. I particularly share the same feeling on the ‘no answer’ part. I paste here an opinion piece from Jakarta Post, being a minority myself in my country, I honestly don’t know if China is on the right path. However, we can’t deny the fact that most wish to emulate USA.

    /////German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that multiculturalism in Europe has failed. Prior to that, Thilo Sarrazin, the author of Germany Does Away with Itself stated that Germany failed due to too many “unfavorable” immigrants. Those are strong statements.
    Compared with the United States and Australia, which are countries built by immigrants, European countries are struggling with the notion of multiculturalism.
    Despite a few hiccups of violent events throughout its colorful and colored history, in the US, minorities and “minorities within minorities” so far have been able to enjoy relative peace.
    From the slavery to Civil Rights Movement inspired by Rosa Parks in Alabama in 1955 to the struggle of today’s first African-American president. From the first Filipino immigrants settling in Louisiana in 1750 and the first Chinese settlers in 1848 during the California Gold Rush, to the violent death of Vincent Chin in 1982 in Detroit due to car manufacturing workers’ anger toward Japanese cars and the 1992 riots in Los Angeles where nine Korean grocers were killed. And of course, it’s hard to forget the recent heated debate about the building of an Islamic Center near the 9/11 Ground Zero in New York City.
    On the discourse level, Charles Handy and John Rawls, for instance, set theoretical frameworks on fairness and justice in a complex multicultural society, where a culture is recognized as an irreducibly social and intrinsic good.
    On the political level, policies have been changing to adapt with the growing trends in immigration regulations and creating legal frameworks on issues like discrimination and persecution.
    On the everyday level, laws and policies might be influential but people’s mindsets matter more, as living in a harmonious coexistence requires more than philosophy and rules.
    As an example, in Germany and other European countries, the socialist welfare system provides a strong safety net accessible to all including newly arrived immigrants. In the US, the welfare system is reserved for those who have exhausted other means, such as unemployment and disability benefits that are based on an individual’s paid taxes and insurance premiums.
    Only those with long-term disability and of 62 years old minimum can receive Social Security benefits.
    And for those who were born after 1960, they can only obtain full Social Security retirement benefits when they hit 67 years old.
    In short, the requirements to receive any kind of benefits are more complicated in the US than in many countries with socialist welfare system.
    Such differences in welfare implementation are examples of how the notion of safety net differs from one country to another, which eventually results in a multitude of results and reactions among individuals and groups in weaving the fabric of a multicultural society.
    In the US, such a system has been contributing to more industriousness among new immigrants yielding in upward mobility. While it’s on a case-by-case basis, prior to the current foreclosure crisis, it’s not uncommon for an immigrant family to purchase their first house after a few years of settlement without any or with a limited assistance from the government.
    Success stories of immigrants and immigrant families are plentiful. And some even climb up the political ladder to represent the multicultural Americans.
    Bobby Jindal, the current governor of Louisiana, and Nikki Haley, the running candidate for governor of South Carolina, are both Indo-Americans. “Indo” here refers to South Asians, particularly from Indian descent, who only make up 1 percent of the US population.
    Both are Republicans and both reside in southern states, which were notorious for past slavery. Their achievements are remarkable and mind boggling: born of immigrant parents, conservatives and residing in southern states.
    Perhaps that’s why America is so enticing, even in this bad economy.
    Such an interesting phenomenon might be an American Dream comes true, because apparently even the most conservative of American conservatives are proven to be open-minded and accepting of differences.
    If Jindal can make it as a governor, Haley as a gubernatorial candidate, and Obama as a US president, then America arguably has been doing something right about multiculturalism and in rewarding their people to equal upward mobility.
    So, what can Indonesia learn from the so-called “success stories” of US-style multiculturalism?
    First, a good system can create a favorable “default” state of healthy mobility and competition among people with different backgrounds, thus delivering an equal starting point. Second, cultivate a culture of meritocracy — not aristocracy — in which merits speak louder than any race, ethnicity, or religion. Third, cultivate awareness that a leader may belong to either the majority or the minority group, as majority-minority is a polarization oftentimes created to be politicized.
    Indonesia has its own unique identity and problems, yet we should realize that the world is becoming borderless. It’s time to embrace multiculturalism and pluralism with sincerity. /////

  12. Charlie Siebert
    December 27th, 2010 at 06:32 | #14

    For those of you who don’t live in China or haven’t visited the country, I will give you an account of firsthand experience in that country. It seems that so many people around the world love to decide what is best for people they’ve never met, never lived with and perhaps never want to meet nor live with. I live in China. My ex-girlfriend works at CASS in Beijing. If you don’t know what that is, it already shows that you don’t have much credibility to discuss issues regarding Chinese society and politics.

    In the corridors and offices of this institution, it was a popular opinion among real Chinese people, as opposed to people like William Hooper who feels he has some authority to speak on behalf of the Chinese people, that the very notion of Scientific Development was nothing more than a joke. If you have a basic knowledge of the English language, you will see that Science and Economics are quite different disciplines. Scientific Development as a phrase might just qualify as an oxymoron, as development has occurred throughout history under varying circumstances and does not often follow scientific principles but but rather good weather, a lot of murder and a healthy dose of good luck.

    Using the term scientific development is like saying Darwinian creationism. It don’t stick. People do love their slogans. Take the Beijing Olympics ‘One World, One Dream’ motto…sound and fury signifying nothing.
    The Chinese Ambassador to the UK wrote and article after protests against the torch carrying for the 2008 Olympic games saying she spoke to some young Chinese women studying abroad at that time who could not understand how the land of Dickens, Shakespeare and the English Gentleman could hate them so much.

    Herein lies the fundamental problem. If you don’t educate your people properly, you will not develop a nation that can sustain itself in the world arena. English gentleman? Have you ever been to an English football match? Dickens’? Workhouses, abused children and misused women. Shakespeare? Everyone dies in the end. How can you expect a nation that has such a distorted view of the world to be the guiding light and model for mankind’s future societies. Again, get out of your comfy ergonomic computer chair, and visit the places you write about. Put your money where you mouth is. Get the firsthand experience to justify your fantastical theories, and then put pen to paper, or digit to keyboard to try to make a real difference rather than engaging in some vainglorious attempt to insinuate yourself into some new world ruling class.

    Don’t trust people in the financial sector. They are the evil that they claim to attempt to eliminate. Don’t trust the William Hoopers of the world. They are the enemy they purport to want to fight. This sort revel in cults of personality and self aggrandizement and are the real wolves in sheep’s clothing. Do you really want to follow the wealthy into what they promise will be a better society for all of us? Think George Bush, Silvio Berlusconi, Mr. Hooper’s country, where they actually still have a queen…ha ha..that is hilarious. Mr. world revolution is a Royal subject. But, at any minute, he’s about to leave queen and country for a brave new world. We shall see, if he doesn’t decide he’s cozy enough in his Hamstead home.

  13. wwww1234
    December 28th, 2010 at 00:02 | #15

    re: Charlie Siebert
    Your post is constructed of 2 claims, your living in china and had had a Chinese girl friend who worked at CSAA. But neither of these lend much additional credibility in this forum, nor qualify you as having any intellectual ability.

  14. bravo2zero
    December 28th, 2010 at 08:31 | #16

    @ www1234

    That is not quite true, Charlie Siebert does make relevant claim:

    “Science and Economics are quite different disciplines – so Scientific Development makes no sense.”

    Charlie claims this is a self evident fact. I wonder what his EX-girfried at CASS would say about his argument…

  15. wwww1234
    December 28th, 2010 at 23:26 | #17

    @bravo2zero

    Political science within social sciences (anthropology, archaeology, business administration, economics, geography, history, law, linguistics, political science, sociology, international relations, communication, and, in some contexts, psychology) is science?

    Read up on Hooper and learn how this term was used, or read up social science in wiki.

  16. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 06:34 | #18

    Thanks for your comment on my post, wwww1234. I was referring to economic development rather than the discipline of economics. I did make a few more points that you overlooked. It was not my having a girlfriend in China that gives credence to what I said, nor simply the fact that I live in this country. It is that I talk to real Chinese people in a very real place called China, rather than forming opinions based on what I read in the Western media. The Chinese people I speak to, and they are not all nephews and nieces and children, but colleagues in the teaching profession as well as people from all walks of life/
    Regarding my ex-girlfriend it was not the fact that she was my girlfriend that gave me some insight but rather that she told me things that were being said by the intellectuals employed by the Chinese government at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that was relevant. That is that many of the people charged with charting the course of the future of China do disparage this notion of scientific economic development. You seem to have the same habit that William Hooper saying people that disagree with you as not having intellectual ability. That is a very specious and non-intellectual approach to debate, but sadly very common when one does not have an intellectual argument close at hand. Dismiss your critics as, so you don’t have to prove what you’ve said is true.

    Just as in the U.S., if you talk to uneducated people in China, they tend to be the more patriotic. However, if you speak to the more educated and the professional classes, they yearn for something different. That’s because they have the capacity to think for themselves and form their own opinions rather than taking what they are spoon fed by the political elite. Talk to the plumbers, cab drivers and farmers, and you’ll get the same answers you’ll from most in middle America, the English Midlands and other regions of the world where not many folks have a chance to attend university. Have you ever talked to a London cabbie? They’ll set in with the racism and glory of England blather just after asking ‘Where to, governor? ‘

    It is an age old dilemma between what the intellectuals say and what the politicians choose to hear. The politicians pay the thinking folk to analyze and advise, and then often choose to disregard the opinions, if they’ll listen at all, as it may mean that they’ll have to hand over power to others and God forbid, the masses. The internet distorts the reality of the nature of opinion as it us usually the self-righteous and greedy who want to spread their opinions because of their desire to dominate others. Most people just want to live their lives and don’t feel a need to convince others to give up their rights and follow the leader.

    To finish, I have read a lot of what Mr. Hooper wrote and can only say that someone who lives in such luxury should put their money where their mouth is. To refer to the East as better than the West, while remaining in the West is a bit of a clue that you’re dealing with someone who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. I love China, because I love the people, food, culture tea and so much more. But I would never suggest that the whole world adopt the Western model of democracy. Nor would I suggest that the West should all go communist nor authoritarian. Nonetheless, I will tell you that many Americans would like a socialist system and many Chinese would like a Western style democracy.

    What I object to about Mr. Hooper’s writings is not his desire to improve the world. I object to his reasoning that one country’s system would work in every country, as well as the fact that he makes wild statements about what Chinese people think from his house in Hamstead, London, having never visited China. I recommend that you ask him about his notion regarding a cure for AIDS. He asks people to imagine that you have in your blood the secret for the cure for AIDS that can only be utilized if you give your life for humanities sake. He says that if you asked Americans if they would give their life to save humanity from this disease most Americans would say no. He says that if you asked Chinese people, most would say yes. This is not scholarship, nor is it intellectual. It is just plain silly, and an indication that much of his writing is conjecture, pure and simple.

    @bravo2zero

  17. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 07:20 | #19

    Thanks for your comment on my post, wwww1234. I was referring to economic development rather than the discipline of economics. I did make a few more points that you overlooked. It was not my having a girlfriend in China that gives credence to what I said, nor simply the fact that I live in this country. It is that I talk to real Chinese people in a very real place called China, rather than forming opinions based on what I read in the Western media. The Chinese people I speak to, and they are not all nephews and nieces and children, but colleagues in the teaching profession as well as people from all walks of life/
    Regarding my ex-girlfriend it was not the fact that she was my girlfriend that gave me some insight but rather that she told me things that were being said by the intellectuals employed by the Chinese government at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences that was relevant. That is that many of the people charged with charting the course of the future of China do disparage this notion of scientific economic development. You seem to have the same habit that William Hooper saying people that disagree with you as not having intellectual ability. That is a very specious and non-intellectual approach to debate, but sadly very common when one does not have an intellectual argument close at hand. Dismiss your critics as, so you don’t have to prove what you’ve said is true.

    Just as in the U.S., if you talk to uneducated people in China, they tend to be the more patriotic. However, if you speak to the more educated and the professional classes, they yearn for something different. That’s because they have the capacity to think for themselves and form their own opinions rather than taking what they are spoon fed by the political elite. Talk to the plumbers, cab drivers and farmers, and you’ll get the same answers you’ll from most in middle America, the English Midlands and other regions of the world where not many folks have a chance to attend university. Have you ever talked to a London cabbie? They’ll set in with the racism and glory of England blather just after asking ‘Where to, governor? ‘

    It is an age old dilemma between what the intellectuals say and what the politicians choose to hear. The politicians pay the thinking folk to analyze and advise, and then often choose to disregard the opinions, if they’ll listen at all, as it may mean that they’ll have to hand over power to others and God forbid, the masses. The internet distorts the reality of the nature of opinion as it us usually the self-righteous and greedy who want to spread their opinions because of their desire to dominate others. Most people just want to live their lives and don’t feel a need to convince others to give up their rights and follow the leader.

    To finish, I have read a lot of what Mr. Hooper wrote and can only say that someone who lives in such luxury should put their money where their mouth is. To refer to the East as better than the West, while remaining in the West is a bit of a clue that you’re dealing with someone who talks the talk but doesn’t walk the walk. I love China, because I love the people, food, culture tea and so much more. But I would never suggest that the whole world adopt the Western model of democracy. Nor would I suggest that the West should all go communist nor authoritarian. Nonetheless, I will tell you that many Americans would like a socialist system and many Chinese would like a Western style democracy.

    What I object to about Mr. Hooper’s writings is not his desire to improve the world. I object to his reasoning that one country’s system would work in every country, as well as the fact that he makes wild statements about what Chinese people think from his house in Hamstead, London, having never visited China. I recommend that you ask him about his notion regarding a cure for AIDS. He asks people to imagine that you have in your blood the secret for the cure for AIDS that can only be utilized if you give your life for humanities sake. He says that if you asked Americans if they would give their life to save humanity from this disease most Americans would say no. He says that if you asked Chinese people, most would say yes. This is not scholarship, nor is it intellectual. It is just plain silly, and an indication that much of his writing is conjecture, pure and simple.

  18. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 08:31 | #20

    @bravo2zero
    Hey, bravo2zero. That is an interesting question regarding my ex-girlfriend’s opinions regarding my post. As is true in most countries and with most people, they will criticize their own government or aspects of their own culture themselves. However, if an outsider is critical people will become defensive. I think that the ‘intellectuals’ engaged in this debate would suggest that they are above such pettiness but as we are nothing more than apes with the power of speech, it is easier said than done for most of us. If you’ve ever seen footage of an angry chimpanzee you’ll know what I mean.

    My ex-girlfriend told me about the disparaging remarks that her employers made about the concept of scientific development. However, if I expressed the same negative view of this concept before she related it to me, she would have taken me to task and told me to move back to my country. The main reason for my comments regarding the term ‘Scientific Development’ is that like many proclamations from the governments of the world, the terms or titles are pure propaganda, public relations or politics rather than genuine revolutionary concepts. People are paid a lot of money to come up with snappy titles for ridiculous ideas so that they are more marketable to the masses. And if anyone doesn’t believe that, have I got a used car for you.

    On a different topic, William Hooper focuses on Confucianism as the font of conventional Chinese wisdom completely ignoring the fact that Buddhism and Taoism play a very large role in the thinking of the Chinese people. He seems to talk about what he happened to read about, as he’s never come to speak to what he rather insultingly refers to as ‘the average Chinese person.’ That is because he fancies himself of a higher class that average people, wanting to create a society led by people with crackpot ideas supposedly for the greater good. What he fails to realize is that what the Communists did, that’s what his Queen’s Canada and England did, and that’s what America did. All of these countries claimed the greater good of mankind as their goal, and then proceeded to shaft the people for the benefit of the elite few.

    Confucius espoused the notion of rules and order for a harmonious society. Lao Zi is credited as the founder of the Toaist philosophy, though there is some debate as to whether he was the author of the Tao Te Ching, or if this work was an amalgamation of ideas from various sources. Taoism advocates working with nature rather than imposing rules on people and nature. Legend has it that Lao Zi met with Confucius and took him to task for being too obsessed with rules and, in modern parlance a bit too uptight. The story has it that Confucius was somewhat in awe of Lao Zi during and after their meeting. To describe China simply in terms of Confucius is simply wrong, and something that someone such as Mr. Hooper is prone to doing, as he has not visited China and spoken to it’s people directly about what they think and feel.

    If you want to have credible opinions about the world and the human condition, you must go out and experience the world and meet it’s people. If you sit in your comfortable home in a prosperous country and write about things you’ve never seen nor experienced, you have no credibility, no matter how clever you think you may be. Go out and shake people’s hands, have a beer with them, spend Spring Festival with them, or whatever holiday they celebrate. Then get on the internet and speak your mind. Otherwise, cancel your broadband connection and leave the world alone.

  19. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 14:46 | #21

    re: Charlie Siebert
    “Your post is constructed of 2 claims, your living in china and had had a Chinese girl friend who worked at CSAA. But neither of these lend much additional credibility in this forum, nor qualify you as having any intellectual ability”

    Remember this, people. While wwww1234 is handing down his or her judgments as to who has credibility or intellectual ability, this is an internet forum. We don’t know that wwww1234 isn’t William Pooper himself under a different guise quoting himself and defending his own arguments. I wouldn’t put it past him as in my communication with him he too liked to call himself intellectual, say that his ideas were ‘pearls of wisdom’ and suggest that his ideas were too lofty for most to understand. How’s that for intellectual thinking? It sounds more like PR to me, than confidence.

    Of all of the great philosophers in history I’ve read, I don’t recall any of their essays and books including the argument, “I am a so wise that most of you can’t understand me, therefore do not talk to me. I’ll do the thinking for everyone.” Well, if you include Herman Hesse, the author of Siddhartha and Steppenwolf as a philosopher, than I tell a lie. The preface to Steppenwolf did say something along the lines of if you are young and you think you understand my book you are wrong, suggesting only that people who had live a long life and suffered as he did could understand him.

  20. Charlie Siebert
    December 29th, 2010 at 22:22 | #22

    Rather than simply read what William Hooper writes, try communicating with him directly. When you write him, disagree with him, even if you don’t. We call it playing the Devil’s advocate. It is a technique to bring out a person’s true nature and discover if their is a valid basis for their argument. It is an intellectual and philosophical tool used to find fraudulence. If you disagree, he will insult rather than your argument, just as wwww1234 did here after my first post.

    He said nothing to counter my arguments. He or she simply said that I have no credibility and am not intellectual enough for his forum. He or she did not respond to my comments directly but rather dismissed them. If my comments were misguided, and he or she is intellectual enough for this debate, provide some sort of argument that shows why my points are invalid. They teach you the error of this approach in Philosophy 101 where I come from.

    For all of you who are taking all of what is written here at face value, remember this. You can’t say someone is not intellectual just because they disagree with you. You must use your intellect to show people why you disagree with a statement. What’s more, you have to reply to the statement made and not a statement that has not been made. William Hooper’s assertion that people in China will die to find a cure for AIDS whereas American’s won’t is preposterous. I didn’t suggest that American’s would want to die for this, but I live in China and am quite sure that neither would Chinese people want to die for this cause.

    As an example, I told him that I have seen Chinese police on several occasions watching brutal beatings of citizens without intervening. I have never seen this in my Native USA. American cops are scary and seem to love to intervene and bust a few heads. I have a friend who is a cop here in Jinan, Shandong province. I asked him why the police allowed the violence to continue, only stepping up to question witnesses after the perpetrator had fled the scene. He told me that in China, a policeman’s first responsibility is to protect himself. I’m not saying that’s right or wrong, though the opposite is true in my country. The police will lay down their lives to protect the citizens.

    Irregardless, when William Hooper replied, he though I was complaining about police beating the citizens. He got my argument completely backwards, thinking that I was complaining about police brutality. I was complaining about the lack of violence on the part of the police to protect citizens. Violence here is perpetrated by the authorities when they think someone is trying to ‘subvert the state’, but not to protect a victim of violence. The point is, does this fear of getting a cut, bruise or worse exhibited by the police indicate that the majority of this populace would die to cure AIDS. Again, don’t believe everything you read and definitely don’t believe what William Hooper writes, because he doesn’t know the people and things he writes about. It’s as if I told you what an elephant looks like without ever having seen one, and that sort of thing happened a lot in the Victorian era in William Hooper’s England. Think mermaids and sea monsters.

  21. December 29th, 2010 at 23:51 | #23

    @Charlie Siebert

    In the corridors and offices of this institution, it was a popular opinion among real Chinese people, as opposed to people like William Hooper who feels he has some authority to speak on behalf of the Chinese people, that the very notion of Scientific Development was nothing more than a joke.

    I think you have been making personal attacks against William Hooper long enough. Please stop.

    You’ve been rambling against him mostly and offered no substantive arguments against his essay.

    I’ll just give you a hint.

    the very notion of Scientific Development was nothing more than a joke.

    I’d like to hear you summarize for us what that notion is as put forth by the Chinese. Until you articulate what it is, you are simply voicing your insecurity that that very idea unsettles your individualism views of distrust for governments.

    Since your are in China, you should have a leg up, right? ;) If your Chinese is not so good, you can find lots on this topic in English, as Hooper seems to able to find sitting thousands of miles away.

    Using the term scientific development is like saying Darwinian creationism. It don’t stick.

    You can say that about any idea. What is “freedom” and “democracy”? You are basically spewing nonsense.

    I perused through your comments and haven’t found anything worthwhile responding to. Perhaps I may have overlooked some.

    But if you feel there is a substantive point you would like to make against Hooper essay, I suggest you make that your next comment.

  22. whooper
    December 30th, 2010 at 04:10 | #24

    @Charlie Siebert

    Please don’t add personal insults. You emailed me and I tried to help but I failed. No need to hunt me down online and try to haunt me!

    In our email exchange, I tried to get you thinking differently. For example, you were mostly complaining that I did not live in China and I worked in banking etc, but I told you to focus about what I am actually saying instead. Going off topic is not intellectual, not helpful, just rambling.

    I said I think basic problem is that you can not detach from is: individual human rights as the essence of goodness (The Judeo-Christain model of God). That is why I talk about the yin and yang model of God, so that you can see that goodness can have diferent perspectives. I said to you study this over and over again until it comes to you. Don’t email me back or bother reading anything else of mine until yu have got that point.

    One of the things you say is that this non Christain model must be nonsense because most of the people you know who are living in China are Christain, so all this Eastern Western difference is nonsense. If that is true it only shows the problems with personal experience, about getting too close. From Wikipedia: “[whilst there is some debate on the number of Christains in China..] recent studies have suggested that there are roughly 54 million Christians in China, of which 39 million are Protestants and 14 million are Roman Catholics… [and this is] the most common and reliable figure”

    I hope this is the last time you haunt me, or at least until you have really understood that yin/yang model.

    Thanks, William

  23. Charlie Siebert
    December 30th, 2010 at 04:28 | #25

    All right, yinyang.

    You win. I’ll say something that addresses the Mr. Hooper’s writings directly and you can disagree with until your face turns blue, and yet you will always feel that you are right and I am wrong since I disagree with your new mentor.

    Mr. Hooper poses the question (yawn) according to what he understands of Confucianism, “How does the government achieve this noble aim?” He then replies to his own question, something I find quite common in his writings “Like the father it is paternalistic. Specifically it uses cultural forces to shape moral prejudices.”

    What I propose, and you will disagree with, as you seem to agree with people who agree with you, is that some people make bad fathers. So how can we entrust ourselves to a paternalistic elite, when not everyone qualifies as a good parent. I await your usual reply that I can’t think and my ideas are invalid. Go on. Do your best (yawn).

    Don’t trust anyone over thirty. Question authority. Don’t trust anyone who wears a suit.

  24. brazo2zero
    December 30th, 2010 at 04:55 | #26

    @Charlie Siebert

    What happens to kids without fathers? I guess they become wusses. I saw a good story on Google news today…

    Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has been making headlines… Rendell has been complaining about government incompetence recently, and Monday NFL’s decision to postpone the Eagles-Vikings game stood for, well, everything that ails us.

    “We’ve become a nation of wusses,” Rendell declared. “The Chinese are kicking our butt in everything. If this was in China do you think the Chinese would have called off the game? People would have been marching down to the stadium, they would have walked and they would have been doing calculus on the way down.”

    The throw-away line about China made it to the “NBC Nightly News” and the BBC.

    Pre-wussification, they say, we were an economic powerhouse, and our children were the best-educated in the world, until we decided to sheathe our little princes and princesses in bubble wrap. We give them graduation ceremonies for getting through nursery school, a trophy just for showing up at soccer. We’ve removed play from the playground to keep them from scraping a knee. We intervene like lawyers in every dispute.

    Now China doesn’t just grown faster than America, the Chinese work harder and kick our butts at school as well. Just this month, U.S. education officials were surprised by a report that showed students in China outperforming American kids by a wide margin in reading, math and science.

  25. Charlie Siebert
    December 30th, 2010 at 04:58 | #27

    Though I will leave this blog, I suggest that you stop misquoting and misunderstanding your detractors. You claim this about my comments:
    “One of the things you say is that this non Christain model must be nonsense because most of the people you know who are living in China are Christain, so all this Eastern Western difference is nonsense.”

    What I actually said was:
    “I am an atheist and against organized religion in every form.”
    “Your Chinese-American correspondent mentions that young Chinese people want do develop apart from Judeo-Christian dogma. It’s a wonderful idea. The problem is, living in China I am constantly stunned by the number of Chinese Christians who can’t believe that I am not religious.”

    It’s not quite what you said above. In fact, I am agreeing with you and him, but just stating that your goal may be difficult to achieve considering the rise of Christianity in China. I find it difficult to understand when people choose to disagree with people who agree with them on some points simply because there exists a disagreement on other points. It all comes back to the intellectual and philosophical. To be intellectual and philosophical one must be able to avoid muddling ideas together and take each idea and argument on it’s individual merit. It’s difficult. But that’s what everyone here purports to be doing, so I feel it’s my obligation to point that out.

    You can only address a philosophy by addressing the individual points. I know that yinyang is going to tell me again that I contribute nothing and do not address issues. In this case I will remind him or her that I am not currently discussing any articles but rather communicating directly with someone on the blog. So, yinyang, please choose a different objection this time, if you want to be accurate in your accusations.

  26. Charlie Siebert
    December 30th, 2010 at 06:10 | #28

    My final comment is that I do not believe that China has been chosen as the stomping grounds for this discussion because of any noble goals. I believe that the participants in this blog who which to experiment with Chinese society in order to elevate themselves to the level of the new elites completely comes down to the fact that they think that the average Chinese citizen is malleable and easily manipulated.

    Remember as well that the conversation does not revolve around making a great world for all citizens but, rather those who are clever enough to outwit the masses. It’s an age old story and as boring as hell. There is nothing new being offered here. The ‘elite’ have always written off the masses during wartime and in building substandard school buildings for the children of the average citizens whilst building sturdy structures for the school buildings of the elite, as we saw evidenced after the earthquake in Sichuan province.

    The people running this thread are not interested in helping the majority of mankind. They are interested in sacrificing the welfare and lives of the less fortunate and educated to maintain some sort of utopia for those who managed to join the club and pull the wool over the eyes over the masses. Again, it’s nothing new. Mao Ze Dong did it. Margaret Thatcher did it. George Bush did it. Do not believe that this blog offers solutions. It merely offers an alternate misery for those who are not lucky enough to win the lottery.

    Delete my posts, and prove my point, please. And when you do, I will check back, and realize that you fear that there is some reason in what I write. Leave the posts, and I reckon there may be hope for you and civilization yet. Either way, I win, because you either admit fear, or admit that my arguments might be valid. That is the ultimate conundrum of the world that you envision. Censorship shows weakness and fear. Freedom of speech acknowledges the notion that all ideas might be correct. Stick that in your philosophical pipes and smoke it.

  27. Charlie Siebert
    December 30th, 2010 at 07:57 | #29

    Well I just can’t quit you guys ‘cuz I love you so much.

    As yinyang asked me to address specific articles I will give another example that requires some scrutiny.
    William Hooper says:
    Now what does Confucius say?
    He says truth exists in the heart and the head. Not every man can feel it equally, the elite are wiser than the proletariat.”

    Let’s get back to the notion of ‘Scientific Development’ and why science and development don’t necessarily form a dovetail joint. Look dovetail joint up if you don’t know what it means. I’m using it a metaphor for ideas that do not mesh or interconnect.

    If you want to talk about scientific development, do not talk about truths that come from the heart. Scientifically, the heart is an organ that pumps blood. It does not control human emotions. It is so easy for people to fall back into being normal humans even as they try to claim to be part of some elite who do not suffer from the frailties of the common folk.

    The key to our common evolution is the elimination of discrimination. China, America and England are rife with mutual racism. The self-proclaimed intellectuals of each of these influential nations often proclaim to be beyond this most common of anti-intellectual, reactionary emotions, and yet continue to insult each other in a most amusing sort of mutual bitch-slap-fest.

    Most of the posts in these blogs are base on bigotry against people from one nation or another and not at all the high-brow, philosophical arguments the pretend to be. When you all stop mentioning countries, nationalities and races in your arguments, then you might truly have realized your pitiful attempts at reaching the philosophical heights of the Greek masters of buggery that you seem to want to emulate. That’s a whole different issue that I don’t even want to address.

    What about if everyone agrees to leave the mention of countries and race out of the conversation. Could anyone still manage to make their point? Or, is it the bigotry and invective that makes it so much easier to sit at your computer and tap out endless arguments for one group to the detriment of another? But, I digress, as the namesake of this blog supports a new form of fascism over other forms of leadership. I’m not sure if I posted his quote regarding this before, but I will be happy to do so if anyone here has an interest in knowing what Mr. Hooper truly hopes to see as the future of mankind.

    It is our responsibility as thinking monkeys to stop the visions of these sorts of people. Again, please delete my comments if you are afraid of what I’m saying. The deletion will validate the fear and hopefully alert the awoken minority that this gibberish is the same sort of rubbish that led to World War II. Some of you, I’m sure, want a World War III. There will always be zealots and idiots in the world. Those of us who wish to avert such an event can only speak out in the hope of preventing such an event. Let’s see what the blog has to say about that. Am I to be deleted, or engaged in a rational debate?

  28. December 30th, 2010 at 19:18 | #30

    C. Siebert,

    “Elites” do find the average people malleable and easily manipulated, either by the “elites” themselves or by some one else.

    That is not a “I look down upon you” sort of judgment, it is merely a fact of life. If you do not believe that the “average” people are already being manipulated, CONSTANTLY, then you have already bought a load of BS that I don’t need to manipulate you any further.

    *We are here to discuss the ideas that might make the world better for “elites” as well as for the “average” and the “poor”. MIGHT being the key word.

    If you like to judge the whole thread’s discuss as merely for the purpose of the “elites”, then clearly, you know the “elites” better than most of us, but you are presuming too much about your knowledge of us.

    We are not Mao or Bush or Thatcher. We are PEOPLE engaged in intellectual discussion. (I assure you, if I am Bush, and I am the “elite” not interested in the average people as you say, then I would not be here, discussing any ideas).

    One thing I am sure of a better future for China, is a China where people are DISCUSSING ideas REASONABLY and rationally.

    For that is the CURE and PREVENTION for the likes of Bush and Thatcher.

    Free press like Fox News and CNN are not the cure.

    Neither is trolling (and begging) for deletion of off-topic comments.

  29. Charlie Siebert
    January 1st, 2011 at 04:10 | #31

    @Allen
    Allen ants and people are animals, too. We cannot separate ourselves from the animal kingdom. The point is that we are the only animal that can choose how to live. Do we want to live like ants, or follow a different path such as Socialism or Democracy. If we choose to live like ants, then we have not utilized our potential, but merely mimicked creatures which live on instinct rather than intellect, and in this thread the concept of intellect constantly arises. If the sum total result of intellectual thinking is to behave like animals that have no capacity for intellectualizing issues that is the script for a very good comedy. It reminds me of something Douglas Adams would have thought of while sipping tea in his bath. The difference is that the people here are serious, but he was just having a laugh.

  30. Charlie Siebert
    January 1st, 2011 at 04:33 | #32

    @raventhorn2000
    Hey Raventhorn2000. It would be easier for people in China to discuss ideas reasonably and rationally if those who tried to do so in a public forum were not so often thrown in jail. I agree with you on that point, but people must be allowed to discuss issues before they can be discussed reasonably and rationally. I suspect that you are saying that only some people should be allowed to discuss the issues because only some people are capable of discussing these issues reasonably and rationally. Then who decides what is reasonable and rational? I assume you believe it is you. And what becomes of those who believe that you might are not being entirely reasonable and rational.

    If by trolling you mean disagreeing with people, then I’m a fervent supporter of trolling. To me this is Newspeak for “I don’t want to hear people who don’t share my opinion.” That leads to the challenge for deletion. It may not be an immediate solution to any problem, but it can prove a point, and what you are trying to do here is prove points. Prove enough points, and people may get the message. Censorship is admitting defeat. It’s like when kids put their fingers in their ears and shout, “la, la, la, la la”. It doesn’t make an argument goes away. it just means that they don’t have time to hear things that they don’t want to hear.

    I haven’t seen any solutions here that differ from things that have been tried throughout all of human history. A ruling elite governing the ignorant masses. Is that all you guys can come up with? People with much greater intellect than yourselves have been trying that for millenia. It works for a while, makes a few people rich in their lifetime, and then it all collapses. I can’t believe that you really believe that you’re onto something new here.

    How about redistributing all the wealth in the world evenly among all of it’s citizens? Yes, you’d say that was foolish. But, at least it’s never been tried, unlike your plot. I’m just suggesting that you clever folks try to be a bit more cleverly clever with your cleverness, instead of so predictably predictable. Rather than dress up your trite plot in the clothes of a new world order, just admit that it’s a cover version of an old tune. Then again, I realize that honesty does not play much into this sort of scheme since information will be controlled by the few, and kept from the many, so I can’t expect any such confession.

  31. January 1st, 2011 at 10:35 | #33

    Charlie,

    Those who are thrown in jail are often not at all “reasonable and rational.” That’s the point.

    Who decides? I go with the “troll rules” as a starting standard.

    What is that? look in the mirror.

    Rail against the “elites” is easy to do. Who is the “elites” to you? I suspect you know as well as other venerable trolls, like Sarah Palin.

    But let’s see if you have any valid points, reasonable and rational, to contribute?

    Anything we don’t already know?

    Or you rather just keep repeating the same old shtick and pretend that the “elites” don’t want to hear you?

    You see, it’s simple, You pretending that the “elites” don’t want to hear you. That’s no more rational or reasonable than Sarah Palin’s rants in public.

    *You might be happy with that Mama troll loose in the Wilderness that is US politics.

    But I wouldn’t give a damn if the Trolls get shot or caged up. I have ZERO sympathies for trolls.

  32. January 1st, 2011 at 22:38 | #34

    @r v

    Let me know when the troll gets too annoying. We have enough of samples to deem the rest garbage. I am just too lazy to delete.

  33. Charlie Siebert
    January 2nd, 2011 at 07:29 | #35

    @raventhorn2000
    ravingthorn…Go buy a gun or a cage and come for me. I am waiting. I am Sarah Palin’s enemy. I read the magazines she can’t name, and cannot see Russia from my house. Trolls are something out of the Hobbit, and I don’t deal in fantasy. Right her in reality me, mate.

  34. Charlie Siebert
    January 2nd, 2011 at 07:30 | #36

    That should have been right ‘here’. Wonky keyboard or bad typing skills.

  35. January 2nd, 2011 at 08:21 | #37

    Blah, blah, blah, Charlie,

    If you are in China, you should know that plenty of guns are there to keep the likes of trolls in check. I.E. you are already in a Cage.

    Deal with it. Enjoy it.

  36. Charlie Siebert
    January 2nd, 2011 at 21:50 | #38

    Whooper quotes Plato as saying, “You would never believe – unless you had seen it for yourself – how much more liberty the domestic animals have in a democracy. The dog comes to resemble his mistress, as the proverb has it. They are in the habit of walking about the streets with a grand freedom, and bump into people they meet if they don’t get out of their way.” Again I insist that he move to China if he wants to see this put into practice. And that is the result of Democracy? Socialist here, mate. Bumping into people is accepted practice here and the excuse is it’s a large population so it’s dog eat dog, to use Plato’s canine analogy. Californians cede the right of way, with a polite ‘after you’. But then, you hate California so you’ve nary a kind word even if they do behave themselves, I suppose.

    And as for the following quotation is concerned, “Everything is full of this spirit of liberty….What it adds up to is this, you find that the minds of the citizens become so sensitive that the least vestige of restraint is resented as intolerable, till finally, as you know, in their determination to have no master they disregard all laws written or unwritten,” I say move to China. Move to China and marvel at how people drive their cars on the sidewalks and the wrong side of the street. Marvel at how people park in a perpendicular fashion as they’ve no space to parallel park as per the standard convention and the law. Marvel at how contracts are not worth the paper they are written on and how easily employers can exploit employees whereas the employees have little recourse to address their concern with the authorities. Marvel at how parents protesting the death of their children during earthquakes due to shoddy construction of the schools for the ‘non-elite’ are rounded up by the police for being agitators. Gaze upon all of these marvels, and then go back and read Plato again, and see if it does not describe human nature rather than the nature of Democracy.

  37. Charlie Siebert
    January 2nd, 2011 at 22:18 | #39

    @raventhorn2000
    On the topic of elites, to me the elites are anyone who does not call themselves elite, for they are truly exceptional in their lack of vanity. The rest of the world’s fools think that they are something special.

  38. Charlie Siebert
    January 2nd, 2011 at 22:23 | #40

    @raventhorn2000
    Blah, blah, blah…you said it. I did not. You’ve run out of ammunition, mate.

  39. Charlie Siebert
    January 3rd, 2011 at 00:59 | #41

    By the way…whoever earlier quoted Georg Bush and his, “If you’re not for us, your against us” statement I want to congratulate you because it sums up the ethos of blogs such as this perfectly. To use Bush’s native Texan dialect it might be better written as, “If you ain’t fer us you’re agin us.” That is what I find here. If you don’t agree, you need not reply.

    It is your blog, so you have the right to censor as you see fit, of course. And you have the right to respond by typing blah, blah, blah. I can’t say that does much for your argument nor your intellectual reputation, but you do have that right. I hope the people who are not so heavily contributing to this thread but are observing read the blah, blah blah arguments and that they will understand that the self-proclaimed elite and international can speak baby talk just as well as the rest of the whining babies of the world. Wah wah wah. Poor me, poor me, somebody disagreed with me and I can’t handle it so I’ll just type nonsense. Read on, readers, and seek the truth behind the veil of linguistic gymnastics. Don’t be fooled by the would be saviors of humankind.

    For the reader who has not yet been swayed by the specious arguments of this self-proclaimed elite, remember that you are in charge of your destiny. You do not have to be manipulated, as they insist you must be. You do not have to be caged, as they suggest they think you are. And you certainly don’t deserve to be shot. Shoot them first. If you don’t have a gun, a nice sharp knife will do. Don’t let these fools shit on you. If they come with guns, and you’ve got a knife, you’ve done what you could, and you will have died a noble death.

  40. Sleeper
    December 18th, 2011 at 17:41 | #42

    1, I lived in China and I heard about more stories (and the stupid guys here are in US and knowing nothing)

    2, I have a friend who worked as a staff of CASS and a police, I knew more about dark side in China (So the guys here are just dreaming for pretty things)

    3, I’m telling the right thing for I’m questioning China.

    And it’s what I know from C.Siebet’s comments. But I read nothing about dark stories which can negative the essay in detail. I just saw C.Siebet kept repeating that the essay’s views are completely nonsense just because he knew a lot of bad things happening in China.

    These really remind me of some nasty guys in Baidu Tieba.

  1. September 30th, 2010 at 01:56 | #1
  2. October 8th, 2010 at 14:28 | #2
  3. November 23rd, 2010 at 10:17 | #3
  4. December 11th, 2010 at 02:34 | #4
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