Friday 11 October 2019

David Goldman (Spengler in Asia Times) talks about China

'Coming from a younger and also reasonably successful culture, which is the Jewish culture, I look at the Chinese in awe. They should never be underestimated. What makes China China? What is it? How does it understand itself? Until the Jesuits turned up in the 16th century, Matteo Ricci and his colleagues, China simply understood itself as civilization. China was a civilizing principle. It was a means of unifying different ethnicities on the basis of a very different principle than Rome or Alexander or the Holy Roman Empire or any entity in the West or its antecedents, and I think that’s best illustrated by what it’s like to be a Chinese child.

'Chinese children [are] very bumptious and sort of have a free happy-go-lucky kind of existence until they’re about six at which point they’re given a pen and the pot of ink and a piece of paper and they’re told now you’re going to learn the characters and for the next six or seven years they’ll spend four hours a day learning the characters.

'China managed to combine roughly 70 major language groups by having a unified written language and entirely diverse spoken languages....

'Important to remember that China had by some estimates 30 percent literacy 2,000 years ago when literacy in the West was a tiny fraction of that. Now, China essentially grew from the tiny area denoted by the Shang Dynasty 3,500 years ago by making its neighbors an offer they couldn’t refuse. The offer was you become Chinese, which is you learn the characters you adopt Chinese dress, Chinese customs, and you pay taxes to the Emperor who will be the arbiter of conflicts among various ethnicities and so forth. That’s option one.

'Option two is we kill you all and it worked quite effectively. China basically reached its current geographical boundaries, which were natural, the Gobi Desert, the Himalayan mountains, and the oceans by the year 700. They haven’t changed substantially since then nor are they likely to change. This is not Rome or Alexander or the British Empire or the Comintern, which wants to conquer masses of territory. China wishes to project influence but it does not look- it has not in thirteen hundred years, fourteen hundred years looked for territorial expansion.'

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