Saturday 12 October 2019

Robert Kaplan on the Chinese

'The American foreign policy elite does not like to talk about culture since culture cannot be quantified, and in this age of extreme personal sensitivity, what cannot be quantified or substantiated by a footnote is potentially radioactive.… Anyone who travels in China, or even observes it closely, realizes something that the business community intuitively grasps better than the policy community: the reason there is little or no separation between the public and private domains in China is not only because the country is a
dictatorship, but because there is a greater cohesion of values and goals among Chinese compared to those among Americans. In China, you are inside a traditional mental value system. In that system, all areas of national activity—commercial, cyber, military, political, technological, educational—work fluently toward the same ends, so that computer hacking, espionage, port building and expansion, the movement of navy and fishing fleets, and so on all appear coordinated. And within that system, Confucianism still lends a respect for hierarchy and authority among individual Chinese, whereas American culture is increasingly about the dismantling of authority in favor of devotion to the individual. Confucian societies worship old people; Western societies worship young people. One should never forget these lines from Solzhenitsyn: “Idolized children despise their parents, and when they get a bit older they bully their countrymen. Tribes with an ancestor cult have endured for centuries. No tribe would survive long with a youth cult.”'
The longer I live the more clearly I see that all history is based on theology. Culture produces politics and economics, not as Marx thought the other way around. Culture is produced by religion, as well as history, climate and to a hotly debated extent heredity, but probably by religion most of all.  

Scandinavia's prosperity and social cohesion is because of Lutheranism. Greece's economics and politics is rooted in her Byzantine Orthodox religion.

As the Communist period recedes into the past the differences between Catholic Poland and Orthodox countries like Bulgaria and Romania become clearer.


  1. Culture produces politics and economics, not as Marx thought the other way around.

    I think I'd have to agree with that.

    It's actually one of the things that made Mao a heretic - he also seemed to believe in the primacy of culture. Orthodox Marxists were horrified. Which is probably why Marxism lost. Of course Maoism lost as well, because Mao lost the culture war in China.

    The problem is that globalists understand the primacy of culture all too clearly - they first took control of the culture and everything else followed. The fact that globalism was the ideology of capitalism and by the postwar period capitalism controlled the culture through its control of the media certainly helped.

    The problem for nationalists is that they have zero cultural power. Globalism has the entire weight of American cultural power behind it.

    1. I agree with you though I wouldn't call myself a nationalist. I'd call myself a romantic Tory, perhaps a Tory anarchist, a conservative and an imperialist. I am close to being a libertarian but no longer mistaken for or mistake myself for a classical liberal. They are exemplified by the Economist, the FT and globalists and are what Evelyn Waugh makes Guy Crouchback say to himself about the Nazi-Communist Non-Aggression Pact: 'The enemy at last was plain in view, huge and hateful, ... It was the Modern Age in arms.'

      I am with Waugh and against Hitler, Stalin and modernity.

  2. China experienced the Cultural Revolution, a destructive youth cult egged on by the old. Maybe it learned something.

  3. Chairman Deng was the greatest man who ever lived, measured in how much good he did. Though, if only Chiang Kai‐shek and the Nationalists had won the civil war, how much happier a place China and the world would be.