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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 8/15/19

Upside Down or Right Side Up? Comparing Chinese vs Western Civilizational Heirarchies

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Republished from China Rising


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Note before starting: if you have not already done so, reading/listening to/watching my two recent posts comparing Chinese and Western governance will make this one much more meaningful (https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/07/30/why-are-western-leaders-gawd-awful-bad-and-chinas-so-darn-competent-part-i-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190730/ and https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/08/07/why-are-western-leaders-gawd-awful-bad-and-chinas-so-darn-competent%ef%bc%9fpart-ii-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190807/).

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Westerners can live and work in China for years and not see the obvious. I should know, since I was one of them. We occidentals are so brainwashed from birth, at home, in school, by government, media and advertising of our moral superiority over all those "other" dark skinned kinda-sorta people, that it's easy to not see the trees in the proverbial forest of life. This is how I was, when living here from 1990-1997. Even after living and working for 21 years outside the US, mostly in Africa, Middle East and China, I was still blinded by my racism of Western cultural and moral superiority, a liberaloid do-gooder, wrapped up in identity politics, thinking I was better than most of my less cosmopolitan countrymen sad to say and I wasn't much better. It was not until we came back to China in 2010 that the scales of racism finally fell from my eyes. This painful and humbling, but ultimately liberating experience is tracked through the three books of The China Trilogy (see below).

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Looking at the above comparative chart and going back to the times of the Ancient Greeks, the quintessential Marlboro Man has been the fixture of Western civilization. Me, myself and I, free and unfettered, independent and on one's own, to decide one's destiny. Being an adventurer and warrior/gunslinger also fits the bill. Greek tales like Jason and the Argonauts, Iliad and the Odyssey and the swashbuckling myths of the deities slaughtering monsters (today's inferior Dreaded Others) all extol the virtues of Solo Man.

Family comes next and even that is often contested and dysfunctional in the West. Help out a family member? Maybe, maybe not. It seems like every Western family I've ever gotten to know well, starting with mine, is rife with communication and contact between members cut off. Individual peeves and grudges trump trying to keep the family intact.

Working our way down this civilizational hierarchy, support for the neighborhood, city, province and country can happen, but frequently on "my terms" and "not in my backyard". How dare you encroach on my freedoms! This, while citizens can be easily brainwashed with God and the flag, to fight in endless wars for rape, resources and plunder, with the price over the long term eventually being societal collapse.

For millennia, at the bottom of the Western sh*t heap is the government and leaders. You can't blame Euranglolanders for not trusting or respecting their governments, since they usually act like gangsters stealing from the 99%, while sending the latter to die likes dogs in wars of expansion, exploitation and extraction, all to enrich their elite 1% masters. Organized criminals posing as leaders and governments masking cartels is standard operating procedure. It's happening while I write.

Yet, in spite of all the pitfalls, it's easy to see why the Western hierarchy of Solo Man is so intoxicating and flattering. What could be more important than" ME! One's horizon in life is simplified. Me, myself and I concentrate the need and take complexity and nuance out of the equation. Life become linear, point A to point B. I'll do whatever the hell I want, Bubba. Get back Jojo, it's my space. Get outta of my way, this is MY lane! A friend in need is fucked indeed. What's in it for me? The world is my oyster. Of course, I should be able wear a gun around town to protect myself. I've got individual rights. Ayn Rand's "rational self-interest". Gordon Gekko's greed is not just good, greed is God. What's mine is mine and what's yours in mine, so you're screwed. Might and treachery make right. Finders keepers losers weepers. Laissez-faire, bay-bee. Dog eat dog, the big dominate the little, the rich steal from the poor. Being entertained and amused becomes paramount. Mass production and super-consumption are in. More, more, more. Making personal sacrifices is decidedly uncool, as is delayed gratification. It is easy to see why the Western paradigm of Marlboro Man dovetails so perfectly with capitalism, neoliberalism and colonialism.

Now, in China, flip the West's social hierarchy upside down. Suddenly, you are no longer Mr. and Mrs. Me. Welcome to being at the very bottom of civilization's needs. Look up and your life is no longer simple and linear, but complex and elliptical a tapestry of interconnections and expectations. Just in the family alone, Mom's, Dad's and Grandparents' needs trump yours. Older relatives too. What's mine is also my family's. If you slack off, then how is the family supposed to help take care of the neighborhood? We all want to live in a nice town/city, don't we, and you're the start. Daily life becomes very intricate, cyclical and circular, giving and taking. This is not my lane, but everyone else's too. Since life is so interwoven and interdependent, solidarity in helping others becomes the ideal. Suddenly, social harmony and peaceful coexistence are everything. You mean I have to share? I have many responsibilities to my community and country? You mean I should help the government and our leaders to work effectively, and keep the nation intact and prosperous? You bet your stinky tofu, you do.

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It's easy to see that being a Chinese citizen is a much bigger daily responsibility and the expectations of the many over the wants of the individual are so much greater than in Western civilization. Euranglolanders often feel superior over Chinese families, when they see young children here being loud, boisterous and spoiled rotten. They are for a few years. It's the one time in their lives when they get to enjoy some of that Solo Man Me, Myself and I, because by the time they get first grade in school, China's civilizational hierarchy starts to kick in and the expectations of everyone around them begin to weigh on their societal shoulders. For five or six years, they get to run wild a little bit, now it's time to knuckle down and take their place on the bottom rung of the ladder.

Since you are on the hook for family, the country's leaders and government, attributes like frugality and delayed gratification become the ideal. No wonder the Chinese have the highest savings rate of any large economy in the world. Even though buying personal gizmos and luxuries has never been higher, and Baba Beijing is exhorting the masses to consume more, to counteract the US's tariff trade war, China's savings rate is still 46% (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/china/gross-savings-rate). This compares to Americans' 17% (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/united-states/gross-savings-rate).

All in the family. Since everybody collectively is more important than you, is it any wonder that China is a communist-socialist civilization and always has been?

It goes without saying that the two above portrayed hierarchies are meant to be painted black and white, to show the overarching contrast. Of course, there are generous, giving Westerners who believe in social solidarity and economic justice. As well, there are Chinese who are selfish, greedy and heartless. Yes, there are family feuds and estranged relatives. That's not the point. The point is the diametrically opposed societal expectations and ideals that are held up for inspiration and guidance. In the West, it's all about individualism and personal freedom. In China, it's all about Mom, Dad, the mayor, governor, prime minister and president who come first.

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Jeff J. Brown is the author of 44 Days (2013) and Doctor WriteRead's Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). In 2016 Punto Press released China Rising, Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations The Truth behind Asia's Enigmatic Colossus. For (more...)
 

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9 people are discussing this page, with 22 comments  Post Comment


John Rachel

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It goes beyond the Chinese borders. This sense of selflessness and honoring the needs of family and community above those of the individual is very prevalent in Japan as well. Through "Western eyes" this looks like servility and conformity. In practice it translates into greater social harmony, respect for others, respect for the commons and the shared destiny of those in the society. One consequence I see lacking in the West is a willingness to collectively learn from experience, both good and bad. The shared guilt about the aggressiveness of Japan which produced enormous carnage and suffering in WWII is palpable. I see a society here which wants -- despite some regressive policies by the "right wing" politicos still in play -- to move beyond war. Despite the propaganda from the West about alleged malign intentions by the Chinese, I think China as a whole would prefer to create a world where wars of aggression are a thing of the past.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 15, 2019 at 11:15:34 PM

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It sounds wonderful but completely alien to me. The US is such a negative hateful country, and is contaminating the rest of the world with its violent disposition.

It will take a catastrophe to humble the US. I feel one coming. Trump has overplayed his hand with China. They are going to retaliate and it ain't going to be pretty. Trump has tried to back down but Xi has called his bluff and bluster and told him it is too late.

China has a game called Go that is 10 times more complicated than chess. They are also patient and will give Trump enough rope to hang himself. He doesn't know it but he has already lost.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 2:41:25 AM

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Thanks for reading, David.


Unfortunately, a catastrophe to Eurangloland may make the West and Israel pull the nuclear trigger.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 10:26:04 AM

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Hi Friend, do you recall 'Guglielmo Tell (William Tell)' a wonderful communicant

here on OEN, who recommended you to me. He was a Russian fellow, Andrei Spassky, who lives in Habana Center, Cuba. At present he's unable

to keep up his web connection. A brilliant chap, fluent in Espanol, English

and, of course, Russian. Mandarin - no.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:09:35 PM

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David William Pear

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P.S. Obama's pivot to Asia didn't go so well either.

The world has woken up to the imperialistic US domination of world finances. The US has so abused economic sanctions that it has made the US dollar, SWIFT, and Bretton Woods organization highly unreliable. The financial system is dependent on confidence in it. Every time the US abuses it, then it loses confidence.

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 at 3:08:56 PM

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Jeff J. Brown

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Very true, John. Everywhere in Asia that Confucism, Daoism and Buddhism have taken root, this social hierarchy remains true. But then again, it's also true in all Native cultures around the world, which is why Eurangloland has been hellbent on exterminating all of them, since they are very successful models that threaten capitalism.


Look at Japan. For 200 years, they had peace during the Edo Period, under a military dictatorship. VERY bad for Wall Street...

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 10:30:31 AM

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China accused of forced sterilization, abortions in Xinjiang concentration camps China faces renewed accusations of cultural genocide of Uyghurs

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Thanks for reading, Allan.


Sounds like info from the CIA-backed Falungong, NYT and WaPo.


Please read/listen to/watch my blogs:


www.chinarising.puntopress.com/blog-2/


This will help you step outside the Great Western Firewall.

China did some forced sterilizations and abortions around 1984 and it caused such a huge protest, it was stopped.


For Xinjiang:


click here


chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/02/13/successfully-smearing-china-with-big-lie-propaganda-about-muslim-gulags-msm-digs-up-a-stale-psyops-organ-harvesting-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190213/

Sino-best, Jeff

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Thanks for interesting info. The only reason that there is a blog like Opednews (where you can criticize the government) is that you don't live in China. The Chinese surely cannot.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 5:38:56 PM

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Here, once again, you are parroting the anti-China screed. There are places where the government can be criticized, provided that the criticisms are accurate and not sensationalized. The Chinese people have many more freedoms than the anti-China crowd would have you believe.

China is a wonderful country to visit and live in. I spent 8 years there and have no regrets. I went there holding many beliefs similar to yours, but was pleasantly surprised.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 7:01:27 PM

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Jeff J. Brown

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I've lived in China for 16 years, read and speak the language.


The web and social media here are saturated with hate communism, hate Mao, hate Deng, hate Xi forums.


You are so brainwashed, which is the norm. Search "(Chinese) democracy" on my blog and read a few examples of it in action.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 7:11:28 PM

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Gaddafi accused of giving Viagra to his troops so they could rape more women. Assad accused of gassing his own people because he's cruel and likes gassing people. Maduro accused of starving citizens of Venezuela because he just likes killing the people who voted him into office. God accused of killing His only begotten son by crucifixion with big rusty nails because ... well, the verdict is still out on that one.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 12:52:20 PM

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Very funny!

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 1:18:35 PM

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Hi, Jeff - this is joyous, China agreeing with Nipponese One.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 3:43:54 PM

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Here are some words of wisdow:


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This is the perverse result you get when you take a child and brainwash it to lead a state, religion or philosophy.

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 at 11:37:59 AM

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Anything negative about China needs to be taken with a large dose of caution. What you read about the Uyghers is typically misinformation designed to inflame Western anti-China sentiments. You get the same thing with information about the Tibetans. All of the information is carefully designed to inflame liberal Western attitudes against China.


Most Americans who support Tibetans and Uyghers repeted pleas for democracy have never been to China to witness these people's actual lives. And yes, I have been to Tibet and Xinjiang a number of times both as an official visitor and as a tourist.



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Nothing happens by chance. The US was chosen by the rich for conquering the world. One cannot do it with happy good people. This is the reason America raised egotistic, narcissistic people. Such people cannot be satisfied with their lives so that they are perfect tools for supporting the conquest of the world.

The rich have become too greedy and failed, as a result, America will fail like any other immoral imperia. China has become a very powerful country by the mistake of the western rich. They invested a huge amount of money in China believing once China accepts the market economy it would have to accept western democracy and become easy prey. Congratulations China.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:44:04 PM

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After living in China in four different cities/provinces from 2003-2015, I can attest the chart you display is not the China of its youth. Yes, you are correct in the "Little Emperor/Empress" syndrome, but I can truthfully say after the immediate family and a few extended ones, it's every person for themselves. Striving to emulate the western lifestyle.


Living on credit, occupying an opulent furnished apartment, driving an impressive name brand named car (Audi/Mercedes, Maserati), the higher the price, the more appealing. They want to attire themselves in name brand clothes/accessories, enjoy succulent foods and go on exotic travel. Unless they are the "Chosen Few" whose parents have the political/business connections to get things for them, then reality kicks in and off to the corporate dormitory/work community they go.


Though their are many youth who strive to become astronauts, doctors, lawyers, engineers, there is an equal number who like their western counterparts want to be professional athletes, entertainment idols and other frivolous social media stars. I will say I'm certainly thankful none of my former students who failed their final exam at the #2 medical school in China (WCSM/Huaxi) are going to be my primary care doctor; not knowing a stethoscope was a listening device, a sphygmomanometer was a blood pressure gauge and other simple medical related questions.


Certainly thankful I chose not to have kids, knowing the youth brain pools of China and India are multiple times greater to the US/west, and competition of advanced technologies is only going to become more vicious, as developing countries educate their masses of youth.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 5:50:26 PM

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Whilst what you say about living an opulent life style is largely true, it still must be remembered that the Chinese are heads and shoulders above their American counter parts when it comes to savings.


Many of the younger generation have mis-handled credit, and have been bailed out by their parents. Getting bailed out brings a substantial amount of shame to not only the errant child but also the family. That allows for valuable lessons to be emphasized with the child, which typically last a lifetime.


I can share your concerns about students who failed medical school, along with other professional degrees. That is a very telling example of what is wrong with the Chinese education system. My students in the business school typically were there because of parental pressure rather than an aptitude for any business related skills. Fortunately, they were moving on to a US University, and I encouraged them to find an additional major that they could pursue once they were no longer under the thumb of their parents.



Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 6:50:01 PM

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Allan Wayne

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China's lack of female leadership is made all the more stark by the contrast with Hong Kong and Taiwan, both of which are run by women.

Submitted on Friday, Aug 16, 2019 at 11:29:36 PM

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Old Codger

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Is this another attempt to malign China? If it is, you are just showing how little you know about the social structure of China.

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 17, 2019 at 2:23:36 PM

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