Upside down or right side up? Comparing Chinese vs. Western civilizational hierarchies.

Upside down or right side up? Comparing Chinese vs. Western civilizational hierarchies.

By: Jeff J. Brown for The Saker Blog

 

Crosslinked with:

https://chinarising.puntopress.com/2019/08/14/upside-down-or-right-side-up-comparing-chinese-vs-western-civilizational-hierarchies-china-rising-radio-sinoland-190814/

https://youtu.be/rYmvCRQBybk

https://soundcloud.com/44-days/upside-down-or-right-side-up-comparing-chinese-vs-western-civilizational-hierarchies

 

A screenshot of a cell phone

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Pictured above: no wonder Chinese and Westerners don’t understand each other. They look at the world and their societies with diametrically opposed points of view. It’s like two peoples staring at each other through the opposite ends of a telescope. Everything is distorted. To paraphrase the great American poet Robert Frost, “And that my friends, makes all the difference”.

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/).

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).

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 shit 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.

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.

And that, my friends, makes all the difference. The imperial West shattered China’s civilizational hierarchy for 110 years, when it flooded the country with opium, morphine and heroin, 1839-1949, and was able to rape and plunder the people with lustful abandon. Since communist liberation in 1949, China’s social hierarchy has been restored. Look at the comparative table at the beginning of this article one more time and ask yourself, Which country is going to succeed and prosper on the world stage, into the 22nd century?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Key words:

China, Racism, Culture, Ancient Greece, Marlboro Man, Individualism, Solidarity, Brainwash, Me Myself and I, 99%, 1%, Eurangloland, War, Ayn Rand, Gordon Gekko

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Bio: Jeff J. Brown is a geopolitical analyst, journalist, lecturer and the author of The China Trilogy. It consists of 44 Days Backpacking in China – The Middle Kingdom in the 21st Century, with the United States, Europe and the Fate of the World in Its Looking Glass (2013); Punto Press released China Rising – Capitalist Roads, Socialist Destinations (2016); and for Badak Merah, Jeff authored China Is Communist, Dammit! – Dawn of the Red Dynasty(2017). As well, he published a textbook, Doctor WriteRead’s Treasure Trove to Great English (2015). Jeff is a Senior Editor & China Correspondent for The Greanville Post, where he keeps a column, Dispatch from Beijing and is a Global Opinion Leader at 21st Century. He also writes a column for The Saker, called the Moscow-Beijing Express. Jeff writes, interviews and podcasts on his own program, China Rising Radio Sinoland, which is also available on YouTubeSoundCloudStitcher RadioiTunes, Ivoox and RUvid. Guests have included Ramsey ClarkJames BradleyMoti NissaniGodfree RobertsHiroyuki HamadaThe Saker, and many others.

Jeff can be reached at China Risingjeff@brownlanglois.comFacebookTwitter, Wechat (Jeff_Brown-44_Days) and Whatsapp: +86-13823544196.

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Creative Commons: This article by Jeff J. Brown is available for re-publication free of charge under Creative Commons. It may be translated into any language and republished anywhere in the world. Editing is permitted of the article(s). You may edit my article(s) and bio to correct spelling, grammar, word usage and any misstatement of facts.

You may change any wording that may be culturally offensive or inappropriate to the reading audience. You may change the title of my article(s) and you may edit them to fit the desired space and word length preferred by your publication.

If you edit and publish my article(s) the only request is that the intended meaning in my article(s) not be changed or taken out of context. You may use the suggested graphics, which to the best of my knowledge are available free under Creative Commons, but I cannot guarantee that they may be used without the permission of their creator and/or owner. You may select your own choice of graphics, pictures and /and or videos (or none) that complement the intended meaning of my article. Please share and distribute this article widely. My contact email is jeff@brownlanglois.com.

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Sanders speaks at US mosque in the wake of deadly terrorist attack in New Zealand

Sat Mar 23, 2019
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 23, 2019.
US Senator Bernie Sanders speaks at the Islamic Center of Southern California in Los Angeles on March 23, 2019.

US Senator Bernie Sanders attends a mosque in the state of California in the wake of deadly attacks against two mosques in New Zealand by a white supremacist shooter.

“In this difficult moment, not only in American history where we see a rise in hate crimes, and not only in a world where we see a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, where demagogues are picking on minority communities all over this world, now is the time … for us to stand up to hatred of all kinds,” Sanders said during the event Saturday.

The 2020 presidential candidate visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, where religious leaders and people from other faiths had gathered to commemorate the 50 lives lost in the mass shooting earlier this month in Christchurch, New Zealand.

“To show the world that this nation in fact will be a leader in bringing our people together regardless of their religion, and to create an economy that works for all of us, an environment that works for all of us, and a world in which love will conquer hate,” said the Vermont senator.

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Bernie Sanders

@BernieSanders

In this difficult moment, where we see a rise in hate crimes and a growing tendency toward authoritarianism, now is the time for everybody to come together and to show the world that love will conquer hate.

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Fifty people died and dozens were injured in twin shootings on two mosques in Christchurch on March 15.

Described as a terrorist attack by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, it was the worst ever peacetime mass killing in the country.

The majority of victims were migrants or refugees from countries such as Pakistan, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Turkey, Somalia and Afghanistan. Muslims account for just over one percent of New Zealand’s population.

The attack revived calls for an end to Islamophobia in the administration of US President Donald Trump.

Trump has been urged to assure Muslims that they are protected and that he will not tolerate violence against their community.

The US president’s condemnation of the massacre was mild and did not involve the word “Muslims.”

Ever since he appeared in office, the New York billionaire has been running and anti-Muslim agenda, including the so-called Muslim ban.

The Price Of Bin Salman’s Head

Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

Image result for MBS,trump

October 25, 2018

by Ghassan Kadi for The Saker Blog

With the ever-changing and escalating aftermath of the Khashoggi disappearance episode, there remain many fixed marks that are interesting to identify.

But before we do, we must stop and briefly look at the official American, Turkish and Saudi stands on this issue.

The Americans are best seen to be playing yoyo with their Saudi “friends”. One moment they seem to be totally abandoning them and sending them spiraling down in a free-fall, and the next moment they lift them up, clutch them, and give them a sense of safety. Notwithstanding that on the 3rd of October, and just before the Khashoggi story hit the media frenzy, Trump reiterated that Saudi Arabia would not last two weeks without America’s support, and what followed was a series of fluctuations and backflips on the American side. At the time of promising severe measures against the Saudis, Trump said that this will not mean canceling the arms deal with Saudi Arabia. And when Pompeo visited Al Saud to talk to the royals, leaving the Kingdom of Sand with an understanding that his boss Trump articulated by hinting at vindicating the royals and putting the blame on some rogue elements, America turned again supporting Turkish investigations and awaiting their outcome, but just before Erdogan’s speech of the 23rd of October, Trump reiterated that he was prepared to accept the Saudi Government denial of involvement.

And speaking of Turkish investigations, the highly awaited Erdogan speech ended in a pop and a fizzle, and was nothing short of a domestic propaganda speech that had no conclusions and did not provide any evidence as to the details of Khashoggi’s disappearance and alleged murder. And “alleged” it remains until a body is found and identified by an independent reliable coroner.

The speech was not endorsed by America, and America was for a few hours or so once again looking sympathetic towards the Saudi royals, but less than 24 hours later, Trump was talking about the “worst cover-up in history”.

There is no need to flood this article with easy-to-find references to substantiate the above.

Back to Erdogan later.

These swings that are extremely bizarre and hypocritical even by American standards make one wonders what kind of relationship do Saudis and Americans have.

To understand the underlying nature of this relationship, having a look at the events of the last ten years or so are revealing enough without having to dig deeper into history.

To this effect, I am not talking about the strategic alliances, defense agreements, the importance of oil to both countries, the world and the Israeli role in all of this. I am not talking about the Saudi obsession with Iran either. What I am talking about is the personal human relationships between the Americans and Saudis as human beings and how they view each other as men; this is about the personal love-hate-respect-loath relationship between American policymakers and their Saudi counterparts.

This “relationship” is not a simple one. It is embroiled by deep cultural differences and belief systems. Having lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, I can understand the Saudi mindset more than many, but anyone who has had the same “privilege” that I had living there would concur, albeit not necessarily be prepared to sit down and write about it.

In case the reader is unfamiliar with the predominant Saudi mindset, speaking generally of course, allow me to pin point certain pertinent aspects of it:

1. Contrary to the word of the Holy Quran and which clearly states that God chose the Arabic language for the religion of Islam, Saudis believe otherwise. They believe that Islam was God’s gift to them.

2. Saudis also believe that God also gave Arabia another gift; petrol, and the biggest national reserve of them all … perhaps.

3. Al-Saud believe they have been afforded the God-given mandate to rule Arabia at the time when petrol became such an important commodity for the rest of the world.

4. Finally, the above “privileges” give Saudis, especially members of the Royal Family, an illusion of being above others. And this mindset views other nations from the perspective that Saudis are the rich masters of the world and that they have the power and ability to employ members of those other nations to “serve” them.

When I lived and worked in Saudi Arabia, Saudis did not work. They had jobs, but they never really worked. Apart from the security apparatus whose job is mainly to protect the status quo of the Royal Family, the only other real working job that Saudis had was taxi driving. But that was what poor and uneducated Bedouins did.

All other jobs from garbage collectors to doctors to dockyard engineers were contracted to expats from different regions of the world. Professional jobs that needed communication and fluency in the Arabic language were given to Lebanese, Syrians, Palestinians, Jordanians and Egyptians. Blue collar jobs were given to Yemenis and Arabs of the above nationalities without tertiary education. High ranking professional jobs that did not require fluency in Arabic were given to Americans and Europeans.

This mentality produced a generation or two or three of Saudis who are filthy rich, overweight, and engrossed with self-grandeur and superiority that was fed time and time again by their financial prowess.

But this is not restricted to Saudis only. Arabs of the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait all have that same superiority disease. Qatar that has a Qatari population of less than 200,000 has a population of over one and a half million expats to “serve them”. This is exactly how they see it; themselves being masters, and expats beings serving serfs.

In recent times, the Saudi and Gulf youth have increasingly been gaining tertiary education qualifications, receiving generous government scholarships and immediate employment following graduation. The Saudi Government protects its people by imposing quota rules on the percentage of Saudi employees in companies as well as the public sector of course. However, this fact has not been reflected in the work load they perform. These educated Saudis sit at the head of governmental positions and companies in tokenistic managerial supervisory roles over an entire staff of foreign professionals. They often try to assert their positions and feed their egos by yelling and barking irrelevant, and often laughable orders, at their employees and junior staff. And even if they are not in managerial roles, they will still be around the foreign professionals, leaving all the work for them to do and doing nothing themselves.

Saudi professionals I “worked with” were living examples for me to learn this mindset. They did not lift a finger, but when a report was submitted by either myself or other expats around me, a Saudi name had to appear as its senior author, and he received all the accolade.

Saudis genuinely believe that they can buy anything and anyone with money, including buying the stature of being a leading nation.

And if, hypothetically-speaking, the Saudis were to contract a Western company to build them a space ship and send a man to Mars, they will regard this as a Saudi achievement. Surprised? Well, just have a look at Dubai’s “achievement” in building Burj Khalifa, the tallest building on earth.

Once again, that Saudi mentality is not any better or worse than the general oil-rich Arabian one. They are all almost identical.

At a deep and subtle level however, the Saudis (and Gulfies in general) know well that in the eyes of the Empire and its cohorts, they are perceived as a bunch of “uncivilized camel riders” who happen to be horribly rich by sheer luck. They know that they are not really regarded as true allies of the West, but as its milking cow; and some Saudis and Gulfies are trying to change this image.

None tried harder than Prince Bandar Bin Sultan.

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Prince Bandar Bin Sultan was Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005. He became the Saudi royal who best understood the Western mind and how the West regarded the Arab World, and especially Saudi Arabia. He had his own evil agenda he wanted to use to catapult himself into ascending to the throne as the first grandson of founding King Abdul-Aziz.

He was a close personal friend of the Bushes and many others in the previous and successive American administrations. And, if America ever had a Saudi Prince that American lawmakers could speak to and reciprocate understanding with, it was Bandar Bin Sultan.

He was banking on the fact that his father, Sultan, had been in line for the throne for decades and was Crown Prince ever since King Abdullah took the throne in 2005. But to Bandar’s disappointment, his father died in 2011, before King Abdullah who died in 2015.

As Bandar Bin Sultan was grooming himself to become king after his father, his knowledge of the Western mind and closeness to many key people in the United States led him to realize that he had to present himself as a competent and reliable partner in order to be respected.

Bandar wanted to demonstrate his personal character worth to his American allies by plotting the “War on Syria”. That war was his pet project and his license to achieve equality with his American friends. But Bandar fell on his sword when Syrian resistance proved to be much stronger than his ambitions, and not long after his failed desperate attempt to persuade America to attack Syria after he blamed the Syrian Army for a chemical attack that he staged in East Ghouta in September 2013, Bandar disappeared, vanishing into oblivion.

With the rapid and unprecedented changes in the line of Saudi throne succession that followed Prince Sultan’s death, and which eventually presented Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS) as the new Saudi strong-man Crown Prince, the young prince had big shoes to fill. Haunted by the image, ambition and failures of Bandar, MBS had a bigger “obligation” to prove his worth to his American “allies”.

The war on Yemen was MBS’s own “love-child”. He wanted to kill two birds with one stone; overcoming the Houthis, and proving to America that he is reliable in curbing Iran’s regional influence. He was hoping he could prove that his army was able to fight and win a war against Iran itself. He thus gave his war a name akin to American military operations; “Operation Decisive Storm”. Sounds a bit like “Operation Desert Storm”, does it not? In doing this, he wanted to put himself on par with great military leaders and score a quick and decisive victory in Yemen. Three years later, he cannot even hold his own borders.

In more ways than one, in as much as the Saudis and Gulfies have the afore-mentioned superiority complex, ironically they also possess a huge inferiority complex. They try to prove their own worth by bragging their “friendship” with America, and when President Trump made his first formal visit as President to Saudi Arabia, he was greeted like no other visiting foreign dignitary anywhere in the past. Only Elizabeth Taylor could claim such a reception as Hollywood’s version of Cleopatra.

Trump’s visit was Saudi Arabia’s greatest moment of “pride”.

But even on much smaller matters, Saudis and Gulfies brag their Western employees and they have a special liking for white blue-eyed Westerners. With thousands of Americans and Westerners working in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, it would be rare, if not impossible, to find a black American/Westerner; especially if the post involves being in the public view. And this is because, if you are a Saudi employer and you need a Westerner to fill the position of a public relations officer, you would want a white, blue-eyed person on that desk and not a black person. After all, a black Westerner could be mistaken for a Sudanese, a Somalese or a member of any other “inferior” African nation; as perceived in the eyes of the Saudis/Gulfies.

Back to the Khashoggi debacle and the role of Erdogan. As mentioned above, in his Tuesday the 23rd of October speech, Erdogan did not supply the goods, and it was time for America to pull the rug from underneath his feet, reclaim control of the narrative, and draw the Saudi yoyo back up again to give the Saudis a bit of a breather; until further notice. America can neither afford to keep the fate of the Khashoggi story in Erdogan’s hands any more than it can afford to lose the Saudi milking cow. But the human relationships between Americans and Saudis are now perhaps at their worst, and mostly for the Saudis. The Saudis have again failed the validity and fortitude test and they know they have taken a back step that needs many years, perhaps decades to recover from. In the eyes of the Americans, their credibility as partners and viability as capable men has suffered a big time blow.

The biggest twist perhaps in the Khashoggi debacle is that the Saudis have always felt that they were entitled to the same level of impunity the West affords to itself. After all, this was how Al-Saud got away with persecuting dissent, imposing undemocratic laws, and exporting Wahhabi ideology and the terror acts that come with it. Needless to mention the biggest human tragedy of them all; inflicting war crimes in Yemen, killing tens of thousands and inflicting starvation and disease upon millions others.

But when America lifted the blanket of impunity on the Saudis over the Khashoggi story leaving them out on their own to face the consequences of their crimes for a change, the Saudis indeed did not survive for more than two weeks.

Just imagine how would the world popular opinion could be manipulated if leading Western media outlets suddenly “decide” to start reporting the Yemeni tragedy and the role of Saudi Arabia in creating it, and specifically the role of MBS in creating this tragedy. Will MBS in this instance become the West’s new Saddam?

MBS has been named, his Foreign Minister desperately tried to isolate him from the Khashoggi story, but it is up to America and its “fake news” media to decide whether or not MBS is implicated, and the more they implicate him, the deeper America can dig into his pocket. And as this article was getting ready to be submitted for publishing, MBS himself broke his silence proclaiming that the murder of Khashoggi was a heinous crime and that those responsible will be punished.

Either way, when the Saudis return to the negotiating table with their American “partners”, MBS will not only be facing a bill for American protection of Saudi Arabia per se, but also a bill for protecting his own personal aspirations to become king as well as protecting his own head. He must prepare himself to expect a hefty price of his own head. What will that price be is yet to be seen.

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