Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Big History View Of China, How It Relates To Hong Kong

August 18, 2019

How did China get united, 22 centuries ago? Under the rule of law. The state of Qin grew, over the centuries, from relentless application of the law, just like the other greatest civilization, Rome. This mood, of the rule of law being paramount, is why the generals of the First Emperor were able to conquer China… Very similarly to what the Roman Republic did, at exactly the same time, and for the exact same reasons: Rome won, and Qin won, because people accept to be ruled by law, if it is fair and clairvoyant. The Mission Civilisatrice is no lure: it wins wars. Superior war fighting capability comes from superior philosophy. Inferior philosophy brings extinction. 

In the end, the First Emperor slipped, and led China astray, for millennia to come, when he ordered the books of 100 philosophy schools destroyed. Right, records, science, medicine were preserved… So the disaster was not as great in China as the Christian generated destruction of the Greco-Roman heritage in the West. (Yet, in the West, the Franks, a minority, took over, and, as a minority, they had to be smarter, and thus domesticated Christianism, rendering it innocuous… for the next five centuries… before it rose its ugly snout again…)

However, that Qin instigated wanton destruction of higher thinking, and the respect thereof,  set-up in China a mood of embracing a lack of wisdom and tolerance for exotic thinking, which, in the end, had ethical consequences (and from there, social, economic, and ultimately, military). That mood of irreverence for higher thinking out of the box, prevented China to learn to treat individuals as well as they were in the West.

In Francia, in 655 CE, the government of the Imperium Francorum led by queen Bathilde, a former English slave, outlawed slave trading; this was imposed all around Europe. For example in 1066 CE, when the Franks conquered England… and freed the slaves, 20% of the population. As Aristotle pointed out, if one had no slaves, one would need machines. The Franks developed those machines. European visitors to China. around or before Marco Polo, were struck by the fact that cutting trees in China involved hundreds of people carrying those trees around… when similar tasks were accomplished by a few in Europe, thanks to various tech tricks. 

What Xi wants to be, when he grows up? Hopefully, the Present Masters of China Will Learn That This Is All Over Now: Xi Can’t be Qin Shi Huang!

(Huang, emperor, maybe, Shi, first, certainly not…)

Treating individuals better in the West, as was imposed under the Merovingians and Carolingians, brought up a technological, and even bioengineering explosion: human muscle and multitude had to be replaced by mechanical advantage or specially bred animals (for example hydraulic hammer to forge huge iron beams, hence the cathedrals… and, a bit later, field artillery). [1]

An indirect result of this tech explosion was Western military superiority, which was so great, even the Mongols left Western Europe alone (after conferring among each other about why their ancestors the Huns had been defeated in France, eight centuries prior). Thus Western Europe was unconquered, for two millennia, insuring independent ferocity of thinking and self-worth, spurring inquiry of the indomitable human spirit, with more freedom than occupied China.   

Indeed, in contrast, in the last millennium, China spent most of its time ruled by foreigners (Jurchen, Mongols, Manchus). Mongol generals even proposed to annihilate China, demographically (holocaust) and even ecologically (turning northern China into a steppe) The rule of law, intellect and science suffered in China, from this foreign occupation.

In the Twentieth Century, China reacted, mostly by adopting Western ideologies: rule of law, then Marxism, then the sort of mercantilist, tech led development leading Western powers, used in the Nineteenth Century; powers such as the USA, Germany, UK, France… even Japan (a new honorary Western power!)

So far, so good. 

However to lead, one needs to create ideas, not just mass produce goods. Western European supremacy was born out of human rights (when the Franks put back monotheism in its place, by replacing Christianism by tolerance and pushing back Islamism, after outlawing slavery). If China doesn’t learn to drive the rule of law from human right, it will just become one more dangerous super power, like Prussia, and the Second, and Third Reich of Germany.

Democracy and Human Rights are not just fair. Humanity in full, is made for fairness, and blossom fully that way. Democracy and human rights are how one maximizes mental creativity… And thus military superiority. Hence, should the Chinese dictatorship decide to crush democracy, once again, it is Chinese security that it is also crushing, long term.

Hong Kong is an irreplaceable gift to China, an antidote to Chinese intellectual and governmental fascism: it forces China to learn to become more tolerant to thinking outside of the particular box which pleases at this moment the present emperor (right now, Mr. Xi). [2]

Destroying that gift would instill an even more ignorant mood.

But ignorant moods are exactly what plutocracy loves.

Lack of construction for homes and dearth of living wages, have been a chronic disaster, throughout the West. It’s particularly bad in Hong Kong, but also in all top producing metropolises, such as Paris, San Francisco Bay Area, Tokyo, etc. Not only are homes unaffordable for the jobs at hand, but the economy suffers from the unaffordability crisis.

Then We The People, observing the collusion between plutocrats and government, revolt… by asking for more (real, that is direct) democracy. And that goes through decreasing the power of tycoons, so precious to governments. Ironically enough, what is Xi, but a super-tycoon, a super-typhoon putting equality to waste?

OK, Xi was an abused child, an abused princeling, abused by the Cultural Revolution. Xi suffered a past of violence. But that’s a diagnostic, not an excuse.

Patrice Ayme

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[1] The cognitively challenged friend of monopolist plutocrat Bill Gates, Jared Diamond (author of Guns, Germs, and Steel; Collapse) didn’t understand any of this, that the husbandry of Europe over nature was not the product of chance, but human will, deployed over millennia (although in his latest book, Diamond shows flickers of progressing wisdom, as he ponders successful cases of government intervention… more or less mangled by his data management…) All the riches of Western Europe were greatly the fruit of will, indeed. The same holds for China (or Kerala)… But, as I point out above, and why, to a smaller extent. And the Beijing hysteria about Hong Kong is a case in point, that Chinese governmentalism, however glorious, fundamental and effective, can’t be the whole story:

https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2013/08/13/synthesis-found-governmentalism/

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[2] France is another example where centralism, and the accompanying governmental, social and intellectual fascism has run havoc. Louis XIV, a bloody stupid monster, threw 10% of the French population out, so that it could better terrorize the rest, and please his fascist god. That was aggravated by his grandson, Louis XV, and Napoleon…

Zhōngguó, Central State, is the most common Mandarin name for China in modern times. The first appearance of 中國 on an artifact was in the Western Zhou on a ritual vessel. It is formed by combining the characters zhōng () meaning “central” or “middle”, and guó (/), representing “state” or “states”; in contemporary usage, “nation”. Prior to the Qin unification of China “Zhongguo” referred to the “Central States“; the connotation was the primacy of a culturally distinct core area, centered on the Yellow River valley, as distinguished from the tribal periphery. Hence the common mistranslation as “Middle Kingdom”.

French, Mandarin, Indo-European Languages; Why Multilingualism Brings Higher Wisdom

June 14, 2019

Multilingualism is a basic human capability, long honed by biological evolution. It may be necessary to achieve the highest mental capabilities, as multilingual speakers learn to adjudicate between modes of expression, the most advanced form of thinking.

So which languages? Excellent article by my frenemy Mehdi Lazar, summarizing well most of the situation with French:”The New Dynamic of French In The World.”. To point out that French and Mandarin are the most important languages (with English, de facto lingua franca) is crucial. Indeed, French is basically the core language of Europe: it is grammatically impoverished Latin bastardized with German prepositions, where many words have been phonetically and alphabetically simplified from the Latin originals. English was an afterthought. French is a fast evolving language (hopefully to go with fast minds).

This understates reality: for example North Africa spoke Latin for 900 years before the Arab invasion. Modern Latin, that is French, is widely understood, practiced and spoken in the Maghreb (in spite of efforts by local dictators of Islamist inspiration to kill it). Africa, light green, has to speak Latin derived languages (including English), because there are way too many native languages (or slave derived languages like Swahili)

Compare say the French “opital” from the original Latin “hospitalis”… English, which is actually more conservative than French, is in between with “HoSpital”: the H and S are still pronounced in English, not in French. The french found that the aspired H in the beginning, the S in the middle, and the “IS” at the end, were all useless, so they dropped them!

English, although technically classified as a “Germanic” language is mostly poorly pronounced French, and the more so, the more sophisticated the vocabulary is (85% + of words in common). Naturally, per its central position in Western Europe, French is then a happy medium between English and the other “romance” languages.

Now the baby elephant in the porcelain shop is that unruly child of Great Britain and France, the USA. Ironically enough, the dreaded “Anglo-Saxons” contribute to French by often going back to the Latin, that is, the original French, and creating words that way.

Here is an example: impact. The word appeared in English circa 1600, for “press closely into something,” from Latin impactus, past participle of impingere “to push into, drive into, strike against”. The word appears in French science and technological vocabulary only in 1824. But not just that, it’s an extremely important word, as it expresses the transmission of force (= how things act upon each other). Thus, in US English it has come to be used, since the 1990s as a… verb. As in: this essay impacts linguistics hard.

Thus it’s only a matter of time before the French verb “impacter” appears… and it would be a very useful verb… created as words should be created in French, going to the original Latin.

Another view: this time more of Africa shows up. Erroneously, but it’s a traditional error, English is not viewed as a Greco-Roman language (although it is fundamentally Greco-Roman, with more than 85% sophisticated words basically French…

Multilingualism is natural, humanity evolved as multilingual: our brains are made to learn several languages, and it enables us to better learn to adjudicate thoughts and forms of expression.

How so? Transportation was extremely difficult in the world of the past, except in those few places with steppe (like the Eurasian steppe, which goes from Hungary to Korea, that enormous freeway in the middle of Eurasia). Thus people evolved many languages even over very short distances. An example is Senegal: in this small countries, seven languages evolved, and some are tonal (Serer) and others not (Wolof). This is typical of the past, so human beings had to be multilingual.

However, there are only that many languages one can learn: French and Mandarin are the great linguistic anchors of the world, a continent apart.

But not just this: except for deplorable episodes such as the ephemeral collapses of the Greco-Roman and Chinese states under the invasions of various savages, Western Europe and China have long been at the forefront of civilization, spearheading progress. Learning basic Chinese arithmetic is fascinating: the Chinese found more rational ways to do it.

The state of Qin and the contemporaneous Roman Republic were remarkably based on the same principles of law, reason and technological progress… and that’s why they founded great empires (alive and well to this day, as descendant regimes). Actually the present inchoate world government embodied by the United Nations rests on Roman Republican legal principles, or even the letter of the Roman law (that’s similar to the Qin obsession with law… which was even applied to one of its most ardent proponent, a famous Qin PM who finished quartered by horses, as the law prescribed for the sort of corruption he had unfortunately engaged in…)

China understood the importance of intellectualism (the “Mandarin” examination system) and science… And that is why China was so successful, and the anchor civilization of East Asia (Japan and Vietnam used to employ Chinese character… Although the French switched Vietnam, and japan evolved a bit on its own…) Thus, from all this will to advanced thinking, China invented many technologies the world uses now. Even in the Nineteenth Century, Chinese drilling for natural gas, one kilometer down, or more, was the world’s most advanced.

The Frankish empire, both Merovingian and Carolingian, soon renamed itself “Renovatio Imperium Romanum”. Indeed, it “renovated” Rome on way better principles: no more terrorizing, stupidifying, sordid Christian fanaticism… and, soon enough, no more slavery: Saint Queen Bathilde outlawed the slave trade in 655 CE… Throughout much of Western Europe. So when the Franks invaded England in 1066, they freed the 20% of slaves there. These philosophical changes had huge economic, social and military impacts… 

Thus learning French and Mandarin is not just about speaking what many speak, and will speak. It’s about learning what made civilization what it has become… including learning the grave errors which made it so much better.

The “mission civilisatrice” is not over, it’s just starting. It’s not just a matter of feeling, and being, superior, it’s a matter of surviving. And not just for this species, but for the entire biosphere. You all will learn to think better, or you will learn to die, sordid. Go multilingual!

Patrice Ayme