A History Lesson
Now and then I get some inspiration from looking at our present global and national economic problems in terms of earlier events in human history. Today I started a thought train that may or may not bear fruit, but I think it is worth examining. I hope I donít lose your interest early on by what I am about to cover, for I believe there is some timeless truth in my story that we all need to consider.
We have been so programmed as to discard, quickly, even the mere mention of certain world events that appear to be against our best interests, at least as presented to us. Yet, in the cold light of dawn, we can learn from others, and quite frankly it isnít the form of what others have done as much as the result Ö and unfortunately, the harm that was done as a consequence of achieving a very long term goal. Innocent people do get hurt. Well meaning people in power can get hurt. The philosophy of the ends justifying the means immediately comes to light Ö and it is hard to accept. Any time we destroy lives for any reason, anywhere, is repugnant to any humanitarian.
Well, here I go, and for once I find myself asking you not to summarily dismiss my unproven propositions, until you take the time to really think about them. Then do, as you will. My generation was made aware of a large event in China in the 1960ís and 1970ís that took some years to come to fruition. It was the Cultural Revolution set in force by none other than Chairman Mao. All we heard about was the negatives, and that was to be expected, for they were our enemies and they were communists Ö what more did we need to know to give them the fickle finger of fate?
What we did not hear about and what has evolved in China since that long ordeal is the change of value system of the Chinese people and their deeply held beliefs that have, perhaps to our dismay, resulted in a very dynamic rebirth of China. And it is not about communism. It is about eliminating impurities in the goals of the most powerful people, economically and governmentally. It is about implanting faith in the common people that has real value, something you can take to the bank, as opposed to bullshit. It was about warlord and tribal destruction for the common good. But it was/is also about obedience on behalf of higher societal goals.
Am I nuts? Why donít we take some time to look at the results Ö and what is, for me, a validation of the necessity to discard that part of history that reflects the weaknesses of humanity instead of our true strengths.
Now you are starting to know where I am going in this article. Am I proposing communism? Certainly not! But what I am proposing is cleaning house, morally, which is exactly what Chairman Mao did with the Cultural Revolution, to the ultimate success of China. And more to the point, to the obvious shining of the big light on the moral decay of American leadership in government, Wall St. and certain businesses. They have to be purged. And we have to be obedient and willing to promote fair, realistic and honest goals as we slowly extricate ourselves from the mess we have now become.
I believe most of us have fixed in our minds that China was backward in all respects prior to our corporations investing and helping to create an economic powerhouse. It is true that the standard of living in China thirty years ago wasnít anything to crow about. I put them down in my book for lack of progress due to communism. It is also true that the opportunity to make a ton of money due to low labor rates is what actually drove our corporations to promote free trade agreements and to offshore essential USA jobs. China would not have succeeded without our investment and with Chairman Maoís legacy. But what we have not looked at is how the Chinese people feel about their evolution, both prior to and since 1980. What is it that caused the Chinese to pull together instead of remaining competing geographic and power factions?
By nothing more than coincidence my wife and her boss traveled in India, China and Singapore about six years ago to seek contracts that made business sense so that their employer could offshore a significant number of jobs. What they found on the job front was pretty much expected Ö yes, qualified people were in abundance in China, so that part of their visit isn't the action topic here. What was telling for us was the history and culture lessons of none other than their taxi driver, who they hired for full days for a number of days. He took them all over to see old China; new China and he explained what happened in China because of Chairman Mao that today has made that country so dynamic.
Could China have advanced anywhere near their present state without our corporations investing and building production facilities of all types, and essentially giving our technology away? No, they couldnít. It took at least two powerful forces to underpin the rapid economic advance of China. The second one was the belief in the common people and the educated people that life since Chairman Mao was the complete rebirth of China. Work together towards a common goal, the success of the society.
The intensity of the driverís remarks was notable. It seems that the Chinese people now believe that time began with the changes made by Chairman Mao. In other words they think of China before Chairman Mao as some distant and irrelevant collection of bad dynasties that kept China weak and were poison to the common people. Thus, a Cultural Revolution was exactly what the words said. A new China emerged that is part of the China we see today.
Give the people faith in fairness, put investment in place, and watch them win the race (It is what happened in the USA in the nineteenth century). And that is what they have done. Communism? In name only relative to economics, for they are truly capitalists now, but with a massive commitment to the common people.
Herein lie perhaps our two largest problems, for unlike the Chinese, our capitalists give not a damn about the common people here. Our federal government is one continuous case of schizophrenia between socialist programs for non-performers and legislation to favor the rich, and turning their backs on the formerly productive common people in terms of first maintaining and then creating opportunity within this country. We have a government that utterly lacks morality relative to the willing and well motivated common citizens. And that, regardless of what our distorted history books might tell us, is exactly the set of conditions that supported Chairman Maoís rise to power originally.
I find it more than interesting that we find ourselves in such a ridiculous place, for what we evolved to become is the old China. Isnít that ironic? Secondly, anyone who thinks communism is the answer is misguided. The answer is a committed leadership to make the USA successful for all of the citizenry that is willing to be productive, and destructive towards any part of society that does not lead to success. Chairman Mao was entirely cruel in eliminating all sources of disagreement, from the powerful down to the weak. It is unfortunate but likely what we have to do too.
Do we have to find a charismatic leader with very high intelligence and moral destiny as his/her driver? Iím starting to think that our breakdown of our society will lead to some form of revolution, but I have no idea if we even have anyone with the right qualifications to lead to our success and willingly destroy within anything that does not willingly contribute to that success.
These musings are interesting to me, for I have to test all of my prior beliefs and assumptions and presumed learning to see if they remain valid with this additional data. For example, I am a committed believer in the primacy of the individual over the group. It is a matter of intelligence and contribution and privilege, as well as morality. That doesnít fit too well with anything in communism, and Tienamen Square was not good moment in Chinaís more recent past, for it squealed of the primacy only of government and unwillingness to allow dissention at any level.
So what can I conclude within only the considerations provided in this article? Obviously I have completely ignored the negative results of the industrialization of China. They have major pollution and resulting health problems. Periodically they send products to us that only heartless bastards would manufacture. They certainly cannot be considered to be the model of how to advance a civilization if we look at the negatives. Conversely, they need time to grow up to match their expanding economy with environmental considerations. Product safety and quality standards need to go through evolution.
If you focus on what Chairman Mao overcame in China to create a sound basis for advancement, and most importantly how he is revered for giving the common people real reason to believe and to follow, you understand what we need here, and it isnít communism. Yet we have corporate and Wall St. warlords, donít we? We have weak and ineffective government shoved around by those warlords, and our government is not performing the task of developing and maintaining a strong America, nor are the warlords.
I want to see a rebirth of America, not a slow strangling of whatever good is left from our more enlightened past. Do you?