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What is the East suggesting to the world at the new stage of globalization?

Tuesday, 11 February 2014 18:26 | Hits: 56657 |

When new problems arise in one particular country or a regional civilization, people escape the region, hoping to find peace of mind and wealth abroad. Many social groups in the Western society have adopted Eastern philosophic systems at the end of last century. Shops with ritualistic merchandise had started springing up in European capitals and around the world, like mushrooms overnight. Dalai Lama had been published in many languages and had become well known everywhere. The West would have never achieved the same quality of life, as it has now, without economic cooperation with China. The East had opened up to the general public of the West. While the East had been learning the West through technologies and business cooperation, the Western individual had been more interested in the Eastern philosophical traditions in hopes of solving problems related to one's mental state. At first sight, it seemed that the Eastern approach to the world and humanity has all of the advantages.

Culture of self-control

The culture of controlling one’s own emotions, characteristic to Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, is unknown to the West. In the XX century, the century of social shocks, or in the XXI century, the century of constant everyday stress, such culture of emotion control is vital.

Detachment from material wealth

Detachment from material wealth, typical to ancient Chinese traditions, is a worthy antidote for the consumption race, which is the bane of Western culture.

A Holistic approach to world processes

A Holistic approach to world processes could open the eyes of any Western individuals to the multitude of interrelations, completely new to them. According to sociological research, Chinese are the most holistic (perceive problems as whole) and think the most collectively, in comparison to other nations; Americans are, on the contrary, the most analytical (inclined to break down problems and analyse them) and are also the most individualistic. Direct psychological contrast between East and West is apparent. Consider a painting of the great Chinese artist Zhu Da.

It can be agreed, that the man has a secondary role in this landscape. He is part of the landscape. He is not fighting nature, not trying to overpower it. Here is another painting by the same artist.

Of course, these paintings are landscapes and not portraits. But they demonstrate the interrelations of the world which the Eastern culture puts in the foreground. This difference of Eastern perception from Western perception could also be illustrated with the following thought experiment:

With which object on this picture would you associate a cow: with chicken or with grass? People of the Western culture are more analytical and, therefore, see a more direct connection between the cow and the chicken (both are parts of the animal kingdom). People of the Eastern culture are more inclined to see objects more holistically and, therefore, associate the cow with the grass, considering relations between an object and its environment more important.

Importance of intuition

The Eastern culture considers intuition more important than thorough analysis. Sociologists have noted, that while solving complex problems, the role of intuition steadily rises.

Strategic planning for future ages

The Western slogan "get everything out of life — here and now", popular in the mass culture, ascends to the thesis of Madame de Pompadour: "Besides, after us, the Deluge”. On the contrary, goal-setting overseeing the lifetime of many future generations dominates in the East. For example, a Taoist proverb about a ninety-year-old man, who decided to flatten a mountain, which he was grown tired of bypassing all the time. When others laughed at him:

“What a fool! You, a senile old man cannot reduce the mountain by the width of a hair. How could you manage with such mass of land and stone?”

Тhe person from the North Mountain replied:

“What of it, if I won’t succeed? That is no reason to grieve. I will die, but my sons will remain. Then grandsons. After grandsons come their sons and once again their grandsons. There will be no end to sons and grandsons, but mountains do not grow! [1]”

Similar proverbs can, of course, be found in Western culture, but in actual political practices, the West more often follows the views of Madame de Pompadour.

CHINESE VARIANT OF GLOBALIZATION

Let’s not give any more credit to the Eastern civilization, than it deserves. The East knows its own value, and because of this it does not want to change its perception of the world to the Western one. The East is not in a hurry to globalize by Western rules. Two Eastern countries, Japan and China, have declared their own outlooks on principles of globalization.

The historic dream of the Western civilization is the triumph of human values in their Western understanding, while the dream of the Chinese civilization is the “great unity” Da Don. In China’s opinion, in our times the world is in need of Chinese values, because exactly in them the human values, in China’s own opinion, are expressed most fully.

We have sufficiently discussed the peculiarities of world perception and values. Let’s consider their perspectives. Firstly, the existence of the special world perception and China’s unwillingness to blindly change their values for the Western ones, have lead to the “yellow threat paradox”. The paradox is that the Chinese, while considering themselves a peaceful nation, are puzzled why the West constantly fears invasion or any kind of aggression from them. The West can see three general ways of interacting with China [2]:

  • First way: China needs more core European values. Therefore, the world community should worry about democracy, tolerance and other attributes of “civilization” in the the People's Republic of China.
  • Second way: China has its own value system, but this system cannot be applied humanity-wide. Moreover, China denies existence of universal values, consequently, China is an enemy to humanity-wide morality.
  • Third way: China has a certain views on human values, which are on par with the Western views and are realized in the “Chinese model”. This model is a threat to the dominance of European ideals, and China is actively promoting this model. Therefore, Europeans are worried about their lifestyle, if the Chinese vision of human values will spread to the rest of the world.

China itself regards “peace everywhere under heaven” as the main universal value, which should be accepted throughout the world. Unfortunately, if this endeavour bases only on the philosophical traditions dominant in the East so far, then the Eastern “peace everywhere under heaven” is only possible in the form of a strict stratified slave system, under the banners of pseudo-socialism of a Marxist sort. Possibly this statement could be considered too severe by some, however, the East does have a certain special worldview.

Foundations of the Eastern worldview have formed in social systems, the main trait of which is hermetism of knowledge. From Indian castes to Chinese clans, the whole Eastern society was rigidly stratified into social groups, the informational provisioning of which was dosed and limited. First of all this applies to governmental (managerial) information. For example, in China most common people only know a minimal amount of hieroglyphs needed for day-to-day activities. Chinese commoners cannot effectively discuss anything more complex than that, because they simply do not know what to call it. At the new stage of globalization, everyone faces the objective need to widen the group of people, who understand the rules of globalization, to the breadth of the entire global society. Therefore, the East needs to abandon the traditions of information segmentation, based on the principle: “this caste does not need to know this, but the other one does”. Recently, the former Russian minister of the economy, German Gref, blurted out a very interesting point of view, outrightly saying, that manipulation of a population is necessary by concealing governmentally (managerially) significant information from it [3]. He suggested that this practice be based on Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism, among other sources. In fact, the treatise by Tao Te Ching contains the following recommendation:

…Thus the governance [of a country] of the stage: empties their [servants] hearts, fills their bellies… Let the people have no cunning and no greed. So those who scheme will not dare to meddle. [4]

The second and the fundamental problem of the East is atheism. A question of the order of intellect in the Universe unavoidably presents itself before every person and society. After understanding that levels of intellect in the world are hierarchically ordered, a person must ask himself about the Hierarchically Highest Level of intellect, and therefore level of governance . From ancient times, this highest level of governance had been called “God”. Next, the person asks, whether this highest level of governance is indifferent towards what is happening on Earth, or He has some purpose for Humanity. If this question remains without a definite answer, then all kinds of manipulations are possible.

The East avoids the question of relations between man and God, suggesting to focus on psychepractics and rituals. However, supra-social ethics do exist and so does a multivariate development plan of the World - the purpose, which includes the best ways of development for Humanity. Of course, everyone is free to understand the purpose differently, feeling it through their own conscience. But nonetheless, the purpose is objective and cannot be ignored. Sadly, the Eastern schools of philosophy do not give their societies a conceptual basis for understanding these supra-social ethical relationships. Along with that, these schools do not define such words as “conscience” and “God”.

Diversion of XX century

Also, it is necessary to mention the ideological diversion, which the People’s Republic of China (PRC) had allowed into their domestic policy in the XX century -- Marxism. The Marxist project is not adequate for building a harmonious society, because it does not to provide an adequate economic and philosophical conceptual basis. Marxism is a separate subject, but a summary is required here. The experience of USSR had revealed the falsehood of such categories in the Marxist economics as "surplus" and "necessary product", "surplus" and "necessary labor". It had also revealed the falsehood of the Marxist philosophy, which reduces all philosophical discourse to a worthless dispute on primacy of matter or consciousness, and considers the inter-class conflict as the main “driver” of history. The latter stems from the made up "unity and conflict of opposites". It would be sad to see the PRC fall into the trap of Marxism, and this can be avoided when the East will overcome the hermetism of knowledge and atheism, which will guarantee an overcoming of Marxism.

Special path of Japan

A pyramid is a logical image of a governmental system. It could also be named the symbol of the dominant conception. In ancient times, no alternatives of governmental organisation existed due to the fact, that such way of social organisation allows successful realization of civilizational tasks. Skills and professionalism were passed on from generation to generation in all social groups, and were perfected in the process, thus improving the quality of governance of the whole society. In the ancient systems of governance of India, Egypt and other societies, borders between social groups and castes were impenetrable. Japan also had its own caste system.

However, under the influence of the change of social behaviour logic (for details see the article “Anatomy of the dominant conception of Globalization” http://newyouthpolicy.org/en/articles-en/195-dominant-conception-of-globalization) societies have started to feel the need to modernize their social systems.

In Japan this was expressed most vividly during the Meiji revolution, although social trends towards it existed before.

The Meiji revolution

The governmental system had changed a lot in the age of Meiji reforms. Shogun (regent) system had been replaced by a government with the Emperor as chairman. The “unclean” (Chonin) caste (which is similar to the “little people” of India, who do not exist on paper, but count up to 300 million) had been abolished (the label, the not people). Interclass marriages had been allowed. Equality between artisans, merchants and workers had been declared. In relation to this, India is lagging behind, since interclass marriages are still considered unconventional there. However, such traditions of “marrying your own kind” are considered more normal in “elite” circles of most countries: these circles are somewhat inert due to higher dependency from an existing government system, inherited from ancestors. This is understandable.The East had started actively interacting with the West from the middle of 19th century. In China, the ending of the First Opium war, with England finishing a victor, was one of the main points in this process. The Meiji revolution in 1868 had opened Japan to the world.

Such changes to the governing hierarchy had caused unrest in some of the aristocracy and became the reason of a short, but cruel civil war, which finished with the victory of reformers. The common people always perceive social changes, that are objectively due, with ease and swiftness. And Japan is not an exception to this rule. People only need to be given an opportunity to realize their potential by aiding self-education.

“Education is the key to success in life, nobody can ignore it… In the future there would be no settlement with illiterate families, and no family with even one illiterate person” [5]

Even this one quote represents an understanding of the need to provide education for every single person in Japan. However, the realization of this idea encountered certain obstacles.

During the Meiji period Japan had been actively taking in everything Western. The technology, the behaviour, the clothing and, of course, the education. However, the Western format of school programmes had brought social protests. The Western education, which had pushed the traditionally important teachings of morality aside, was reformatted in 1879. The morality and ethics had come back as top priorities. Western teachers had been replaced with domestic ones. Many Western textbooks had been banned, as they were considered damaging for social development.

In the area of philosophy, preference had at first been given to views of the Western bourgeois liberalism and its cult of individualism, which is in many ways intrinsic to the Japanese, in a certain special form. Many had deemed Confucianism, Buddhism and Shintoism outdated. However, in the same 1868, the direction towards restoration of the ancient Japanese state had been taken. Shinto religion had been separated from Buddhism and had been made the main religion of Japan. Shintoism is characterised by deification of natural forces, or simply -- pantheism. On the upside, Shinto is based on the idea, that the world is a united natural environment, where nature, gods, people and spirits of the dead live together, and where finding harmony in this collective life is vital.

Japan had responded to challenges of the epoch quite promptly. Although, not without anecdotal episodes. On this 1870 painting, the fight between old and new habits can be seen. Printed books instead of handwritten ones, kettles instead of tubs, chairs instead of benches, and so on.

Although the revolution and the “opening up” of Japan had not happened without Western involvement, Japan had managed to use this window of opportunity in order to conserve its self-identity and try to take in the best achievements of the Western culture.

As a result, the “Japanese precision” and the philosophy of “thrifty production” had become the signature of Japan, and Japan’s modern youth is sometimes considered the “youth of the XXI century”. Starting from 1868, Japan had quickly applied the Western achievements on their own soil, without losing their identity, similar to what Russia had done during the rule of Peter the Great.

Goals of Japan in 21st century

The current state of the direction adopted some time ago is expressed in the strategic document published in 2000:

“Inner border: personal development and better governance in 21st century”

The document had been created by a specially created commission, which included scientists, politicians, businessmen, writers, cultural figures, army officers, astronauts and even geishas.

The main idea of the authors is that Japan cannot develop without opening up the cognitive-creative potential of its citizens; and the social organisation of Japan must facilitate this.

“We have to construct a society, which will not allow precedents, dogmas, property rights and other obstacles to stand in the way of advanced conceptions. A society, where people, who had failed, have a chance to begin anew.”

One of the main ideas of the document is that creation of a new social space requires:

  • Installation of the spirit of self-reliance,
  • and tolerance - “... the need to accept various individuals’ qualities and talents.. and to give an opportunity for every person to take their place in the society.”

“Construction of a new system of governance, which “empowers” individuals, and construction of a new social space require installation of the spirit of self-reliance and tolerance, which did not yet have an opportunity to express themselves strongly enough in the Japanese society. A society, which does not have a place for strong, but flexible individuals is fragile. Talent, determination, ethical norms, esthetic perception, wisdom of self-reliant people create national structure and pride. They are the future. This spirit of self-reliance allows individuals to realize their hidden potential. The society must be tolerant and perceptive, in order to accept various individuals’ qualities and talents, to allow individuals to develop them, and give an opportunity for every person to taken a place in the society.”

The document mentions, that globalization is often falsely mistaken with americanization, the acceptance of Western standards. Authors note, that the US itself has to stand up to the challenges of globalization processes. These challenges include spreading negative reactions and social unrest, caused by the increase of the income gap inside the country, as well as around the world, and by growth of anti-american attitudes.

The following is their view of Japan’s goals:

“Our country should play a more active part in the formation of global systems and standards, and in creation of rules.”

The Japanese frankly say that their project is long-term, which is noteworthy. In other words, they are saying that they are not bound by time:

“There is no need to rush to achieve everything in only one generation. On the contrary, everybody must share the ambition to stubbornly continue on as long as necessary - “to the generation of our children, the generation of their children and even further”. We should be ready to devote three generations to achieving our goals.

Three generations add up to 80 years. It does not matter, if not all of our ambitions will be realized. The importance is to set and follow great goals. If not all of the set goals turn out to be achievable, that is of no importance. What is important is to keep moving on the rightly chosen path, trying to simultaneously resolve current social issues. Such is the agenda of the new age and such are the ambitions of the nation, which we propose for the country and every Japanese person.”

The essence of the document is briefly expressed in the following:

The crisis of Japan’s social development, with perspectives of decline, is a direct consequence of Japan’s involvement in the globalization project based on the principles of the dominant project of civilizational construction. These principles are the foundations of cultures of the leading Western countries.

Three tasks are required to overcome the crisis:

1. 1. First of all, the task of upbringing and education of new generations in such way, that they will possess personal qualities, which most of the current population of Japan does not have.

“Education is the common effort of home, society and school. Recently, the educational functions of home and society have been noticeably destroyed.”

“The required type of individual is, first of all, such that creates easily and openly, disciplined, confident and self-reliant.”

2.As a consequence of completing the first task, a different culture of interaction between people, society and government institutes should emerge. This should qualitatively change the nature of social self-governance, increasing its efficiency and making it more adequate to the needs of modernity and future prospects.

“The new type of social space would be created by joint forces of individuals, who interact with each other and the society, irrespective of their background. While allowing existence of various “others”, this social space is attentive and supportive to them. At the same time, everybody has to stick to the consensus reached.”

3. As a consequence of completing the two tasks mentioned above, the process of globalization has to be governed by Japan. This realizes the principle “Make obey — while obeying” - a kind of “political judo”.

After World War II Japan had submitted to the Western lifestyle for the second time. This was motivated by the loser’s complex, meaning that this submission happened “uncritically”. Because of that, Japan is now facing with such Western problems, as the pointless consumption race, ecological problems (Fukushima is an example of this), spreading of various destructive sects, like “Aum Shinrikyo”. All this means, that the society lacks understanding of the purpose of life. Japan’s youth is an especially apparent example of this.

Japan’s modern youth

Japan’s youth really is one of the most advanced in the world. Many of them had never worn a kimono, or enjoyed the traditional Japanese music or theatre, or been to a stone garden, or seen the Kabuki theatre. Overall, the modern youth knows very little about the history and the traditional culture of its own country.

Youth in Japan develops in isolation, in some sort of capsule through the windows of which they watch the worldwide process of globalization, choosing and perceiving only what they like. They are simultaneously cosmopolitan and believe in the “special path” of Japan.

“It is indeed so, - says Shigeaki Saegusa, - but such dual state is normal for Japan, where the hidden fight of old and new does not stop even for a moment, and where old had never been completely defeated. This opens an opportunity for new trends to enter the country, without touching the foundations of its existence.”

Religiousness

Many public figures and philosophers said many times, that Japanese are the most irreligious nation on the planet. Is this bad?

“A country without God is a scary country”,

- thinks Shigeaki Saegusa.

In his opinion, absence of religiousness leads to the fact, that today the main ideology of Japan is the lack of any kind of ideology. In this case, the absence of ideology means not the rejection of political preferences, but weakness of the natural moral identity, loss of understanding of “the value of life”, blurring the grounding moral foundations.

According to Saegusa, by 20 years old a significant part of female students have already experienced several hundred sexual contacts, while not having any certain plans for the future.

Around 20% of Japanese youth do not even try to pursue a career and do not plan for the future, enjoying random jobs.

Stories of the system of lifelong employment and legends of the employee loyalty to the company are left in the past. The generation of fathers had created such level of wealth, that the children do not find working necessary.

Abundance of free time and universal use of mobile phones allow the youth to do what they want. As a result, the Japan’s youth have everything to become the most shocking and extreme in the world.

Look at these photos of Japanese pop artists. Only on one of them is female, the rest are male, if they can be so called.

EAST AS WHOLE

All in all, the Eastern globalization projects have an array of advantages, as well as disadvantages.

Eastern advantages::

  • The upbringing of an internal culture of self-control.
  • Indifference to the consumption race (although lately more and more young Chinese and Japanese indulge in the hedonistic culture: pleasure without measure).
  • Holistic perception of the world (it should be noted, that in order to obtain this, study of the traditional philosophic systems is necessary, but not everyone is able to).
  • The East relies on intuition first of all (although, the Japanese rely on themselves, on their intellect).
  • Strategic planning for long time periods (in India the caste system had not changed in thousands of years; China is also an example of this; Japan sticks to the direction chosen in the middle of XIX century, while relying on past achievements).

Also East has some disadvantages:

  • A certain individualism: reliance on oneself in Japan; in faith-teachings, the ideal is to save oneself - the wish to “break the Samsara”, the cycle of suffering, - to escape the reality into “nirvana”, leaving everything as it is in the society.
  • Formatting of people based on the “bonsai” principles. They show the approach of governance over the natural processes very well: like the trees are sculpted and changed with wire, people are sculpted with cultural environment.
  • Hermetism of knowledge, ascribed at the level of language. Knowledge of Chinese people could be classified by the number of hieroglyphs learned, Japanese had tried to solve this problem by introducing a simpler language. The hermetism had also caused the severe social stratification, where the majority, “the little people”, are not capable of understanding global problems and influencing them.
  • Atheism - the East is mainly dominated by versions of pantheism, deification of nature. In this way, questions of relations between people and higher intellects are raised, but do not lead on to questions of bringing people’s moral in accordance with God’s - to righteousness. Choose one of many gods, every one with own morals and character, and worship it. Consequently, those who control the “spectrum of characters” of these gods, which are suggested to the crowd, control the mass statistics of people’s behaviour, who imitate the gods, but cannot break away from this system. Also, while not having one monotheistic doctrine, the East is not as monolithic as the West. How well the Western culture’s representation of God correlates to the truth - is a separate question.

PERSPECTIVES OF CIVILIZATIONAL DIALOGUE

Discussions, like the one held on 22.11.2013 in Brussels (Who is winning at the new stage of globalization? http://newyouthpolicy.org/en/articles-en/192-world-conceptions-of-globalization-en), or the one held at the international forum in Beijing on 18.11.2013 [6], should be hosted in the future, inviting people interested in questions of globalization, regardless of their nationality or social status.

The decision on which conception of globalization is the most favorable must not be made unilaterally. But in order to actively participate in this process of comprehensive discussion, application of will towards mastering of fundamentally new governmentally-significant information, and learning to interact for the benefit of everyone, are necessary.

We think that only through close interaction with one another, every civilization could solve its own problems. Every one could give something to the others, and take something from them. But only with joint efforts conditions for such exchanges could be created.

An example of such an approach to collective, mutually supportive activity in the Eastern culture, particularly in the Japanese culture, is represented by the famous Stone Garden in Kyoto.

The Stone Garden is a small rectangular site (from east to west - 30m, from south to north - 10 m), filled with white gravel. On site, 15 black untreated stones are located, and are organized into 5 groups. Green moss, as a sort of framing, is planted around each group. The gravel is raked into thin grooves. The Garden is surrounded by a low pise fence from three sides.

A visitor of the Garden, watching this composition from any point, cannot see the 15th stone, covered by other stones. The full observation of the stones is only possible from above the Garden. Or - and this is the main quality of the Garden - all fifteen stones could be collectively seen by people on a terrace, located along the Garden, by exchanging their observations about stones’ locations. Then those, who do not see the 15th stone, could imagine it and mentally put it in the right place, and in this way, to help others “see” the stones unseen by them. This Garden is a beautiful example of how civilizational interaction should be built, where every civilization has its own peculiarity; how learning to see “the whole picture” should be conducted, based on one’s own “positions on the terrace” -- the worldview characteristic to people of every civilization.

This way, for example, the Western civilization could take the Eastern discipline and emotion control, the Russian could gather the high-tech culture from the West, and the Eastern could take the rich theological experience of the Russian civilization.


[1] — Book "Le Zi" http://www.classicly.com/read-lie-zi-online-free

[2] — 'China Model' breaking hegemony of Western universal values http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90883/8092980.html

[3] — Speech of the president, board chairman of Russian “Sberbank” German Gref at the St Petersburg international economic forum (Russian): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QQwCzw_UcM

[4] — Lao Tzu. Tao Te Ching http://www.taoism.net/ttc/complete.htm

[5] — Meiji Japan through Contemporary Sources. – Tokyo, 1980. - Vol. 3. – P. 5, 6. Citation source: http://www.lexed.ru/pravo/theory/ezegod/?09.html

[6] — Materials of the 2nd international Marxist forum “Socialism and the world today”, 16-17 November 2013, Beijing, People’s Republic of China (Russian, Chinese and English):http://fct-altai.ru/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Booklet_China.pdf

 

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