Monday, October 03, 2011

China, History and the United States

I haven't said anything prior to today on Barbara's recent posts on Tibet (latest here.)  Mostly I think it's because we mutually consider that the other has drank Kool-Aid.

I'm not going to convert her, and the information about Tibet that challenges the Tibet independence movement  narrative I've posted all over the place in the past.

I'd like to bring your attention to something tangentially related instead, which should put your mind in a new way about this whole China thing.

Over the weekend I saw Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen which is only the umpteenth film I've seen from China in which there is an over-riding narrative of exploitation of China by foreigners whose propaganda value is redeemed by its amazing cinematography, and, in this case, a nice homage to  Casablanca wherein The Internationale replaces La Marseillaise as the patriotic song played in the nightclub, which immediately appears completely incongruous to a Westerner (for reasons I won't mention here). 

Behind that cinematic stunt though, is something important and undeniable: China was being heavily exploited by the Western and Japanese powers during the 20s & 30s.  This particular movie takes places in the mid-1920s, the so-called "Warlord Era" of China.  To get an idea of how screwed up China had become, take a look at the Wikipedia article on it, and try summarizing the whole period in 2 paragraphs.  Then remember that the current ruling entities in China today, the Chinese Communist Party and the Republic of China, owe their very existence to support from the Soviet Union (the Western powers, including the United States, were pretty much content to let China become colonized). Needless to say both the ROC and the PRC consider Tibet part of China, which is not surprising since the relevant warlords took the same position.

I've said over and over that the issue of Tibet is for the Chinese and Tibetans to work out amongst themselves.  There's about the same order of magnitude of Tibetans in the world as there are speakers of Catalan - I won't post a link; you can find that out for yourself.  I'm sure the parties involved can work something out if they want to do so.
But now I wish to consider the United States instead of Tibet.

At this moment, after reading that article about the warlords, I'm struck by the parallels between what happened in China in the 20s and what is happening now here.  The Occupy Wall Street movement is only just now starting to pick up steam in response to the corporate warlordism that has infected the structure of the United States government.  In effect, corporate oligarchs control the government, rendering the social contract with the people null and void.  Corporate warlordism has rendered American narratives of "freedom" and "justice" and "liberty" are being shown to be as hollow as the Qing emperor's "mandate of heaven."  Partly this is a feature, not a bug of the American governmental structure (remember the whole edifice was put in place in the first place to ensure that the haves continued to have and get more of  what they had, even if  what the haves "had"  included slaves.   It's not for nothing that the recent movements in the Middle East are replacing their dictatorships with parliamentary styles of government as opposed to the American model, which has been pretty sad in most of the rest of the world where it's been tried (the Philippines and Argentina, in case you were wondering.)

The inevitable result of "smaller government is best" pushed to its reductio ad absurdum is warlordism.  You read it here first.

But it appears for the US that the chickens are coming home to roost now; the fat's in the fire.  We're in for some wild times here and in much of the rest of the world.  I'm concerned that what's immediate is going to get a lot bigger, and a lot more serious than we've seen previously.

Let's hope we all have the wisdom to do the right thing, and in particular, that at least in the US the Democratic Party wakes up and figures out which way the wind is blowing.

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