PATTBERG: Beware of ‘Universal Ethics’

Pattberg: Beware of Universal Ethics

“Moralities and religions are the principal means by which one can make whatever one wishes out of man, provided one possesses a superfluity of creative forces and can assert one’s will over long periods of time — in the form of legislation and customs.” –F. Nietzsche
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All Corruption Is Human

If focused enough, the study of ethics soon reveals itself as the futile attempt to rationalize things we didn’t do (or couldn’t do). So we think others shouldn’t do them either. Only the weak, the ones that do little to nothing with their lives, have tinsel ethics that they then put on others. That’s why corruption is mostly exposed by resentful, hurt and ultimately less successful people –journalists, freelance investigators, dissidents, anarchist, or other non-notable elements of the public. No great man in history has ever called another great man corrupt; and no gentleman has made great noise about another gentleman’s transgressions. Only petty people seem to do that.

So why does the public still believe that there is one ‘universal ethics’ for everyone? Clearly, all attempts in history failed utterly: The ‘Ten Commandments’ of the Bible is one of the most devious listicles ever conceived; it’s bordering on cult experience: “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” – Really? “Thou shalt not commit adultery” – That practically never happens, why even mentioning it? The so-called ‘Golden Rule’, too, is ludicrous, defying everyday’s life experiences among Homo sapiens. As to the much celebrated formula ‘trust’, well, if a businessman overtly comes on with ‘trust’ he is about to bribe you, because that’s the only way to establish “trust” in business. In fact, it is the incorruptibleperson that causes stress and distrust.

As to politicians: they must bend the ‘truth’; this is not a secret but the mendacity of their profession, which is not as irresponsible as it may sound because it reveals the complexity of political life that goes beyond the limited horizon of our school textbooks: morals change with number, aspect, and over time, and to make matters worse, ethics come in hierarchies. It’s a bit like Maslow’s ‘hierarchy of needs’: Only after people climbed up the ranks to the top will they experience more complex layers of morality. In other words, the starving will steal, the insecure will cheat, and the rich will bribe, and if they don’t, they risk penalties such as existential demise, few or no offspring, and corporate failure respectively.

Ethics Come In Hierarchies

Since most human beings are in no position to ever reach their highest potential and feel what it is like to have a blast at life, to enjoy patriarchy, nepotism, and the benefits of the highest connections; we might as well tell them that it would be all bad for them anyway. Hence the breathtaking moral discrepancy between the masters of humanity and their sheepish followers; which Friedrich Nietzsche so accurately described as the “the master- and the slave morality.” Every religion on this planet dichotomizes human beings into two (spiritual) classes –the nobles and the rest- with clearly different ethical outlooks. In a nutshell, the nobles see good and evil as the two sides of the same coin and make good use of it; while the idiots of this world have moral calms, reservations, and sentiments.

RELATED The Dangers of China’s “Back to Confucianism” Nostalgia

As to more complex human interactions, no matter what the hapless man on the street considers ‘morally good’, it is impossible to him to even fathom the greater universe of relations in which even his annihilation may become a moral necessity (say, sacrificing him in a war), even an obligation to others, or just the termination of his employment, the ruin of his family, all for serving the greater good of society imagined by someone else. What we consider good or evil –let us make no mistake- can be interpreted to anyone’s liking, in anyone’s favor, tailored to anyone’s circumstances. That’s why any prescribed set of ethics is largely a fiction.

Corruptions Should Be Liberalized

Corruption should be liberalized in all its forms, and never be morally condemned. Let’s punish people for breaking the law, not for being bad people. If we had total transparency of society, most would be amazed at that our ideas of morality were mostly garbage talks. That’s because every action, big or small, has inevitably disruptive consequences for our fellow human beings and the environment, and, metaphorically speaking, the bigger footprints we leave, the more insects get squashed.

Certain forms of moral corruption that were once considered despicably evil are now acceptable behavior already; we don’t even think about them as moral failings at all. In the US, lobbying for congress is normal, which is essentially buying politicians, posts, and lucrative contracts. And while taking bribes is still punishable, giving bribes is mostly not. Homosexuality was long thought of as the breakdown of public morality; now it’s perfectly fine; so are promiscuity, divorces, abortions, and kids born out of wedlock. Pedophilia, polygamy, and sodomy are common aberrations of human behavior, with (possibly) biological components. We arbitrarily lock such people up, this may well continue, but who are we to call them “immoral?”

RELATED Religious Scholars And Their Agenda

Law Should Be De-Moralized

The ‘law’, although based in the past on some archaic religious notions, clearly tries to distance itself from ethics in this century, as most lawyers would confirm. The accused, too, have relinquished the idea of fixed ethics, just like philosophers and physicists long relinquished the idea of ‘free will’ or ‘free agents’; instead the pilloried of today more than ever are perfectly satisfied with the simple fact that their having circumstantially broken the laws of the land may have caused their punishment. If only we spared them with our moral hypocrisy.

In world history, the most ruthless, rapacious, fearless and corrupt personalities were also the most successful –conquerors, emperors, dictators, and spiritual leaders, and, recently, the CEOs and bankers. Weak people suck the tittynope. The greatest works of literature are tales about unusually cruel things human beings did to each other, but (and that’s were great literature begins) without the moral judgment you would so commonly find in less prodigious works. Scholars, too, have adopted writing styles that eliminate moralization; first because “Who are we to tell?” and, second, any judgment about “good and evil” is necessarily non-objective, gratuitous, quite cheap, and utterly pointless.

Ethical Imperialism

Hedonism, promiscuity, obscenity, egoism, and all money crimes are no longer immoral in America; on the contrary, the excesses of humanity are celebrated and hero-worshiped. Stars are expected to live in a style 99% of other human beings cannot afford. Abuse of officialdom, inequality, and dictatorship of the elites is openly encouraged in China for thousands of years –it’s in fact taught by Confucianism. Cronyism is a given in all nation-building, patriarchies, dictatorships, as well as is in all organizations that have fierce ‘competition’ written all over their banners. Society may want to limit their ways, but calling their actions “evil” or “amoral” seems prejudiced and outmoded. Of course, the abused and mistreated call for universal ‘human rights’ to protect their skin from the worst. What they need is more laws. Because as long as ‘universal rights’ drift in the spiritual realms they may appear very different to us than to our masters to whom such condition may serve splendidly as justification to invade other countries in the name of a universal ghost.

RELATED The Last Sage Of Europe

Beware Of ‘Universal Ethics’

In fact, ‘human rights’ were invented by accident in Europe (and nowhere else in the world); they are man-made and culture-based: That’s why it’s so hard to force other civilizations to comply. Any dominant civilization needs imperialism, indoctrination, laws, institutions, and armies to beat its ‘universal ethics’ into others –another indication that moral norms are essentially arbitrary.

To be safe, if any group, cooperation, or self-proclaimed humanist approaches us with ‘universal laws’, bad things are about to happen to people and you may want to run for your life. There has yet to be found a single moral teacher who practiced what he preached. More often spiritual leaders are frauds, charlatans, and masters of their own cause.

Science is inherently non-ethical –there is neither good nor bad, or so they say. Nature certainly has no morality. Laws are human fabrications; let’s not pretend they are God-given. All ethical prescriptions are but pretensions, designed to create dependency among human beings, and in universally condemning things we didn’t do (or couldn’t do) as sure signs of the “corruption” of others we are but staging a self-righteous show portraying our limitations and parading our weaknesses.

This article was first published on Big Think/Dragon and Pandas on March 3, 2014

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Knowledge is a Polyglot (The Future of Global Language)

Capitalism compels us to compete for natural resources, for market share, and for human capital. We also compete on the level of language, points out Thorsten Pattberg, a German writer, linguist, and cultural critic who writes for Big Think.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?

“Whoever owns the language, owns knowledge,” Pattberg says. “If you think back in history, when St. Jerome translated the Hebrew bible into Latin, he basically ended the Hebrew world order.” Similarly, Pattberg argues, Martin Luther’s translation of the Latin bible into German opened the way for the German Empire.

Today, think of the global power that is evinced by words such as ‘Coca-Cola’ or ‘Microsoft,’ which Pattberg says “enjoy greater legal protection that the entire output of, say, the Indian and Chinese civilizations.”

Sure, European languages have incorporated some Hindu words like dharma, karma, yoga and guru, Japanese words like tsunami, sushi and sashimi, and even a few Chinese words such as kung fu and yin and yang.And yet, Pattberg points out that Chinese words are largely underrepresented in the English language. There are a number of reasons for this, which Pattberg explores in the video below.

What Pattberg has us consider, first and foremost, is “how much more beautiful and authentic and sophisticated and accurate” our world would become if we could appreciate the key terminologies of all cultures.

So what does that mean?

Pattberg advocates for a global language, and by that he has something very specific in mind. We need to continue to translate, of course, in order to communicate. But when it comes to the key terminologies of a culture, “we should not translate them but rather we should adopt them,” Pattberg says. “The only way, as I see it, to create the global language is really to find a scientific way to adopt as many key terminologies as possible and to unite all the languages’ vocabularies into one.”

Confucianism And The Future Of The Chinese Language

Dr. Pattberg explains on BIG THINK why certain Chinese words are mandatory for global citizenship: “A lot of people search endlessly for the secret key or a magic formula that would enable them to understand China. Naturally, at some point, they want to know how the Chinese are educated. There are many prestigious schools in China, but let us talk a little bit about Peking University, the mother lode of Chinese education. [...]“

People With A Death-Wish

ONE of my childhood buddies died unexpectedly at the age of eighteen. That was many years ago, in Hamm, Germany. While alive, he was a known brawler, a brutish drunk, and a pot-head. His parents divorced, he dropped out of high school, had a lady who supported him, collected music on vinyl, did shoplifting for a while, and he always had this excruciating wish to die gloriously: “I won’t turn 30!” he once bragged, and: “I enlist in the army, if I have to!” His boldness, his fearlessness, and the unbending commitment toward his own ruin left a deep impression on me.

Lots of young men I knew quit. A Chinese MA candidate, barely twenty-two years of age, at the University of Edinburgh, once had dinner with us, then, two weeks later on the second day of Christmas, we heard news that he jumped off his 8-story dormitory building. “Tade yunqi bu hao,” they would say –his luck left him. His fate was cut and sealed in China already, where his overbearing parents had him prepared for a career in law, a decision that evidently crushed his soul. He probably didn’t even comprehend how he, the only-child of Chinese farmers, a burned-out, hopelessly damaged adolescent, could end up lying on the cold pavement of Richmond Place, in the capital of Scotland. His life made little sense to him -it was kaput.

Another fellow, a sturdy Scotsman, frequently got so boozed up, we thought his self-destruction had a rather cunning plot to it. He was intelligent, yet cared little about his safety, letting alone his health of which he seemed to have stashed away plenty. During a trip to Australia, however, he got himself the worst for a drink. Canned and wasted, he fell into a comatose state and refused to wake up when the fire alarm begged him to do so. “And if this hadn’t happened,” rumors said, “he would still be doing dangerous things.”

The list goes on. At Peking University, a doctoral candidate in his decisive, final year panicked over his flawed thesis and committed zisha. His desk in his tiny dorm room was allegedly plastered with those yellow motivational self-stickers –with quotes fromsuccessful people like US rapper 50 Cents’ “Get Rich or Die Tryin.” People say the candidate spent eight years in solitary, had no hygiene, no friends, and no reason to go on living. Other graduates attain more posthumous fame – like Hai Zi. He destroyed himself at the age of twenty-five; only to become one of Beijing’s most celebrated dead poets.

Literature, to be sure, is full with people dominated by self-destructive behavior. And it is certainly true that we admire people who died for a cause like, say, Socrates, Jesus, or Hannibal; we even worship this class of artists who single-mindedly minister to their doom, either by way of overwork and exhaustion, or from carrying soul-devouring, shameful secrets –Vincent Van Gogh, Novalis, and Nietzsche come to mind. And, yes, we also delight in building legends around performers and musicians who were evidently haunted by mania, depression, and severe addiction – James Dean, Elvis Presley, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Leslie Cheung, Marilyn Monroe, Yukio Mishima, or the late Philip Seymour Hoffman- to name but a few.

Death can be seen as climax or as the final act; alas, it all boils down to this: Do we want, metaphorically speaking, to die in battle when we were strongest, or do we prefer to run and wait for the Reaper to drive by our nursing home when we are at our weakest? Both are legitimate ends to Man.

All those people above, famous or not, often entertained unrealistic goals, had low self-esteem, severe mental problems, or they simply got lost in life. Most others hang on to it, though, as long as they still see an iota of hope, another gig they could achieve, another moment of bliss that will extend their welcome; they keep going on with life which Buddhist know is mostly about suffering. Arthur Schopenhauer, the German philosopher of existentialism, rather pessimistically interpreted all this as the unbound Will to Live; but the truth is, some people are just procrastinating a feverishly diabolical and incurable wish to die.

This was first posted on BIG THINK on Feb 22, 2014. Please follow me on TwitterRSS, or my other Blog.

In PhDs We Trust: Soldiers And Scholars

“And so is the type of great men that shaped European history a very particular figure: half warrior, half statesman…” –Richard Wilhelm, 1922.

MOST scholars believe themselves to be a benign force, one that is able to aim but cannot harm. Strictly speaking, there is no physical causation between their creativity and somebody else’s losses. That’s why in America we formally have strict arms control, but no such thing as thought control, with the foreseeable consequence that every kind of intellectual rubbish, extremity, or idiocy is produced and/or committed in our society.

The great achievements of any high culture should rest, of course, on the broad shoulders of academia. The so-called scholarly classes or “the PhDs,” literally doctors for the love of wisdom, are believed to be the gatekeepers of knowledge. Well, let me dwell a bit on what scholars are doing these days, and for whom, and what for.

The difference between science and the fuzzy subjects is that science requires reasoning while those other subjects merely require scholarship. –Robert A. Heinlein

Scholars just like mercenaries or soldiers are constantly at war with competing groups, corporations, and guilds, opposition forces, cultural terrorists, and, yes, even foreign countries. There are personal agendas, of course, but mostly group interests, ideologies, and allegiances.

The idea of the unbiased neutral scholar is a fiction. In fact, the very opposite is the case; the most biased, partial, and corrupt scholars often make it to their nation’s top. Think of the works -all avidly studied in academia- of Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Ayatollah Khomeini, Karl Marx, Martin Heidegger, Max Weber, and so on, because such thinkers produce precisely those ideologies and manifestos which every nation needs to justify nationalism, fascism, expansionism, imperialism, and colonialism –in that order.

READ MORE Diary of a Mad Imperialist: Why Countries Stay In Abusive Relationships

Sadly, unlike in the realms of economics, sciences, politics, and the military, there are no checks and balances, letting alone [creative] boundaries, in scholarship –everything goes. Since there are no binding rules (the peer-review system is often but a roped scheme that confirms allegiances), nor any international body to prevent harm systematically done to others, the men-of-letters can do as they please.

Let me be precise. If an economist or a politicians engage in fraud or corruption, if they get caught they will be punished. If a scientist or an engineer commits forgery there are often no legal consequences. That’s because rigged scientific experiments fail the reproduction test and machines that are inoperative fall under the table anyway, so why bother. Scholars, however, are different; they can create and support whatever you hired them to do and write whatever is demanded from them, and it may last forever.

READ MORE Philosophy Is A Syndicate

Did you know that almost every religious cult, corporation, or guild boasts their own ‘research institutes’? Any band of clerics, director, or economists want a study, or two, published about them. Millions of developers each year hire scholars to back a new product, a new start-up, a new project. Guess what they are researching: whatever floats their sponsor’s boat. How about political parties, what are they researching? That’s right, whatever backs their political cause. Did you know that most people working in public relation departments all over the world are trained humanists? Now they prostitute themselves to the movement of whoever pays them.

Some commentators have argued with me that my accusations, although polemic, are still unfair because the humanities are a much bigger realm than the sciences. Scientists are blessed because they have physical laws, mathematical axioms, experiments and what not, but those tools are of little use in the humanities. In the humanities, they say, we don’t have those luxuries.

In the humanities there are too many unscientific factors at play, such as personal relations, hierarchies, entitlement, emotions, feelings, faith, beliefs, motives, ideologies, histories, experiences, philosophies, traditions, creativity, and culture. Yes, one could try to eliminate some of those factors in controlled experiments, but then you get pseudo-sciences like economics and psychology: On paper their theories pose as natural sciences backed by funny statistics, but in reality their theorems wobble and wreck just like all other philosophical systems and religious propositions.

READ MORE Vocabulary Wars – How Nations Compete For Their Terminologies

Throughout history the humanities were higher valued than the sciences, for good reasons. Think about all the great archetypes –philosophers, warriors, poets, sages, saints, emperors, heroes! The scientists and engineers are but laboratory gnomes and forging dwarves providing formulas, weapons and machinery for the great project called humanity. To be sure, scientist and engineers will often find themselves as members of the modern workforce. It’s because the jiggle with tools, not just thoughts. No more than workforce, but also no less.

“They’re so cold, these scholars! May lightning strike their food so that their mouths learn how to eat fire!” –Friedrich Nietzsche

The creative forces and the originality of scholarship are undoubtedly among its greatest strengths, but also its subtle weaknesses; scholars are easily seduced as nations and all kinds of interest groups want to use scholarship to their advantages and against their foes.

I have met businessmen, shareholders, deans, senior editors, and professors who openly admit that they will fire or freeze out any scholar, and any of their submissions, if they don’t fall in line with the firm’s ideology, just like they would fire any other minion, worker, secretary, or dissident. One German multi-millionaire in China who regularly funds research chairs explained to me how universities are like factories. You tell them what to produce, they will do it.

Seeing scholars as workforce, or, worse, as a form of soldiery for a nation’s ultimate cause, is indeed soul-crushing for young adepts. They thought that education makes” free.” They thought education was about VERITAS, “Truth,” only to find out later that their training was designed to transform them –metaphorically speaking- into modern versions of foot-soldiers, missionaries, conquistadors, or looting marauders.

End of Part I.

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Religious Scholars And Their Agenda

Pattberg: ‘Shengren’ (2011)

THE European missions to Asia consisted of very few highly specialized individuals trained in theology and the sciences. Their destination countries – India, Japan, China, and Indochina – were the size of civilizations.

Wolves in sheep’s clothing

Christianity could not be forced upon them, but had to undermine those civilizations from within. The Jesuits, a religious order related to the Catholic Church, traveled to Asia and virtually practiced cultural mimicry. They would wear the robes and garments of the local tradition, looking like Confucian scholars, and participated in local rituals and customs, while teaching Western sciences and The Bible to the community.

READ MORE And I shall call you “Religion”

Western “China reports”

It is reported, that the Protestant missions – many prominent German missionaries among them – were less successful in converting the disbelievers.[1] The Chinese were unaware that the missionaries’ “reports” to Europe were useful intelligence that encouraged the Europeans to push further ahead and follow their imperial ambitions to command China’s future: to bring God to the god-less, to dominate the Middle Kingdom culturally, and to transform it into Western colony:

“And the Lord said: Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” [Genesis 1, 25-26].

Chinese naivity and generosity

The Chinese were ignorant for what was coming for them; that Western civilization’s drive for expansion was the necessary outcome of Greek philosophy of endless search for new knowledge and Christianity’s mission to subdue the rest of the world. On the contrary, the Chinese traditional love for learning, and their Confucian sympathy towards all men, made them learn quickly from the Westerners, while they did not (and certainly could not) expect quite the same in return from the Westerners.

READ MORE The Resurrection of Non-Western Civilizations

Western “China experts”

It was a common belief that the Chinese language was too difficult for Europeans to master, perhaps a cheap stereotype, but a stereotype to which the Westerners certainly contributed their bit. Most of the missionaries being middle-aged or old men, they were venerated (maybe more so, than in Europe), and were not expected to master Chinese. Usually, if they spoke a sentence or two, that was sufficient to go down into the annals of history as “Chinese experts”.

No matter what their actual proficiency of Chinese was, they almost certainly needed Chinese helpers. But those Chinese helpers had never seen the world outside China, and unknowingly surrendered their precious and unique Chinese concepts to Plato and Jesus Christ.

The Evangelization of China

Some German missionaries and orientalists first felt disgusted [2] that the Chinese had no God, but decided they needed Him; thus Schott (1826), Gützlaff (1833), Grube (1902), Haas (1920), Wilhelm (1925), and Biallas (1928) deliberately used biblical language (e. g. Gott, Heilige, Heilige Geist, Heiligkeit, Gottmenschen, etc.) to report China as a pre-Christian society that could be converted and dominated:

This dismantlement of a culture from within was undertaken all the while the missionaries and orientalists in China enjoyed the hospitality, kindness, and resourcefulness of their naive and trusting host. That the original concept of shengrenwas already compromised – it never reached Europe and the Chinese now officially had biblical holy men – the Chinese could hardly have anticipated.

READ MORE Language and Empire – Why We Shun Asian Words

Cultural Imperialism

Finally, to add salt into all wounds, and a bitter irony, Western commentators today never stop at accusing China of stealing Western concepts and innovations, tinker them around and change them a little bit, but never contribute anything original to world history. A more accurate picture of world history is that the West systematically collected and cashed hundreds of thousands of foreign concepts already.

[1] Giles, Herbert A., 1925, p. 260

[2] Richter, Heinrich, 1833, pp. 13 ff.

This is a condensed version of a chapter on ‘Missionarism: A Form of Parasitism’ from the manuscript Shengren.

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Are China’s disabled left behind?

Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese lawyer activist escaped brutal and groundless Chinese detention; image by Kempton

BEIJING – James Palmer, a journalist from Beijing, reports about the ongoing plight of the disabled in China. His article deserves attention:

Practical and communist

“95% of orphans in China have special needs,” quotes James Palmer from one of his sources. They are disposed of by their parents who, in China, mostly are allowed only one child. Ideally that should be a boy –a healthy one. Most handicapped have little access to education, and, so Palmer’s argument, there’s a pervasive lack of empathy for their struggle.

READ MORE Crippling injustice

Famously, during the Beijing Para-Olympics 2008, China’s handicapped were briefly paraded and showcased to the world’s media. China eventually raked in 211 medals, including 89 gold. That was more than Great Britain and the United States combined (which ranked #2 and #3 in the medal count). Critics said it was largely due to a nationwide Soviet-style program to identify and domesticate an army of disabled athletes ready to win the crude metals for the glory of their motherland.

China thriving cities offer little comfort as their infrastructure, the transportation system, and all governmental institutions, including schools and universities, lack meaningful support for people with disabilities –so they stay at home; or go performing, or begging in the streets (many refer to themselves as ‘self-employed).

Some clever entrepreneurs have already tapped into the artistic talent pool of this largely underestimated minority group. They have initiated prestigious dance shows like ‘China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe‘ or (controversial) tourist attractions like ‘The Kingdom of the Little People‘.

by Remko Tanis

Yet, at the same time, reports are surfacing in the media that some “ruthless recruiters often prey on the mentally disabled” as a form of modern slavery. All these examples above have in common that people with disabilities are separated from the rest of society, not integrated.

City-life is already an improvement to the horrors that awaits the disabled in the countryside, explains Palmer, where Buddhist suspicion and glaring Confucian prejudices against the canji ren (lit: the deformed) crushes down on their families who gave birth to imperfect offspring. In Buddhism this often translates into bad karma or sins in one’s previous life.

 “Children who are severely disabled are often kept in their homes for reasons of protecting their families “face.” –Tom, a blogger

READ MORE The Plight of the Mentally Disabled in China

Superstition and Prejudices

James Palmer sees hope in the charity work of the Christian community in China (both foreign, but even more so, local Christians) and – surprisingly – Taoism. Taoism, Palmer argues, has always taken the world as it is and embraces diversity in the form of its many not so perfect deities and heroes all coming with a sense and purpose into this world. But the real heroes, he admits, are the brave individuals who form interest groups and fight for better treatment, more rights, and access to better medicine and education.

Your author always knew that something was strangely wrong with Beijing’s metro system the moment he set foot in it. After a while it became strikingly obvious: there are no elevators whatsoever. But then, I never saw a wheelchair (or baby-cars, for that matter) either, so maybe that’s why at first I thought nothing of it.

As to universities, if the disabled were willfully excluded from higher education, we had no way of knowing for sure because we didn’t meet any to discuss their struggle. Of course, before 2004, there were the crippled beggars around Shanghai’s People’s Square, Nanjing Road, and the French Concession in Xu Jiahui. I remember that once a Chinese student told me not to give them any money, because they were all “agents of the hidden beggar king.” There were rumors that many beggars mutilated themselves, cutting off flesh here and there, or a leg or arm, so that they could beg for even more money.

by Ethnocentrics

READ MORE Overview of Disability in China

It’s still a long way

As Palmer noticed, in this competitive society, employers are highly trepidatious about hiring ugly, retarded or deformed people. They are bad for business, the bosses say. Yes, there are quota-laws in place, but many local employees, highly aware of Chinese superstitions and customs, are happy to pay the fines, Palmer says. It’s better than inviting bad fortune into the house.

“Such feelings are not unique to China. Every society has long-standing prejudices against the disabled. Until the rise of sentimentality in the 19th century, mocking imitation of the elderly, the lame, the blind or the mad was common practice in Europe.” –James Palmer

 

This all said, it seems a bit unfair, and your author always feels like this, to measure China against the living standard and level of charity in developed countries. China has still over 150 million citizens living in absolute poverty. And those 200 million migrant workers, often admired by Western economist as the sure sign of China’s economic progress, are so grossly underpaid, maltreated and exploited, that demanding nationwide access, say, to guide dogs for the blind may seem a bit pathetic compared to other human rights problems of China’s authoritarian leaders. But it matters dearly to those in need.

by Matthew Stinson

To be true, the entire Beijing subway system, a milestone for the Chinese civilization, was purposefully designed NOT to be nice to the handicapped. It literally appears as if some party official at some point had decided that Beijing didn’t want the crippled and impeded to access the metro –they can drive by bus and car, no?

Follow James Palmer on Twitter.

Credit image: Ben V/Flickr.com

This article first appeared on Big Think.

Germans in China

Pattberg: Germans in China (Diary of a Mad Imperialist) – via Big Think

We cannot and we must not become Chinese, and at heart we don’t want to either. We must not seek ideal or higher meaning of life in China or in any other thing of the past; otherwise we lose ourselves and adhere to a fetish. – Hermann Hesse, 1921

SHANGHAI, March 2012 - About 111 years ago, the German emperor Wilhelm II. farewelled the East-Asian Expedition Corps from Bremen’s harbor to China in order to beat down China’s resistance to European imperialism. His orders were unequivocal: bring civilization to China, show no mercy to reactionaries, and teach China a memorable lesson so that no Chinaman will ever dare to look askant at one of us. Things of course have changed since then.

Airplanes have been invented. Germany’s Federal Minister of Education and Research and her delegation of top officials once again landed in Shanghai. China’s Pearl River Delta’s megalopolis is more populous than Germany’s capital, Berlin, and Hamburg, Munich, Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and the next ten biggest German cities combined. It’s awesome.

Read at Big Think God Bye Cowboy – Preparing for US withdrawal from Battle for World Domination

The Federal Minister certainly preferred Beijing, China’s capital and the center of politics and educational policy. Yet, most of the “schaffenden” Germans, those who actually produce material value since bilateral trade agreements began in 1979, have traditionally settled in Shanghai or farther down in the industrial south, in Shenzhen and Guangdong, China’s manufacturing bases. Over 5300 German companies are active in China, and 8000 German administrators are stationed in Shanghai alone.

The Tongji University of Shanghai is a German partner of choice. It was co-founded by Germans, handed honorary degrees to politicians like Gerhard Schroeder, the former Chancellor, and invites German lecturers by the droves. However, there are only about 250 German students studying full-time in all of China, most of them only for an exchange year, sitting dui wai hanyu classes (Chinese for foreigners). Compare those figures to the 25,000 proper Chinese students who study in Germany “for real.” And unlike the Chinese in Germany, the Germans in China weren’t obliged to provide evidence of 200 hours language work prior to applying for a student visa.

Over two dozens German professor chairs at Tongji are currently sponsored by German corporations; most of those senior fellowmen don’t speak a word Chinese of course – not learning the language of the colonized is an old tradition that I will not explain here. Needless to say, Chinese translators are cheap and come by the dozens for the prize of one German interpreter.

Read at Big Think Can Asians think? Yes, and no

Meanwhile, the German political parties, the German media, the German Academic Exchange Service, the Max-Planck Society, the German Chamber of Commerce, the Goethe Institute –all state sponsored, pro-government organizations- they all have arrived in the Middle Kingdom already with the mission to make the Chinese do like the Europeans do, or to start chinabashing if the nation doesn’t comply.

Germany’s hostility against China is overt and official. German media constantly demonizes China because it is too Chinese and too communist. According to the Asia-strategy-paper of October 23rd 2007, the ruling Christian Democratic Union and its junior partner the Christian Social Union (you thought Germany was a secular place, didn’t you?) named China a “threat to European values, economic and political development”.

But let us come back to our Federal Minister; at Tongji’s Chinesisch-Deutsches Hochschulkolleg she gave a lecture that day (or shall we say, she lectured China) on “Global responsibility”. It all sounded suspiciously like a monologue about how China should westernize itself, and, perhaps then become civilized along the way.

Indeed, the Germans try to rectify Chinese culture whenever they can: German officials in Shanghai, illiterate in Chinese language and tradition, complain that Chinese family names and first names are backwards and thus should be re-arranged so that, say, Wang Yuhe becomes “Yuhe Wang”, Jin Li becomes “Li Jin”, Li Hao becomes “Hao Li” and so on. Surprisingly, they haven’t tried a “Zedong Mao”, “Weiwei Ai”, or “Jiabao Wen” yet.

Germany cannot patronize the English-speaking world (let by the United States), of course, but most smaller European states it can and does. Western observers are reminded today of the first Prussian diplomatic mission to East-Asia, the Eulenburg Expedition. In 1861, when Great Britain and France had just invaded Beijing over a commercial dispute concerning opium, Count Friedrich Albrecht zu Eulenburg forced a commercial treaty upon the Qing Empire on behalf of the entire German Customs Union. These days, the Germans consult China on behalf of the entire European Union: “We in Europe,” they start…

Read at Big ThinkF”"k the EU”? – What would Nietzsche say?

Now, are China’s and Germany’s research industries compatible? Of course they are –if the Chinese become more German. No other future scenario exists. The idea that Germany could learn anything from China is utterly absurd –the Chinese want to drive German cars just as the Germans do. It’s a metaphor.

Are China’s and Germany’s educational systems compatible? The answer is a clearmafan (troube). First, Germany historically lacks elite universities and university rankings which we so naturally find in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, or China. You will see “Directors” and “Professors” flown in from such obscure places like Bochum University or Greifswald University who then co-chair with Chinese elite technocrats who graduated from Asia’s most competitive schools like Peking University, Tsinghua University, or Fudan University. It’s an honor for the Germans, but for the Chinese? They would rather work with their equals of Harvard University or Cambridge University. Learning English from Germans can be annoying, too.

Second, numbers matter: Germany has just 1.2% of the world’s population, China has 20%. Germany united in 1871, China in 221 BC. However, since the Germans indulge in the oriental fantasy that Europeans are of greater importance, hence they frequently commit a ‘fallacy of category’: We recently followed the ego of Minister President of Bavaria (a place with barely the population size of Linyi in the southern corner of Shandong province) on a fleeting trip to China’s capital, who was left enraged and in disbelief as to why President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao felt no obligation to receive him.

Next, the old German education system has worn out –it’s now slowly modeled after the Anglo-Saxon one. As long as the German degrees back in the 20th century eluded comparison, the Germans assumed superiority, but after the Bologna Reform ended in 2010, German students can now be evaluated against their global peers. It turns out that German scores, according to the ‘OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)’, rank merely in the middlefield. Ironically, Shanghai students are now officially the best students in the world.

Last, Germany is a class society with a three-tier school system that reflects its class consciousness. It essentially means that children, after having spent four years in primary school together, are separated by the age of ten years onto three different school forms (there are quotas) which will then pre-determine their lives long before they understand the importance of grades, higher education, or even reach puberty. The United Nations believes the system is rigged in favor of parents, not children, and condemns Germany for it. That’s why China fares much better, I think, to rely on its class-blind, clear-cut meritocracy that leads kids of all backgrounds to the gaokao.

Read at Big Think Philosophy is a Syndicate

Indeed, the German spirit is a peculiar one. Germany never experienced the Enlightenment –only its own inward-looking Aufklärung; it lacks the crucial development where the Anglo-Saxon world learned, by experience, to co-exist in diversity.

To this day, German culture lacks a holistic conception of humanity; it prefers a linear way of thinking with European culture prominently ahead of China and others. Everything non-European is seen as an awkward deviation from German/Western standard. Unsurprisingly, Angela Merkel, the Chancellor, recently confirmed that multiculturalism is dead. It means that foreigners must be assimilated. But not in Shanghai please where the Germans will always be German.

If we don’t talk about it, imperialism never stops. It changes paradigm, then rattles on. A Chinese student recently asked me: Do the Germans want to teach more Chinese students because they are really interested in us, or just because the Americans were doing it first?

I vaguely recalled our mission and replied dutifully: No –this commitment to teaching orientals we truly share. It’s our global responsibility to make you more like us. That’s why we are here. Yet again.

This article was first posted at Big Think on Feb 6, 2014.

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“Fuck the EU”? – What would Nietzsche say?

Friedrich Nietzsche, the great European mustache, philosopher and nihilist.

There’s something deeply and profoundly philosophical about the gradually decline of the Europeans: It’s going on for over a century now.

MOST observers will have heard about the latest US diplomatic gaffe: ‘Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State’, Victoria Nuland, in a phone call to the ambassador Pyatt said “Fuck the EU.” The call was anonymously uploaded onto Youtube, the video platform, and immediately picked up by virtually all major European media outlets. That’s because, I think, Ms. Nuland frankly said what most people, certainly international journalist, letting alone top diplomats, already knew: The US has little patience with the European Union, and, sometimes, even less respect so.

Read major EU media response: in EnglishGermanFrench, or Italian.

But first things first: The “Fuck the EU” is Ms. Nuland’s personal recommendation for the European Union’s latest attempt to influence the future of the Ukraine, a former Soviet satellite state (independent since Aug 24, 1991) and valuable pawn in the new Eurasian power game. The Ukraine experienced strong democratic protests ever since November 2013 because some citizens demanded the Ukraine’s integration with the European Union.

Since mid January 2014, the country has seen an escalation of violence between governmental forces and the protesters. So, naturally, diplomats may be stressed out and strong language used in private conversations becomes somewhat permissible. However, Ms. Nuland’s telephone scandal, now having turned into a global metaphor for backstabbing one’s allies, comes at a time when Europe faceshumiliation after humiliation for what many world historians think is its gradual political, military, economic, and cultural decline.

EU leaders find the remark “unacceptable”

So, when Germany and France protested against America’s NSA surveillance of the entire European phone and internet services, including the mobile phones of two German chancellors, the US contemptuously defied explaining or clarifying the espionage act, letting alone stopping the surveillance of its “allies.” This has alienated the German political class, and has deeply humiliated Angela Merkel and her current German government which obviously is incapable of protecting the privacy of its citizens –whether in the past, present, and the future. It’s rather disillusioning.

Why was Ms. Nuland’s phone call leaked and by whom? Some commentators suspect it was the Russian intelligence service that saw an opportunity of retaliation for the EU’s current Russia-bashing about corruption scandals surrounding Sochi where the Winter Olympic Winter 2014 take place these days.

Whoever it was, I’d say: Mission accomplished. “Fuck the EU” has already turned into an Internet-meme (an element of culture passed on by imitation). We can already watch Youtube videos, read foreign blogsarticlesforums, and follow hashtags.

If Friedrich Nietzsche, the great European mustache, philosopher and nihilist, had lived today, perhaps he would have read for us from his little wise book Beyond Good and Evil:

“The Chinese have a proverb which mothers even teach their children: “SIAO-SIN” (“MAKE THY HEART SMALL”). This is the essentially fundamental tendency in latter-day civilizations. I have no doubt that an ancient Greek, also, would first of all remark the self-dwarfing in us Europeans of today – in this respect alone we should immediately be “distasteful” to him.”

This painfully slow decline of the Europeans in global status is tragic but not irreversible. First the people have to see the new reality clearly. Most Europeans, however, are completely unaware of their nation’s decreasing power status and declining influence. They were taught since they were little children that there’s this big brother USA that solves all their political, economic, military, and cultural problems. Not any more. Because the US is in decline too.

It is possible that the US – over the many decades of world domination and absolute technological, scientific, and cultural supremacy – has gradually lost its respect for the whining and utterly dependent European civilization; what if leading US diplomats are plotting against Europe? Imagine for a moment US intelligence services were infringing on European laws and dignities just because they can, or, worse, because they know that Europe can’t do shit about it.

This article was first posted on Big Think on Feb 8, 2014.

To keep up to date with articles you can also follow me on Big ThinkTwitterRSS, or my other Blog.

Diaoyusenkaku – The Monster in the China Sea

BEIJING AND TOKYO – The Chunjie celebrations have come to an end this week and, starting from next Monday, we can expect Beijing’s political retaliations against Tokyo and Manila for having interfered in its maritime southern territories.

Missile Boats, Aircraft Carriers, and B-52 Bomber Fighters

Shinzo Abe, Japan’s prime minister, evidently wants to bond with his Russian colleague Vladimir Putin in a political maneuver (and on the occasion of the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia’s Sochi) that may or may not bring Japan closer to its ambition to repatriate the disputed Kuril islands – Japan’s former territory that had been sacked by Moscow after the Great War, in 1951. Moreover, Mr. Abe surely hopes to win support from Mr. Putin for Tokyo’s claim over the Senkaku islands that were recently unilaterally re-annexed by Beijing (after Tokyo “bought” the island from a private owner).

Reat at Big ThinkIf all Chinese go to the coast and spit, Japan will drown

The islands which are known in China as Diaoyu islands are currently dangerous waters ever since Beijing declared the region its new ‘Air Defense Identification Zone’ or ADIZ. The US chose to ignore Beijing’s ruling and demonstratively flew two (unarmed) B-52 bomber fighters over the region, followed by Beijing’s immediate response by sending its first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, through the Taiwan Straits.

Read at RT RussiaThe US fears China – no one in China fears the US

Japan is fearful of China’s size and economic might that now translates into a military build-up. Tokyo recently agreed to move the controversial US Futenma military base on Okinawa to a more remote site. The costs of the relocation are unclear; reports give numbers between $2.8 billion to $10.27 billion, but exactly how much Japan has to contribute (Tokyo has to pay for US military presence) it often obscured by the government.

How to moderate great powers?

The Japan-US relations (often also a benign rivalry) can only be understood against the background of Commodore Matthew C. Perry’s arrival with US cannon boats and his ‘Opening up’ of Japan in 1854, and the US triumph over Imperial Japan in WWII. Although over 60 years past since Nippon’s capitulation, and although Japan’s economy recovered and became second only to America until China took that place in 2012, yet US officials keep reminding Tokyo who calls the shots in the battle for dominance in Asia, and it is believed the rise of China might give Tokyo a welcomed excuse to reduce its reliance for military protection by the US, change Japan’s pacifist constitutions, and as a result become a “normal” sovereign state again.

Washington cannot want this to happen, as it is determined to keep its US troops in Japan, currently over 40,000, in order to contain China. Meanwhile, the Philippines have voiced their concerns about Beijing’s geopolitical tactics in the South China sea, with its president, Benigno Aquino, recently comparing China to Nazi Germany.

Read at The TelegraphPhilippine president compares China’s expansion to Nazi Germany

China has territorial (maritime) disputes with Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, and Taiwan which often regards itself as autonomous nation. Most of the disputed islands are no more than greater rocks piercing through the waves, or else uninhabited islets. So what’s really in dispute, I think most analysts would agree, are the maritime boundaries surrounding them, including natural resources beneath the seabed, as well as fishery rights and, most importantly, free access to trade routes. For China, the South-Eastern sea is the sole passage to the ocean, and naturally Beijing cannot want Tokyo (and its US ally Washington) or any other government de facto controlling those waters.

China’s Mandate of Heaven

China’s line of argument supporting its claim of the entire South China Sea is deeply worrying analysts: Literally, Chinese historians, journalists, and politicians talk about “2,000 years of History” siding with China on all its territorial claims. Beijing reckons it holds rights and entitlement to whatever once “belonged” to a Chinese dynasty, as if nothing ever happened since then, and as if China’s own imperial expansionism – the Han empire, Mongol empire, the Manchu empire – didn’t exist.

Read at Big ThinkWho is a Chinese?

Little wonder than that bullied Manila and Tokyo are reaching out for diplomatic support from Washington.

The Monsters of Past and Future War

The US repeatedly called for all the powers not to unilaterally attempting to change the status quo in the region (namely: the US dominance), but it seems that the current conflict has gotten a life on its own. In Japan, great destruction is often portrayed in the tales of great kaiju, a gargantuan monsters like, say, Godzilla, Rodan, or Mothra. Those creatures are but metaphors for conflict, existential threat, and apocalypse. They also portray the horrors of past and future war.

People with a precognition already talk about the emergence of a new powerful kaiju nesting in the China sea. If we are not careful, if it wakes, they say, it’ll sink all fleets and devour the soldiers -no matter of which blood. And, then, it’ll crawl on land and punish our cities…

Image credit: Sea Hawk helicopters maneuver over the South China Sea, by Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr.com

This article was first posted on Big Think on Feb 7, 2014.

To keep up to date with this blog you can follow me on TwitterRSS, my Website, or my other Blog.

In the Company of Wealth (Big Think)

“Now, working elbow to elbow with billionaires, I was a giant fireball of greed.” –Sam Polk

BREAK it down: Obscenely rich people from 2013 meet in Davos, Switzerland, to discuss how to get ludicrously rich in 2014; Japan’s Abe reminds Western leaders that a new [Sino-Japanese] arms race in East-Asia could jeopardize their wealth; American companies don’t get rich fast enough in China, blame the government; and old Europe is kind of history. Continue reading In the Company of Wealth (Big Think)

Munich Security Conference: US World Domination Is Coming To An End

Helmut Schmidt, July 6, 2010 (c) Holger Jungnickel; source: neoCine/Flickr.com

US will have gradually withdrawn from battle for world domination by mid century

MUNICH – Helmut Schmidt, 95, Europe’s most eminent living politician and former German chancellor, overshadowed this year’s Munich Security Conference with a controversial video message: “By the mid century,” he said, “the United States of America will have gradually withdrawn from the battle for world domination.” Continue reading Munich Security Conference: US World Domination Is Coming To An End

Corruption at Renmin University: Anti-Corruption Campaign has reached China’s Ivory Towers

Renmin University of China, also called People’s University of China, is an elite university located in the northwest of Beijing, close to Peking University and Tsinghua University.

BEIJING – Chinese universities are plagued with corruption. Last November, the clique around Cai Rongsheng at Renmin University got busted. The 48-years old ‘Chief of the Student Admissions Office’ tried to flee China from an airport in Shenzhen with a fake passport and a wish for Canada. Continue reading Corruption at Renmin University: Anti-Corruption Campaign has reached China’s Ivory Towers

Catching up with the Chinese on Political Thought

“With China’s new government under Xi Jinping evidently almost laughing off Western democracy as a role model and instead pursuing its centenary goal of ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics’, maybe it is time for Germany’s dichter und denker to retire their old prejudices and start taking Chinese political theory more seriously.” Continue reading Catching up with the Chinese on Political Thought

Global views on the Chinese Dream: The Chinese people finally stood up

“With the Communist Party of China in the lead, the Chinese people struggled arduously and worked assiduously, and finally in 1949 founded the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese people finally stood up.” –Cai Mingzhao

China Daily published a New Year Special entitled “Global views on the Chinese Dream” in which experts (try to) explain what they understand by “Chinese Dream”. Continue reading Global views on the Chinese Dream: The Chinese people finally stood up

Welcome to Yasukuni War Shrine: It’s a Great Family Day Out

Yasukuni Shrine ad in Tokyo’s Chuo Line on Dec 31, 2013.

TOKYO – An advertisement in Tokyo’s Chuo Line, photographed on Dec 31, 2013. In Japan, visiting the Yasukuni (war) shrine is part of the Shinto tradition and a national ceremony, even a great family day (a War Museum is just around the corner). The ad encourages visitors to pray at Yasukuni during New Year. Continue reading Welcome to Yasukuni War Shrine: It’s a Great Family Day Out

Philosophy: From Plato’s School to Global Tyranny

BEIJING – As a consequence of Cultural Imperialism, the West is creating (or better: maintaining) a ‘China image’ that will advance the complete westernization of the Chinese civilization; and those professors of our so-called ‘China Studies’ who advance the idea that all great East-Asian thinkers must be branded as “philosophers”, a Greco-Hellenic school of thought that was later hijacked by Christianity, do it prominently by translating almost all of China’s socio-cultural originality into familiar philosophical European taxonomy. As if China had invented nothing on its own. “What does China have?” if not philosophy? The truth is, you are not supposed to know. For philosophy is a syndicate that rids itself of all competitors. [READ AT BIG THINK]

What Is The Global Language Movement?

Dr. Pattberg is the world’s leading thinker on Global Language and Language Imperialism, a promoter of Confucianism, and the author of ‘The East-West Dichotomy’ and ‘Shengren – Above Philosophy and Beyond Religion’. He is an alumnus of Peking University, The University of Tokyo, and Harvard University.

What’s The Global Language Movement?

The Global Language Movement encourages writers from all corners of the world to limit their translations of cultural key terminologies in order to contribute to the formation of a global language that best reflects the cultural diversity and multitude of human thought, originality, and inventiveness. Continue reading What Is The Global Language Movement?

On Christmas with Chinese Characteristics

Ding dang, ding ding dang…

THE CHRISTMAS that we used to know is essential a Pagan tradition taken by Christianity and exploited by Capitalism. The Christmas tree is clearly a pagan element; Saint Nicholas is a biblical saint; and the gift-giving culture is pure commercialism. So what’s in there for China and Confucianism? Continue reading On Christmas with Chinese Characteristics

The Art Of Guanxi: Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China, to quit Beijing in 2014

Gary Locke with Mona Locke Ambassador Quits Beijing (c) East-West Dichotomy

BEIJING – The textbook ambassador, here in picture with his Miss Asian-American wife Mona Locke, announced that he would step down from office in 2014, stating “personal reasons.” After only 2 1/1 years in office in China, Gary Locke leaves a nation guessing at his ultimate motive for leaving his precious post . Continue reading The Art Of Guanxi: Gary Locke, US Ambassador to China, to quit Beijing in 2014

东风与西风:一个德国人眼中的中西方文化 (裴德思)

NEW The East-West Dichotomy manifesto available from Foreign Language Press: Amazon.cn

The East-West Dichotomy by Thorsten Pattberg; 东风与西风:一个德国人眼中的中西方文化 (裴德思)

东风与西风:一个德国人眼中的中西方文化

East Wind and West Wind: A German’s Meditations on the Differences between China and the West

A UNIVERSE of differences separates the two hemispheres made up of Eastern and Western cultures. Yet even in our so-called ‘multicultural world’, the dominant West wind dominates in the East. Continue reading 东风与西风:一个德国人眼中的中西方文化 (裴德思)

YANG Rui: On Foreigners in Wudaokou, Western Media, and China as Superpower

YANG Rui at Peking University Nov 2013

YANG RUI – Famed Journalist, CCTV Host, and Political Commentator

BEIJING – No other media figure has helped to accommodate –if not shape- China’s rise more in the recent decade than YANG Rui, the famed CCTV International Presenter and host of ‘Dialogue’, an English-speaking political TV program. Continue reading YANG Rui: On Foreigners in Wudaokou, Western Media, and China as Superpower