The EURO-TAO: Tao Goes America

Euro-Tao_smallAfter the implosion of the British Empire (which is now reduced, so the cynics say, to the Greater City of London), the United States of America took the place as the benevolent global hegemon, and are now the prime destination for scholars in East Asian Studies. This, by extension benefits cultural Britain and the entire Anglophone commonwealth: They are born in the “correct” language.

The rest of Europe must be affiliated, if only pro forma, with the US-Anglo-Saxon world order, and must master the English language. This isn’t exceptional at all. Great powers typically superimpose their lingua, reinvent all disciplines, establish new rules, and promote their own national champions. This is true in economics and politics, and also in scholarship and the entertainment industry. In addition, hundreds of thousands of Chinese each year migrated into America, Britain, Canada, and Australia. Therefore, a lot of Taoism impact isn’t directly from China, but is caught up with in Europe via the United States. And this isn’t just the case with scholarly textbooks. Other, far more impressive examples are Hollywood blockbuster movies watched by millions of Europeans, such as ‘Kung-Fu Panda’ or ‘The Matrix’ trilogy.

Italian, French, Spanish, and even German universities were mere shadows of their former self, until the Union decided to sign the 1999 Bologna Declaration. Learning English is now Europe’s top priority. German and French and Italian degrees were discontinued; Anglo-Saxon BAs, MAs, and PhDs introduced. The majority of European countries agreed to Americanize their higher education. Needless to say, the main profiteers are the Americans, who are no longer ‘competitors’ but ‘owners’ of the global education system.

Ignorance breeds intolerance. Up until the 00s, China’s history, language, and culture were not taught in Europe’s school classes. During the early 2000s, Dietrich Schwanitz published a best-seller, boldly entitled ‘Education – All one needs to know’. The book earned him praise from all corners of German society. Apparently, “all one needed to know” was not knowing a single thing Asian, let alone Chinese.

That is not all. A quick survey of the German Times (DIE ZEIT) reveals that no article with the words ‘Laozi’, ‘Taoism’, or ‘Daoism’ in it was on record since its founding in 1946. To this day, German ‘China correspondents’ are incompetent and (mostly) Chinese illiterate. They paraphrase or translate content from American news agencies, and cannot write Chinese surnames and names in the correct order. And while China became the largest trade nation in the world in 2013, Chinese intellectuals are excluded from the public discourse and the mass media, with the exception of useful dissidents. China scholars have already witnessed, starting from 2010, a political backlash against China’s Confucius Institutes, which are thought to subvert Western academia with Chinese ideology. Taoists should take notice, too.

The Euro-Tao - book cover - Thorsten Pattberg
From the book: The EURO-TAO (2016) 欧洲道
  • Paperback: 56 pages
  • Publisher: LoD Press, New York (May 11, 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0984209174
  • ISBN-13: 978-0984209170
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.1 x 8 inches