Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Impressed by China: Historical Amnesia Strikes Again

David Brooks, editorialist for The New York Times, reflects on invidualism and collectivism in light of the China Olympics. He is quite taken with the open ceremonies in Bejing that highlighted the harmony and collectivism of the Chinese people. He wonders if individualism, Western-style, will hold up globally and historically. Perhaps collectivism has something to offer that we miss. Brooks writes:

The opening ceremony in Beijing was a statement in that conversation. It was part of China’s assertion that development doesn’t come only through Western, liberal means, but also through Eastern and collective ones.
The ceremony drew from China’s long history, but surely the most striking features were the images of thousands of Chinese moving as one — drumming as one, dancing as one, sprinting on precise formations without ever stumbling or colliding. We’ve seen displays of mass conformity before, but this was collectivism of the present — a high-tech vision of the harmonious society performed in the context of China’s miraculous growth.
If Asia’s success reopens the debate between individualism and collectivism (which seemed closed after the cold war), then it’s unlikely that the forces of individualism will sweep the field or even gain an edge.

Brooks utterly ignores the totalitarian nature and history of the Chinese authorities. Collectivism means top-down uniformity and conformity to a Marxist-Maoist ideal. Mao, the great Murderer of the Twentieth Century, has not been renounced. Marxist allows for some economic freedom in order to gain power. This was true even under Lenin the USSR. However, it cannot allow for political and social liberty, which threatens its statism (political idolatry: see Ezekiel 28:1-10). China continues to squelch dissent, which includes persecuting the underground church, as Brother Yun dramatically narrates in The Heavenly Man. It reaches around the world through economic and political infiltration. This includes buying up as much valuable goods and land as possible in underdeveloped Africa. It supports genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

One should hark back to 1939 when the world was so impressed by another Olympics and another government. Remember Germany and its lavish displays of Aryan sensibilities. Consider this description of Hitler's Olympic spectacle, written by Jeffrey O. Segrave, writing for George Mason University's "History News Network":

From the very beginning of the project, Hitler recognized the political value of architecture as a vehicle to proselytize Nazi Socialism and he mandated that not only should the stadium be constructed entirely with German materials but that in appearance it must enhance the collective tribalism that would resurrect the majesty of the Volk. One of German fascism's first major architectural statements, the entire Wagnerian scale venue reflected the chauvinistic agenda of the Third Reich: statues and reliefs celebrated Aryan athletic youth, the Maifeld's four stone pylons were named after early Germanic tribes (Frisian, Franconian, Saxon, and Schwabian), and the Dietrich Eckart Amphitheater underscored Greco-German links--both real and imagined--to the new regime. Even the Olympic Village was laid out in the form of the map of Germany with the main dining hall representing the city of Berlin. On May 1st, 1939, Hitler appropriately employed the viewing stand at the Olympic Stadium for his May Day address during which he expounded upon his theory of "Lebensraum." On September 1st he put his theory into practice and invaded Poland.

"Study history. Study History"--Winston Churchill.


pgepps said...

From an improbable source, a complementary comment.

Jeff Burton said...

Another in a long line of western observers taken in by the Chinese Communists (see Edgar Snow et al). No doubt he'd be just as impressed by the mass celebrations of Juche a little bit to the east of the Olympics.

John Stockwell said...

To Pgepps. That is pretty ironic that
Albert Speer Jr. is on the scene in

But, is that as ironic as the apparent
support by the Discovery Institute of
the recent Russian military action in

So, how does it work? The Russian
government funds a right-wing thinktank
to get conservatives to destabilize
American education by attacking
established science?

Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...


What are you talking about? The link goes nowhere. I'm sure Discovery takes no stand on the Russian invasion. I think your anti-ID sentiment is getting the best of you.

pgepps said...

"The most we can hope for would seem to be an immediate cooling-off period. After that must come some sober investigation of how things got out of hand. Then how to find a way ahead.
Our first task at Russia Blog has been to try to get out facts and responsible opinions, letting readers sort them out. We do not want to promote some of the incendiary options being proposed and don't want to give them space. Our second task is to help air alternatives that stand some prospect of establishing peace. In this case, people who think the solutions are simple probably don't understand the situation."

That's from the page on Discovery Institute's Russia Blog that comments directly on the point.

I've never cared what Discovery said before, don't see why I'd start now. The idea these are mendacious anti-science zealots has zero traction with me, except it tells me who you've been reading and what sort of canned hash posing as argumentation I can expect next....

I believe God created by His Word whatever is in the world, and not that some humanly devised rationale can prove that God or ET or sasquatch or tye FSM tinkered matter into human biology. Too much "proof" of too little content.

John Stockwell said...

To Dr. G.

You have to past the link together to get it

It appears that the DI's "Real Russia Project"
is a pro-Putin propaganda site, which leads
to the intriguing possibility

Russia supports DI, DI supports DG, so
the Curmudgeon-ski is a puppet of the Russian
government. At least that is the hypothesis.
I think that we all would like to find out
what degree of financial support the DI
receives from Russia, an to what degree of
support DG receives from the DI.

David said...

In the online forum world, this would be a hijacked thread and it would appear that someone here is a troll.

From Wikipedia [THE internet resource ;) ]
An Internet troll is someone who posts controversial and irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of provoking other users into an emotional response or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.

Mr Stockwell, if you are truly and genuinely interested in the relation of DI to Dr. Groothuis, perhaps there are better avenues to obtain said information than a comment in a blog post.

Though at least here we cannot hide behind anonymity.

Otherwise, please don't feed the trolls. (This is the one time I shall do so.)

a said...

At the risk of sounding rude, David, I think that you also are trolling.

First, you claimed to have cited Wikpedia, but I didn't see a citation. Thus, I'm inclined to doubt that absolute Truth of your statement.

Second, I am very concerned that the Discovery Institute is being supported by Russian money. There has been some chatter about money laundering, though I'm doubtful of such a scenario. But it IS possible.

Third, Dr. G is a supporter of the Discovery Institute. I would hate if his integrity were compramised by unwittingly support a communist agenda.

You need to rethink some of your logic. I think you committed a bifurcation fallacy.

pgepps said...

David is quite right. I do like to put information in the place of misinformation, but beyond that, troll-feeding is a thankless task.
Pro 26:4  Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself.


Douglas Groothuis, Ph.D. said...

Man, this is ridiculous! Stockwell is banned.

I receive no money from Discovery. If they have a Russian project that doesn't mean they support Russian evils. Let's get some logic here folks. This is the blogworld at its worse.