Posted On: Friday - December 4th 2020 11:56AM MST
In Topics:   Commies  China  Orwellian Stupidity  Books
Part 1 of Peak Stupidity's review of this important book on modern China, We Have Been Harmonized by Kai Strittmatter, will be an introduction and part of the conclusion. I'll wrap things up a little bit in the last part, but I want to write about the author first and may as well give the recommendation now.
I'm going to point out some things about author Kai Strittmatter here, but as far as biographical information goes, this guy wants to remain pretty anonymous. This is odd for a book that even this blogger has heard of (though only #82,000 in ranking in books on amazon, for what that's worth). The amazon biography is sparse, with nothing but the same 2 sentence bio that's on the inside of the book jacket back cover (with a picture there). Amazon just copy/pasted it:
For more than a decade, Kai Strittmatter was the China correspondent for Germany's national newspaper "Süddeutsche Zeitung". Fluent in Mandarin, he has studied China for more than thirty years, including extensive stint is Xian and Taipei. He lives in Copenhagen.As Mr. Sailer would say, "he is based in Copenhagen.". He is not based though, as I'll get to. Amazon shows that Mr. Strittmatter has written at least 4 other books, but in German.
I can't tell how long the guy actually lived in China, because you can study the place from elsewhere, I suppose, though not as well. No other places in China are mentioned in the bios, but in the book the author mentions meeting with/visiting with (some in jail) a number of important Chinese dissident types in various places within mainland China, but it seems to lean towards Peking. As Mr. Strittmatter would be the first to tell you, Taiwan (re: his extensive time in Taipei) is not China. Well, it's not yet, anyway.
I looked around a bit on the web and really couldn't find much more on this author.* I can see every reason why he wants to remain semi-anonymous or hard to find, based on what he's written about the Chinese Communist Party. I have a lot of respect for the man for having the guts to spell out what's going on there, though I will describe shortly how I think he is flat-out wrong regarding certain ideas. This reminds me of our beloved Ron Unz of unz.com. I have the utmost respect for his publishing a well-working website full of controversial commentary with all sides being allowed access, but that doesn't mean he's not far into the deep end with some of his ideas.**
Mr. Strittmatter is a German living in Copenhagen. He's spent time in China and Taiwan. Where he obviously hasn't spent much time is in the good old U.S. of A. This guy comes across very ignorantly in what little he does write about America, which is only about the Chinese influence and about 10 instances of Trump Derangement Syndrome. It is really surprising to see an erudite writer like this embarrass himself with his ignorant (often) one-liners about Trump taken out of some talking points somewhere.
I won't include all instances, but I did mark them in the book. The first one is some stupid comparison of Trump's estimation of the crowd size at the inauguration in '17 to propaganda in Turkey. Trump is somewhat of a bullshitter and exaggerator often, but then here's the author taking the word of our Lying Press, who have been balls-to-the-wall anti-Trump for 5 1/2 years. This idiot Strittmatter has a line later on in the book which basically states that the NY Times is The Truth. This is right in the middle of his descriptions of the extensive Chinese Communist Party propaganda. Yeah, he gets modern China, but as for the US, and this NY Times worship, Strittmatter comes across as a complete rube.
This author compares President Trump to the extreme villain of the entire book, Chinese President-for-Life Xi Jinping at one point, and rails on the Nationalism of the President and his supporters. He is even against Trump's Chinese trade policy, at the same time the author warns us about China's global influence. In this way he sounds like the idiotic side of Fred Reed, who rants about real problems and then rants against the only people getting off their asses to fix said problems.
That last part foreshadowed my next point against Mr. Strittmatter. He is a Globalist through and through. What he doesn't like about China's influence is that he doesn't want them to be in charge of the Global government. He wants Globalist Europeans to be in charge. That way, it will be all much, much, better, I suppose ... Hence the words against President Trump's Nationalism (as if!!) and that of his American supporters.
This is a brand new book published this September, so the Kung Flu PanicFest is mentioned just a few times. Mr. Strittmatter doesn't praise China for their LOCKDOWN fu, like Ron Unz and other clueless writers do, but he also came across to me as a Pro-Panicker. He manages to get his TDS and Pro-Panic licks in here (page 333):
But China's propaganda media were even more pleased about the ever-erratic US president Donald Trump, whose ignorance and hostility toward science soon made the US the center of the pandemic*** ; the Communist Party could not have wished for a better partner in its plans to make its own sins forgotten.Oh, wait, so the US didn't create the Kung Flu and send it over there? Paging Ron Unz, Mr. Unz ... white courtesy telephone, pick up the white courtesy telephone, ... use your wipes first ... Still, it's just more of this author's own ignorance on display here.
Another piece of questionable material in the book, and I hope Mr. Derbyshire** mentions this, is that the author has a distinctly "magic dirt" opinion regarding the HBD idea. This occurs only in his section about the differences in the societies in Taiwan and mainland China. That would make for a good subject for a post here, but, again, Mr. Derbyshire, who I believed coined the term "magic dirt" could expound on that better. I believe he has been to Taiwan in addition to having spent some years in mainland China.
Luckily, both the TDS and the Pro-Panic business are not a major part of the book. However, one can see in the amazon.com1-star reviews that it sure pisses off people who seem to quit reading due to this. The Globalist stance is a big problem with the last portion of We Have Been Harmonized, so I'll get to that when the time comes.
This last beef about the book is not political. Mr. Strittmatter noted in the acknowledgements that he had a great editor, one Matin Janik, and another guy Bernhard Bartsch, "who was the first to look through the manuscript..." "They have all made this a better book. But its failings are my own." Not to start a sentence with "but" or anything, but you're on the hook then, Strittmatter, for the many, many instances (> 20) of non-sentences in this book. He started with a number of them. Like this, see. He got better during the middle of the book, and then that stuff started cropping up near the end again. The author then had the nerve to throw in a "[sic]" in a quote of a Chinaman. The Chinaman's got an excuse, buddy. What's yours?**** You can't blame these on your editor, as "its failings are my own". Face it, Mr. Strittmatter, you've failed in grammar. You've failed in your ignorance of Americans, American politics, your TDS, your Globalist stupidity, and your falling for the Kung Flu PanicFest (in a book partially about propaganda, for crying out loud!)
However, the material on the situation in modern-day China is top-notch. i urge the potential reader to ignore Kai Strittmatter's stupidity regarding these failings, and plow through it.
As I thought of a way to split up this review, I came across the idea of 3 main sections. I opened the book to work the arithmetic to check my estimate of how much of the book was each, and amazingly to me, I came across pages 13-14 in which the author laid out his 3 parts. (They are not formally laid out, as in Sections of the book.) It's amazing, because I'd completely forgotten those 2 pages about it! I suppose the author ought to have the say on this, but his 3 sections about jibe with what I was going to write anyway.
I will put in my terms, however, and this is not counting the intro which is the first 2 chapters:
1) This first section is material that I didn't have too much of a clue on. Yes, I knew there's still a Communist Party, but I didn't know how much power they have. Per the author, the CCP runs the Chinese central government. The President appointed himself President for Life a couple of years ago. I'd heard that but I didn't know till now how big a deal that was. He is the new and improved Chairman Mao. This first section is all about the usurping of even more power after Chairman Deng's long period of relative enlightenment. (This is 45% of the book, not counting the introduction chapters.)
2) The second section is about all the Orwellian things going on in China, helped immensely by their huge advances in "Tech".***** This to me, is the meat of the book. It is the part that ought to scare the living out of you, unless you have already learned to love Big Brother. Peak Stupidity readers, I know you hate that bastard. (This is 35% of the book, not counting the introduction chapters.)
3) The third section of the book is about China's spreading of their new culture and their Orwellian society to the rest of the world. (This is 20% of the book, not counting the introduction chapters.)
Those will probably be the rest of this review. Yes, it's a serious book. As much as I've just trashed the author, Kai Strittmatter has written an important book that may change the mind of any Chinaphiles, as I used to be - see Dashed high-hopes for China - - Part 1 and Part 2.
Peak Stupidity recommends We Have Been Harmonized to anyone who cares about the future of the world. Still, the author is something of a tool...
* Perhaps the good Peak Stupidity commenter crowd could help out.
** In fact, Ron Unz has an extremely rose-colored-glasses view of China himself. I think it would do him some good to read this book. John Derbyshire just wrote to me in a comment, upon my questioning him about this book, and told me he'd be reading it soon. I look forward to his review and will link to it when I see it, of course.
*** Oh, maybe he meant "center of the US pandemic Panic-Fest", perhaps? Sure, we're #1. USA! USA! USA!
**** Peak Stupidity's excuse is that we are just a country blog, Captain, and we don't HAVE an editor.
***** I'm sorry, but I will have to put that in quotes often. There is plenty of high technology out there that has nothing to do with software or electronics. I HATE HATE HATE that term "tech" used that way. That there's another post. These posts are proliferating like Russian ICBMs!