Posted On: Saturday - September 23rd 2017 11:48AM MST
In Topics:   History  China  Socialism/Communism
Post 2 of this series was specifically about the Russians and speculation on their recent history and culture after enduring 7 decades of Communism. This post is on the Chinese, about which Peak Stupidity has more first-hand knowledge (which will come into play in upcoming posts on Chinese health care (2 thumbs up!) and Chinese manufacturing/DIY/entrepreneurial infrastructure (3 thumbs up!).
There is no getting around the brutality of the Chinese version of Communism. Starvation of 30-40 million people was involved - this was "by mistake", not on purpose per the Soviet starvation of Ukrainians, but does that make it any better? NEVER GIVE LARGE AMOUNTS OF POWER TO ANY INDIVIDUAL, I shouldn't have to keep writing this, but Chairman Mao caused the starvation of his countryman due to his stupid ideas and his absolute power to implement them with no argument or veto power from anyone. So, what if he had good intentions, you know what is said about good intentions and the Long March straight to Hell for that guy. Besides that, there was poverty and misery for the whole land right up until a few years after this tyrant died in 1976. That meant 3 decades of the hard-core Communist stupidity from the time Mao and his gang defeated the Chinese Nationalists in late 1947 who high-tailed it to Formosa (they're calling it Taiwan now, but fuck 'em).
Mao's successor, after a big power struggle, was Deng Xiaoping. The new guy, though still professing to be all Communist-like, understood that free markets were the only way to have a good economy, and he started relaxing the grip on people's business at the end of the 1970's in the SE, around Canton (OK, Guang-freakin'-Zhou, happy?) and Shenzhen. Mr. Deng's catchphrase to describe his method of officially being Communist, but not really, was "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics", meaning, "Economic Capitalism at the local level, but we're still gonna' be corrupt enough to confiscate a bunch of your shit". (This latter catchphrase did not "catch" on, due to lack of a good acronym, and how in the hell do you even make an acronym in Chinese when you DON'T! HAVE! ANY! LETTERS!). Mr. Deng was not hard-core at heart as he had said way before he was in power - "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, if it catches mice it is a good cat". During the worst days under Communism, and even on some good days when you just want some variety, this got misinterpreted as "It doesn't matter whether a cat is black or white, all you need is a little vinegar, soy sauce and hot peppers."
The 3 decades of hard-core Communism which included the bloody "let a thousand flowers bloom" program (with it's sequel, the "Let's mow down the dandelions" program) and subsequent Cultural Revolution 1.0 only 5 years later was followed by an easing up from 1978 or so through the present day. There were setbacks, such as the Tiananmen Square liberty demonstration - note right around the time the Berlin Wall came down - with it's accompanying blowback, one might call it. However, the Chinese did not "enjoy" quite the soul-destroying more than 3-generation version that the Russian people did. Is that why the Chinese have come out of Communism better, just the duration? Let's speculate.
The thing about the Chinese people is that they seem to have a natural knack and love for doing business. They are culturally and maybe even genetically free-market oriented with the exception of not having any history/culture of belief in rule-of-law, so often ready to screw over anyone not in the family during said business deals, which they love. This is so ingrained that it must be the case that it's not a new thing, based on exhortations by Mr. Deng - they've been llike this a long time, and it was suppressed greatly during the time of hard-core Communism in China. As soon as the people were let free to a great degree economically, originally just at the small-scale business level, their natural instincts came back out, producing a very efficient free-market.
Now, I can't write a summary of the 5,000 year history of this Middle Kingdom in one post, but I'd like to mention religion in here too though. Before the Communists, and the other terrible periods the people had endured since about 100 years back, since the last emporer (the warlord period, then the Japanese invasion ended only 2-3 years before Mao took power) the people were Buddhist/Daoist and whatever, and history shows that they took it seriously. It seems that the period of Communism there, as it repressed all religion, maybe even more so than it did in Russia, had a more lasting effect.
There is no serious religion in China now, aside from the small (relative to 1,400,000,000 people) Christian sector, with more on that shortly. You will hear of the Grave-sweeping festival in summer, and that's a Buddhist thing. The idea is to visit the graves of close relatives, clean up a bit, and burn money to help them out on the other side. How the money helps, I'm not sure, but the point here is that nobody burns any real money. That's what I'm getting at. If they took this seriously religiously they would burn real money to show they mean it. I asked someone about this, and she said "well, we have to BUY that fake money". OK! Tomb-sweeping day is all about eating good dumplings, and that's fine, because good eating is a good reason for anything in China.
The lack of any religion in the modern Chinese culture, usually, and in this case, manifests itself in a lack of true morals, as evidenced in business and schooling oftentimes. That's not to put Western people on a pedestal; it's just that there is a difference in general, and it's related to religious belief. Now, regarding Christianity to, for the Chinese, there are many, in the US too, that are nominally Christian. It is hard to for me to know how many take this seriously, as the materialism always wants to win out. Even at the Church, as far as the matter of the collection plate and other money matters, it's very hard for them to leave the materialism behind, even for a while. This lack of religion has not seemed to impede the Chinese from thriving, but it's not known to Peak Stupidity first-hand how seriously religious the modern Ruskies are, to continue this comparison.
Everyone knows that, in general, the Chinese people are a smart people, though questions of creativity vs. rote-learning arise (with a post coming on that). However, the Russians are not stupid either. Is it the type of things the smart people are interested in? Sure the Chinese want to meet people who can help them (guanxi), get out, and innovate in business, while the Russians may want to sit at a desk for 2 years cranking out "War and Peace "(having been changed from it's original title "War, What is it Good For?"). Is it just that the Russian people direct their intelligence in the wrong direction? It also could be more about the system that they live under, still much different than China, even with both having been released from the death grip of Communism. The most probably reasons for the difference between the way the Russians and the Chinese have fared are the > 2X longer duration under Communism for the Russians and just that the Chinese people work their asses off - sometimes it just comes down to that.