1. The Politics of Religion (22/10/2011)
2. The Paradox of Justice (27/10/2011)
3. The coincidence of Tribal Laws (28/10/11)
4. China (03/12/2011)
1.The Politics of Religion
The first two weeks of October 2011 marked two events, which attracted a bit of attention from the media, perhaps for the wrong reasons,
The first one was the visit of Dr Rowen Williams to Zimbabwe, and the second was the Dalia Lama's communication via video link to the celebrants of Bishop Desmond Tutu's eightieth birthday in South Africa,
The Lama was unable to attend the celebration because the South African authorities blocked his visa, amid media speculations that they were pressured by the Chinese government.
"And as we together give thanks for the open door that God puts before us, we may even find the strength to say to our enemies and persecutors, 'The door is open for you. Accept what God offers and turn away from the death-dealing folly of violence",
Said Dr Williams in a speech to the people of Zimbabwe.
So while preaching Christianity, Dr Williams calls a group of people: "enemies", and invites them to the "door" that is open for them, for it is, according to him, God's door.
Firstly, one cannot but wonder how one can call anyone "enemy" while preaching Christianity.
One would think, that by going by God's Word and loving one's enemies, one should not have enemies, any enemies,
Unless one continues to reciprocate animosity!!
If so, then God's commandment has not truly been carried out, and the "enemy" still is.
Or is: "love thy enemy" some glamorous slogan that one uses to show off self-proclaimed moral and spiritual superiority?
Far from Christianity; for: "truly I tell you, if your hearts are not like those children's, you cannot enter the Kingdom of God".
Or has politics now become the standard of human interaction, and God's Word is just a guide for the public relations consultant?
And if Dr Williams or his supporters find that our comment sides with his "enemies", or at least sympathises with them, the only thing we can say is to ask him to enter the door, "the door is open for you, accept what God offers and turn away from the death-dealing folly of violence".
Hence, secondly, perhaps Dr Williams has forgotten that those who attacked those churches were also carrying out god's commandment, as they interpret it;
So obviously, both he and his enemies see god taking their side...
So on which side God truly is?
Perhaps a man of the education and intelligence of Dr Williams should ponder this very important matter, as he looks around and sees wars all around the world between "enemies", where every party have assumed that god is on their side,
And by doing so, we are confident that he will come to the conclusion that God's Word has been forgotten in the whole world,
And what you hear from the people who have memorised it and quoted it in their speeches and sermons is not God's Word, but indeed their own, to cover God's Word and hide its truth.
As for the Lama, well, firstly he puts on a show mockery, with both his hands on the top sides of his head gesturing horns, to resemble a demon, saying that perhaps this is how the Chinese authorities perceive him;
Then he gets back to his seriousness, and ... listen every one, the Dalia Lama is going to preach, and he goes: "censorship is immoral".
And then he goes on to talk about the evils of "hypocrisy", implying that it is the specialty of "totalitarian regimes", not just "communist" regimes but all totalitarian regimes....
The Lama's attack on China gives the impression that it is known fact that his visa was not issued by the SA authorities under pressure from the Chinese,
And of course, it gives the impression that the Chinese government is a world symbol of tyranny, hypocrisy, censorship, totalitarianism....
And on the other hand, how often have we heard the Lama praising democracy,
And how rarely have we heard him criticise Western regimes and their practices....
All that leads one to think: how the Lama has been able fit all such political vocabulary and fervour in his Buddhist belief. This is perhaps his miracle.
Perhaps the Lama needs to be reminded that the Buddha stood between two armies who had faced up one another in readiness for a battle, to stop them.
Has the Lama come to those conclusions upon studying the history and the theory of Western politics? If so, he should publish his studies and show the world how he came to such conclusions in a rational manner, as his Buddhist belief requires,
Or has he seen evidence that the Chinese people are the least "happy" in the world, in contrast with the Western people who are "happy" thanks to their democratic system?
Can the Lama in his "wisdom", as he said on that video link, can he not see any hypocrisy or tyranny in Western politics?
The Lama is not so vocal about Western governments and their politics, and the wars they wage on cities and the "collateral damage" they cause, which translates to perhaps hundreds or thousands of innocent unarmed civilians killed in their homes or on their ways thereto,
The Lama is not so vocal on the issues of arms sales, whereby Western countries look for every opportunity of a civil conflict in the world to open a market for their arms and ammunitions,
The Lama is not so vocal or perhaps completely silent about the parody of some Western democracies, whereby the party that has the financial and moral support of big business and corporations is the one almost certain to win,
The Lama is not so vocal on the greed of individuals and corporations which threatens the economy of the entire world of total collapse,
The Lama is not so vocal on the human rights abuses by Western countries, when they persecute and jail their own dissidents. So perhaps he should examine the cases of Bradley Manning and Julian Assange; and the war crimes, the hypocrisy, the deception, the corruption.... that those two individuals have managed to expose,
So perhaps if the Lama broadened his definition of "censorship", instead of going by the definition set by Western politicians and media, perhaps he would start to see censorship and cover-ups in Western international and domestic politics,
And the list can go on...
So where have the teachings of the Buddha gone? Where is "serpentine motion of right and wrong" and the truth that is above the relative perception and self-interest?
So it seems here too, that a highly regarded and respected spiritual leader has taken sides in the tribal feuds of the world.
Although, admittedly, the Lama was less harsh on China in the past, and often said that he did not want to cause harm to China and that he would like to see it flourish and become prosperous,
So why has the tone of the Lama's rhetoric changed over the last fifteen years or so?
Perhaps all it took was a dinner at the White House, when the Clintons were its residents, and toasts and dignitaries and distinguished guests, and photos taken, and discussions on matters crucial, and lobbying for support...
And when the mind is weak, truth is fogged, and good and evil become as illusive and interchangeable as light and shade,
This is a trap of which the Lama should have been all aware,
His followers think of him an incarnation of a Buddha and take his word for the word of a god,
Even the less religious in the West and the rest of the world who have been enchanted by his charm and "holy" demeanour and attire... take him as a source of wisdom and knowledge and an authority on morality...
But alas, Buddhism has been reduced to chants and rituals and beads and crystals, and its message of truth forgotten,
Not unlike Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism.... for that matter,
And the fact that this essay has made those two personalities its subject discussion does not exonerate spiritual figures of other institutes, and we shall talk about them in future posts.
The common denominator between all spiritual leaders and institutes today is that they have become themselves an instrument for political rhetoric and propaganda in all parts of the world,
And in the past, it was those religious institutes who had the upper hand and hence were able to interfere in governance and politics and often dictated policies,
Nowadays, there is every indication that it is the politics that is using religious figures to promote political views and attitudes and beliefs...
And with the clandestine partnership between politics and big business, one cannot help seeing the word of god as a strong international currency.
2.The Paradox of Justice
The photos of starved children and babies in African countries that are torn by war and deprived of the bounties of nature... tear your hearts apart,
Why, you ask.
Those who believe in karma will hasten to say: it is their karma,
And the rational mind cannot but question: so this baby who knows nothing about his/her past lives, of what benefit is it, if he/she suffers? and what is the purpose of all this anyway?
It is as if the whole purpose of being alive is to be judged, time after time!
The god or power or whatever you name it, has a mind no bigger than the beasts that he has made!
Hence the materialist jumps in and says: throw all those fallacies out of your mind. This is nothing. It is all an accident of nature, just make the best of it, in whichever way you see the "best" is.
And let us not forget the argument of the monotheists, although this one is on the extreme of irrationality, and sees god as an arbitrary ruler who doeth what he willeth, question not his authority, or he will punish you too.
And it is all ... as if the rational minds we have are our road to hell: as soon as we call them to understand things, we get pushed away by all these theories, and told to put up and shut up.
So in this essay, I will not make the situation better by telling you what I saw last week,
The photo of a dying baby in Africa broadcast to the world,
The scene was so confronting, so confronting,
I don't know what people make of such scenes in the depth of their minds,
Some are moved, and they hasten to give money to charities, believing that perhaps their contribution will make a difference, or at least take some of the agony off their own conscience,
Some are now so familiar with those scenes, and as soon as the subject is changed, they continue on doing whatever they are doing: working, eating, socialising....
Some just say: we are so lucky to have homes, food, clothes.... and comfort, we can't count our blessings,
But those scenes never stop coming into our living rooms, and since television became a part of everyone's life.
Let's not forget Bob Geldof and his Live Aid, and the awareness that he raised in people's minds in the eighties, when he got the top pop stars to sing to the world to raise millions upon millions of aid dollars,
And let's not forget, that to his disappointment, a lot of it was wasted and did not reach those who needed it, due to tribal wars, politics, corruption, red tape....
And as if those who were suffering were meant to suffer, whatever you did!
But that particular baby got my attention, because that baby was... a very hated man who died recently, and many cheered to his death,
He was trying to reach out to the world, to show the paradox of justice:
In one photo I'm ugly and you hate me, in another I'm suffering and you suffer for me.
So the questions are raised again: Karma? randomness? draconian god?
Your causes, thoughts and beliefs... are like the matter of this earth:
One day you refuse it, the next day you eat it as wholesome food: by the same laws of chemistry.
So if this does not answer your questions, you are right,
Your causes and questions have no answers except in as far as you can perceive them,
You derived them all from The Law, to keep yourselves busy and entertained, in a world that cares little about you,
The world is joyful, playing your causes raising your questions, as you consume them,
And one day, soon, you will wake up, and you will say: I was told.
3. The Coincidence of Tribal Laws
Has anyone missed the footage of Gaddafi being dragged like a lamb, bloodied, frightened, helpless... then dead?
The footage from several sources was broadcast on world news of Western broadcasting corporations, several times,
And now a week later, we still see glimpses of it, whenever and wherever they can fit it...
And let us not forget the footage of Hilary Clinton, when she had apparently just received the news on her phone,
She had a grin, and she went: wow.
But don't you worry, the West is civilised and has laws by which it abides, and they have urged the new authorities of Libya to investigate...
But one cannot be sure what such an investigation can uncover.
Mind you, on the second day of the event, there was footage of a guy who was jubilantly crying out: "you killed him",
Then we saw a guy brandishing a gun, and others and himself, saying that he killed him with this gun,
And that would seem to be the most plausible scenario: a bullet in the head and one in the abdomen are quite unlikely to be an accident of "cross fire", when the man was surrounded by a big crowd... the bullet would have to be smart, capable of going round people to hit a target so accurately,
On the other hand, the tribal law of those who were carrying out that fight legitimises avenge killing, without trial,
And let us not forget, that there was footage of bodies in the tens, executed with their hands tied up behind their backs, ostensibly, because they were pro-Gaddafi fighters.
And the West, of course, demanded an investigation, so don't you worry.
And one would wonder, when the new government is formed, how will the West respond, if the new government answers: "this is our law, it is legitimate in our religion, do not interfere in our affairs",
Of course, this will all take place behind the scenes, until somebody exposes it and leaks it out,
But the West will have to shut up, although it might still pretend that it is pursuing justice,
But you see, Libya is a golden opportunity, not only is it oil rich, but it is still a market hungry for Western consumables and commercial advertising, which under Gaddafi were very restrained.
There are so many contradictions taking place in those events, which make the war in Iraq and Afghanistan look like a child's play.
Most astonishing was the Libyan people who were too ready to carry arms and wage war against one another,
Such outbursts of violence are the outbursts of a long time brewing grudge, and cannot be the venting of a bit of anger and frustration, they cannot be,
So what was the cause of the grudge, one would ask?
On one news footage, one guy said that Gaddafi asked him, as they dragged him out of his hiding: "what have I done to you?"
The young man said it unreservedly and seemed to have no sympathy for Gaddafi whatsoever.
On the other hand, pro-Gaddafi journalists, or whoever they were, have posted videos on the web to talk up Gaddafi's great achievements in his country: free education, free medical services, the country's first-rate infrastructure, cheap energy and fuel, debt free country.... and the list of achievements went on and on...
All of which is probably true,
Yet the video missed to mention for example how those who opposed or criticised the regime were treated,
But why would anyone want to oppose or criticise a regime that seems to care about the people so much, one would ask,
All that leads one to conclude that there was more to the story than what the Western media or the pro-Gaddafi propaganda were broadcasting,
You see, the images of those fighters of all ages, carrying arms and putting their lives on the line, and chanting: Allahu Akbar (God is greatest), and practising their prayers while being filmed by the media photographers...
All that says that the anti-Gaddafi revolution was trying to justify its actions by showing itself as an Islamic revolution, driven by righteousness and Islamic values,
So was Gaddafi in any way against Islam?
Not in the least degree. He was a practising Muslim, and he called on the West at one point to adopt Islam, believing it was the best way out of its social and economic problems,
And he openly expressed that he was inspired by his faith.
So the question which comes next: does the revolution have a different interpretation of Islam from Gaddafi's, and has the difference become so acute that a revolution at such a scale became justifiable?
Although the anti-Gaddafi fighters have given the world the impression that they are true Muslims, and, hence, their enemy, that is Gaddafi, was not: they have never spoken on such matters, and the aim of the revolution seemed to focus on ridding of Gaddafi and his sons and entourage.
So, once again, what is really going on?
If one wants to adopt a conspiracy theory one would hastily say that it was all fuelled and orchestrated by the West, so they could put their hands on Libya's oil and open it as a market for their products, at the time when export dollars can make a difference,
But why would the West go to such ends, after they have built bridges of communications with him and some of his sons, and have flirted with him and have paved the way for big business deals with him?
A lot of pieces are missing from the jigsaw puzzle, and the lack of information is making it more difficult to assemble,
But there is one thing one can see very clearly,
And that is: Gaddafi might have lavished his people with top class public services and infrastructure and so on, yet he has failed to bring his people out of the doldrums and the darkness of their tribal mentality,
And that is because he, himself, was unable to make that exit,
This is perhaps why he felt so threatened by anyone who disagreed with him or opposed him.
Gaddafi lived in the past and thought that by clinging to the past he could revive the glory of Islam and the Arabs,
Although he did seem to want to move forward and modernise his country, the basis of his ideology are in the past.
One has to read his "Green Book" to come to these conclusions,
On one page he sounds like a modern leader who has a vision of equality and prosperity and education... for all, on another he sounds like a self-proclaimed philosopher king from the antiquity, who knows everything, all you have to do is listen to him, and he will guide you to a better world.
And although some of his criticism of Western democracies holds value: and we have said on these web pages, that the western democratic system is not truly the rule of the people, as it is meant to be,
It is rather the rule of political parties which are financed by big business and wealthy individuals,
And it is those who have the power to determine what the issues of governance are for the term of the government,
So, although he was able to see those fallibilities, the alternative he devised is rooted back in the past, and looks in the past instead of going forward, and here are some quotes from his Green Book, the source being: www.mathaba.net website, which seems to be the official one setup by his government:
"The natural law of any society is grounded in either tradition (custom) or religion. Any other attempt to draft law outside these two sources is invalid and illogical. Constitutions cannot be considered the law of society. A constitution is fundamentally a (man-made) positive law, and lacks the natural source from which it must derive its justification."
"The fundamental law of society must not be subject to historical drafting or composition. Its importance lies in being the decisive criterion in light of which truth and falsehood, right and wrong, and individual rights and duties can be judged. Freedom is threatened unless society adheres to a sacred law with established rules that are not subject to alteration or change by any instrument of government. It is, rather, the responsibility of the instrument of government to adhere to the laws of society. Unfortunately, people the world over are currently ruled by manmade laws that can be changed or abrogated, depending upon the struggle for power among competing forms of government."
Gaddafi, and other Arab leaders who subscribe openly and secretly to such beliefs, believe that their interpretation of the Qur'an and the Shariah (law) of the Qur'an is God's Law,
And the tribal system which was prevalent in the times of the spread of Islam, is "the system" that God created. And it is said in the Qur'an: "And We have created you as peoples and tribes, so you may know/interact with one another".
And depending on what is strongest in people's minds, the emphasis in this Qur'anic verse can be put on the fact that the people of the earth are created as "peoples and tribes", as Gaddafi elaborated at length in his Green Book,
Or on the fact that people are "peoples and tribes" so they may know/interact/cooperate with one another, as such an activity improves one's knowledge and promotes cooperation between the "tribes" of the world.
So although one of Islam's primary aims was to end "jaahilyyah" (heathenry), which was demonstrated by constant tribal wars between different Arab tribes - amongst other things of course - no sooner did Muhammad die than the followers of his Khalifs started waging wars against one another, with one difference only, that this time the wars were all waged in the name of Islam and for the cause of god,
And this cycle of war counter war, and leader counter leader, and tribe counter tribe... has been going on for a millennium and a half relentlessly.
And although the different interpretations of the Qur'an and the Shariah are often used as a pretext for waging those wars, this has not been the case in the recent Libyan revolution, as we said before.
In any case, tribal wars seem to be the only method for resolving differences in this part of the world, be those differences ideological or other.
So here is another quote from the same source:
"The solution lies in the people being themselves the instrument of government whose authority is derived from Basic Popular Conferences and the General People's Congress; in eliminating government administration and replacing it by People's Committees; and finally, in the General People's Congress becoming a truly national convention where Basic Popular Conferences and People's Committees convene.
"In such a system, if deviation takes place, it is then rectified by a total democratic revision, and not through the use of force. The process here is not a voluntary option for social change and treatment of social ills. It is, rather, an inevitable result of the nature of this democratic system because, in such a case, there is no outside group who can be held responsible for such deviation or against whom violence can be directed."
Obviously the theory did not work. And the "deviation" was not rectified, and Libya became a society suffering from a major divide, between those who belonged to the powerful and privileged tribes, and those who did not,
And perhaps thousands were thrown in torture cells, just for being "deviant", according to the judgement of the few who had the power to judge,
And when the rebellion gained momentum, and the people were in the streets in their thousands, Gaddafi was not hesitant to use the army to try to crush them,
Contrary to his own teaching,
And violence spiralled out, when Western countries saw a great opportunity:
The European Union (EU) which finds itself most affected by this phenomenon due to its geographic closeness to Libya, took time to reflect,
Their leaders had learned a lesson from the American example in Iraq and Afghanistan, and many of them were against those two wars anyhow,
They also wanted to be seen as the just and philanthropic and ethical alternative to the Americans, who just rampage to protect their own interest ("we have to protect our own interests" is a quote that every American official has used openly, when asked to justify those two wars) ,
And let's not forget the debt crisis that has been crippling Europe for the last five years or more: a Libya that is devastated by civil war is going to need everything: arms, training, security, redevelopment of infrastructure....
And who would be most entitled to provide? Of course, those who helped the Libyan people to become free,
And European leaders did go there to show their solidarity with the revolution,
This was an opportunity also to paint the West as a friend to the Muslims, rather than a foe, as the Americans have managed to paint themselves successfully over many decades,
Remember when Nicolas Sarkozy gave a speech to god-knows-who, the main point was the fervour that he was fuelling, when he went, in a very Middle Eastern style: "vive la Liby".
The EU and the entire West for that matter does not see itself as a nation of tribes or a tribe of nations,
They believe they have progressed and created a modern society, based on law, science, democracy, with a hint of faith and religion occasionally,
Yet, the West, from past to present, is not shy to say that they have to do the best, each for the interest of their own countries,
And it sounds perhaps insane, now in the twenty-first century, to suggest that there is wrong in that,
Because those who cannot see beyond such a principle will jump up to say: so you want us to let our enemies invade us and exploits us?
So Western countries have agreed between one another, whether implicitly or explicitly, that what they call "pragmatism" is the way to co-exist, rather than an immediate declaration of war when differences arise.
Although a lot has been written and spoken about pragmatism, one of its main principles is very simple:
You want to live and progress, and so do I. Let's negotiate what each wants, this is easier and less costly for both of us. You have your bargaining chips and I have mine, you have armies and weaponry and I have mine, with such an understanding we know where we are most likely to end up if we did not agree peacefully;
Mind you, pragmatists who have written books about it try to present it as a highly intelligent system of politics/philosophy, suited for the modern world.
The problem with pragmatism is that it leaves a lot of room for deception, coercion, greed and selfishness ... all of which are seen by the pragmatists as incorrigible natural tendencies in humans,
So the party who has the power to deceive, coerce or submit others will not hesitate to do so within pragmatic constraints.
And therefore, the party which feels was wronged and hard-done by in some past will not hesitate to revolt, or retaliate manyfold when the circumstances change and the tables are turned around.
In an essay prior to the American led invasion of Iraq, and when the Iraq problem and its WMD's were still being investigated and debated in the media, an essayist, perhaps Charles krauthammer wrote on the last page of Time magazine, where he usually wrote, to the effect that Saddam Hussein was doing the right thing by his country, in as far as building his arsenal, therefore he must be stopped.
Perhaps the pragmatists would not find such a judgement "pragmatic", but his idea is not totally alien to pragmatism:
If in a political and economic calculation an invasion of Iraq is found to be the least costly option amongst all the options of dealing with his threat, then be it.
Thus, all those ideologies deal with an envisaged danger, and look for "solutions",
And as if the foe is some monster who has come to eat us, and we must "eat him at lunch before he does us at supper", as a popular Middle Eastern saying goes,
And as another Middle Eastern saying goes: "me and by brother against our cousin, and me and my cousin against the stranger."
You see, those simple sayings, born in ignorance and illiteracy, are only crude in their blunt wording, but their spirit is not by one whisker different from the sophisticated and verbose systems of the modern West,
Hence the tribal law of the West happened to coincide with that of the Middle East this time around,
And both the civilised West and the religious Middle East colluded and committed crimes and destroyed a country, contrary to their principles,
And it remains to be seen whether the new Libyan government, elected by democratic processes, will be willing to abolish the tribal law of the country, and treat everyone equally, without privileging one group over another for whatever reason,
And to stop the favouritism and the bribery that is rampant in the Middle East, because in their interpretation of Islam, it is not illegitimate.
At least the West has put such vices behind, and has laws which have put an end to many of those practices.
And if the new government is going to keep the tribal system, then rest assured that there are going to be a new group of an underprivileged,
And that makes the grounds very fertile for extremists to market their ideologies:
They will say: this is god's punishment because those guys do not go by the Shariah, like we do,
And the spiralling down to a Taliban style of rule will be imminent.
The change has to happen in people's minds' first, any change of political systems or political figures is only cosmetic, as soon as your face sweats under stress, the cosmetic ripples down to dirt.
4. China (03/12/2011)
Why the relentless criticism of China in the Western media? And why the fear of it?
Well, perhaps China is an odd one out,
It started as a Maoist, Stalinist ... communist state, and has now turned into a burgeoning capitalist country, with a big difference,
The government is in control of a lot of things, almost everything,
The government that is a body of people who have made it to the top, up the echelons of the only political party in China: the ruling party,
Those people, i.e. the body of officials which constitute the government, are people; they have interests, ambitions, passions.... not unlike the guys of the West, who are in governmental posts, or who are members of the ruling parties, or who run or own corporations,
Corporations which are the rowers of the boat, while the government is the captain steering the boat, as someone that I can't remember expressed it.
You see, the Western system has worked well for Western countries, which are now advanced technologically and hence militarily.
Western enthusiasts attribute the success of the West to their present political, economic and business systems. But in fact, Western countries started their scientific and technological journey of success long before the present system was conceived, and while Europe was still ruled by a feudal system and despotic monarchs,
And some will argue that it was the desire to change that system that prompted the inventors and the scientists to do what they did, so the seeds of this system must have been planted back there ...
This is a long debate that can never settle: which came first, the chicken or the egg?
The way I see it: they come together. They are two faces of the same thing.
While one can argue that the works of art of the Renaissance, and the mathematical endeavours of the mathematicians and the physicists of that time were all driven by the material needs of those artists or scientists who did the work,
One can also argue, that money was perhaps the last thing on the minds of those genius humans, and this is something that many do not understand, because in their own minds perhaps, the only driver to achieve something is their love of money.
But let's not drift too far...
The subject is China,
So the Western system has worked, and enabled Western countries to dominate the world, in every aspect, even culturally: the whole world has moved gradually to embracing Western traditions, dress, food ....
The Western system has worked, also because it has been workable: the plenitude of natural resources, plenitude of labour power, plenitude of markets to absorb what the West has been able to market ...
And let's not forget: the plenitude of political and economic and military power that the West has been able employ or to have on stand-by to insure its dominance and success;
And that's perfectly acceptable, you have to do the best for your country, they all say. And they have done it really successfully.
But this essay would not have sufficient space to fit a list of the changes that have happened in the world since, perhaps, the nineties of the last century,
Let's name a few: population growth; shortage of some natural resources; the spread of education and high skills in some countries which previously were far behind the West; the availability of technology and its affordability, which have made it possible to become a producer and exporter of goods and services from your tiny backyard...
And let's not forget the sad stories too, the countries which are constantly being hit by droughts and other natural disasters, whether you are a believer in climate change or a sceptic,
And the tribal wars under the rulership of individuals who can only be described as clueless.
So amidst all the contradictions and challenges of recent times, China has arisen in the last two or three decades as a young, ambitious, clever, hardworking, self-dependant .... country, which wants to follow the footsteps of the affluent Japan and the West,
With a big difference: China is doing it a very different way: is it communism? totalitarianism? despotism?
You see, all these words and other words which I probably missed, are Western words, born in the Western academic and political institutes, and over-used by Western media: to the point that if you asked Western journalists, when you come across their lavish use of those words in their reports: what do they mean exactly, most probably you will not get an answer.
On the other hand, Western media and politicians cannot deny the economic progress of China and its fast and gradual journey from poverty to prosperity, albeit at the expense of the environment and the traditional lifestyle of rural China,
But not unlike the West which has done this before, and is still doing it to small countries which are still rich in natural resources and a desperate labour force.
What is also ... peculiar about China is its total control of the media: that is its propaganda machine, again according to Western terminology.
You see, the West has left it up to the private sector, they say, to talk things up or down. And the private sector is happy to do anything that makes money, including ... propaganda, although this is not the correct word, the correct word in Western standards is "advertising"; because propaganda is usually an expression of governmental control, and in the West, "advertising" is a private enterprise that helps corporations and individuals and political parties compete on money making and the positions of power;
And money moving around the country, or going inside it or out, is music to the ears of Western politicians: it promotes growth, which looks good on the monthly treasury reports, and fuels another machine: that is of politics,
So the incumbent government and its opposition have a subject to keep arguing about in their houses of parliament, and this keeps the business of news reporting and analysis and commentary going, and keeps advertising companies very busy during elections campaigns,
You see, it all fits very well.
In China, it is the government who tells the people on their TV screens and newspapers that everything is progressing fine, the country is developing quickly, and everyone should be happy...
And a lot of Chinese people do see things that way,
Perhaps they have been totally brain washed by their government, or because they have not been given another option, or because they do not dare express any different opinion, or simply because they do not care ...
So if the purpose of governance is to make the people prosperous and happy, and to defend them from potential danger, China seems to be attempting doing that, in their own "non-western" way,
And with the West's penchant for numbers and statistics, I wonder why they have not conducted any survey yet to prove by numbers and statistics that their people are happier, healthier and living better lives than the Chinese people.
I can hear the giggles of many who believe that it would be a waste of time to try to prove the most obvious.
The West would like to believe that their affluence is proof of their success, and ... hence happiness. Although, the word happiness does not feature much in their rhetoric, only because they have not been able to define it. It falls in one of those areas where politics and economics do not dare, so they leave it up to religions, and these days New Age prophets, to waffle about it,
And you should have guessed it, they also leave it up to commercial advertisers to use it, to inspire it, to package it... in the products and services by whose advertising they bombard their people, in the media, on their streets, and everywhere there is space...
So that, wherever you looked, wherever you tuned your ears to, someone is telling you how better will your life will be if you consumed such goods and services, or supported such political party, and how happy you should be if you already do.
But according to Western standards: come on, it is obvious. An ordinary guy can afford to fly from one city to another to attend a friend's birthday party, to fly back the next day and be taxied back to his residence. What is the percentage of people in China who can afford doing this?
Of course, this is an affluent bunch of nations, but that took a couple of centuries to achieve, and it was achieved often at the expense of other weaker nations, but this is beside the point now;
And according to Western standards, it is also obvious, that the people in the West elect whomever they want to rule them, and when they are fed up with them they can demonstrate, they can criticise them, they can swear at them, and eventually they can elect them out.
Firstly, the fact that China still has not reached that level of affluence is not an indication of a failing system. Remember that China started its journey of modernisation long after the West. And in earlier times, the Chinese rejected modernisation totally and considered it evil. So it took two world wars, and a cultural revolution which included the tearing up, literally, of all old books of philosophy and thought etc... and a complete restructuring of society and redistribution of wealth, and an iron curtain.... and the death of Mao and his communist system, and the opening of China to world trade today...
It took all that for China to be where it is today: an changing and a progressing country, that does not want to get stuck in its past.
So while China's economic growth rate hovers above ten percent now, or goes just a slight bit under that, the West's is barely a fraction of one, if not zero or negative.
But the West does not see any good in that. They often talk about the bubble which will burst, and the masses which sooner or later will take to the streets to start a revolution against the oppressive regime and the lack of democracy...
Remember when Japan was in recession in the early nineties? What were the Western economic experts saying? They were saying: we knew it, this was a bubble that had to burst, and we told them often but no one was listening.
But now the West is in a much deeper ditch, which was being dug back then when the West was pontificating to Japan about Japan's problems.
And now, and after a huge natural disaster, and despite the paralysis of the Western economy, Japan is doing better than the European and American economies; but that's beside the point too.
As for China's political system, I really cannot see why the Chinese should have any degree of keenness to copy an American style democracy, where the two political parties are funded by corporations and wealthy individuals, political parties which have hence to please their funders before they do their electors;
Political parties which train, support, educate, style... their candidates to win the sections of the population they want to target, by their advertising, and the demagogic skills of their candidate...
So if the Chinese are wise enough, they should watch Western democracies not with envy and neither with contempt, but indeed to learn not to repeat their mistakes, and they should take all the time they need to do that.
It would be naive to think that the purpose of this essay is to bash the West and paint it as a dying giant, or a bunch of idiots who have managed to control the world by the might of their military alone.
It would equally be naive to think that I am trying to paint the Chinese picture in rosy colours, to tell you that it is all the envy of the West of the new nation that is rising to rival their most powerful ones.
While both the rosy picture and the envy of the West have some degree of truth in them, they are not really the main subject of this essay.
The main subject is the military build-up that has been happening in China and in the West, ringing the alarm bells of a new cold war that is likely to kick off, if both China and the West do not use their rational minds and common sense.
A couple of weeks ago Obama paid a visit to Australia, mainly to reaffirm the US-Australian military alliance, and to beef up the military presence of the US on Australian soil and waters.
Of course, Obama and the Australian prime minister are clever people, one would assume, and have good diplomatic skills, so they both emphasised to the media that their action was not intended against China, and that they were friends and trade partners with China, and that the West and China needed one another... in no uncertain terms,
And of course, the Chinese officials are clever people too, so in their closed meetings they said to one another: yea sure.
Well, the invasion of Australia is not on the agenda of the Chinese officials, not now and not at anytime in the future. And neither is the invasion of China on the agenda of Western countries, not now and not at anytime in the future. The insanity on either side has not reached this proportion yet, and one would hope it will not in the future.
But one thing does seem to be on the minds of Western countries, and particularly the Americans, and as one candidate for the presidency of the US put it, which, in its crude language, summarises the West's attitude towards China and its prospect of becoming a major power rivalling the US: "not under my watch."
And this is quite an acceptable kind of rhetoric in Western standards, although it echoes only the Wild West of two centuries ago, and is reminiscent of the relentless wars between European countries for hundreds of years and until the recent WWII.
It seems that the West has learned no lesson from past wars and does not seem to be willing to.
Let it be known, any country that digs graves intended for the burial of other countries, those graves will be their own. They will be the graves of those who dug them. This is a natural law. This is not the threat of a country or a power or a god who has a panel of buttons that he can press to carry out his punishment, no, this is a natural law.
Whether the West likes it or not, it cannot continue to rule the world forever. It has had its time and now its time is over, and the power next is going to be China's.
The West can resort to all the tactics and roll the drums in all its media machines, to paint themselves as the most clever and most civilised civilisation the earth has ever seen,
And they can also portray China as an evil and barbaric power that wants to enslave the world ...
They can do all of that, but they will be wasting their time.
The best thing the West and the rest of the world can do is to relax and cooperate with China, so they do not have to submit to it.
China is going to be the country which will pave the way for the new world, whether the West likes this idea or not. Not because Chinese officials are such visionaries and idealists who have a vision of a better world, but because the political and economic world has to change, and the old formulas cannot work anymore, and because China is in a better position than the West to be the facilitator of such a change.
The West would like the status quo to continue, so it can play the world police and decide who is good and who is evil and who should be punished and who should live and who should die,
But this is not sustainable. Not only because it is "undemocratic", but primarily because the West has not been playing a fair game, and of course, because the rest of the world is not so stupid to let the West continue its politics of greed and dominance.
But the West has the propaganda machines to promote their political terminology and definitions of right and wrong to the whole world. And now, what their politicians and business and religious authorities say should be taken as heavenly law, and anyone not complying should be punished by their experimental weaponry,
The West cannot anymore dictate to the world how the world should live, govern themselves, run their economies... because the West itself needs a lot of advice on all these matters and a many more.
The West has played the game unfairly, and its main aim now is to stay superior politically, economically and militarily... at the expense of other nations,
So they should ask themselves: if we were in those other nations' boots what would we do?
And by attempting to find an answer they can understand why the military build up, not only in China, but in every country that can afford it.
But it is the narrow-mindedness and the short-sightedness of the bull that gives the bull an illusion of confidence to continue its futile and self-destructive fury.
The world can live in peace only when everyone feels they are given a fair share, and that they have an equal say as others in world affairs and have equal rights as other nations, under a law that is agreed on by all nations.
The West should be happy with such a fresh start, it has been promoting democracy and equality of all under the law in their own countries, so why can't the West be happy with this concept applied to the whole world?
So unless the intentions are honestly good, and equality and fairness for all are not just the sweetener of some bitter and toxic drink, there can never be peace and prosperity for all in the world, and an arms-race never stopped conflicts in the past, but indeed poured oil on their fires, please tell Margaret Thatcher, she is still alive, and before the West too becomes desperate for quick profit in a quasi-anarchy, and starts selling nukes to private armies and terrorists of all colours and religious affiliations, thank you very much.