Sunday, 2 February 2014

Chinese Success, Indian Failure

The study of colonialism is a study in pathology, and it is so because the colonial masters sought to construct a specific kind of bastard-breed in the colonies. According to Lord Macauley, the longevity of the British colonial rule hinged on whether one succeeded in manufacturing an obedient elite of colonial subjects or not. These native middlemen may have yellow, brown, or black faces, but they ought to be decidedly British in terms of worldview, tastes, and manners. The extent of the British success in this respect varied from place to place. The Chinese proved difficult to reform for several reasons, the chief amongst which were as follows:

(i) The language barrier: The native languages of China are not Indo-European; for a Westerner, the mastering of these languages would require an excessive amount of time and effort. The colonial masters never succeeded in penetrating the Chinese mindset.

(ii) The collective memory of (recent) greatness: China was the world's leading power until the eighteenth century; this fact was never forgotten by the Chinese. The eclipse of Chinese supremacy is temporary and China is slowly reverting to its place of pre-eminence. The following facts provided by James Petras and John Hobson are worth pondering:

(a) "As early as 1078, China was the world’s major producer of steel (125,000 tons); whereas Britain in 1788 produced 76,000 tons."

(b) "[China's] innovations in the production of paper, book printing, firearms and tools led to a manufacturing superpower whose goods were transported throughout the world by the most advanced navigational system."

(c) "China’s ‘agricultural revolution’ and productivity surpassed the West down to the 18th century."

(d) "China possessed the world’s largest commercial ships. In 1588 the largest English ships displaced 400 tons, China’s 3,000 tons. Even as late as the end of the 18th century China’s merchants employed 130,000 private transport ships, several times that of Britain. China retained this pre-eminent position in the world economy up until the early 19th century."

(iii) A uniform native culture: What I find admirable about the Chinese is their collective spirit. This spirit is not something unique to the Chinese; one encounters it amongst the Japanese and the Koreans as well. The Prussian virtues for which the Germans are occasionally lauded are a second nature to the Chinese. This vitality to the Chinese civilisation is intrinsic in nature, ensuing as it does from a spiritual-cum-philosophical substratum. The Confucian ideal of learning encourages one to abide by the dicates of those who know better. There are few places in the world where learned men are held in as high an esteem as in China. The reliance on the judgments of a selfless intelligentsia is the best way of ascertaining that the right decisions are made in the economic realm. The Chinese ideal of statesmenship signifies the politics of the future. The post-colonial nations who care for their own well-being must disband their western pseudo-democratic institutions and adopt the genuinely democratic Chinese model: a well-functioning welfare state matters far more than parliamentarianism and a free press.

China has succeeded where so many post-colonial nations have failed. In this regard, it is of interest to contrast the Chinese success with the Indian failure. The Chinese were never blinded by the ideological superstructure of their colonial masters and concentrated the surplus of their efforts on the rebuilding of their great nation as soon as the imperialists had been defeated, whereas the Indians succumbed to the ways of the white man and are - till this very day - more concerned with fighting the white man's wars, whether against China or as tools reinforcing the white man's racial stereotypes in the latter's war on the black man.

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