Monday, February 22, 2010


In the ever interesting scrimmage between Google and China, it seems a compromise is about to be reached. This will be hard for us on this side of the globe to understand, but students in China now are so patriotic that they will do the government's bidding without ever being asked. Actually, even when they are admonished strenuously not to do it, they will read Big Brother's mind.

In this country, the unruly teabaggers are as far from the Academy as they can possibly get. There is almost no intelligence there (I don't mean that there are no intelligent people there, I just mean that as a movement, it is utterly chaotic), just inchoate anger looking for an object. The obvious object is the government itself, which becomes almost spooky similar to what we used to taunt one another about as kids: "You have one finger pointing at me, and three pointing back at you! Neaner neaner neenah!!!"

It's astonishing that they accept Sarah Palin as their spokesmodel. Here is a woman who is as far from understanding real life as the Bushes and the Kennedys were, and yet they hold her up as some kind of one of them. Hers is a different sort of remove from reality, sure, but just because you hunt moose in Alaska doesn't make it real. Just because your husband's a mensch doesn't make him like your husband. They live a fantasy life up there, where the government gives them money.

This woman defines the very term "bitch goddess" and she wouldn't even know what that means. She'd think it was some kind of political incorrectness that she has a right to point her finger at. Well, debating her would be an utter waste of time, so I don't know why I bother. I had something to say about China.

(I always have something to say about China). You'd think, wouldn't you? that after what we call the Tian-an Men massacre in 1989, the students in China would be rather more radicalized toward their government. You'd be wrong. Those punished for that uprising were almost exclusively workers. The students were chastised for allowing their privileged understanding to spill out into the streets. The entire event became what we might call an object lesson. The students followed it very closely.

It is not hard to understand the terms of the bargain the Chinese government has made with its people. Their lives are getting palpably better day by day, and the only thing which can put a brake on that would be chaos; not accidentally the very word which the Chinese use to describe the events on Tian-an Men square that fateful day.

The Academy over here is meant to enlighten. The Academy there is meant to rectify. In both cases, this supposition forms a kind of benign fiction, masking all sorts of petty corruption and deviation. (If you think the Ivy League is all about enlightenment, you should examine the power structure of our nation once in a while)

Rectification means putting words in their proper contexts, mostly. Establishing their meaning - their proper usage - against, in China's case, thousands of years of usage. As you might imagine, this can put the brakes on what we celebrate as "innovation."

Corruption is a deviation, which doesn't change the main stream of improvement. It is the purpose of government, in China, for instance, to keep the rivers flowing in their proper channels, since the weather plays chaotic havoc from time to time, wiping out farms and farmers.

One might suggest that they have gone a bit too far now, damming up the Yangtze and in the process wiping out farms and farmers. Not to mention artifacts and history. But one would never suggest that inside China. That would be to invite chaos.

Decisions, once rendered, must be upheld in a single composed face. Of course we, on our side, also only pay lip service to protests which are now as effectively restrained to within the walls of the Academy as they had been before Vietnam. Only the teabaggers spill out onto the streets.

This is not accidental. Our elite students also accept the bargains offered them. The same riches, beautiful women, access to power, and a chance to enter the government and improve it. This also, is trivial to document. I've seen it from the inside, and it's not always pretty.

So, while I actually don't think that Paul Wellstone was killed by some earnest non-agent of the Bush administration who was reading the mind of Big Brother, I do think that this precise thing explains the cyber-attacks from China. I think Google and China should shake hands and carry on, and that the rest of us should get a clue.

The Chinese government is precisely as responsible as ours is, and precisely as corrupt. I don't say that because of some need for fearful symmetry. It just falls out from the actual balance of power, trade and what these mean for the rest of the world. We have a hard time understanding, much less condoning, China's behavior in Tibet, while the rest of the world has a hard time with us in the Middle East. Or with regard to Israel a lot of the time. Which is also in the Middle East, come to think of it. Duh.

Thinking these things does nothing about making them right or wrong in practice. The problem for Tibet is not its being inside our outside the Chinese sphere of linguistic rectitude, which is arguably as tried and trued as our sphere of scientific enlightenment. The problem is rather, what happens to the stuff that's actually valuable which is a part of their culture and only their culture. The living part and not just the artifacts, which I'm sure the Chinese government will be very careful to preserve.

What happens to all the cultures of the earth now that American English has swapped places with the Queen's own Empire? What happens when we're all just WalMart civ?

I don't think any of us should be pointing fingers, but I do think that we shouldn't exactly trust the Academies to do our dirty work for us either. Clearly, life is not getting palpably better over here day by day. But it surely is for the elites. Why, indeed, would they want anything at all to change??

I think there's room for righteous anger about that. Let the dialogs begin!!

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