"Democracy refers not to the realisation of a promised land, but a people whom are jostling for the right position required to bring it about. That can be said of the west, but not of Legalist/Confucian ‘middle kingdoms’ where ‘progress’ requires a population to kow tow its way through history." ~ ed
According2ed responds to a recent fascist piece written by a member of the ‘Young PAP’ - the youth division of the ruling 'People's Action Party' of singapore. It must however be made clear that a2ed does not only respond to or consider the ideas of the prominent or lauded simply because of their stature but also appreciates all others whatever their position in society. To not do so serves as evidence of one’s own fascist nature, which, in its core aspects, refuses to acknowledge the significance of another unless they are of the said stature. The same cannot be said of the ‘democrats of the fascist left’ that is the oppositional sector of singapore, or the propositional right.
A2ed’s response interjects betwixt the emboldened paragraphs in that which follows.
To The Devotees of Western Democracy and Human Rights.
Written by Ho Cheow Seng
Tuesday, 22 September 2009
It is one thing for one to have read about Singapore's Early History as a nascent, sovereign Nation and quite another thing to have lived through that period and to play a crucial role in Singapore's struggle to stand on its own two feet and fend for itself.
We, as Citizens of Singapore, are the best to judge which system of governance suits our Nation best in terms of advancing the well-being of our people. And no, we should not be so arrogant as not to want to look closely at other successful systems of governance with a view to adapting aspects of those systems to our benefit.
ed: The writer has made a logical error here. If one does not have control over democracy, one will certainly lose the ability to objectively judge or even notice those aspects that one is thus-trained to view as western frivolities. The absence of democracy leads to the narrow development of a people’s perspectives given that its evolution is dependent on the vision of the few. And when this is accompanied with economic success, the way things are moves from being a refuge and/or a millstone around one's neck to a pedestal and people will reflexively ignore that which is different; requires the tedium of thought and consideration; and will be bereft of the formulae by which difference can be intelligently appreciated or depreciated - and which explains why many Chinese view western democracy, demonstrations, human rights, as 'causing law and order problems' or simply being 'chaotic'. Hence, the lesser mind that is thus produced will be inclined to seek refuge in cultural pride and front it as battlements in the face of a 'western other' for the purpose of maintaining a status quo deemed to be virtuous simply because it is familiar to a diminished personality.
Secondly, going through a difficult period does not necessarily render one the best judge of what's good for oneself given that one's personality can be severely compromised by such experiences. Does the writer and his horde of kow-towists actually belief that a child having gone through an abusive childhood will be well-placed perspectivally and aspirationally? This is an analogy that is most pertinent with regards to singapore's post-independence history. The curtailment of democracy, the elevation of one 'race' and culture, censorship, pogroms against difference and westernisation, oppositional members being detained for decades without trial for supposing otherwise, amongst a host of others can certainly be classified as 'abusive' whatever the economic 'miracle'.
The writer has to prove that singapore's history has brought out the best in the various aspects of the human persona amongst singaporeans and not use the consequences of abused beginnings to argue for the continuation of the perspectives borne of such experiences, or the culture that had been formed and serves to cradle-cum-smother it simply because one is familiar with it. This can only be done by cultural comparisons whilst casting aside an objectivity-compromising 'cultural pride'.
The observation has been made that it is those countries in the West, who were former colonisers of countries in Asia, and who robbed lands belonging to others, suppressing the native inhabitants of the lands they conquered, and stealing their valuable resources to fuel their own industrialization now condescendingly want to teach us how to govern ourselves following their model wholesale.
ed: I suppose the writer is projecting his own cultural immutability on the west and cannot appreciate the change it has undergone given that he practices a perspective that is founded on unchanging continuity for the sake of being able to make sense of the morrow with the same senselessness of centuries past. He speaks of western-past but not of the movement to ensure it's negative aspects are not replicated in the present and future. He glosses over the greater egalitarian spirit that now encapsulates much of the west for the sake of maintaining a familiar status quo. The writer and the 'Young PAP' ought to ask themselves if their penchant for rattles in their childhood disqualifies them from parenthood in latter years.
These were also the countries that once lorded over the great ancient civilization of India, and who also derided China [another great ancient civilization] as the 'sick man of Asia’. And these were also the nations that, at the height of their imperialism, imposed, by sheer brute force, the 'right' of extra-territoriality upon the countries they had subjected. And now, they are crusading for Freedom and Human Rights in their former colonies as well as the other countries of Asia.
ed: Shows that they have learnt much about human rights since and because of the colonial era. One can learn far more from a St. Paul-after-the-road-to-Damascus than a Saul.
Additionally, one ought not to mistake 'ancient' for 'great'. There has been many aspects of Indian and Chinese culture that can be rightfully accorded the 'delete' button for its serving as an obstacle to the maximal development of the human personality. The Indian Caste system and the position it relegates to the 'untouchables' is one. The burning of wives upon the demise of their husbands - practiced in some parts of India in the past - are also regrettable cultural elements that have thankfully been given the heave ho.
However, the positive aspects of Indian history makes it more like the west than China. For instance, the absence of intellectual and educational centralisation; religions that promoted empathy for all living creatures - the world's first animal hospital was founded in India before the time of Christ - their metaphysical philosophies; religions that sought a deeper meaning to life and which even saw kings giving up their thrones to pursue ascetic lives; interaction with and learning from various cultures; little control of the intellectual life of the nation by the political; the existence of oppositional movements, of which Buddhism, Jainism and Sikihism are manifestations; opposition to the caste system that saw the production of these faiths along with other belief-systems; etc, etc, are some of those aspects of India that made it a perspectival part of the west way before the arrival of the colonialists.
As for China, its serving as the longest standing nation-state (since 221 b.c.) is no credit to it as there is no virtue in the maintenance of the status quo for its own sake. In fact, given the centralisation of thought and education; oppression of empathy-induced political activism; the national institution of Legalism that saw humans as selfish creatures and sought to capitalise on it...right up to the present; cultural and intellectual continuity; mass apathy induced by seemingly unassailable top-down oppression by a 'Son of Heaven' who was deemed to have the 'Mandate of Heaven' if he managed to maintain his rule over the people by any means at his disposal; delivered a people rendered bereft of critical and empathetic propensities. That contributes significantly to the 'ancient' in 'Ancient China', but does little to argue for its 'greatness' when humane and intellectual standards are applied. Hence, integration and learning from those with relatively unstable political and cultural histories would do well to counteract the intellectual and humanitarian decrepitude such conditions always delivers whether it is practiced on a national or familial basis. But given the views of the 'Young PAP' along with their mentor, Lee, who began the pogrom against westernisation whilst promoting 'Confucian' thought a couple of decades back, it seems that the debilitating legacy of China's past is well on the way to being reinforced in the present, and hence, such a perspective as contained in the admonishment of 'devotees of ....'
Have you ever wondered why no Asian countries have ever tried to preach to countries in the West about our Asian values and way of life? Do remember that it was the great Asian and Middle-Eastern nations that gave the world the first great inventions in the various fields of human activities. As the current Chinese Premier Wen Jie-bao once said in his address to the Chinese People's Congress: "Why should the U.S. and the West be afraid of China's economic re-surgence?" He went on to say that history has shown that China had never harboured any imperialistic ambition and had not occupied an inch of anyone's territory.
ed: As democracy is significantly founded on and reinforced by popular empathy, it is this empathy that serves as a check on the megalomaniacal aspirations of their governments on an international scale. Get rid of democracy, or base it on apathy after a people have been significantly diminished humanitarian-wise – as is the case in Legalist/Confucian states – and the empathetic check on a nation's elite is done away with. And given that such a milieu is founded on gross self-absorption and localised megalomania amongst the elite, their unimpeded movement toward megalomania on an international stage – which is itself a companion of self-absorption – does not require a wide divergent stride.
Secondly, Wen Jie-bao is simply talking nonsense - as is expected of the head of any fascist state who thoughts are not suffered refinement for want of argument from an intelligent population. China as it stands today is itself a product of aggressive expansion. When one compares the map of China during Qin times to the present, one will find that Qin China was far smaller than it is today. Secondly, let’s not forget Tibet and Xinjiang shall we. And unless I’m mistaken, ‘Xinjiang’ translates as ‘New Territories’.
Anyway, a ‘resurgent’ China will probably not be a threat to other lands in the traditionally aggressive sense. Rather, given the mass intellectual ineptitude of an age-old oppressed population – that is borne of 2000 years of intellectual individualism being suppressed by the centralisation of thought and education, the slaughter of entire clans who dared to disagree with authority or express empathy for one's neighbour in the political realm – the elite is in a perfect position to extract resources from the population and buy up foreign capital produced by intellectually and politically vibrant cultures to circumvent the docility of their own population brought about by said oppressive state of affairs. Hence, there is no need for military expansion where an economic one suffices. This is the unfortunate truth behind China's resurgence.
As I've always been inclined to state, there is little basis for pride in being a follower when the choice of leader is based on her/is wielding a truncheon or due to a consequentially-induced popular inferiority complex that leads them to always look up toward the prominent for perspectival direction as opposed to sideways (as is the case amongst all political sectors in singapore). But in following such a leader, people, overtime, are severely diminished enough to turn their efforts at compensation and recuperation in the face of popular political failure into 'culture'. Hence, they will be shorn of those aspects of the human persona to know or recognise better.
And so the West, and in particular the U.S., want now to teach us how to run our countries according to their model of Democracy. Beware of their pulling cotton wool over our eyes. Do you seriously believe there is genuine Freedom and practice of Human Rights in America? May I refer you to Noam Chomsky's "Manufacturing Consent", a book that exposes American Democracy as a sham? And Chomsky is both a citizen and one of America's most brilliant thinkers and incisive critics on Social and Political issues.
ed: In the west, such books can be published, and most importantly, appeal to the popular mind, whereas in Confucian nations such as China and Singapore, one would probably find queues for the latest ‘Harry Potter’ or ‘Hello Kitty’ Dolls. Noam Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ is not just an effort to expose the sham that is democracy in America, but an effort to rally the people perspectivally to do something about it. Democracy refers not to the realisation of a promised land, but to a people whom are jostling for the right position to bring it about. That can be said of the west, but not of Confucian ‘middle kingdoms’ where ‘progress’ requires a population to kow tow its way through history.
You know the term 'cultural bananas'? To give you some clue, a banana is yellow outside and white inside. And 'cultural bananas' is the term the great white lords used to pour scorn on the 'Westernized Asians' who were bold enough to speak up to them.
Now why do we allow them to treat us this way? Have we no self-respect or do we totally lack the ability to think for ourselves that we should sink so low as to be devotees of everything white and Western? Given our colonial history, many of our citizens are Anglophones. This is perfectly fine especially as we are a muti-racial society and we need a common language to facilitate transactions both social and economic among our various ethnic groups.
ed: Again, the writer speaks of a past which the majority in the west have shrugged off as low-points of a perspectivally medieval past. Whilst the writer’s perspective might have served as quite the valid argument during the period of nationalist anti-colonial movements, to invoke this ghost-past in post-independence times cannot but be purposed for the reinforcement of a divisive brand of ‘democracy’ and identity that seeks exclusivity for the continuation of a cultural status quo for no other reason than it being familiar. No one culture can produce the entirety of 'good', hence, cultural interaction and taking on values that enables us to make more of ourselves ought not to be anathema to the objective and progressive mind that is unimpeded by insensible and culturally introverted 'cultural pride'. A culture is not worthy of respect simply because it is termed 'culture' but because it promotes a culture of egalitarian and empathetic respect for the purpose of making the most of all so that the dividends received by all from all is maximised. Is the writer saying that egalitarianism and empathy adulterates 'Asian' culture? If that is the case, then I'm all for adultery as opposed to reducing my persona to the point that i view everyone as an opportunity for self-aggrandizement.
But please, don't ever fall into the trap of taking that one further step to become an 'anglophile' in the misguided belief that THAT would enhance your standing in the eyes of your countrymen and that of the 'great white lords'. If at all, you will likely be despised.
ed: The term, ‘anglophile’, does not do justice to those whom are objective enough to appreciate the value of the elements of western cultures even if they aren’t ‘our own’. Secondly, to encapsulate the appreciation of the myriad aspects of another culture within the term ‘anglophile’ serves to 'reject' on the basis of the other not being ‘one of our own’. Let’s not forget that the parliamentary system is itself of British origin. Much of the ‘great inventions’ that the writer speaks off pales in comparison as this is that which is required to make inventors of us all - that cannot be said of Legalist/Confucian nations whose population is more inclined to await top-down directives and abide by the traditions that are thus-formed in between.
The late Mahatma Gandhi once penned a few verses to show his disgust for the hero-worshippers of Western culture. He wrote:
Discarded by the West
And despised by the East,
They stand as living monuments,
Of Western adultery.
By 'Western adultery' Gandhi may be referring to the adulteration of Indian [and likewise Asian] culture by the Western culture. So don't be sold on Western Democracy and Human Rights.
ed:Firstly, let’s not appreciate ‘Asian culture’ as a ‘whole’ shall we. There are far greater similarities between the United Kingdom and India then there is between China and India. Both may share the same geographical region, but when it comes to popular intellectual individualism, multiculturalism, and political vibrancy, as briefly discussed above, they certainly do not share the selfsame perspectival region. Any wonder why Indians are thought to ask 'why', 'complain', or 'twist words' too much by those whom have been taught to appreciate China's culture as their own just because they look similar? And any wonder why the first PM of singapore, now turned 'Minister Mentor' in the party-inaugurated 'House of Lords', stated that singapore ought to always have a Chinese majority. Given his all too verifiable aversion to opposition, one can plausibly attribute it to the political and critical vibrancy of those practicing, or borne of, Indian culture.
Secondly, the writer's interpretation of the meaning of Gandhi’s statement is grossly inaccurate. He was never against western democracy and human rights but strenuously supported its application in India – hence, his calling the ‘untouchables’, ‘Harijan’, or ‘Children of God’. Gandhi never saw 'western democracy' and 'human rights' as antithetical to, or an 'adulteration' of, Indian culture. His only problem with the British then was the non-application of 'western' democracy and human rights in India. Hence, it was in appreciation of 'western' human-rights and democracy that founded and contributed to the evolution of the Indian subcontinent from that period to the present.
Right up to the second half of the 20th Century, Afro-Americans were still fighting their white counterparts to be accorded equal rights. Martin Luther King Jr. had this to say:
"I have a dream that the children of slaves and the children of former slave-owners will one day sit at the table of brotherhood".
Martin Luther King Jr. may well be more than surprised should he be alive today to witness that an Afro-American, a coloured man holding the highest post in 'the Land of the brave and the free', the post, that is to say, of the President of the United States of America.
ed: Indeed. But, that's quite rich, the writer quoting Martin Luther King, given that that cannot be said of the Legalist/Confucian state of Singapore where the people have been readied to not accept a non-Chinese PM. What does that say about his ‘Asian’ values compared to western ones? Doesn’t this relegate the writer’s argument in his fascist tirade against the west to the compost heap from whence it seems to have emerged for a post-autumnal airing?
For all Afro-Americans and all coloured peoples of the world, indeed the wheel has come full circle.
ed: Firstly, Afro-Americans are known as 'Afro-Americans' and not 'coloured' which, to my knowledge, is an offensive term given the historical discriminatory milieu wherein the term was used.
Secondly, It’s nothing short of ludicrous how this writer claims to speak for the Afro-Americans, Asians, and all non-western and previously colonised nations whilst promoting a vision that discounts difference for the familiar. Given that he and others of his ilk hail from a party that has unequivocally stated that singapore must always have a Chinese majority; has provided exceptional education for the Chinese so that they might take over the economy; has moved the nation from a multicultural nation of Malay origins to one on the verge of taking on Mandarin as its ‘mother-tongue’; promoting Chinese values and language over all others; doing its best to associate the idea of ‘the majority’ with race whilst associating the Chinese with the culture of China and nothing besides; and basically sharing the same perspectival ethos of United Kingdom’s popularly despised BNP, the assumption that this nonsense is simply a fascist tirade is most plausible. The writer seems to be attempting to rally the whole non-western world against what he deems to be a ‘western version of human rights’. Perhaps he belongs to another species of ‘human’ that requires not a system constructed to eke out the maximum in human development and imagination.
Let it be known that one can either choose to make the best out of one's economy in spite of humanity, or bring the best out of humanity despite the economy. If one chooses the former, one gets the best economically whilst disabling humanity from making more of it as they most certainly would have if they had been maximally developed. In this sense, Legalist/Confucian states have chosen the former whilst the west attempts to marry both. Hence, it is not surprising that the victims of Legalist/Confucian civilisations are rendered bereft of the persona and perspective to regard western democracy and human rights as nothing more than a 'western' frivolity.
All in all, this is a typical and typically Legalist/Confucian attempt to discount difference for the sake of a predictable order and 'harmony' that comes with monoculturalism and popular subservience, and which always serves to maintain the rule of a elite - an elite which the writer supports by his membership of Singapore’s ‘PAP Youth’, or what I am inclined to term on the basis of evidence as opposed to malice, ‘PAP Jugend’, after the fascist ‘Hitler Jugend’, whom similarly sought to rally popular support for a singular party whilst promoting difference-discounting cultural pride and introversion in their march toward ‘Aryan glory’. In the modern context, the Legalist/Confucian world seems inclined to view the west as the Nazis viewed ‘the Jew’, whilst Confucian/Legalist culture, disguised as ‘Asian culture’ is forwarded as the perspectival saviour of the non-western world, or, otro mundo - just as the west, in the days when it was blighted by the superiority complex saw others. One can be sure that if such a perspective was pervasive in America, not only would Obama not be president, but would probably still be picking cotton.
Finally, the presentation of 'western values' and 'human rights' as a matter of faith as alluded to in the title that admonishes and reduces those whom objectively appreciate various aspects of western culture as 'devotees', is contradicted by the call for faith, pride, and allegiance to the culture of one's biological ancestors. In this, the writer seems to simply be calling for a reorientation of the pew from the west to the east.
As I had stated in the site wherein this piece of fascist nonsense is located, such people ought not to be spoken to but to be spoken about as a medieval curiosity that is best relegated to the position of an exhibit in the British Museum on in some dusty back alley curiosity shop.
Remember, Fascism cannot be assumed to be untrue. It has to be proven to be so. The writer and the Young PAP ought to ask themselves, given the policies and perspectives of the past and present, and as illustrated in the perspective in question, if this is untrue purely on the basis of faith and cowering behind the term 'culture' on an Us vs. the Western 'Overlords' stage, or if it can withstand the test of the definition of fascism and the ethos behind the Nazism of the past. That is the only basis upon which the following can be proven to be an inaccurate representation of reality.