After the country achieved independence, a Cameroonian leader said the above. Kwame Nkrumah promised that with independence Ghana would become a paradise within a decade. Of course we now know it wasn’t going to be as easy as they had thought it would. And I think that illustrates quite nicely how unreasonable it is for us to expect of China, or any other developing country, to be everything we want them to be in a flash. Rome wasn’t built in a day, things like effective legal systems aren’t built in a decade.
We sometimes quite conveniently forget some of the events accompanying the development of Europe and America. Such as a repressive, paranoid church which imprisoned scientists like Galileo Galilei, burned witches, waged Crusades and launched inquisition movements. Or wars that were so frequent that most had lost count before the Muslims brought us paper. Not to forget the near-eradication of Native Americans and Australian Aboriginals, and slavery which was a part of modern Western history into the twentieth century. The things we pride ourselves in having today, came at a price, and it was seldom pretty.
There are a lot of things that I don’t agree with when it comes to civil liberties in China, such as lack of freedom of press and political freedom. Workers rights in China are a particular interest of mine. But if we simply “open the floodgates” I don’t think it will do anyone any good – least of all the Chinese public. The Chinese Communist Party is no longer communist but in name, and it is adapting and gradually loosening up. Already in a few decades it has come far. China is changing little by little, economically as well as politically, and I think it is the way it should be. The CCP is much more competent than the regimes of, say, Syria or Myanmar. And unlike the Soviet Republic, they’re not sitting on their hands waiting for the system to collapse.
In Norway there is a saying that accidents seldom travel alone, and this is certainly the case in Japan at the moment. As if a tremendous earthquake, devastating tsunami, huge amounts of debris and earth slides were not enough, even the most prepared nation in the world now has to face the possibility of nuclear meltdown disaster. It is proven yet again that whoever said that ‘nature is dead’ was a fathead.
For me the most unnerving part at the moment is not even the fact that so many people are missing, which is of course awful and unnerving, but that for so many days already we’ve all been glued to what ever screen we use to hear news that at least that situation has resolved. It hasn’t yet. In Europe at least, the fear is another Chernobyl. In Japan, no doubt, the fear of radioactive emissions stems from a big Little Boy and a Fat Man.
We mustn’t lose our heads though. Power plants sure can be dangerous, but remember that it has gotten a lot safer since 1986, and that these are rare, point source events. I think fossil fuels deal at least as much damage, even if it doesn’t all happen in one go.
The term eurocentrism is one that emerged in the period of decolonisation, defined as viewing the world from a European perspective, with all the baggage and implications that comes with. Accusations have flown, and I’m sure you’re no stranger to many of them. Blah, blahblando. This is old news, and I won’t bore you by talking about it in detail. One argument that still has a lot going for it though is that the Western world is still obsessed with this idea that only it knows what ‘modernity’ and ‘development’ is, and what the right way of going about achieving it is.
First of all, ‘development’ can only be good. Further, ‘development’ contains not only infrastructure and economic development and such things, but also ideological changes which comply with Western doctrine (duh). There is also an idea that other countries can only develop in the same direction as the Western states have done in the past!
Do you see any potential problems with this thinking?