The last word on Natural Rights....
I’ve somehow spoken a lot about “natural rights” over the last couple of posts. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t orchestrated. It just came to be. Having to find affordable assisted living for my father coupled with the same interest my Chinese inlaws have of a similar setup has opened my eyes. As such, I’ve seen more than I wanted to see, and come to conclusions naturally of their own being.
In one sense having Chinese come to this country (and yours) and taking advantage of the social web of services that we have to offer is only the right and civilized thing to do. Of that there can be no question. But no one ever considered that a whole class of folk would come “just to obtain” that service. As a result, a large swath of people who already live here, are from here, thus do not get the “access” that many perhaps consider a birthright.
“Sorry, I know you were born and raised here, but that fellow that showed up to our country 9 months ago and doesn’t speak our language, and looks down on our culture…well, he applied before you did. Tough beans. But aren’t you impressed with how enlightened we are? Yeah, I know their country would never allow me access to their benefits….but so what! Why would I ever want to move there??”
When Thomas Jefferson wrote about those pesky “unalienable rights” endowed by their Creator, had he ever been to China? Or India? What did he know of their condition? At the time of the American Revolution the population of China was already well over 250 million. Could one imagine living in a place with so many people…..without the modern amenities?
No antibiotics, nor superhighways, nor any proper way of dealing with sewage? (for the love of God, no nightclubs…!!)
In short, can a nation, or culture, claim for itself the ability to bestow a natural right upon its People when the same mass of People outweighs any ability to maintain, or distribute that right?
Not in any orderly sense. I’ve spoken of India. India is a mess. It is chaotic, unkempt, corrupt beyond all hope, and without any doubt in my mind will be the society still standing a hundred years from now, if compared to China’s “orderly” upheaval. It will survive a boxer’s punch and China probably won’t.
India has embraced the right of people to bitch, moan and groan and make a mess of things. China, in my view, will never be able to make that concession. The leadership is too proud. It’s simply too late.
Which is why natural rights don’t come easily in the Heavenly Kingdom. When some people dare utter that China is not “ready” for democracy they are but oh so very right. Unlike India, or America, or Europe, or Japan, or nearly everywhere else, the Chinese at the end of the day just “can’t handle democracy”, and the uncertainness it brings. It’s messy, ungovernable and unpredictable.
Ambiguity(as opposed to ambivalence), is important for prosperity in this the newest “Modern Age”.
China can’t hack ambiguity. It simply lacks the confidence. Uncertainty brings confusion, and confusion disorder. And well, you can’t govern when you don’t know what is going to happen next. Give credit to India. It has mastered the art of governing within a chaotic bubble. China has not.
So if that is the case is the Chinese People deserving of natural rights?
The right to choose for themselves? When Jefferson wrote those words, America had around 3 million people. Pretty easy to chortle for natural rights when everyone is a farmer. America’s immersion with Democracy wasn’t exactly shock treatment therapy and Britain(despite those nasty movie depictions) wasn’t exactly a nation of despots either. America was in effect “mentored” by Britain for a hundred years. And was a very empty country.
What was our version of chaos? Probably the Boston Massacre.
So this whole concept of Natural Rights comes easy to us. And not to China. Don’t get me wrong. I would never say to a Chinese individual that “you are not worthy” of the right to speak your mind, or publish your thoughts without remorse as you wish. (How dare I be so arrogant!)
But speaking to China as a society I may be tempted to do just that. It’s not that China someday may not be worthy of having natural rights. Rather, because of its overwhelming population and lack of a “mentor”(Britain), its window for change was very, very narrow, shortlived and for the foreseeable future, gone.
From the Fall of the Qing, up through perhaps 1931, China had its opportunity. (a future post) It just couldn’t handle the moment. Like a virgin that doesn’t know what to do with a naked girl on his bed, China was caught unprepared and simple could not take advantage of the situation.
As a consequence we now have a China that is simply “better off” as is. Why? Because it’s predictable. And more than ever, the world needs certainty. Democracy be damned. Chaos costs money. It’s bad for business. Stability sells.
(in the name of “democracy”, how many nations has America fucked up? Libya, Egypt(?), Iraq, maybe Syria? Where will these same nations be 50 years from now? Flourishing democracies having run the gauntlet, or will they all revert to their original authoritarian state? If Gettysburg was the “cost” of the South having Lee as its leader, is not destroying the social fabric of over a 150 million people the “cost” of having America guarantee the “freedoms” of the rest of us?)
The Chinese People know this. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you “I wish we had democracy, but the ‘Chinese condition’ is not ready for it”.
This is what I call the Modern Chinese Humiliation. With all China’s “greatness” and “wealth”, in so many ways China is still a “nobody”. The big fat girl nobody wants to dance with. China can have a nine dash line within spitting distance of the Philippines and Malaysia, and astronauts, and a Nobel Prize winner. It even has fawning Western billionaires thinking they can “charm” China, with their pigeon Chinese and bottomless confidence, if only because billionaires tend to never hear the “no” word as often as the rest of us.
And still nobody can use Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, and even Youtube is banned!!!
This is a good stopping point. Part 2 coming up shortly.