I can smell the chain of causality hiding in some dusty pages that have no dust.
I can feel the wisdom in the brown brittle pages I can not touch.
I can tell this is going to take days from my life and give me years.
Sometimes life has its little paradoxes. “The trick is not to mind. -E.M.Smith”
(That quote, BTW, I originally wrote on a drawing I made of someone ‘snapping their fingers’ with thumb and middle finger ‘mid snap’, and a candle flame rising from the hot spot… palm up.)
OK, what’s all this crypto-poetic-babble about? Yet Another Causality Cascade…
Sera, in ‘tips’ T9 pointed at an interesting article discussing the potential for revolution in China. OK, kind of interesting I guess. China is kind of important. If they have a revolution, from whom will we borrow our suit and ‘walking around money’?
An American Perspective from China
What Causes Revolutions?
January 13, 2013
A surprising number of people in China have been writing and talking about “revolution”. First came word, in November, that China’s new leaders have been advising their colleagues to read Alexis de Tocqueville’s classic book on the French Revolution, L’Ancien Régime et la Révolution (The Old Regime and the Revolution), which subsequently has shot to the top of China’s best seller lists. Just this past week, Chinese scholar Zhao Dinxing, a sociology professor at the University of Chicago, felt the need to publish an article (in Chinese) laying out the reasons China won’t have a revolution (you can read an English summary here). Minxin Pei, on the other hand, thinks it will.
It then goes on to some excerpts about the reasons for the Russian Revolution.
The answer, he argues, lies in the fact that Russian society changed dramatically, but its political system did not, leading to an explosive disconnect between the two:
So, around 1900, we have a mechanically rather than organically structured state that denies the population any voice in government, and yet, at the same time, aspires to the status of a global power. This aspiration compels it to promote industrial development and higher education, which has the inevitable effect of shifting much opinion and the power to make decisions to private citizens. Pre-1905 tsarism thus suffered from an irreconcilable contradiction. A not-insignificant segment of the population received secondary and higher education, acquiring, in the process, Western attitudes, and yet it was treated as being on the same level with the illiterate peasantry, that is, unfit to participate in the affairs of state. Capitalist industrialists and bankers made major decisions affecting the country’s economy and employment, yet had no say in that country’s politics because politics was the monopoly of the bureaucracy …
At that point, I’m hooked. I’ve been feeling exactly that way. The Federal bureaucracy does what it damn well pleases despite what the population wants, or votes for. Congress and Obummer are having pissing matches over which of THEM gets to do what they damn well please, but not bothering to worry about the rest of us. (Forget the 1% or the 99%, it’s all of us that are getting shafted.) Even The Supremes decided to have Obamacare be the law of the land ‘because they could define it as a tax and it would be legal’ vs not.
We have an ever growing “disconnect” between the people and the EFFECTIVE political structure. (What the political sturcture nominally was; died a long time ago. I’m not sure what parts of the constitution are still being followed, but I know that not one word of it is in control of anything anymore. Congress certainly does not express the ‘will of the people’ and the only ones represented in D.C. are folks who can cut a $Million check and not notice. For BOTH parties. Ask the Democrats about who paid whom how much from GE and the Solar industries…)
So now I’m wondering “Just how much have we been down this path before and I’m just too young to remember the street signs?”
The author goes on:
Read that again carefully, line by line, with present-day China in mind, and I think you’ll find some fascinating food for thought. I have often observed that I know of no country that has changed as much in the past 30 years as China has, in terms of the kind of practical freedom people experience in their day-to-day lives. The greatest challenge facing China’s leaders is how — or whether — a fundamentally closed political system (rule by an elite) can cope with the dramatically more open economy and society that present-day China has become. That’s why they’re reading Tocqueville.
Well I’m damn certain that the USA is a “closed political system (rule by an elite)”. Kerry and Baby Bush went to the same school, joined the same club, had the same peer group, collect money for favors from the same elite, and I’m sure I’ll never shake hands with anyone from that stratum. Nor will they ever hear my voice, and they certainly will not care.
So what’s it to be? Do we become a dramatically more closed economy, or does revolution re-open the political system to ‘real folks’? The thesis of that article is that the present state is unstable, so where does stability lie? Is this a ‘one way’ to revolution? Or a two way street and we’re headed the other way (toward the tyranny that China has left, as they go their way to revolution…)
Inquiring minds want to know?
But I don’t yet.
So I’ve got to get the book and read it. Like all those folks in China.
A ‘Hungry Mind’ does not like to be told that it may have gone shopping, but it will be days to get the slow roast pork done…
You can download Alexis de Tocqueville Title: The Old Regime and the Revolution as a free pdf or ebook here:
Which I did. On looking over the table of contents, I kept thinking “That sure looks like the USA. And That and THAT”.
Followed closely by the echo of “but isn’t it even more like the EU?”…
Now I’ve got to read the whole thing to ‘scratch that itch’ of just knowing that someone ‘with clue’ has already worked out all the linkages before and all I need to do is listen carefully and make sure I don’t embrace too many exceptions that are not really exceptions…
From the book:
How the same Institutions had been established over nearly all Europe,
and were every where falling to pieces 29
How Centralization crept in among the old Authorities, and supplanted
without destroying them 79
How the Capital of France had acquired more Preponderance over
the Provinces, and usurped more Control over the Nation, than
any other Capital in Europe 95
That Frenchmen had grown more like each other than any other
That these Men, who were so alike, were more divided than they
had ever been into petty Groups, each independent of and indifferent
to the others 106
How the Destruction of political Liberty and Class Divisions were
the Causes of all the Diseases of which the old Regime died. 124
Of the kind of Liberty enjoyed under the old Regime, and of its Influence
upon the Revolution 137
How, toward the middle of the Eighteenth Century, literary Men
became the leading Politicians of the Country, and of the Effects
thereof Page 170
How Irreligion became a general ruling Passion among Frenchmen
in the Eighteenth Century, and of the Influence it exercised over
the Character of the Revolution 182
How the French sought Reforms before Liberties 192
That the Reign of Louis XVI. was the most prosperous Era of the
old Monarchy, and how that Prosperity really hastened the Revolution
How Attempts to relieve the People provoked Rebellion 218
Of certain Practices by means of which the Government completed
the revolutionary Education of the People 228
How great administrative Changes had preceded the political Revolution,
and of the Consequences thereof 234
So many of those things are familiar. People pressed into the same molds. Centralization of power, trying to “reform” and making things worse in the process. Old regime liberties leading to an unacceptance of how things were going. Common laws and rules being pushed everywhere, and the loss of power by the parts.
Well, I had bought de Tocqueville “Democracy in America” as it seemed to describe well the differences between the old America and Europe and pointed where we’d lost some of those old America ways. Just barely into it, I’m now thinking I need to put it down and read this one instead. Even if I can’t touch the pages of a pdf… and the dust on the cover is only photographic…
People have not changed since the time of the French Revolution. What motivates them. What they will do and under what circumstances. How civilizations age and eventually break down. The toys and tools change, but not the whys and hows.
So looks like I’ve got another couple of days ‘time commitment’ to save a few months of wandering in the intellectual woods…