LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE CHINA?
Don C. Marler
The major defining feature of Conservatism is its affinity for preserving the old beliefs, practices, values, worldview and philosophy of life. The term “old” as used here refers to those beliefs, values, etc. that were present in the culture in which we are born and includes beliefs of the founders of the USA, family values, traditions, religion, cultural mores and taboos as well as lifestyles. Conservatives fight hard to protect the status quo and they perceive change as a threat to their way of life. They believe the old ways brought us to where we are now and feel threatened and frightened at the prospect of giving up that heritage. This is the state of mind of the “Hard Right” Conservative.
“Hard Left” Liberalism is the polar opposite of Hard Right Conservatism. There are many who lie in between these two extremes, but it may be helpful to draw an extreme contrast in order to see the differences more clearly. Conservatism and Liberalism as used here is in no way confined to any particular political party.
Being the polar opposite of Conservatives suggests that Liberals welcome change, are more tolerant of differences of opinion, practices, beliefs, values and way of life. They perceive the old ways as having brought them to the present and as being instructive for moving into the future. The old ways are, for Liberals, helpful primarily when melded to the circumstances of the present. The old ways need to be examined for relevance to current reality, knowledge and situations and retained when they serve the needs of perceived current and future reality. Liberals believe that the old way is best viewed as an evolving and modern tool for progress rather than as an anchor holding us in a fixed position regardless of the circumstances.
Illustrations and examples of these differences from our own culture are likely to evoke feelings that hinder objective thinking; therefore, it may be enlightening and perhaps would foster objective thinking if we took our examples from a foreign culture. Toward this end let us ask the following question.
Knowing that China is changing, would I prefer to see it develop as more Conservative or Liberal ?
China is dictatorial, contemptuous or indifferent to the plight of its common citizens, demeans women, violates international laws, steals intellectual property such as patents. It is militarily aggressive, secretive, imposes self-isolation, and maintains a hostile worldview. The old way has brought China to where it is today as described above. China is an ancient society with a lot of traditional baggage. How long can it continue to exercise its ancient ways?
It is evident that China is reluctantly beginning to move toward a more liberal stance, though it has a long way to go. It is still a dictator run nation that is indifferent to its common people, demeans women, while it continues to steal property rights from other nations. It is still hostile toward much of the world outside its borders and is isolated by choice from much of that world, but less so than in the past. Future change will no doubt be slow, halting, reluctant and with great sacrifice on the part of the common citizen.
The United States of America, on the other hand, has its own powerful Hard Right forces that are trying to move the country in the direction China is moving away from. That is, toward indifference toward the masses, toward demeaning women, toward more corruption in industry and government, toward hostility and war with the world outside its borders.
When viewed in this light, returning to the old ways presents frightening implications for our future.
The reader will no doubt draw his/her own parallels between Conservative or Liberal China and Conservative or Liberal America. The purpose here is an attempt to provide a relatively emotion free framework for making those comparisons.