Thinking about China

Today starts the Olympics, but you’ll hear little from my corner of the internet. Being a house without even rabbit-ears, we’re going to be incredibly out of the loop. Not to say that I was in-the loop back in the day. The last time I even had a remote awareness of the Olympics was during the “muy muy es olympioso” era of Mrs. Letterman visiting Seoul ( I think ).

For a person who purports to be internationally aware, I’m a horrible follower of these international to-do’s that center on sport. Nevertheless, I do know it’s happening in Beijing, which I suppose has my China-radar up.

But I did notice an interesting piece on eights over at the New York Times’ Op-Art ( proving, to me, that even if their reporters aren’t always truthful or even sane, they do advance our culture, like it or no ).

The feature, “Crazy 8’s”, referenced President Hu ( Jintao )’s 8 traditional virtues, a bit of the old program of civic virtue in the Augustan style.

Here they are:

Hus 8 virtues, as created by Schott

Beautiful work done by Ben Schott

It’s interesting. I see it as it’s trying to instill a moral-and-capitalist ethic so that the transition to PRC-organized, human-rights-abusing control can occur with less chance of stratospheric wealth inequity ( which would be the base for revolutionary foment and demagoguery ). All nations have a long road to go to get towards a more fair implementation of the rules that they believe will help them to create their national ideals, but I was particularly struck by President Hu’s explicit embrace of science.

My goodness, I would love to have a scientist or engineer be embraced as a national commendee.

Instead I have insanity like this: “Give Intelligent Design Equal Time and Place”. Freed of such Bronze-Age adherence, Chinese medicine and science will outpace the religious world’s ( and no, this isn’t strictly an American problem, other religiously-driven societies will find themselves in the lurch when their primary commodity runs out ).

But by no means do I wish to say that Hu’s guidelines are perfect, or even coherent. Those who innovate in science and business often do so at the expense of the current social or moral order. Thus it seems that several of his dicta are in conflict with the command and control maxim.

Nevertheless, I do like the ensconcing of culture in these adaptable moral frameworks. It’s very virtue ethics.