Life out of Balance

koyaanisqatsi.jpg

Check out this stunning set of B&W photos of life in China as the country seeks to follow the model set by the West.

Via this blog.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

It’s a conceit to think that China wants to emulate “the west”/America. From where I’m sat in Yunnan, China is copying Japan, not the US.

December 19, 2007 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

China has a long long way to go. That is for sure.

December 20, 2007 @ 12:26 am | Comment

Bring in Godfrey Reggio and Philip Glass: after “Koyaanisqatsi”, “Powaqqatsi” and “Nacoyqqatsi”, there’s a sequel to be made here.

December 20, 2007 @ 7:53 pm | Comment

“From where I’m sat in Yunnan, China is copying Japan, not the US.”

Given how energy efficient Japan is I have to say you’re talking absolute rubbish.

Besides, Chinese often refer to Japan as being part of the “West” anyway.

December 21, 2007 @ 4:32 am | Comment

The desertification in the north is so sad.

I love this short film:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2926032018049266053

December 21, 2007 @ 6:17 am | Comment

“”From where I’m sat in Yunnan, China is copying Japan, not the US.”

Given how energy efficient Japan is I have to say you’re talking absolute rubbish.”

Absolutely right! Then again, when it comes to (per head) consumption, we can only hope China will never try to copy the USA or Japan, or Europe for that matter. As much as I hate to say it, when it comes to wasting resources, the average European is still way ahead of the average Chinese person.

December 21, 2007 @ 7:43 am | Comment

@mor

true, but i have a horrible feeling that that is mainly due to the countryside outweighing the city. i’d be interested in knowing how much co2 the average chinese inhabitant of a city is producing….

December 21, 2007 @ 4:25 pm | Comment

Well let’s be fair here. There is nothing wrong with saying that China is trying to take after the West… especially when the Chinese leaders admit it themselves. How many times have you heard this: “You Westerners had your own industrialisation, and you polluted so much. So don’t criticise China. It’s our industrialisation now, and we have a lot of poor people.” That sounds a lot like copying the West’s pollution-intensive industrialisation period to me. The Chinese would ensure their praises would be sung in histories if they could find it in them to shave a few percentage points off of their GDP to ensure a clean environment WHILE going through industrialisation. They would also reduce the number of people dying of pollution-related causes as well as the number of people whose health was being affected by lead and chemical poisoning.

So I would say “copying the model of the West” is apt terminology. The means are there to do otherwise.

December 21, 2007 @ 4:55 pm | Comment

Because of the advances in technology and the relatively higher population, China did indeed produce less pollution but much more in a short interval of time.

It’s easier said than done to drastically cut pollution or improve air quality. It would take a lot of work on the populace’s part, even if officials implement better policy.

They will most likely need Japan’s help.

December 22, 2007 @ 7:29 pm | Comment

@Si

Yes, you are right, not only the countryside outweighing the cities, but the poor masses outweighing the newly rich. Those Chinese who have enough money to waste resources are worse than any American could be.

December 23, 2007 @ 1:32 am | Comment

“As much as I hate to say it, when it comes to wasting resources, the average European is still way ahead of the average Chinese person.”Posted by: mor at December 21, 2007 07:43 AM
“Those Chinese who have enough money to waste resources are worse than any American could.”Posted by: mor at December 23, 2007 01:32 AM

Are there two posters under “mor”????

December 23, 2007 @ 11:45 am | Comment

@chinesepeople

Maybe you have to read more carefully. There is a big difference between the average Chinese and those Chinese people who belong to the newly rich class. I find it a little strange that somebody who seems to know nearly nothing about China and its population would call himself chinesepeople.

December 23, 2007 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

“As much as I hate to say it, when it comes to wasting resources, the average European is still way ahead of the average Chinese person.”Posted by: mor at December 21, 2007 07:43 AM
“Those Chinese who have enough money to waste resources are worse than any American could.”Posted by: mor at December 23, 2007 01:32 AM
“I find it a little strange that somebody who seems to know nearly nothing about China and its population would call himself chinesepeople.”
Posted by: mor at December 23, 2007 09:19 PM

Lemme get this straight. So, I’m suppose to agree with you that (1) Europeans are wasteful (2) Americans are less wasteful compared to the newly rich Chinese (3) I know nothing about China because (4) there is a big difference between the average Chinese and those who flaunt newly acquired wealth.
Well, I must say you’re very convincing, mor on, say, world culture. Bravo!

December 23, 2007 @ 11:37 pm | Comment

@chinesepeople

I said that the average European wastes more resources than the average Chinese.
I think pretty much everybody who is in his/her right mind will agree to that.
I also said that those Chinese people who can afford to waste resources (I’m talking of the newly rich) are worse than any American and I stand by that. I know Chinese people who can’t even be bothered to switch off their lights when they leave their homes.

You asked: “Are there two posters under “mor”????” which shows that
A) you didn’t read my statements carefully.
B) you are not aware of the fact that there is a big gap between ordinary Chinese people and the newly rich people in the worker’s paradise called People’s Republic of China.

Conclusion: I’m not suffering from schizophrenia and I don’t give a rat’s ass, if you find me convincing.

December 24, 2007 @ 5:53 am | Comment

@mor

That makes the two of us….Grow up and calm down….

December 24, 2007 @ 2:37 pm | Comment

First of all I agree those are stunning pictures of
“…life in China as the country seeks to follow the model set by the West.” Richard

I think it is perfectly alright to follow “good” models of course. As Athenian Rome was not built in a day, so the spirit of modern constitutional West have much to offer as models. And of course there are models that are dubious. Take the World Bank, the IMF, the Washington Consensus, the UN; 5 decades on, they’ve all failed to wipe out global hunger and alleviate poverty, why?

Orthodox economics don’t seem to work. In fact there are mounting evidence that most poor countries that received monetary aids are actually worse off. Impossible, you say, but that’s the truth.

Nearly all economists who work in the field of development received their graduate
economics education from the highly ranked economics programs at prestigious universities
(e.g., Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard, MIT, Stanford). Some have also participated in a World
Bank training program. This education and training instills in recipients a faulty, misguided conception of what it means for a poor country to develop. Grad students are also imbued with the view that the USA and UK know how the world ought to be managed, and that the way to manage it must include democracy and a “free market economy.” Their education, because it is consistent with the narrow ideology of the orthodox development advocates and the USA-controlled World Bank, significantly reduces the likelihood that new recruits enter the field with a critical eye or a fresh perspective.

“Economics remains caught in a set of assumptions which not only serve enormously important ideological purposes, but also offers little help in understanding the modern world.” This ideology is “neo-liberalism.” (Mancias, 39).

The culprit: Ideology.

Man, I think that is humanity’s worst enemy. Will racism disappear with it ? And religion? How about just sticking to one ideological rule: “Do to others what you would want others to do to you”?

Is true altruism dead? First thing first, (1) poverty. It is a “complicated tangle of political, social, historical, institutional, and technological factors;”
(2) alleviation of many specific problems requires community projects developed through a
process of trial and error by members of the indigenous population knowledgeable of the local
conditions; (3) foreign advisors can be helpful only if they first study the local culture by talking to the poor to learn about the important “informal social arrangements,” and then make recommendations in the form of “piecemeal improvements that work;” and (4) foreign advisors also can assist by designing feedback mechanisms such as surveys, and experimenting with what works in local conditions.

Isn’t it better that we learn from each other, to live &work together and ***ops, sorry, I must’ve dosed off…talking in my sleep.

December 24, 2007 @ 9:19 pm | Comment

Note: Mancias, Peter T. 2007. “Endogenous Growth Theory: The Most Recent ‘Revolution’ in Economics,”
(1) — (4) are Excerpts from Post-Autistic Economics review: http://www.paecon.net

December 24, 2007 @ 9:31 pm | Comment

“China has a long long way to go. That is for sure.” fatbrick at December 20, 2007

Yes, indeed…that is for sure. Just listen to our competitions:
Solutions are not the answer – Former President Richard Nixon

In politics, stupidity is not a handicap – Napoleon Bonaparte

I was recently on a tour of Latin America, and the only regret I had was that I didn’t study Latin harder in school so I could converse with those people. – Dan Quayle former US vice-president

…. and I don’t know which Us President(s) said the followings:

- I would have said yes to abortion if only it was right. I mean, yeah its right. Well no, it’s not right. That’s why I said no to it.

- Well, I think if you say you’re going to do something and don’t do it, that’s trustworthiness.

- The Holocaust was an obscene period in our nation’s history. I mean in this century’s history. But we all lived in this century. I didn’t live in this century.

- I believe we are on an irreversible trend towards more freedom and democracy – but that could change.

- We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.- If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure

December 26, 2007 @ 2:50 pm | Comment

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