Sunday, October 22, 2006

With stupidity the gods themselves contend..

More than two centuries after the great works of David Hume and Adam Smith, 20 years after the "Japan scare", the head of Der Spiegel's Berlin office publishes this.

The world war for wealth calls for a different, but every bit as contradictory, solution


The two camps are divided between Europe and America on the one side and Asia on the other. But so far there has been no shouting, no bluster and no shooting. Nor have there been any threats, demands or accusations. On the contrary, there is an atmosphere of complete amiability wherever our politicians and business executives might travel in Asia. At airports in Beijing, Jakarta, Singapore and New Delhi red carpets lie ready, Western national anthems can be played flawlessly on cue -- and they even parry Western complaints about intellectual property theft, environmental damage and human rights abuses with a polite patience that can only be admired. The Asians are the friendliest conquerors the world has ever seen.


Their secret is stoic perseverance, the weapon they use to pursue their own interests while at the same time disregarding ours. What looks like a market economy in Asia, actually follows the rules of a type of society which former German chancellor Ludwig Erhard liked to call a "termite state." In a termite state, it is the collective rather than the individual which sets the agenda. Tasks that serve the aims of society's leaders are assigned to the individual in a clandestine manner that is barely perceptible to outsiders. It is a state that encourages as much collective behavior as possible but only as much freedom as necessary. We don't know what they feel, we don't know what they think and we have no way of guessing what they are planning. Indeed, this is what makes China a dark superpower.

Beyond parody.


gaddeswarup said...

The title of the post seems apt. I think that it is a quote from some poem of Schiller. The translation I remember (probably somewhere in Maugham): "The gods themselves fought invain against stupidity".

Rajeev Ramachandran said...

"with stupidy the gods themselves contend in vain"- schiller. :-)