China is the genus Thaumoctopus of human culture, a hollow imitation of a superstate.
In the natural world, the physically weak are overcome by the physically strong. That is an observable and provable law.
But even that law has its exceptions and variations. Those not possessing physical strength (power, speed) find safety in other mechanisms, ranging from excreting poisons thereby making themselves taste bad or in some cases, deadly to consume) to deception (camouflage), evolving to mimic characteristics of the strong as a defense.
There are at least a half dozen categories of mimicry in nature, such the Hawk-cuckoo, a cuckoo that has feather and wing patterns like a hawk; the False Cobra, which has the same distinctive hood as the Indian Cobra; many insects copy the African monarch butterfly due to its legendary bad taste; and in a very impressive display of mimicry, octopuses of the genus Thaumoctopus (e.g. the Mimic Octopus) can change color and shape to resemble a poisonous lionfish or even sea snakes.
The point has been made that the weaker of cultures are eventually subsumed by the stronger cultures. History also proves that cultures mimic invading (or superior) cultures to survive. A good example of this is how the nations and areas conquered and colonized by the British Empire adopted all things British – everything from fashion to etiquette.
Japan is an interesting study in how a virtual colonization, a colonization of the mind, can take place. The wariness of outsiders has always been a Japanese trait, choosing to maintain isolation from the outside world. Portuguese traders visited Japan as early as the mid 1600’s and even thought that contact changed the way internal wars were fought – they introduced the Japanese warlords to guns and gunpowder – Japan maintained its feudal, Shintoism culture and societal system largely unaltered. That all changed on July 8, 1853, when Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy, commanding a squadron of two steamers and two sailing vessels, sailed into Tôkyô harbor aboard the frigate Susquehanna.
By the late 1800’s the upper classes in Japan had adopted Western dress, styles and mannerisms and Christianity had gained a foothold.
Humans are hardly exempt from, as Jefferson put it, “Nature and Nature’s God”.
The point being, when physical confrontation (who wins or loses in a direct contest) is eschewed as a determinant in a struggle for domination, one could reasonably deduce the progress of the fight by which entity begins to mimic the other as a defense mechanism. When one entity begins to adopt the trappings of the other, it is often a sign that the physical battle for supremacy is lost, and the weaker entity is signaling it can no longer expect to win and end the predation and is merely looking for a means to survive in an environment in which it can no longer hope to dominate.
I have been thinking about this natural occurrence as it pertains to the rise and fall of great powers, especially in the current cold conflict between the United States and China and considering if it will morph into a hot war of dominance – or one will begin to signal defeat through the mimicry of the other.
Mimicry, when viewed as an intra-species event is interesting when compared to inter-species occurrences, because mimicry among human cultures can, and does, take many forms and purposes.
During the periods of world dominance by Pax Britannia and then Pax Americana, both Japan and China used mimicry of clearly advanced cultures to gain advantage. Japan’s ended in the direct conflict with Western powers in World War II, but China is a study in how things can change. Initially, under the leadership of Chang Kai-Shek, China was seemingly headed toward a Western style of self-government. Then came the isolation when Mao’s revolution succeeded. For decades, China isolated itself in communism until Richard Nixon, like Commodore Perry, sailed in. Almost immediately, the Chinese communist leadership saw an opportunity to maintain political control over their country while learning how to profit from the rest of the word.
That was the moment they kicked off their R&D (Rip-off and Duplicate) programs and drove them into high gear, creating a mimicry for a purpose more than just a mechanism for survival, it was a way to skip several steps in their evolution, learning though replication.
Now they have decided it is time to let their mask of mimicry to fall away to reveal the new world power – and there are many powerful people in America who claim the Chinese model of state capitalism is the next evolution for human civilization, a “new” epoch to replace Western civilization with Chinese civilization as a model for the future.
I would argue they are wrong. Dead wrong, as a matter of fact. Those who claim this are cowards, afraid or unwilling to fight.
The weakness in the “Chinese model” is found in its mimicry. The Chinese “great leap forward” through duplication has taught them the “how” to build everything from dishwashers and cars to aircraft carriers and satellites, but they have no sense of the “why”. Their rapid expansion has been built upon mercenary motives, not from fulfilling needs of their own people, something necessarily for viscerally understanding the “why”.
Contemporary Chinese “culture” is hollow, the communist party crushing any creativity that is not blessed by the leadership. They are an imitation of a modern culture, driven by ancient desires for domination but lacking the soul required for success.
This does not mean they are not dangerous or that they cannot project power, but it does mean that they are vulnerable to a stronger culture, which America and the West clearly is. Something Charles Krauthammer said about America’s purported decline, that it is a choice not an inevitability, applies to the coming Sino-American conflict.
We have a choice, a say in this matter.
I choose America, I hope you do as well.