American Bible versus Chinese Dao Dejing
American Bible versus Chinese Dao Dejing

American Bible versus Chinese Dao Dejing

Professors Alexander Cooley and Daniel Nexon write in the magazine Foreign Affairs that the core crisis lies in the fact that illiberalism is on the rise. The competition of the century is not just US-China, but liberal democracy versus autocracy.

This week, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned of the recent Quad meeting in Australia that “China wants to dominate the world.”

On the other hand, the Russians claim that it is the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that is expanding to the east, while China accuses the United States of Cold War mentality in trying to contain China and create problems over Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

The American foreign policy community has always lamented that the Chinese, despite an economic opening, did not convert politically to the liberal democratic model and thus justified US sanctions against China.

By not converting to American ideals, the next step is to limit these “revisionist” powers.

This “convert or enclose” approach smells of fundamentalist Christian beliefs to either evangelize or defeat the unbelievers.

Modern capitalism has deep religious roots.

The German sociologist Max Weber was the first to state that the spirit of capitalism came from Protestant ethics.

Although capitalism existed in ancient China, India, and other cultures, its modern ethos was based on Protestant Christianity, which rebelled against the authority of the Roman Catholic Church and the 16th-century Catholic monarchs.

The Puritan streak of American capitalism favored hard work and the acquisition of assets, not because it was greed, but because it was done to the glory of God.

The greed of capitalism is therefore not only rational and modern, but based on religious ethics.

To be rich is to be glorious (for God). Forget about the fact that wealth can be based on the exploitation of other people and mother nature.

International relational theorist Alexander Wendt argued that modern social science (including international relations) is based on the key assumptions of materialism (reality is physical); reductionism (complexity can be reduced to simplicity); things behave in law-like ways (determinism); there is cause and effect (mechanism); and objective truth exists (perfect objectivity).

These assumptions are all embedded in American foreign policy by rational liberal democracy ideals, rule-based order; believe in individual human rights and in God, enshrined in the US Constitution and coins – In God we Trust.

In contrast, Chinese state crafts are founded in the 10th century BC. In Ching (Book of Changes) and the 4th century BC. Dao Dejing (Road Book (Dao) and Virtue or You). Unlike the Bible, the most translated book in the world, which begins with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”, Dao (the second most translated book) begins with “The Dao that can be expressed is not the eternal Dao”.

In other words, Dao challenges almost all the assumptions that lie in modern social science: that no rule is forever, rights are balanced with obligations, good is embedded with evil, and nothing can be taken for granted.

For Christians, God is perfect, and man’s task is to seek perfection. According to Dao, there is no perfection except constant change.

Life evolves through the interplay between complexity and its parts. The individual (a rational man in economics with rights) is part of a collective and therefore has obligations to society and nature.

There is no absolute good or perfect information as Daoists believe that good and evil exist together in all beings and everything is relative and changes in time cycles.

China’s policy of double circulation can be easily understood as coming from Daoist philosophy.

An example of the opposition between liberal democrats and autocracy is the question of legitimacy, often without self-reflection on their own record.

The latest Edelman Trust Barometer 2022 showed that based on samples taken across 27 countries, China has the highest confidence among the general population (index of 83), compared to the US (43) and the UK (44), with the US Trust Index has fallen 10 points since 2017.

The crisis of the global order is thus not an ideological crisis, but very fundamental worldviews about whether the world is unipolar and monocultural or polycentric, and where different systems and beliefs can coexist and co-create with each other. .

My view is that the real crisis with the liberal democratic order is not whether autocracy is on the rise, but whether the liberal order is fit for purpose in a world threatened by existential climate change.

After more than 40 years of liberal order, the world has had the highest social inequality, accelerating climate change, rising seas and natural disasters, and failing governance everywhere.

The environmentalist says we have less than three decades (until 2050) to reach net zero on carbon emissions.

The demands on society to change are enormous.

Democratic governments facing elections that cost more and more to campaign to win are getting harder and harder by making tough structural adjustments necessary to achieve both CO2 neutrality and social equality.

As Cooley and Nexon themselves admit, “in their current form, liberal institutions cannot stem the rising illiberal tide … Any attempt to fight this crisis will require political decisions that are clearly illiberal or necessitate a new version of liberalism. order. “

Recognizing that you may need to do bad things to achieve good results is at the heart of the difference between the Bible and Dao. The simple, naive version is that good things can only be achieved by upright good politicians. Dao realistically acknowledges that there is no gain without pain and no perfect leaders.

For Liberal Democrats, the idealistic search for the moral best has ended with election promises that are still promises, no delivery of better jobs, human welfare, and more just social and ecological justice.

What global order?

For Christians, let us pray. Daoists will dialectically wait for more changes to come.

Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective. The views expressed here are those of the author.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.