Circles and Squares

Insights into Korea's Sudden Rise

“中国梦:西化还是蜕变?” (凤凰国际智库)

凤凰国际智库

 

“中国梦:西化还是蜕变?

解决全球经济环境危机的钥匙,在中国的过去”

2016年 9月  28日

Emanuel Pastreich(贝一明)

翻译:【明媚中国)翻译组】(裘成、周明暘、许兰)

导语

“为治愈积重难返的西方文化,很多西方人士在中国寻找良药。”本文的英文作者是Emanuel Pastreich(贝一明),美国人,现居韩国任亚洲研究所主管。他以一位对中国文化极其了解的西方人视角,讲述了“一个西方人的中国梦”。

“中国所拥有的伟大智慧、深厚的文化、长远历史的可持续农业传统、以及理性化低消费观的悠久传统,可以为人类发展引领另一种模式——即利用其生态和政治伦理传统,作为形成一种新的世界观的基础,替代当前以‘经济增长’和‘消费主义’指标为基础的世界观,构建一个崭新的国际社会和全球治理机制。中国拥有着构建能诠释新世界观价值体制所需要的哲学基础,甚至是艺术才能。”这,是他的中国梦。

中国能否从积聚财富和权力的激情之中回归,从往昔重视人性和智慧为先的可持续农业与经济之中寻找灵感,探索能真正融合经济发展和环境保护的另类发展模式呢?作者认为,中国的“一带一路”项目作为前所未有的机会,可以为所有中国人和发展中的世界诠释这样的一个“中国梦”,可以通过构建“新丝绸之路”来将世界引至正确的方向上。作为我们中国人自己,能否意识到这份早已掌握在手中的宝藏呢?

 

当今中国

近期我前往南京开会,抵达后嘱咐学生安排我去南京老城参观著名的夫子庙。这是我第一次到访南京,我期待着能探索这座古城的街道小巷,或驻足停留在某个古朴的茶馆里。

我早已认识南京,以及它明代以前的名字“金陵”,尽管此前我从未访问过。当我在东京大学和哈佛大学研究中国文学时,曾大量阅读过以南京为背景的诗词。对我而言,秦淮河的风貌早已在十七世纪的文学杂记中被描绘和勾勒出来,而小说《红楼梦》中所描绘的十八世纪南京的华丽府邸则更令人倾心向往。

然而,我对南京的寻觅扑了空,在当代南京纷乱的马路中,古时的金陵街巷毫无踪影。夫子庙周边的传统中国建筑已被蹂躏殆尽,取而代之的是呆板的混凝土楼房,充斥着各种快餐店以及贩卖T恤的小商店。虽然能找到出售好茶的商铺,但这里的绝大部分食物和配置都与曼谷的相差无几,或某种程度上跟洛杉矶的大同小异。没有什么特别的东西能够代表南京。这座城市的艺术气息和匠心氛围都已经消失,诗人和小说家就更加无从谈起了。

夫子庙里给人的感觉一点都不真实。墙体是混凝土灌注的,而非由石头或灰泥构成。木质结构加工粗糙,墙角边缘处理欠妥。劣质的家具摆放其间,平庸的书法作品被挂在墙上。

在南京的这个下午,我没有找到历史的深厚印记。这里完全不同于巴黎的圣母院或是奈良的东大寺那样,蕴含着动人过去的遗迹。我有印象曾读过这样的介绍,说南京的过去是中国人必须了解的一段历史,可是,那段逝去的文明与如今的一切关联甚少。

多亏我的学生做向导,我找到了一间传统茶馆,但起身离开时却心怀悲哀,我悲哀于这么多传统中国印记的消失,很大程度上,这并非因为文革,而应归咎于残酷无情的消费文化在中国的普及。我的这种哀伤的情绪当然也绝非因感情用事。

因为,真正的悲剧是,中国曾经给世界带来了最为庞杂的、支撑其复杂官僚系统与众多人口的体制,而这一体制的基础则完全有赖于可持续的有机农业。当美国农学家F. H. King1911年写成《四千年农夫:中国、朝鲜和日本的永续农业》(Farmers of Forty Centuries, or Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, and Japan)一书时,他提出美国应该尽早效仿东亚地区真正可持续农业的模式。可悲的是,中国却从美国最终引入了致命的复合肥和杀虫剂,可持续不复存在。在中国,年轻人已不再传承中国农业智慧,而这正是当下最迫切需要的。

与此同时,在如今全球消费主义所主导的无情社会,中国传统所倡导的朴素、勤俭、敬老和谦逊的品质因具有替代作用而有着极大的吸引力。可是,当你来到中国想要再探寻这些传统的品质时,将会大失所望。

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George Washington is rolling over in his grave tonight

I have been reading through Washington’s farewell address. He writes very succinctly about the problems that the United States faces today as a result allowing itself to be seduced into this imperial structure of alliance. He notes the internal corruption that results from external engagements. It seems as if the United States is beyond any simple cure at this point. 
 
Washington notes:
 
In the execution of such a plan, nothing is more essential than that permanent, inveterate antipathies against particular nations, and passionate attachments for others, should be excluded; and that, in place of them, just and amicable feelings towards all should be cultivated. The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. Antipathy in one nation against another disposes each more readily to offer insult and injury, to lay hold of slight causes of umbrage, and to be haughty and intractable, when accidental or trifling occasions of dispute occur. Hence, frequent collisions, obstinate, envenomed, and bloody contests. The nation, prompted by ill-will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy. The government sometimes participates in the national propensity, and adopts through passion what reason would reject; at other times it makes the animosity of the nation subservient to projects of hostility instigated by pride, ambition, and other sinister and pernicious motives. The peace often, sometimes perhaps the liberty, of nations, has been the victim.
 
So likewise, a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils. Sympathy for the favorite nation, facilitating the illusion of an imaginary common interest in cases where no real common interest exists, and infusing into one the enmities of the other, betrays the former into a participation in the quarrels and wars of the latter without adequate inducement or justification. It leads also to concessions to the favorite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions; by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained, and by exciting jealousy, ill-will, and a disposition to retaliate, in the parties from whom equal privileges are withheld. And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favorite nation), facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country, without odium, sometimes even with popularity; gilding, with the appearances of a virtuous sense of obligation, a commendable deference for public opinion, or a laudable zeal for public good, the base or foolish compliances of ambition, corruption, or infatuation.
 

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기후변화를 모르는 환경운동연합?

2016 9 22 저녁 제가 환경운동연합과 지구의벗이 공동으로 개최한 2016 후원의밤: “생명안전을 위한 약속 참석 했어요. 환경에 깊은 관심을 갖고 계신 친구들을 만나서 좋았지만, 실망이 많았어요.

특히 그주제: “생명안전약속과 함께 합니다 문제가 많다고 생각 합니다.

이것이 바로 위험한 약품을 가습기에 사용을 추천한 영국계 기업 OXY(옥시) 암시하는 표현이고 그행사에서 주로 제품의 안전성에 주목하고 있어요.

제품에 뭐가 들었죠?” 환경운동연합펙트 체크 하세요”  라는 표현도 썼어요.  행사 소개 하는 글은 여기 있어요.

 

이제품에 뭐가 들었죠?” 환경운동연합펙트 체크  하세요

제품안전성이 매우 중요 것이지만 매우 한정 환경 정의 에요.

심각한 환경문제들: 온난화, 사막화, 해수면상승, 바다의 죽음 중에  이런 일상생활에 있어서의 좁은 환경에만 집작 하는지 모릅니다. Read more of this post

Seoul launches signage for smart phones

Clearly the increase in accidents due to the carelessness of smart phone users was behind the launch of this signage by the city of Seoul. I must say that it would have been better to include images of drivers using cell phones as well.

 

smart-phone1smartphone3

“한국인만 모르는 일본 과 중국”

오늘 교보문고에 가보니까 제 책 “한국인만 모르는 다른 대한민국” 옆에 일본외교관 미지가미 히로시 (道上尚史)씨 (현재 주두바이 총영사) 가 쓰신 책 “한국인만 모르는 일본 과 중국” (중앙북스 2016년) 이 있었어요. 아직 읽지 못 했짐나 매우 재미있는 책 같아요.
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교보문화 정치사회코너

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道上尚史 기타 서적은:

 「日本外交官、韓国奮闘記」 (文春新書)

Love and Consumer Culture

We cannot talk about sex and love without considering consumer culture. The explosion in the circulation of things since the industrial revolution, and especially over the last decade has made everything a target for consumption. Humans are no exception and we consume each other as products (saying to ourselves, as we are taught by the mass media, that it is “love”). But in fact we care much less about each other because we do not have the time or inclination.

Remember that the Romantic movement came with the industrial revolution. It was both an attempt to escape from the horror of what Walter Benjamin called “the age of mechanical reproduction” resulting from the industrial revolution and the “great transformation” remaking human society and also a product thereof. Ironically many efforts to find something human and natural that gives shelter from a world gone mad with consumption are themselves products of that trend. Starbucks is the perfect example. A cozy space that seems more human, more natural, closer to a world we wish existed. But Starbucks, or the I Phone are as much a product of that ruthless mechanical reproduction (and now mechanical consumption) as anything.

I have not seen much discussion of the linkage of the various disturbing trends in our society, in our politics, to the rate of technological change. But I would argue that if we cannot see that link, we cannot see anything at all.

 

“Korea’s impulse economy” (JoongAng Daily September 12, 2016)

JoongAng Daily

“Korea’s impulse economy”

September 12, 2016

Emanuel Pastreich

 

 

There I was standing in the stationary store the other day, lined up to purchase pens, pencils and some printer paper before the start of classes. When I reached the counter, I was struck by a gaudy stack of candy bars and other sweet treats. But this is a stationary store, I thought, why am I seeing all these unhealthy snacks?

The answer is obvious: the candy bars are placed in the most visible place, even though they have nothing do to with stationary supplies, because retailers hope that customers will impulsively buy them even though they have no need for them, and they are not nutritious.

You would never have found candy bars piled up in a stationary store in Korea 15 years ago. Back then stationary stores had a clear purpose of supplying people with the paper and pens that they needed to conduct their business, or to pursue their studies.

All that has changed forever. Stationary stores are about tempting people to buy things that they do not need, and that impulsive behavior is considered essential to successful business.

The same principle holds true in bookstores. Once places where students burrowed away to read books about politics, literature and philosophy, now the books are being replaced by stuffed animals, backpacks and trivial accessories.

And every restaurant hangs a sign in front featuring glowing photographs of tasty foods designed to appeal to casual pedestrian’s cravings.

We have adopted a new normal, the assumption that the economy should be focused not on what people need, nor on what is good for our society, but rather on making money persuading people to buy impulsively through an appeal to their most base desires, without a concern for whether the purchase is necessary.

The dangers that result from making impulse and short-term satisfaction the driving force for the economy are tremendous. Human activity has no greater meaning than satisfying base cravings and imagined needs. The citizen becomes a consumer who has no higher ethical purpose for his actions; there is no longer a greater national plan than to consume without thinking about the future, and thereby to generate profits.

Such an approach to economics is alien to Korean culture. The central values of Korea are restraint, humility and an understated self-control in dress and in daily life. Such a culture of restraint extended even to the well-off families who lived in relatively modest homes in traditional Korea (certainly compared with the chateaus and town houses of their peers in Europe).

Thrifty Koreans valued every single grain of rice and threw nothing away. It was the simple and unadorned worth of simple objects that was central to Korean aesthetics.

The tragedy of an economy of impulse is not just the needless waste, but rather the loss of any sense of “why” in the lives of people. They just do things because others do so, they are consumers, but not citizens or family members. For that matter, the understanding of causality will ultimately break down, with people feeling that events simply happen without any relationship to their own actions.

Many young people are pushed to consume, but they do not know why they do so. They feel compelled to engage in such behavior because of social pressure, or because of marketing, but they derive no satisfaction for it. The individual feels increasingly alone, without meaningful friends or meaningful possessions.

There is a darker implication of an economy based on impulse. It encourages cultural decadence, a decadence that creeps into all aspects of society, conservative and liberal, and eats away at the ability of individuals to determine right and wrong, to conceive of a better society or make moral judgment.

As we lose the ability to think for ourselves, to control our own actions and to articulate a response to serious social problems, we cease to be members of a society.

A generation of Koreans raised to think that impulsive actions are a positive will not have the patience or the self-control to wrestle with contradictory facts or separate complex truths from convenient fictions. We risk losing the ability to imagine a future for our society and to work actively for that goal. Indulgence will lead us into fatal passivity, and we will find ourselves dragged along by developments that are beyond our capacity to understand.

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Climate change and the sin of false monumentality

 I have been so deeply disturbed at the spectacle of civilized men and women walking by indifferent in the streets of Seoul, indifferent to the worsening air quality and to the rise in temperatures as a result of the acceleration of climate change.  They are like their brothers and sisters around the world. I think that at some level they know something is wrong. But the respond by simply laughing and acting like they are enjoying themselves. No degree of logic can break through to them.

It seems to be a rule of thumb in Seoul that one mentions the unusually hot weather when meeting people, but does not say anything about climate change at all, as if it were a forbidden topic, something akin to incest or child abuse  that must not be mentioned.

Even more disturbing is the drive in Seoul to build more big buildings and drive more cars, bigger cars, perhaps in the hope that such actions will help the economy, but they are rather a nail in our coffin: every single skyscraper, every single automobile.

The greatest sin is false monumentality, the frailty of humans to think that building something bigger than required will enhance our experiences and make life more significant, make our civilization more complete. But it is a treacherous lie; and now the truth is out.

I feel a pain every time I am given a disposable cup, every time I ride an automobile and every time I take an airplane. I am seriously thinking of declaring I will never fly again, but I lack the bravery, and fear the tremendous isolation that will result. I recently designed a new pin for the Asia Institute that will be available from next week. Do let me know if you would like one.

stop-climate-change-2

But there is no easy solution for this predicament. All I am sure of is that the solution must start with me. And of course Korea has in its past of frugality and respect for nature and for objects the solution to that problem. But in the blind rush into modernity, many Koreans have lost sight of that prize.

It is in this context that I started rereading E. F. Schumacher’s classic book Small is Beautiful: Economics as if People Mattered. I am even more deeply appreciative of the wisdom in this book, and even more deeply disgusted that we have not been able to do anything since it was first published in 1973. I was impressed by the following quote at the opening of Small is Beautiful which I think sums up the emptiness of our project and the need to find spiritual content, for material things can never fill the terrible chasm in our commercialized lives.

 

 

Few can contemplate with a sense of exhilaration the splendid achievements of practical energy and technical skill, which, from the latter part of the seventeenth century, were transforming the face of material civilization, and of which England was the daring, in not too scrupulous, pioneer. If, however, economic ambitions are good servants, they are bad masters.

The most obvious facts are the most easily forgotten. Both the existing economic order and too many of the projects advanced for reconstructing it break down through their neglect of the truism that, since even quite common men have souls, no increase in material wealth will compensate them for arrangements which insult their self-respect and impair their freedom. A reasonable estimate of economic organization must allow for the fact that, unless industry is to be paralyzed by recurrent revolts on the part of outraged human nature, it must satisfy criteria which are not purely economic.

 

(

(H. Tawney Religion and the Rise of Capitalism)

“ ‘왜’ 라고 묻지 않는 한국의 충동 소비자” (중앙일보 2016년 9월 10일)

중앙일보

“ ‘왜’ 라고 묻지 않는 한국의 충동 소비자”

2016년 9월 10일

임마누엘 패스트라이쉬

 

일전에 나는 문구점에서 줄을 서고 있었다. 개학에 대비해 펜•연필•프린터용지를 사기 위해서였다. 계산대에 섰을 때 나는 현란한 모습으로 포장된 캔디바•사탕•초콜릿 같은 제품의 무더기와 마주쳤다. 하지만 그곳은 문구점이었다. ‘문구점에 건강에 안 좋은 간식이 이렇게 많이 눈에 띄는 이유는 뭐지’라고 나는 생각했다.

답은 뻔하다. 캔디바는 문구류와 아무 상관없지만 제일 잘 보이는 데 배치돼 있다. 캔디바는 손님들에게 필요도 없고 영양가도 없지만 손님들이 충동적으로 캔디바를 살 것이라고 상점 주인들이 기대하기 때문이다.

15년 전 한국에서는 요즘과 달리 캔디바를 쌓아 놓는 문구점을 발견할 수 없었다. 그때 문구점에는 사무나 공부에 필요한 종이와 펜을 사람들에게 공급한다는 뚜렷한 목표가 있었다.

모든 게 바뀌었다. 문구 상점은 사람들을 유혹해 그들이 필요하지 않은 물건을 사게 만든다. 비즈니스가 성공하려면 그러한 충동적인 행동을 유도하는 게 필요하다고 인식되고 있다.

같은 원칙은 서점에서도 적용된다. 학생들이 정치•문학•철학에 대한 책을 몰입해 읽던 자리의 일부를 동물 봉제 인형, 백팩 등 사소한 소품들이 차지하고 있다.

모든 레스토랑은 빛을 발하는 듯한 맛있는 음식 사진을 넣은 간판을 내걸고 있다. 우연히 레스토랑 앞을 지나가는 행인들의 욕구에 호소하기 위해서다.

우리는 뉴노멀(new normal)을 수용했다. 오늘의 경제는 사람들에게 필요한 것이나 사회에 좋은 것에 집중하지 않는다. 대신 사람들의 가장 원초적인 욕구에 어필해 그들이 충동적으로 물건을 사도록 설득한다. 그런 식으로 돈을 벌어야 한다는 게 뉴노멀의 가정이다. 그들이 구매한 물품이 진정 필요한 것인지는 고려의 대상이 아니다.

충동이나 단기적인 만족을 경제의 원동력으로 삼는다면 그 결과는 지극히 위험하다. 원초적인 갈망이나 허구적인 욕구를 만족시키는 것 외에는 인간 활동에서 더 큰 의미를 찾을 수 없게 된다. 시민은 소비자가 된다. 자신의 행동에서 그 어떤 상위의 윤리적 목표도 찾을 수 없는 소비자다. 뭔가 보다 위대한 국가적 계획은 더 이상 없다. 소비자들은 미래에 대해 생각하지 않는다. 그들을 노리는 영업하는 사람들은 이윤 추구 외에 관심이 없다.

경제에 대한 그러한 접근법은 외부에서 침투한 것이라 한국 문화와 맞지 않는다. 한국의 핵심적 가치는 인내•자제•겸손, 그리고 절제된 의복이나 일상생활에서 발견되는 검소함이다. 전통 사회에서는 잘사는 집안도 이러한 절제의 문화를 실천했다. 옛날 한국의 잘사는 사람들은 그다지 대단하지 않은 평범한 가옥에서 살았다. 유럽의 부유층과 달리 그들은 으리으리한 대저택이나 타운하우스에서 살지 않았다.

근검절약을 강조하는 전통 한국인들은 밥 한 톨도 아꼈으며 아무것도 내다 버리지 않았다. 한국의 미학에서 핵심적인 자리를 차지한 것은 아무런 꾸밈이 없는 소박한 물품들이었다.

충동 경제의 비극은 단순히 불필요한 낭비에 국한되지 않는다. 사람들의 삶에서 ‘왜’라고 묻는 감각이 사라진 게 문제다. 그들은 그저 남들이 하는 대로 따라 한다. 그들은 소비자일 뿐이지 시민도 아니고 가족의 구성원도 아니다. 인과관계에 대한 이해도 궁극적으로 붕괴한다. 사람들은 모든 일이 그저 우연히 발생한다고 느낀다. 자신의 행동과 벌어지는 일들 사이에 어떤 관계가 있는지 모른다.

많은 젊은이가 소비하라는 압박을 받는다. 그들은 자신들이 왜 소비하는지 모른다. 그들은 사회적인 압력이나 마케팅 때문에 소비 행동에 착수하도록 강요되는 느낌을 받지만 소비에서 만족을 얻지 못한다. 의미 있는 친구나 의미 있는 소유물이 사라진 가운데 개개인은 점점 더 외롭다.

충동을 기반으로 하는 경제에는 더 큰 어둠이 내재돼 있다. 충동 경제는 문화적 퇴폐주의를 부추긴다. 퇴폐주의는 보수와 리버럴(liberal)을 따지지 않고 사회 곳곳의 모든 측면에 스며든다. 옳고 그름을 가려내거나, 더 나은 사회를 구상하거나, 도덕적 판단을 할 수 있는 능력이 퇴보한다. 우리는 독립적으로 생각하고, 행동을 통제하고, 심각한 사회문제에 대응하는 능력을 상실했다. 그렇기 때문에 우리는 더 이상 사회의 구성원이 아니게 된다

한국의 젊은 세대는 ‘충동적인 행동은 긍정적인 것’이라고 생각하도록 교육받고 있다. 이런 세대는 모순적인 사실(事實•fact)을 이해하는 노력에 필요한 인내력이나 자기통제력이 결여될 것이다. 편의적인 허구와 복합적인 진리를 구분하는 능력도 없을 것이다. 우리는 우리 사회의 미래를 상상하고 능동적으로 미래 목표를 위해 일하는 능력을 상실할 위험에 빠져 있다. 꼭 필요 없는 사치가 치명적인 수동성으로 이끄는 가운데 우리는 이해 능력을 벗어난 사회의 전개에 끌려다니는 우리 모습을 발견한다.

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Calligraphy for “Earth”

I had an opportunity to attend an exhibition of calligraphy at the Gyeongbok Gung Station in Seoul last month that featured work by Korean, Chinese and Japanese artists. One Japanese woman produced this remarkable piece which features a version of the characters for “Earth” (地球)in which that latter one,  球, is shaped like the Earth. She told me that it was based on a Zhuan script version (篆書)version. I am afraid that I did not get her name. But here is a photograph.

 

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