dissabte, 12 de desembre del 2009

60 years ago, a wise advice on democracy

"As a nation, we seem over-eager to attribute our own character to other countries. When we see foreigners who can speak glib American English and seem familiar with our ways, we assume that their minds work like ours. When we notice that a foreign country is buying American automobiles, airplanes, and other goods we like to believe it is becoming modernized in all ways. One of the chief reasons why the Kuomintang was able to get so much American aid was because its relations with us were handled by untypical Americanized Chinese like T. V. Soong and Madame Chiang. I don't suppose I need to remind any Americans how widely it used to be assumed that because T. V. Soong could act like an American businessman in a serge suit, and the Madame had been to Wellesley, China must be full of many little replicas of them, ready and able to turn the country into an imitation America. The current notion that the Germans and the Japanese are becoming democratic because they play baseball is part of the same American failing.

It was always rather improbable that a society like the American one could be established in China, because of the vast difference in the size and the nature of the classes. All that we think best about America -democratic government, a relatively decent industrialization by private interests, a fairly strong tradition of Christian behavior- had to be developed painfully in Western Europe and America over the course of several centuries. The only thing which made this possible was the growth of a middle class with enough economic security for public interests and enough education to use the increasingly complex ideas and techniques of our civilization."

Graham Peck, Two kinds of time (1950).
(illustration by Graham Peck)