Friday morning, British author Martin Jacques talked about his new book, “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order.” As one listener noted, it’s a great title for getting attention for the book. However, the book itself is less hyperbolic than the title and offers food for thought about how little Jacques thinks China is likely to change as it grows into the world’s dominant economy.
As I mentioned in the conversation, I’m more skeptical of China’s prospects for cultural and language domination than he is. Part of the U. S.’s current global influence is related to the appeal of its popular culture, which is a melding of numerous other cultures. I don’t question that Chinese culture will grow in influence, just as Japan’s did during its boom years. I just don’t see the dominance that Jacques predicts in his book.
The other question I have is over the workload required to pull China into the future. During Japan’s post-war boom years, workers put in long hours and were willing to defer gratification so that their children would benefit. Once those kids grew up they were far more skeptical about the sacrifices their parents made and much less willing to put themselves through that wringer. I wonder how the next generation of Chinese workers will feel about what the current generation is being asked to do. Obviously, there’s no comparison in size between Japan and China, but I wonder whether human nature will assert itself and slow down the fast pace of Chinese growth that Jacques predicts.
Friday on “Film Week,” our critics reviewed the documentary, “Defamation.” Director Yoav Shamir travels the world talking with Jews about what anti-Semitism means today. Critics Jean Openheimer and Wade Major described the film as evenhanded, but it sounded as though the movie is particularly critical of how Israeli students are taught to see the historic, and present, treatment of Jews. I haven’t seen the movie yet but, if you have, I’d like to know your opinion of it. What do you think of Shamir’s treatment of the topic? Comment here, and have a great weekend.
– Larry Mantle