February 4th, 2015

Godzilla, default

On the Mandate of Heaven, the First Emperor, and why generalizations tend to be false:

In the usual take on modern concepts of revolution, the Yankees started the ball rolling of rejecting the idea that authority because it exists compels the obedience of the governed whether or not they consent to it and the French really got things going when they ovethrew their King, butchered a good number of their own people and initiated the modern tendency whenever shit hits fan to engage in widespread execution as a gateway to progress.

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So, then, the Chinese present a pair of uncomfortable questions that I'd like to pose: If the concept of government that is poor being overthrown can indeed function without democracy, and if absolutism can make it even a kind of escape valve, why did the Chinese discover this concept at a point when Europeans were content to accept military despotism by God-Emperors as in Da Qin/the Roman Empire? What was so different about the peoples of the Yangtze River and its environs that they were able to envision this and create poewrful centralized states when few others matched them in this before the industrial era?

Next, why is it that in China, absolutism was able to foster science and creativity, but in Europe absolutism tended to degenerate into navel-gazing parody of itself and finally blew itself up in the war whose centennial is still ongoing? The Chinese prospered for millennia in dynamic, active societies under all-powerful semi-divine rulers, but in Europe, absolutism stagnated and disintegrated the more that modernity struck it. Chinese revolts, even when colossal bloodbaths like the An Lushan Rebelllion, did not produce the chaotic bloodsoaked mess of the French or Russian Revolutions but were no less enduring or products of a dynamic change. Why?

In short, does Chinese history in ancient and medieval times suggest that the concept that the ancients were less creative than moderns or more prone to superstittion might just be sneering at the past as foolish and neglecting a huge deal of nuance in what did or did not happen then? Should not the Mandate of Heaven be seen as the true precursor of the spirit of revolution as the gateway to a new history just like 1792 and Liberty, Equality, and Brotherhood?