The China Virus
is an idea
that I came up with last night. It's an attempt at explaining how imperialism
in its current form has come to the West
, and why it's so flawed
in our society. While it's fairly original
, as I'd like to think, it's also very raw
. This idea
also doubles as an example of organic thinking
, my first node.
Some background information is going to be necessary here, that shall be explained further in other nodes I create, or add writeups to, as I find them.
I hold the belief-slash-understanding that all thought patterns that we carry are viral in nature. They are not alive of their own accord, but require hosts to propagate. A term that has occurred to me is meme, for the viral thought processes that spread from person to person, so I'll use it here.
It is still in debate as to who started the first original civilization, but few can doubt who started the longest. China has remained relatively unchanged throughout it's entire history, even to the present. I refer to China's present as the Mao Dynasty, thanks to Neal Stephenson, but the reference is accurate, as China, even now, has not changed much. The face may have changed, but the inner workings and overall mentality have not. This is the linchpin of my little hypothesis.
Considering China's history, considering the outside changes that the country's gone through, it has changed litte over the several thousand years that it has been in existence, despite Westernization (sp?), despite multiple dynasties, and the like. The starting point to my statement is that, somewhere in history, China managed to make imperialism work.
Now, China managed to have a proper civilization when the rest of us were still unaware of the beauty of gunpowder, paper currency, the art of war, and bureaucracy (sp?). They had also managed to have several dynasties by the point in time that we had discovered them, and, from what I can gather, had managed to make a self-contained empire. It probably helped that they were geographically isolated from the rest of the world, but as history has shown, distance and obstacle were no difficulty in empire building.
Therefore, this leads me to the conclusion, perhaps erroneous, that China got the empire bug right.
Now, here's where the fun begins.
Trade, much to prostitution's annoyance, is actually the oldest profession. Nobody notices trade, because it's always been considered a background affair.
Now, when one engages in trade, one not only trades in material goods, but in the memes that they carry as well.
Unfortunately, when a meme crosses the language barrier, something is lost in the translation. The meme in question mutates, gaining or losing something in the process.
Look at a map. I've got a huge one in my main room. One will notice that imperialism started in the Middle East, spread to Egypt, then to Greece, Rome, and then to Europe. Individual countries in Europe all had their day, and then it went west to the United States. Having no further to go, it reached across the Pacific Ocean to Japan and to China. Note that Japan tried to start an empire, but made the mistake of crossing the United States, and was severely rebuked during World War II.
Also note that China refused most large scale foreign trade until forced into it, and most foreign ideas or ideals until forced into it.
Trade between nations has not always been visible, but it has been constant. India shares two borders with China, and in ancient times, one would simply have to find a pass through the Himalayas in order to find the rich lands of India.
Memes are exchanged. Unfortunately, something is lost in the translation.
Now, from what I can observe of history, India managed to accrue the self-contained empires that China possessed, but when it came to the heirarchical precepts, they transformed the heirarchies of China into the rigid precepts of Hinduism. Born into a caste, live in that caste, die in that caste. Other than that, the empires and kingdoms of India appear to be self-contained.
India isn't that far from the Middle East, and it would be easy to spread a meme from India to other parts of the world. Spices from India and silks from China were traded for long periods of time. The time is currently unknown to me. Memes, however, tend to bypass the entire structure of time, since they can lie dormant in a person, city, country, or planet until triggered by a certain amount of memal or viral load. In other words, until certain critical number of people think the same idea, it won't manifest itself in any particlar place.
The meme of China could have been spreading since prehistory, and there's no way of actually knowing the fact of it, since when it was spread, we would have had no way of knowing it in the future, since all was spread via oral tradition. Geographically, however, there's proof of it.
So, the China Virus spreads to the West, and becomes imperalism as we know of it now. It spreads from India to the Mediterranen, seeding the Egyptian, Syrian, Persian, Roman, Greek, and a multitude of other empires. The problem is that with each translation from language to language, the meme is mutated.
It doesn't just go westward, though. It also crossed the land bridge to the New World. The Olmecs, Toltecs, Incans and Mayans had empires that spanned for good chunks of North America before Christopher Columbus landed there. This leads me to think that the meme that China made into reality existed, but in what we would call prehistory. The North American Natives also had the concept of empire, but didn't bother bringing it into reality, since there was so much prosperity at that time, for a nominally nomadic people, that it didn't matter to them. The Eskimos were too concerned with survival to really care about it.
In the Middle and South Americas, however, resources were plentiful enough that they could be harvested and the seeds of imperialism fell and took fruit. Some areas, however, didn't allow, in regards to resources, for imperialism to propagate. Thus, you currently can find people living in the Stone Age in South America.
Now, let's go back to the Old World for a few minutes. We've got empires going one after the other. Persia or Syria, Egypt, Greece, Rome. All spread via memes. One person says, basically, that their empire is cooler than some other guy's city-state, and the "lesser guy" buys it, listens to the meme, recieves it, and spreads it. This pattern becomes more obvious in the last two thousand years, with Rome translating itself into a religion, and the kingdoms that follow afterwards, such as the Spanish domination of the New World, the English domination of Africa, and the French attempt at an empire with Napoleon.
That meant that the meme would be transferred to the New World.
Note that the resistance to the meme was in North America, where either the climate didn't allow for such memes to really propagate, or, in the United States, the resources were so plentiful that imperialism didn't have a point.
By the time the China Virus had worked it's way to the New World, it had degraded to such a degree that it demanded three things. Prosperity, expansion and a singular leader. Meme-wise, it meant disaster for the American Natives, who, for the most part, had carried the self-sufficency aspect of the meme.
One will eventually ask why Australia isn't in my hypothesis. It is. It also includes Polynesia.
Trade requires that you actually be able to get to where you're trying to trade to. Memes, the same, they need to get to where they're going to propagate.
Back in the day, boats could only go so far from one point to the next. India had the best placement, being between China and the rest of the world, and China had decent positioning to reach Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, boats, ships and the like built then couldn't take the typhoons that rampaged the South Pacific.
In other words, Australia has been left alone since the land bridge closed. This can be observed with the rather alien ideas and concepts that the Aborigines have compared to the rest of the world. The Aborigines of Australia also happen to be fairly resistant to the meme that is spread throughout the rest of the world.
China's virus or meme has a limit, especially when dealing with open water. Japan obviously has strong connections with the China virus, but due to the distance between China and Japan, and the rampant storms that make that distance even more daunting, Japan developed a different aspect of the meme, and was susceptible to the Western meme. Thus, Japan's attempt at empire during World War II.
The self-sufficency of any particular nation-state could geographically be placed to the geographical relationship to China. The Mongols, having a different language from the Chinese, though being in close proximity, attempted to conquer the world, also bringing the meme with them as they rampaged across the then-known world. Traders would have brought it with them as they made their tales of that mystical land that had great riches, silk, and spices. Russia has managed to maintain a somewhat self-sufficent state, though they're occasionally plagued by the Crazy Ivan (a mad, paranoid ruler that turns the country upon itself,) a pattern that repeats itself throughout their history.
The Russians have had serious contact with the Mongols, as have almost every other country in Eastern Europe. Also, the Muslims in the Middle East have had contact with the Mongols.
But it doesn't just start with the Mongols, and Genghis Khan wasn't the first to spread the ideal of imperialism to the West. Atilla the Hun is also in recorded history, and there are probably other more forceful incursions into the West that I am not aware of.
This is most likely where the Western corruption of the China Virus begins, but, once again, this idea is very raw.
Back to Australia. The Aborigines develop their own ideas and concepts, and through wind-blown expeditions, bring those to the Polynesians. Their own meme is a rather individualistic one, and tends to stifle the concept of imperialism nicely with the concept that the Big Man (leader, ruler, whatever works) must share their greater yields of resources with everyone else. This meme even works its way to the New World as well, in the Northwest Native potlucks, where the person with the most resources gives gifts to everyone else.
This meme is very resistant to the imperialist meme, but cannot stand in a military dispute with it.
Now, to complicate matters, when Rome fell, instead of being destroyed as a state, it merely translated itself into a religion, taking on Christianity as a carrier of it's meme, carrying on the message of imperialism in a new method and form. Thus, it was able to spread itself into the New World.
This meme, when coming into contact with the imperial meme found in South America, had disastrous results. The meme from the West had become ego-based, while the meme from the East still had precepts of a greater purpose. Combined, this made the ego the greater purpose in one's life. Note the rampant egoism in South America, and the stereotype of arrogance often related by travelers to that area.
Coming into contact with the natives of North America, it gave them the strength that the natives possessed, but the meme lurked for a while, merely waiting for time to re-assert itself.
It did so in a financial manner. The dominance of America in the modern era is not in military might, which it posseses, but in financial and economic dominance. The current evolution of the meme is capitalism, where companies and corporations strive for dominance.
This is also the end of the road for the current meme. The meme, as it has evolved (or corrupted, based on viewpoint) can no longer reach any farther, and expansionism is no longer an option. Either it evolves, or it dies in the next century.