Saturday, April 19, 2014
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Valores Chineses?

BERLIM – Não podem restar hoje muitas dúvidas de que a República Popular da China dominará o mundo do século vinte e um. O rápido crescimento económico do país, o seu potencial estratégico, o imenso mercado interno, e um enorme investimento em infraestruturas, educação, e investigação e desenvolvimento, bem como um impressionante desenvolvimento militar, farão com que isso aconteça. Isto significa que, em termos políticos e económicos, estamos a entrar num século da Ásia do Leste e do Sudeste.

Não nos esqueçamos, o resultado para o mundo teria sido muito pior se a ascensão da China tivesse falhado. Mas com que se parecerá este mundo? Conseguimos prever o poder que moldará a sua geopolítica, mas que valores estarão na base do exercício desse poder?

A política oficial das “Quatro Modernizações” (industrial, agrícola, militar e científico-tecnológica) que tem sustentado a ascensão da China desde o fim da década de 1970 não tem conseguido responder a essa questão, porque a “quinta modernização” – a emergência da democracia e do primado do direito – ainda está a faltar. Na verdade, a modernização política enfrenta uma oposição enorme do Partido Comunista Chinês, que não tem interesse em entregar o monopólio do poder. Além disso, a transição para um sistema pluralista que fomente, em vez de suprimir, o conflito político, seria certamente arriscada, embora o risco cresça quanto mais persista a regra do partido único (e a corrupção endémica que a acompanha).

Ideológicamente, a rejeição da liderança Chinesa aos direitos humanos, democracia, e às normas legais de conduta é baseada na alegação de que estes valores supostamente universais são um mero pretexto para os interesses Ocidentais, e que o seu repúdio deverá por isso ser encarado como uma questão de respeito próprio. A China nunca mais se submeterá militarmente ao Ocidente, portanto também não se deve submeter normativamente ao Ocidente.

E aqui voltamos ao conceito de “valores Asiáticos,” originalmente desenvolvido em Singapura e na Malásia. Mas até hoje, três décadas depois, o seu significado permanece pouco claro. Essencialmente, o conceito serviu para justificar um governo colectivista-autoritário, alinhado-o com a cultura e tradição locais, em que a autonomia é definida em termos do outro – isto é, pela diferenciação relativamente ao Ocidente e seus valores. Portanto, “valores Asiáticos” não são normas universais, mas antes uma estratégia de auto-preservação atrelada a políticas de identidade.

Dada a história do colonialismo Ocidental na Ásia, o desejo de manter uma identidade distinta é ao mesmo tempo legítimo e compreensível, como é a convicção em muitos países Asiáticos – à frente dos quais a China – de que chegou o tempo de ajustar contas antigas. Mas o esforço para preservar o poder individual, a necessidade de uma identidade “Asiática” distinta, e o desejo de ajustar contas históricas não resolverão a questão normativa levantada pela emergência da China como potência dominante do século.

O modo como essa questão é respondida é crucialmente importante, porque determinará o carácter duma potência global, e portanto como se relacionará com outros países, mais fracos. Um estado torna-se uma potência mundial quando o seu significado estratégico e o seu potencial lhe dão alcance global. E, como regra, esses estados tentam a seguir salvaguardar os seus interesses impondo a sua predominância (hegemonia), que é uma receita para perigosos conflitos se baseada na coerção em vez de na cooperação.

A aclimatação mundial a uma estrutura hegemónica global – em que as potências mundiais garantem uma ordem internacional – sobreviveu à Guerra Fria. A União Soviética não era ideologicamente anti-Ocidental, porque o Comunismo e o Socialismo eram invenções Ocidentais, mas era anti-Ocidental em termos políticos. E falhou não apenas por razões económicas, mas também porque o seu comportamento interno e externo se baseava na coacção, e não no consentimento.

Por contraste, o modelo económico e político dos Estados Unidos, e do Ocidente, com os seus direitos individuais e sociedade aberta, provou ser a sua melhor arma na Guerra Fria. Os EUA prevaleceram não por causa da sua superioridade militar, mas por causa do seu poder de influência, e porque a sua hegemonia se baseava não na coacção (embora também existisse alguma), mas principalmente no consentimento.

Que caminho escolherá a China? Mesmo que a China não mude a sua antiga e admirável civilização, deve a sua re-emergência à sua adesão ao modelo Ocidental contemporâneo de modernização – a enorme realização de Deng Xiaoping, que pôs o país no seu caminho actual há mais de três décadas. Mas a questão decisiva da modernização política permanece sem resposta.

Claramente, os interesses nacionais, e por vezes o poder puro, desempenham um papel em como os EUA e outros países Ocidentais aplicam valores como os direitos humanos, o primado do direito, a democracia, e o pluralismo. Mas estes valores não são apenas vitrinismo ideológico para os interesses Ocidentais; na verdade, não são isso a qualquer nível significativo. São realmente universais, e mais ainda numa era de globalização alargada. 

A contribuição da Ásia – e da China, em particular – para o desenvolvimento deste conjunto universal de valores ainda não é previsível, mas acontecerá seguramente se a “quinta modernização” levar à transformação política da China. O destino da China como potência mundial será determinado em grande medida pelo modo como confrontar esta questão.

Traduzido do inglês por António Chagas

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  1. CommentedJakub Słowiński

    Starting with human rights and the rule of law, as early as in the Han dynasty period, in its first phase, sometime before the begining of Christian era in Europe, there was a set of laws developed, which couldn't be changed even by the emperor, of course it applied only to upper classes, but comparing to where was Western civilization in accordance to human rights and the rule of law at that time, Chinese are pioneers. Democracy was actually invented much earlier, in the Warring States period, by Mencius, who said that the emperor should be choosed by the people. Of course, by the people Mencius meant upper classes, but Western democracy started in the same point, chronologically hunreds of years later. And lastly, pluralism, China was always marked by existence of many cliques and parties, struggling with each other in order to achieve more power. Are they not there, because we don't see them in the evening debates? Actually, political establishment in Western countries is more uniform than Chinese, the difference is that Chinese establishment is united in terms of holding power, but divided in terms of views on certain issues, and Western is divided in struggle to gain power, but every time more and more uniform in views in order to be as electable (sorry for a word) as possible.
    Don't blame China it don't want to follow patterns it already checked, because you claim them as universal.

  2. CommentedStephen Pain

    I believe that many of the problems facing China - and there are problems undoubtedly has been due to the country being effectively divided by manufacturing for and against itself. We see today an enormous trade imbalance between China and other countries. Obviously the subprime fiasco and hedging helped to bring about this imbalance. The demand for goods shot up as the apparent liquidity rose. People were using the property equity to buy as if there were no tomorrow. The financial institutions were pumped up to massive bubbles through the repackaging of debt into credit – and their wealth led to an increase of expenditure in the service industry. Added value philosophy reigned supreme as cheap imports were bought from China. So much of manufacturing was now carried out in China – even Veblen goods. The consequence of the speculation in the West was that China had managed to catch up quickly. She was becoming increasingly more technologically advanced. The West had become dependent upon China – a dependency that would be costly to both partners. In the boom years China overheated and her factories were overworked. They were manufacturing for the West and manufacturing their own cheaper products too. In some insane way China was competing against herself. On the one hand she had the Western companies demanding quality (Veblen goods), while on the other hand she sought to manufacture domestic products (Giffen goods) that could in quantity match the quality. In other words you can buy five pair of socks for the price of one quality pair – and in terms of utility, durability, longevity they would be the same, however if we were to examine the corporate social responsibility and green issues, then they are far more costly. Unfortunately, after the economic paradigm shifted from the “added value” philosophy of Starbucks to the Wal-Mart discount approach, there has been a tendency to seek to reduce costs in the Veblen goods, which means that they are being manufactured more like Giffen goods with cheaper materials and their utility, durability and longevity have been effectively compromised, this tying in with the built-in obsolescence of electronic products which have today due to neophilic drives very short lives. The fact the top-end Veblen goods producers have with those in the middle quality range opted to go down the quantitative road has led to a deplorable state of affairs for all concerned.
    The only remedy to help both the West and China is to bring into effect stringent quality controls through taxation. Often pollution taxes had been placed on the manufacturers. Here we can place taxes on products themselves. The idea would be that products which are Giffen goods would not be bought if they were taxed on grounds of utility, durability, longevity as well as CSR and Green factors. This would restore craft into products, ensuring that all involved in manufacture would be of a higher quality. It would also reduce the trade deficit and motivate the West and others to return to manufacturing – and as a result decreasing dependency on China . China for her part would need to reform its manufacturing and the context of production, leading to a better environment and healthier and happier population.

  3. CommentedWalter, asg Benjamin

    I admire Joschka Fischer's articles. However most of the comments on this article and this article itself make a fundamental mistake: China is not "outside" the World History. China belongs to the World History. It is not a country which is different by essence from us. There "Western values" don't exist per se, in opposition of "Chinese values". It is absolutely childish to speak like that. Chinese Revolution in the XXth Century is a Marxist Revolution - the Chinese Marxism is part of the Marxism movement - a way to answer to the problems created by the Industrial Evolution of the XIXth century. A way to re-unify China after one century of diverse foreign occupations. It is a non-sense not to consider the contemporary China as a Marxist state and to pretend that China will be like a "Confucian state" - with an unique nationalistic ideology . Then if it is a Marxist state - it is impossible not to consider China as part of our own History. If we accept that Chinese Communist Party is the center of the power in China, it is risible to think that the discussion about democracy is not central in the Chinese politic. What means "democracy" in the context of the developments of Communist Parties around the World during the last 150 years that is the first question to ask. Second what is the weigh of the Chinese State History in the development of the contemporary Chinese Marxist state? Democracy is not a definition , it is a complex political movement. Of course China has also many parts of her political developments which are often more democratic than many countries in the World which pretend to be democratic. The question is more: is it possible to have a democratic state with one party rule? If this one party represents a large part of the Chinese society - why not? A party of 80 millions member plus their family relations is equivalent of 400 millions people connected to this Party - it is a significant part of the Chinese society. The real question is then: are these 400 millions of Chinese involved in the discussions on the solving Chinese political problems? Probably yes - in a way or another. Are they able to influence the political decisions? Probably yes. Are they able to criticize the wrong decisions, to correct them? Probably yes too. Have we - as Europeans - to learn from the Chinese democracy? Of course we have to learn how they have succeeded during centuries to unify their country when we, Europeans, we have failed to maintain the Roman Empire and we have created during centuries wars and barbaric societies. The Chinese Marxism is a lesson for us to meditate because it forces us to consider that the Capitalism as a destructive and creative force is the main question that our "European democracies " need to manage if we want to avoid that new barbaric political movements will appear and push away our weak civilization.

  4. Commentedlt lee

    It is odd that Westerners keep talking about "these supposedly universal values" while they are not embraced by the Chinese people except a handful of dissidents. If Westerners really believe certain values are universal, why can't they let the Chinese people come to the same conclusion without reminding them constantly? To the extent that they don't have sufficient confidence concerning the universality of these values, Chinese leaders and Chinese people are correct in seeing these values as a mere stalking horse for Western interests promoted to harm China's interest.

  5. CommentedPaulo Sérgio

    It may pause there for sometime. China's rapid ascent is lifting quite a lot more than its own out of dire economic conditions and these can now experience many* of these universal values that they definitely would not have previously experienced. If foreign lands in which China remain open, their people may have more freedoms than the Chinese themselves, but the Chinese are likely to be better with their more limited set, because of this immense focus on development.

    In summary, we're still imposing conditions on China, on what it will achieve and how it will come to achieve.

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