Confucianism and Trade Imbalances

The enlightened dictatorship of money

Posts Tagged ‘Daoism

Language and reality

leave a comment »

Hello world, this is my new blog, which is still under construction and will improve over the next few weeks as I figure how to use the WordPress interface.

The subjects of this blog, as the title indicates, will be Chinese culture and economic imbalances.  The vast majority of my posts will include at least something related to one or other of those topics.  I may also have a thing to say about Europe, because their economic imbalances are quite analogous to those in East Asia; I’ll also go deeper into Chinese (and other Asian) culture than you might really need to know to understand trade.  In any case, it will be a sociological perspective on the economic forces shaping the world for now and at least the next few years.

So what exactly, the reader asks, does Confucianism have to do with trade imbalances?  Well, if it isn’t obvious already, then there’s no way I could really explain it to you.  As spoken in the timeless classic the Dao De Jing:

The Dao that can be spoken is not the eternal Dao.  The name that can be named is not the eternal name.


Which is to say, you’ll have to keep up with my blog (ha ha).   Having quoted those famous words, though, I should offer my own bit of interpretation.

My way of looking at Daoism and other Chinese philosophies is that the meanings are inseparable from the words that describe them (a point that’s especially important for non-native Chinese speakers).  Look again at the Chinese: the entire passage uses a total of five unique characters.  “Dao” and “name” function as both nouns and verbs (“Dao” as a verb tends to mean “to know” in modern Chinese.)  So the meta-meaning one might draw from that passage is one of utter simplicity, everything functioning in its exact place.

At the same time, there is another dynamic going on, totally opposite of this simplicity, encapsulated by the frequent use of the term “technocratic.”  This term tends to imply that political relations are so complicated that the body politic becomes an effective ‘black box,’ not worthy of further dissection.  My contention is that this dynamic between stupidly simple and absurdly complex – a very different dynamic than the good and evil we see from Abrahamic religions – is the best way to dissect Asian politics and economics.  (This sense of morality makes its way into rule of law.  I don’t want to enter the debate with some Mississippi judges about whether religion is the basis for rule of law – there could just as easily be causal pathways the other way around, from the culture to the religion – since it is reasonably clear that the two build on each other symbiotically.)

I will refer frequently to linguistic analysis in order to make my points, as language both shapes and is shaped by reality.  So there will be a few Chinese lessons at some point.

Leave some comments about how this blog really lives up to its subtitle – I may get a “testimonials” section going at some point, and I could feature you!


Written by Maofucious

June 21, 2012 at 3:27 AM

Posted in Confucianism

Tagged with , ,