I devoted myself to the study of the question of "difficulty of action and easiness of knowledge." I studied this question for several years, and finally came to the conviction that the old tradition was false: the exact opposite is the case. I was happy because I had understood the cause of China's stagnation. It is due to the fact that the Chinese are ignorant of many things, and not at all because they cannot act...
To Understand Is Difficult, but to Achieve Is Easy.
Sun Yat-sen (1918)
These "Lectures" were first published in 1975 when the Chairman of the Chinese Communist party, heading the Chinese Government, was Mao Tse Tung. I have retained the original text which relates to a Republic of China that is seeking, without success, to discover a new way following the disaster of the Cultural Revolution, Which the Army had finally suppressed. The original intention of the "Lectures" was to place the problems of American Society in a foreign perspective, indeed a remote one, like the Chinese; such remains the objective of the present book.
Astonishing though it may appear, during the intervening eighteen years, America has changed less than China. The present government of China is well on its way to introducing a controlled but vigorous capitalism. Its industries are multiplying at bewildering speed. Its exports are growing the fastest in the world. The gross domestic product is expected to become the world's largest in a few years. Its GNP has outstripped that of the U.S.A. over the past dozen years, generally by two times or more, and last year by a fat 12% to 0%. The spiraling capitalistic sector will soon be responsible for a quarter of industrial production; there is an endless supply of potential businessmen. Granted continued political stability, the trends are ominous to all the world. And it is only fair to warn that two enormous events are in the offing, which portend a china that would be a super-power to end all super-powers.
Hong-Kong, a jewel in the crown of capitalism, with a highly productive people, utter sophistication in capital investment and management, and a high technology that is capable of competing with the best that the United States possesses, will soon become an integral part of the Chinese Republic. The infrastructure of the unified realm is even now being constructed. The industries of Hong Kong are beginning to sprawl all over the Chinese countryside, and to leap-frog vast spaces into the interior and the North.
Second, the collapse of the Soviet Union has opened the door to Chinese leadership along the length of Siberia, practically into the Middle East. Despatches from Siberia speak of terrible economic problems and growing unrest throughout this vast region that contains a sizeable percentage of all the raw materials of the planet. New railroad connections are being constructed. Thousands of Chinese cross the border into Siberia each day, and thousands of Siberian go into China. The United States and, of course, Russia and Europe, must face the fact that only fifteen million Russians and Asiatics, already demoralized, and re-ethnicized in the case of the Asians, are spread over much of Asia, while one thousand million Chinese, desperately eager for raw materials to process and sell, are concentrated next to them.
Ready, willing, and able to help marry the vast Siberian resources to the hordes of Chinese are the Japanese. Japan must shortly decide whether to take on this role of marriage broker. It might, of course, engage Siberia in its own self-centered right, but it would probably do as well in collaboration with and defended by China.
In either event, a threat to the European and American world order will soon manifest itself. The Russian Government is hardly likely to recover its balance and organize itself productively in time to forestall Asian encroachments; perhaps, indeed, it should not set itself up as an opponent to the new Asian order; for it may realize advantages from cooperation in the marriage, and because it would probably lose any economic struggle with the giants of the East.
It is difficult to see how Russia has much of a place at all in the East Asian picture at this point, except what its nuclear missiles and the power of some European and American partners might bring it. It is doubtful, indeed, whether it would have the support of its own people in Siberia, since they are already disaffected, and could serve the Oriental entrepreneurs to good effect and with high rewards. Like the American Indians, they might be pushed away and out of the exploitation of the country where they have endured so many hardships; or, conceivably, they might constitute a comfortably placed minority of a highly prosperous domain, living out the original dream of a non--rationalist, all--people's Marxism.
The position of the United States, I have said, has changed less than China's. If anything, it has worsened in the years since this book was originally published. The only positive feature of the 1990's environment is the absence, hopefully extended, of the perceived threat of the Soviet military system. Otherwise, the United States is suffering retrogression, relative and sometimes even absolute, in most areas of domestic and foreign activity.
One may begin a list with the welter of educational systems at the elementary and secondary level throughout the United States; informed and uninformed opinion alike consider net progress to have halted. Move to the situations concerning poverty and the standard of living: informed opinion here has it that an underclass with aspects of permanence has consolidated, and it enlarging, so that we may begin to speak of one--third of the nation being in circumstances of near desperation. Too, the vaunted middle class of the nation feels increasingly deprived.
When we shift our eyes to the industrial and financial spheres, we find that foreign competition is prospering, in part at the expense of American enterprise, and buying up American assets at a rapid pace. Fiscal scandals without parallel in history plague the banking industry. There seems to be no hope of reducing annual deficits and the national debt from their astronomical heights without a severe inflation. The national infrastructure will take up a hundred billions to redress itself and carry forward new technologies in transportation and communications.
The only way out of its decline is for the United States to adopt the goal of a standard of living at a level that is severely restricted, affording a decent subsistence, as is explained in this book, and at the same time to lead a movement for world government. The nation has passed up a number of opportunities for world government in times past: just after World War II, then in an alliance based on forced or voluntary opposition to the Soviet Union, then when the U.S.S.R. collapsed, and again when Iraq posed a threat to its Arab neighbors and Israel. But every occasion, when the idea of world union ought to have inflamed and inspired "Americans, turned into a storm of so--called patriotism, a narrow nationalism in fact, directing the nation into an ever--worsening situation.
If the U.S.A. does not reassess fundamentally the world situation and its own place within it, it will encounter extreme hardships in holding itself together internally and acting effectively on the world stage. It is plain that the natural and human environment is deteriorating rapidly, spurred on by unchecked population growth. Even if the Chinese were to relax their efforts, world union would be necessitated by self-destructive warfare, resource depletion and industrial and agricultural damage to the environment occurring in the rest of the world. Now, with China doubling and quadrupling its production and consumption, the natural and human environment of the whole world threatens to collapse.
Denying China its share of productive technology and enhanced consumption would be impossible; it would bring on fierce competition and warfare worldwide. To avoid a pyrrhic victory or a permanently crippling defeat, the United States would do well to humble itself, taking upon itself the material sacrifices required, if the Chinese and other poor peoples are to find a place in the sun, and simultaneously to use every means possible to create with China a joint force for world union. The obscene term, "sovereignty," should be washed from humanity's vocabulary.