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11 Oct, 2021 15:47

The West can learn much from China but it needs to learn it fast if it doesn't want to be surpassed culturally and economically

The West can learn much from China but it needs to learn it fast if it doesn't want to be surpassed culturally and economically

The Communist party of China is often chastised in the global arena as its rising power is seen by some as a threat to world peace. But could China teach the Western world some important lessons?

Even one of China’s fiercest critics, Tucker Carlson, acknowledged that there might be something to learn from Beijing. He recently stated: “You gotta wonder how many hours we spend on the show attacking the Communist party of China on this show – a lot. It’s a totalitarian government. Our leaders admire it and that oughta always make you very nervous, that’s been our position, still is our position and always will be.”

The populist commentator added “Then we want to be as honest as possible about the things we see, so when the Chinese government does something virtuous, (doesn't happen much), we’re willing to say so.” Carlson went on to praise China’s decision to limit the number of hours children can play video games.

Beijing’s recent crackdowns in this area and around other social issues, along with its economic might, have caught the world’s eye and maybe the West could benefit from listening to a bit of East Asian thought?

Consider how China is condemning vapid, mainstream celebrity culture. During an entertainment industry symposium, Chinese authorities reportedly informed public figures that they must “consciously abandon vulgar and kitsch inferior tastes and consciously oppose the decadent ideas of money worship, hedonism, and extreme individualism.”

Through its watchdog Beijing will impose personal morality, family virtues and social ethics. Is this necessarily a bad thing? Celebrities, though some can have a positive impact, can also have a massively negative impact on society at large thanks to the power they have through the arts, music, television and cinema. 

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What happens in the most influential institutions, such as the entertainment industry, often spreads throughout society. Ideas and beliefs institutionalized by mainstream public figures and celebrities can quickly materialize in the real world.

For example, in the West, we’ve seen it with the popularity of the woke movement, radical feminism and other ideological trends often embraced and promoted by popular figures to their followers.

Some people admire celebrities from afar. However, a large number idolize their favourite public figures, often dedicating a significant amount of their time to worshiping them; known as “stan culture” (named after the Eminem song) in the West.

Chinese authorities have criticized this phenomenon, which they describe as “crazed” fandom, recognizing that it can lead to mental health and body image issues, and the obsessive chasing of the perfect “ideal,” with fans often mimicking unrealistic, luxurious lifestyles inspired by celebrities. 

In recent weeks China has begun restricting social media and blacklisting some reality shows. It has also condemned what it perceives as “vulgar influencers, the humongous salaries of stars and entertainers with “lapsed morals.”

The Chinese system wants to focus on values, such as morality and tradition, as opposed to empty platitudes of “freedom” and “empowerment,” often encouraged by the western mainstream media monoculture.

The Communist Party desires better role models for the youth of China; it wants people to celebrate achievement rather than celebrities and their ideologies. The crackdown seems to have a deeper, philosophical origin, urging people to find community and support, rather than meaningless, nihilistic hedonism.

This is why the Communist Party referred to popular celebrity culture as “chaotic,” and how it reckons “toxic celebrity culture is poisoning the minds of the country’s youth.”

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Meanwhile, this problem is barely addressed by western politicians and most institutions. In fact, celebrity culture is celebrated by [US congresswoman] AOC, one of the most prominent “socialist” figures, when she attended the Met Gala with rich and famous celebrities on the red carpet, at which tickets cost $35,000 each. It just could not be more out of touch. 

The Communist Party of China has also banned under-18s from playing video games during the week and for more than three hours at the weekend. The new rules, implemented upon all types of gaming devices and created to counter the growing addiction to video games, are a blow to the gaming industry, which depends on young people to foster its lucrative global market.

The adverse health effects of gaming are well known. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, “a single session of video game play in healthy male adolescents is associated with an increased food intake, regardless of appetite sensations.” 

In addition to the effect on appetite, there are countless studies from all over the world citing the harmful psychological impacts of excessive gaming.

China is thinking outside the box and is committed to socially directing its youth by meaningful discourse, teaching discipline and prioritizing the most important matters in life, such as strong societal values and personal responsibility.

This reveals a larger story about how the West, despite its values of democracy, liberalism and progressivism, has objectively failed to protect the fundamental foundations of what it was built upon.

Today, we witness our most important intellectual discourse reduced to identity politics, elite activism and trendy slogans, with people often unthinkingly adopting beliefs propagated by powerful institutions such as the entertainment industry.

Social responsibility in Western countries now seems to be more focused on enforcing the correct pronouns and condemning “microaggressions” rather than more important issues such as economic and social inequality.

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Whereas China has sharpened its focus on the inequality in the real-estate market by limiting private equity funds’ ability to raise money from buying properties.This is to stop real estate bubbles, which are unbeneficial for Chinese citizens, and lead to greater social and economic inequality. This is evidently inspired by the words of Xi Jinping, who said “housing is for living in and not for speculation.”

It has been long known that bad ideas can have devastating, long-term consequences for a society. China has recognized this early on and is putting measures in place to counter these.

The truth is that some things are better than other things and we should identify their flaws and try to improve them, rather than accept them as they are. Regardless of how we feel about China, it is evident that the country is doing some things right. 

The consequences of not fixing bad ideas can be tragic, and it's better to act sooner rather than later.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.