i remember reading a long time ago about how, when bangkok’s elevated train system was built (don’t recall if it was the failed berts or the skytrain or what), everything from the pillars to the platforms was made over dimensioned, because everyone, all the city planners and the engineers, knew — they all knew — that there would be cheating involved at every stage of the construction process — watered down concrete would undoubtedly be used, reused steel reinforcements would take the place the new ones that should’ve been installed, etc., etc. everything had to be over dimensioned to ensure that the whole thing wouldn’t just fall over. (costly, no?)

china has the same fundamental problem — what m.g. has referred to a disregard for the commonweal. the chinese (and other asians, with the apparent exception of the japanese) simply care less about unrelated members of their society than northwest europeans do. and this goes way back — from greif and tabellini [pgs. 18-20]:

“Charity in pre-modern China was generally given to kin. The innovator of the clan trust, Fan Chung-yen (989-1052), “had ruled that the lineage should aid only relatives with lineage ties that were clearly documented in the genealogy” (Smith, 1987, p. 316). Only in the early 17th century non-Buddhist, impersonal charity permanent organizations were established on some scale. Although the Chinese authorities encouraged impersonal charity, moral philosophers decried it viewing the diversion of assistance way from kin immoral. A popular 17th century morality book “tells of a generous scholar who was derided by a member of his lineage for lightly giving money away to strangers ”(ibid)….

“The lack of self-governed cities in China was not simply due to a more powerful state, but also to a pervasive kinship structure that facilitated state control over cities. Indeed, immigrants to cities remained affiliated with their rural kinship groups. As late as the 17th century, in a relatively new city “the majority of a city’’s population consisted of so-called sojourners, people who had come from elsewhere and were considered (and thought of themselves as) only temporary residents …. suspicions were always rife that sojourners could not be trusted ”(Friedmann, 2007, p. 274). As noted above, families that moved to cities retained ‘their allegiance to the ancestral hall for many generations, the bonds of kinship being much closer than those of common residence’ (Hsien-Chin, 1948, p. 10).”

allegiance in china, for a very long time, has been to the clan, not the broader community.

china’s being touted nowadays as the “IT” country of the twenty-first century (third millennium?). maybe. certainly the chinese seem to have the requisite number of iq points — and intelligence is, of course, essential in succeeding in this world. you definitely don’t get very far without it.

but — and if anyone ever takes anything away from this blog, i’d like it to be this — there’s more to human biodiversity than iq.

think, for example, about the probable differences in the life histories of your average person with an iq of, say, 135, and a psychopath with an iq of 135. or a neurotypical with an iq of 135 vs. an aspie with 135. different, right? (no, i’m not saying that the chinese are a bunch of psychopaths — i’m just trying to illustrate that iq is not everything.)

the chinese are not trusting — read greif and tabellini — nor particularly trustworthy (they don’t trust each other!). not when it comes to non-family members anyway.

it’s mighty difficult to build a civil society — or, i think, a successful market economy — without trust — without concern for the commonweal. i don’t see the chinese doing it anytime soon — not without a little evolution first.

china might turn out to (continue to) be a smashing economic success story — if it does, it’s going to look very different from what happened in europe/the u.s. the system won’t be built on trust in strangers — maybe in families/clans, but not strangers — so it won’t be built on corporate entities, not public ones anyway (see greif and tabellini, pg. 24). something to keep in mind if you’re gonna do some, what half sigma has dubbed, hbd investing in china.

(note that none of this is meant to be a criticism of the chinese, nor should it be taken as such. they’re merely hbd observations. we westerners might not particularly like how the chinese operate, but in terms of numbers, they are clearly in the lead right now in the Game of Life. their system may prove to be the superior one — although it didn’t get them to the moon first. or mars.)

previously: the return of chinese clans and the return of the return of chinese clans

(note: comments do not require an email. wake me when it’s all over.)

About these ads