The Myth of a New Asian Century: Why it is Western not Asian
by Janaka Goonetilleke on 10 Jan 2011 4 Comments
A recent study in the United States confirms that the Asian brain responds differently than a western brain to the same stimulus. The study confirms the existence of two different thought processes.


In this context, one needs to asses the western media hype of the new Asian century. What Asian century? It should be the Asian Reaction. For the reality is that Asians have been brainwashed to feel it is their century, but they follow the age-old western philosophy of Might is Right, constructive destruction, and creative accounting, epitomised by urbanisation and industrialisation.


Progress is assessed in the proxy of money created by the western banking system. It makes a mockery of the savings of Asia when President Barack Obama created over a trillion dollars in one stroke for Quantitative Easing. Asia needs to get real. After 200 years of western domination, the world is left with depleted resources, environmental pollution, increased gap between the rich and the poor, increased malnutrition etc.


In the globalised age, the transfer of production has not been free. Production has been transferred with pollution to Asia and cheap labour has been exploited. When Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of China, states in an interview on CNN that an I-pod costs only 4 dollars to make but is sold at $299, what he is talking about is slave labour. This is Neo Colonialism. The best way to asses the future of Asia is to asses Japan, leader of the flock of Geese.




“But surely” I said “the real Japan must till exist some place

Or other if you look for it”

He shook his head

“Is there no way to save it?” I wondered

“No,” he said, “there is nothing left to save”

-        Donald Richie, in conversation with Yukio Mishima, 1970, author, poet, playwright, thrice nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature)


The Japanese were forced into the western economic system by the forceful entry of Admiral Perry in the 1860s when Japan was at ease with itself. This was no different from the entry of Vasco da Gama into Calicut. At that time the Muslims, Hindus and Arab traders were trading in harmony. The death and destruction and usurpation of the spice trade followed. The Arab traders had to retreat back to Arabia.


The philosophy of the might is right was enforced on the Asians who believed in harmony. With the introduction of Science by Jesuit priests started the belief that a futuristic approach was to imitate the west. When in 1885 Fukuzawa Yukichi expressed the new wave of thinking in an article titled Good Bye Asia (Datsu-A-Ron), he said western civilisation has extended east. That started the alienation of the Japanese from Asia.


Today Japan is a western country geographically in Asia, and is ill-at-ease. A country best described by some as a country to be admired but not loved. Advocates of the theme Rich Country and Strong Army have taken over. The cries of nationalists like Okakura Kakuzo who longed for One Asia were ignored. Thus started futuristic Japan with gradual elimination of the past. The Buddhist philosophy of moralism, harmony and emphasis on the moment was abandoned for objectivism. In this plan, militarization, urbanisation and industrialisation with the abandonment of humanism and morality took hold of the country. Unfortunately this philosophy is the driving force of the so called Asian Powers of the 21st century




Since the late 19th and early 20th century, the invasion of China and the Japanese-Russian war laid the foundations for World War II which resulted in catastrophe with the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The butchery in Nanjing will be a scar on every Japanese mind for centuries and the suspicion an impediment to the relationship with the fastest growing Asian country - China. Till today the country is under US occupation, which has refused to leave although requested by the Government. This is the result of abandoning a basic Asian philosophy of ‘violence begets violence’.


It is disconcerting that India and China and most Asian countries are arming themselves to the hilt. Asia has the longest on-going war in Afghanistan and another terrible war in Iraq. Islam-phobia is rampant in the west, but Islamic terrorism is funded by Saudi Arabia, an agent of the west (as indicated in Wikileaks), as they did against the Russians. There is an anti-Iran and anti-Korea campaign.


USA is not hesitant talking about India as the barrier against China. There are plans for permanent contingents of American troops to be placed in Afghanistan and Iraq. All is set for shock and awe. Has the battle scene been already set? Has Asia learned the lesson of History from Vasco da Gama and Admiral Perry? Unity is an essential element in the security of any continent. The last 50 years saw the destruction of Africa by proxy wars; is it now the turn of Asia?


Urbanisation and Industrialisation


Creative destruction is the theme. In the name of modernity, villages are dismantled; people who had little but were content with each other have moved to high rise flats as in China, where people are cut off from each other. Karma has been replaced by aspirations; poverty by enmity. The old quarters have been destroyed. Human relationships have suffered in the name of modernity, a concept borrowed by the ruling classes from the west.


Urbanisation of course has added problems with regard to utilities, health care, education etc., which are not accounted for in this new found growth where a trickle-up theory (rich get richer) is the main theme. Disruption of the rural economy and the added problems of rural deprivation as exemplified by increased suicide rates of agricultural workers in India are well known. The GNPism as exemplified by the Japanese for catching up with the west use creative accounting to negate the effects of urbanisation.


Growth rates so blatantly used in the west and to depict this new Asian century have failed to take into account pollution, human sacrifice for the benefit of a few. Transfer of pollution from the west has resulted in China and India having the first four most polluted cities in the world. In the list of the first ten there is not a single western city. An adulterated GDP is published for consumption. Interestingly most profits from major industries go to large corporations in the west.


Corporate media, corruption and banks


Corruption and democracy/communism work hand in glove. Present day democracy can be defined as a government of crooks by crooks for crooks. Whilst the corporate media propagates a sense of well-being as rising house prices etc which is part of the boom and bust phenomena of the present economic system, it fails to make a holistic assessment of the situation. Wikileaks have confirmed the hypocrisy of the media that propagates lies and misleads the masses in the name of this corrupt empire. Whilst the sense of well-being is propagated, ordinary people have to live a hand-to-mouth existence. This incestuous relationship permeates all borders and is closely connected to the international banking system.


Future of Asia


The new Asian Century is only an illusion. A world economy run with Fiat money from the western banking system, speculation not supply and Demand the determinant of prices, a world banking system that is corrupt and not accountable, an Islamic rebellion funded by Saudi Arabia (well known friend of the west), American forces surrounding the continent from Iraq to Japan, the propaganda of threat of Asians against Asians - Asia is trapped.


If Asia has to have a future there must first be nation building. Nations cannot be built by ruling classes in a casino world economic system. The welfare of the many with propagation of One Asia and change of strategy on development from a consumption economy to sustainable economy is a must. Nation building, said French intellectual Ernest Rénan, amounted to moral consciousness, a daily plebiscite. The security of Asia is in its unity and not on the basis of Might is Right and hegemony by the big powers of Asia. A common security pact between India and China is a must to nullify the American Threat. Internal dialogue, not jingoism in dealing with Islamic terrorism and narrow nationalism, is necessary. It is said India colonised China for centuries not by might but by the export of compassion and spirituality of its native philosophies that built friendship and trust.


The Asian century will continue to be an illusion with divided societies: the rich getting richer and the poor sacrificing with the environment destroyed, unless there is a change of heart of the ruling classes. For that we need a ruling class with a vision and willingness to learn from history, a ruling class that looks towards Asia and abandons servility to the west. The lawlessness that has pervaded the early 21st century can only be fought by morality and a policy of welfare of the many.


It is appropriate to take note of the advice given to Japan by the great Indian nationalist Rabindranath Tagore when Japan was embarking on alienating itself from Asia. He noted the distinction between modernisation and modernity. Modernity, he said, meant freedom of the mind, not slavery of taste. He meant independent thought, not servility to European colonialists; he meant proper application of science, not the abuse of it. In contrast modernisation, he said, was blind imitation. By this definition, Asia in the 21st century has been modernising, but is not on the path to modernity.


The writer is a Sri Lanka national

User Comments Post a Comment
Comments are free. However, comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate material will be removed from the site. Readers may report abuse at
Post a Comment

Back to Top