WILL U.S. DEMOCRACY AND CHINESE HARMONY BE HARMONIOUS IN 21ST CENTURY?
BY FRANCIS C. W. FUNG, PH.D.
Can the promotion of democracy, as advocated by President Bush and current presidential front runners, succeed again in the 21st Century? Must all developing nations emulate the American democracy model along the path to modernity? United calls for the return of the U.S.A. to Cold War glory are sounded regularly with seemingly no thought given to the negative implications associated with this type of policy shift. The politics of one era rarely suit the next with any accuracy, so why would the 21st and 20th century be any different? The major trading countries of the 21st Century will be more in tune with win-win mutual developments as opposed to the old concept of zero sum games. In very convincing terms, recent foreign policy essays appearing in Foreign Affairs, by Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John Edwards all repeated democracy diplomacy as the center piece of renewed U.S. leadership for the 21st Century.
Senator Obama in “Renewing American Leadership”, first proposed power diplomacy backed by a strong military with repeated use of pressure to achieve U.S. leadership, stating: “I will build a 21st Century military and a 21st Century partnerships as strong as the anticommunist alliance that won the Cold War to stay on the offense everywhere from Djibouti to Kandahar”. In reality the higher goal of the modern world today is development and not unilateral confrontations. It is a world consensus that may have escaped our politicians because we are still basking in the glory of the Cold War victory. The lesson we must learn from the Cold War is forgiveness, not that our power to win in that period signifies our greatness. After half a century of senseless name-calling we must have the magnanimity to forgive our old adversaries and move on to the 21st Century of Harmony and win-win mutual development.
In Governor Romney’s article, we are presented with the powerful thesis of “Rising to a New Generation of Global Challenges” when we in reality have no powerful opponents beyond our own fear. Again, he invokes the glory of winning the Cold War through democracy diplomacy. According to Romney “In the aftermath of World War II and with coming of the Cold War, members of “the Greatest Generation” united America and the free world around shared values and actions that changed history." Romney believes that “our current generation can match the courage, dedication, and vision of the greatest generation.” In conclusion he states unequivocally that “We are a unique nation, and there is no substitute for our leadership.”
It is a natural tendency among great nations, in times of trouble, to search the annals of their own history to influence current policies. If the U.S.A. is to reestablish hostile relations with powerful nations, this will serve only to bolster anti-American forces around the world and galvanize regimes whose fundamental premise relies on America pursuing this course of action. It is time for America to see that it is Harmony that lies at the foundation of all new world leadership today. It is Harmony that will bring America back in line with major forces around the world.
Mayor Giuliani in “Toward a Realistic Peace” outlined a policy of defending civilization and defeating terrorists by making the international system work. According to the article “the next U.S. president will face three key foreign policy challenges. First and foremost, will be to set a course for victory in the terrorists’ war on global order. The second will be to strengthen the international system that the terrorists seek to destroy. The third will be to extend the benefits of the international system in an ever widening arc of security and stability across the globe. The most effective means for achieving these goals are building a stronger defense, developing a determined diplomacy, and expanding our economic and cultural influence... To this end, the Voice of America program must be significantly strengthened and broadened. Its surrogate stations, such as Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, which were so effective at inspiring grass-roots dissidents during the Cold War, must be expanded as well.”
In “Reengaging with the World-A Return to Moral Leadership” Senator Edwards asserted that “the United States today needs to reclaim the moral high ground that defined our foreign policy for much of the last Century.” Little are most Americans aware, because of our own closed mindedness, the world is not waiting for us to return to our past moral high ground. The world of the 21st Century is moving towards a higher common value of harmony renaissance. World harmony will propagate through resonance with just commerce and win-win mutual development. There will be no need for sponsorship from the great power of democracy as in the Cold War era. While, according to Senator Edwards “we must lead the world by demonstrating the power of our ideals, not by stoking fear about those who do not share them.” Senator Edwards is dead right to point out the failure of the Bush democracy diplomacy in Iraq but he fails to acknowledge the necessity of perceiving new ideals prevalent throughout the world as the standard to which our policies and bias must adapt.
President Bush has promoted Democracy as the cornerstone of his foreign policy. This is amply addressed in his second inaugural speech and the 2006 National Security Strategy. Failing to prove the presence of Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction he went on to justify the occupation as a victory for democracy. In doing so Bush commited a double jeopardy that further discredited him in front of the world. In reality, democracy is nowhere near being established, let alone secured in Iraq or the Middle East.
But the failure of Bush’s Middle East democracy diplomacy does not obscure the successful propagation of democracy in the last century. In fact, 20th century democracy has seen great success as the preferred means of popular sovereignty governance, but not as a monolithic structure without variation. It is the variety with which democracy is developed and carried out that has infinitely deepened the appeal to developing nations. The fact that varied forms of democracy can co-exist peacefully draws nations and people in without stirring thoughts of Imperialism. This generic definition of democracy allows the majority of newly independent countries of the world can claim their own brand of democracy, which is different from the U.S. system.
In a recent Foreign Affairs article titled “Democracy without America: The Spontaneous Spread of Freedom” Michael Mandelbaum, of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, elucidated clearly that the “time for creating the social conditions conducive to liberty is, at a minimum, a generation. Not only the apparatus of liberty take time to develop, it must be developed independently and domestically; it cannot be sent from elsewhere and implanted, ready made.” ----“The age of empire has ended. Nowhere are people eager, or even willing, to be ruled by foreigners, a point the U.S. encounter with Iraq has illustrated all too vividly.” This line of contemporary thinking advocating the spread of common ideals as well as democracy is well documented in foreign affairs studies and is also routinely presented by the present author.
Twenty years ago the present author organized world peace painting exhibitions in Hong Kong and Taiwan out of personal interest. In the process, we discovered two common truisms about values that are very much applicable to the 21st Century. Trustworthiness and win-win commerce are essential for world peace. Encouraged by this simple discovery, our banner calligraphy for our exhibition exclaimed “The Grand Era of Peace and Harmony will Surely Come.” According to Mandelbaum, “The institutions, skills, and values needed to operate a free market economy are those that, in the political sphere, constitute democracy.” ---- “Perhaps most important, the free market generates the organizations and groups independent of the government—businesses, trade unions, professional associations, clubs, and the like—that are known collectively as civil society, which is itself indispensable to a democratic political system.”
History has also shown that the ideal of freedom and popular sovereignty is best spread by commerce when the necessary rise in each nation’s education and living standards make conditions ready. It must take hold internally in the fertile ground of the gradually maturing civil society.
Recent transformations to popular sovereignty governance systems in the Far East include the gradual self-awakening of the socialist system of China. The political reform that followed the economic success in China may result in a socialist-democracy with Chinese characteristics, which is very promising. This developing trend in China can also be called a socialist system with Chinese harmony, which integrates state economy and market economy.
The system of government that will inevitably be most suited to a country is that which is harmonious with its own specific cultural, historical and other varied idiosyncrasies that no imported system can possibly incorporate. The Chinese term for harmony is composed of “Freedom of Speech and Contentment to All” demonstrating the wisdom inherent in the Chinese language handed down from generation to generation.
The current use of military force and “power diplomacy” to promote U.S. values is backfiring. The Iraq occupation debacle makes the developing world suspicious of American motives, a fact nobody can deny. Senior statesmen purport to be blind to this growing sentiment in order to entrench a standard of complacency already well established throughout the population. American diplomatic relations with the majority of the world today are at their lowest in the last 50 years. The revival of bygone Cold War propaganda is bound to fail as it is out of touch with the needs of most of the developing world for growth.
The ideology of democracy is well understood and considered necessary to the modern world, but the concept is insufficient if it is not imbued with the notion of harmony. Harmony Renaissance is the next phase of a human breakthrough that will unleash creativity beyond that which even the European Renaissance bore out. Religious strife, unilateral confrontation and egocentric philosophies will dissipate as the trend towards harmony becomes more influential and the innumerable possibilities of this potentiality are brought to bare.
In my book ‘China’s Harmony Renaissance: What the World Must Know” I detailed the thesis that the three main pillars of human civilization since ancient times are Middle Eastern religions, European democracy and Chinese harmony. Their spread has the most profound influence on human culture and will continue until time immemorial. In previous essays entitled “Harmony Propagates by Resonance”, “Universal Wave Theory and Harmony Consensus”, and “Harmony Universal World Common Heritage” I proposed that harmony propagates by resonance without the need of states unduly brandishing their soft power.
Because resonance is nature’s preferred way of propagation, to independently seek resonance in harmony will become simple human nature in the modern era. Our own lack of awareness has allowed past tradition, religion, and democracy to be corrupted by human institutions and state sponsorship. The seed of the harmony renaissance sits within each individual waiting to spring to life with inner peace and a peace with nature. With today’s universal awareness, harmony can escape human corruption because unity in diversity is accepted as an essential aspect of this global community in which we live. The beauty of harmony is its simplicity. Its universality. That is why it does not need state sponsorship, although like any facet of human culture, education helps its resonance.
History has shown religion and democracy were regularly promoted by institutions and state sponsorships. Therein lies the dilemma of past religion and democracy extremism. Both religion and democracy will need harmony to soften their harshness and extremism that have been wrought by institutions and state sponsorship. Countless wars have been fought over religion and democracy in the past and continue today. As demonstrated by history, harmony can propagate in its most effective manner with little interference eventually becoming a common universal value.
Inherent in harmony is its renunciation of violence. History has no record of wars over harmony. The development of mutually beneficial trade has evinced the unlikelihood of war as an outcome from harmony propagation. Espousing tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, equity, humility and forgiveness as values for universal conflict resolution, harmony will be the ultimate solution bringing lasting peace and unity to the unyielding diversity of human cultures.
In the 21st Century, harmony will propagate through resonance with the spread of commerce and mutual development like waves on the surface of the water. Democracy will be further carried by the wave of harmony like fish in water. For democracy to take hold in any nation a civil society with integrated market economy is a prerequisite. Without the necessary societal order and harmony consensus, democracy will wither. A return to global cultural values of tolerance, mutual acceptance, respect, equity, humility and forgiveness through Harmony Renaissance will fertilize all national soil for democracy to grow even in the most obstinate ground.
Unilateralism and arrogance, as practiced primarily by the U.S. today, creates great obstacles for international democracy. Thus harmony renaissance must pave the ground for the advancement of international democracy. Brining harmony together with democracy under one banner striving to attain the common goal of prosperity and peace for all nations, whether developed or developing is the road to success in the future. May harmony prevail in the world!
Francis C. W. Fung, PH.D.
World Harmony Organization