WILL U.S. DEMOCRACY AND CHINESE HARMONY BE HARMONIOUS IN 21ST CENTURY?
BY FRANCIS C. W. FUNG, PH.D.
Can the promotion of U.S. democracy as advocated by President Bush and current presidential front runners win again in the 21st Century? Must all developing nations progress towards modernity emulating U.S. democracy? There are calls by American statesmen in unison for the return of the Cold War glory, as if the world needs a repeat of the old Cold War. Never mind that the old tactics of the 20th Century may not work in the 21st Century. And 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 by Obama, Romney, Giuliani and Edwards appearing in Foreign Affairs, all repeated democracy diplomacy and call for victory 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. To quote the article by Obama, “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 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 Cold War victory. The lesson we must learn from the Cold War is forgiveness, not a return of the Cold War mentality. After half a century of senseless name calling we must have the magnanimity to forgive our old adversaries and move on to 21st Century 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 except our own fear. Again the glory of winning the Cold War through democracy diplomacy is invoked. “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 not enough for the U.S. to crave for leadership by returning to the tactics of by gone days. The tide of history has reached much higher ground to Harmony. We as a nation must progress with the tide of history.
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 by resonating with just commerce and win-win mutual development without the need for great power sponsorship 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 failed to acknowledge that our ideals must change with the tide of history to higher levels.
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 Weapons of Mass Destruction he went on to justify the Iraq occupation as a victory for democracy. In reality, democracy is no where near being 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 during the 20th Century democracy in various forms has become accepted as the preferred popular sovereignty governance system. In this latter generic definition, 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 “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 for the spread of common ideal and democracy is well documented in foreign affairs studies and also routinely presented by the present author.
Twenty years ago the present author organized world peace painting exhibitions in Hong Kong and Taiwan as personal interest. In the process, we discovered two common value truisms 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 to this day remained “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 socialistic system of China. The political reform following the economic success in China resulting in a socialistic democracy system with Chinese characteristics is very promising. This developing trend in China can also be called the socialistic system with Chinese harmony which integrates state economy and market economy. The best governance system of any nation shall be its own harmony system. The term harmony in Chinese specifically proclaims “Freedom of Speech and Contentment to All” to form the term harmony. This is the wisdom of Chinese language handed down from ancient times.
The current use of military and power diplomacy to promote U.S. values is backfiring. The Iraq occupation debacle makes the developing world very suspicious of U.S. motives. It is a fact nobody can deny. Senior U.S. statesmen are blind to this fact because of the need to play up to the public complacency. The U.S. diplomatic relations with the majority of the world today is at its lowest in the last 50 years. The revival of bygone Cold War propaganda is bound to fail because it is out of touch with the development need of most of the developing world. For the modern world, the ideology of democracy is well understood and necessary but it is not sufficient without harmony. Harmony Renaissance is the next phase of human breakthrough that will release human creativity beyond European Renaissance. Our innovative spirit will be unshackled from religious strife and unilateral confrontation by the common value of harmony.
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” the present author 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 seek harmony resonance independently will be human nature in modern era. By our own lack of awareness, past tradition has already corrupted religion and democracy by human institutions and state sponsorships. Harmony renaissance can now start with each individual’s own inner peace and peace with nature. With today’s universal awareness, harmony can escape human corruption because unity in diversity is the modern accepted concept and tide. The beauty of harmony is its simplicity and universality. That is why it does not need state sponsorship, although like any human culture, education can help its resonance.
History has shown that past religion and democracy often were promoted by human institutions and state sponsorships. There 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 human institutions and state sponsorship. Countless wars have been fought over religion and democracy in the past and are still continuing. As demonstrated by past history harmony can best propagate on its own without much unnecessary interference as a universal common value. Inherent in harmony is its renounce of violence. History has no record of harmony wars. War is not likely to be the instrument of harmony propagation as shown by the current tide of harmony renaissance through win-win mutual development. With its common value of tolerance, acceptance, mutual respect, equity, humility and forgiveness as values for universal conflict resolution, harmony will be the ultimate solution to bring lasting peace and unity in diversity to human cultures.
In the 21st Century, harmony will propagate through resonance with the spread of commerce and mutual development like waves through water surfaces. Democracy will be further carried by the wave of harmony like fishes in water. For democracy to take hold in any nation a civil society with integrated market economy is a prerequisite. Without the necessary society order and harmony consensus, democracy will wither. The essence of harmony is common value of tolerance, mutual acceptance, respect, equity, humility and forgiveness. A return to these common world cultural values through Harmony Renaissance will fertilize all national soil for democracy to grow even in the most obstinate ground. Unilateralism and arrogance, as practiced primary by U.S. today, creates great obstacles for international democracy. Thus harmony renaissance must pave the ground for the advancement of international democracy. This harmonious merging of harmony with democracy will bring the ultimate new world order of higher prosperity for all nations developed or developing. May harmony prevail in the world!
Francis C. W. Fung, PH.D.
World Harmony Organization