Monday, April 20, 2009

Spengler on Boyle

Spengler does not have such an enthusiastic take on the success of that Boyle woman. He actually sees her success as evidence of decline of the West. He ends his piece with the following two paragraphs:

China's thrift, industry and diligence are qualities born of long experience with hard times. The terrible suffering of the 19th and 20th centuries left every Chinese parent with the conviction that the world shows no mercy to mediocrity. They have less tolerance for fantasy than their Western counterparts. Reality has intruded on their lives for generations to the point that they are ready to meet it head on. Enough of them devote their lives to making their children excel as to produce an army of hothouse wonders so large as to swamp whatever competition the West might send against them. If Westerners think the present recession is unpleasant, they cannot begin to imagine how the recovery will look, for it may occur entirely remote to them, on the other side of the world.

It is harder and harder to dismiss the awful thought that Americans, too, might require long experience with hard times to restore the sort of diligence that their Chinese counterparts learned at such a high price.

My experience teaching English in China bears out what Spengler says. I thought it strange that the students answered "what would you do.." or "have you ever dreamed of.." questions with what I thought were depressingly realistic answers like "I don't have the money!" or "I never dreamed of being a movie or sports star." Hard times make the Chinese appreciate the mundane things like sleep for instance.

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