Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Post-Maoist Orientalism

The idea that the Chinese Communist Party knew exactly what it was doing, in a parallel universe of power that was equal to the “West” yet mysterious, has just been fantastically demystified in an all that is solid melts into air sort of a way (Marx's Macbeth quotation re: capitalism).

This idea has been exposed for what it is, a kind of contemporary orientalism hard wired into stock market algorithms.

A quick trip to the Tibetan Autonomous Region would disabuse most people of the idea that what is going on is a sophisticated, “brilliant” manipulation of capitalist rules. In the TAR nineteen year old soldiers with guns man (underline man) checkpoints in the middle of nowhere while political prisoners dig roads with their bare hands, supervised by more soldiers with guns.

And crumbling half-built buildings and obvious all-pervasive misery should convince you that China can somehow suddenly change towards a consumer-driven economy where people desiring things and being able to obtain them, with money (what money?) corrects the current crisis.

But then, no one bothered to look, let alone ask the Tibetans. If you live there or visit there (and are not a Han Chinese settler) you are supposedly a happy idiot like the Amish, or you want to be one, aka a “Western Buddhist.”

Traditional orientalist is about mysteriously “other” power-knowledge and “exotic” pleasure. But pleasure and knowledge are precisely what is missing in this new orientalism. It looks like one really might have to pass through the pleasure aspect of capitalism to get somewhere else.

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