Chinese born Australian citizen and Conzinc Rio Tinto executive Stern
has been arrested and accused of corruptly bribing Chinese Iron
Ostensibly, that charge sounds reasonable. Bribing for commercial
gain is naughty. The Federal opposition is having
conniptions. The government is softly softly.
The Moslem Uigars in China are in revolt. Several
hundred are reported as killed, mostly by Han immigrants retaliating
(it has been reported) against Moslem youths rape of a Han girl.
Chinese Premier Hu returned abruptly from the G8 meeting in
I do not think these three events are unconnected.
Australian authors are up in arms because their rort is being
stopped. At the moment paperbacks in Australia cost from about
$23 upwards. That is about 50% more expensive than US or UK
the same book.
That money is purportedly to promote Australian authors.
I walked into Dymocks bookshop in Bondi Junction today. There was
a single shelf
labeled "Australian Authors". By my quick estimate, that shelf
contained less than 0.5% of the books in that shop.
a ~50% increase in the price of all the books that we buy is needed to
the authors of one half of one percent of the books that we buy.
I think it would be very much cheaper for the Australian people to
subsidize those authors
Another scary story about Copyright. Senator Conroy has been
reported in Slashdot
as planning a law to protect copyright in Australia.
That law will be similar to that which was recently enacted
in France and
presumably using software similar to that used by China and Iran to
suppress free speech.
After all, (and I am sure that our Australian writer's community would
agree) a minuscule diminution of the liberty of the masses is not
too high a price to pay to protect the rights of the
The problems in China (mentioned above) are only part of an emerging
picture. Other indicators are the unrest in Iran, the higher
interest rates being offered in Australia, the rising stock market in
the USA, the rising price of iron ore, the unsettled politics in Japan
and Israel. The list goes on.
One narrative that fits the detail is that the falling world
GDP is creating a worldwide dissatisfaction with government.
Those who think they control things see this unrest as a threat, and
are planning to inflate their way out of the problem.
Anticipating that inflation, prices for money and raw materials is
I don't think that they will succeed. The world faces the biggest
social upheaval since the fourth/fifth century BC. That is when
China was first melded into one state, and when Alexander the Great
remodeled West Asia.
WESTERN EUROPEAN CULTURE
One of the more interesting philosophical questions is "why did
technological culture arise in Western Europe?" Other great
cultures of the past had science, but apparently had a taboo against
the application of technology to labour saving devices. The
starkest example is in the Tao Te Ching, Pien 80. I have chosen
the authoritative Arthur Waley translation.
"Let there be contrivances
requiring ten times, a hundred times less labour, they should not use
On any measure of being civilized, (meaning having a culture that has
been shaped to provide it's people with the social tools to live in
cities) the Chinese and Indians and Iranians and Iraqis and Egyptians
were there long before any of the Europeans. So why did our
industrial culture originate in Western Europe, most specifically in
England and it's ex-colony, the USA?
Perhaps the seed event of Western European Culture was that Menelaus'
dick was not big enough to stop Helen from eloping with Paris.
That elopement caused the siege of Troy and hence the writing of the
Iliad, which was a central work in Greek culture, which is credited
with being the seed of Western European culture.
A necessary ingredient would have been the Roman empire, which took
Greek culture and spread it as a civilizing influence over Western
Another vital ingredient is Jewish culture, from which sprang
Christianity. and thence the protestant religions, which provided a
separation of religion and state. It could be argued that Jewish
culture has evolved to provide the model for professional and business
service sectors in our culture.
And the German language provided the final ingredient; a language of
torturous logic that helped shape the muddy Greek philosophy of science
into a sharp tool allowing rigorous analysis of natural phenomena.