H.E.Professor Dr.Kishore Mahbubani, of the National University of Singapore, Dean, Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy has recently written a book where he talks about the seven pillars of western wisdom – a cloyingly subservient and ignorant view of the modern history. In an interview with Times Of India he opines, “ Asia has benefited immensely from the western seven pillars of wisdom — free market, science and technology, meritocracy, pragmatism, culture of peace, rule of law and education.”
The Economist patronislingly comments “Kishore Mahbubani makes some sensible recommendations. Strangely, The Economist says this is a “an anti-Western polemic, designed to wake up Americans and Europeans by making them angry. In that goal, it will certainly be successful.” Reportedly, The Economist further says that Kishore Mahbubani is an “Asian Toynbee preoccupied with the rise and fall of civilisations.”
The Shanghai daily exudes “Singaporean author Kishore Mahbubani has been likened to an Asian Toynbee”; Deccan Herald joins the fray with “Kishore Mahbubani is the ultimate foreign policy guru” Niranjan Rajadhyaksa of the Mint (a HT-WSJ publication) intones,” Asia has both suffered and learnt a lot from the West … Mahbubani has been extremely fair.”
I tried disagreeing. I thought I had overwhelming evidence. But after the Mahbubani experience, with liberal doses of St.Barnum’s assitance, I must admit, I was enlightened.
1. Free Markets
I was a non-believer in Western free markets. After reading Kishore Mahbubani’s interview, I realized, I was reading too much propaganda about how Indian mangoes could not be exported to USA for the last 18 years - because of pesticide residues.
However, Indian farmers (with some devious trickery) ensured that pesticide residues vanished. A believer in free trade, USA allowed imports of mangoes into USA.
USA, in turn taught India a thing or two about free trade. An enlightened India agreed to allow imports of Harley Davidson motorcycles. Of course, India was wrong in disallowing allegedly, ‘over priced, gas guzzling, polluting’ Harleys.
For the last 300 years, the West did not allow imports of fabrics and garments. Dhaka’s de-urbanization due to this in the 1800-1900 is written into history - wrongly. The last law was the MFA agreement which created a quota based regime for textiles in the West.
Agricultural subsidies of nearly 20 billion dollars by USA and EU each, to their farmers is also in the spirit of free trade. For the benefit of the starving Rest, the West is giving these subsidies to Western farmers to lower food prices. How does it mater that the agricultural economy of the the receipient nations gets destroyed.
Things like non-tariff barriers are hookum and over-worked Eastern imagination.The story of repeated and frequent rejection of mushroom exports from India is also in the spirit of free trade. Indian applications for ‘equivalence’ certificates have been pending with EU for the last 7-8 years - and not processed for the last 7-8 years due to lack of manpower. Interim annuals approvals are given instead - in the spirit of free trade, after some ‘concessions’.
Of course, the Western zeal for free trade extends to enforcing opium trade (just ask the Chinese). Kishorebhai, I only wish, as an ignorant Easterner that we in India can enforce ‘free trade’ in opium today in USA and the Europe.
When the ignorant East, did not see the benefits of Western invention of free trade, the West was compelled to use use force (remember Commodore Perry? For more details, ask the Japanese).
Mahbubani’s assertions are right. These ‘facts’ above are like a bikini. What they reveal is indicative. What they conceal is vital - in this case the Western spirit of free trade. How can Western wisdom (or ethics, integrity, motives) be questioned by the ignorant East. Of course, all these cases and incidents are a conspiracy to defame the West.
2. Science & Technology
Before Western invention of Science and Technology, what did the East know?
Zilch. Zero. Sifr. Shunya. That is all. This claim about India inventing the zero and infinity is probably right. Because they had infinite knowledge about Zero - and nothing else. All their books about geometry (Aryabhatta, Bhaskara) are just figments of Eastern imagination. Eastern knowledge about eclipse prediction has now been proved wrong by Kishore Mahbubani’s expose. Indian shipbuilders and steel technology was just puffery - as demonstarted by Kishore Mahbubani.
Of course as Hegel said, there is no African history.
I realize after reading Kishore Mahbubani’s interview that there is only Western Science and Technology. It must been some Westerners behind the ‘achievements’ of China, Africa and India.
How ignorant I was before being enlightened by Kishorebhai!
PT Barnum adds - Are you not forgetting the option of crediting aliens.
The poor Blacks!
They were always mislead by their leaders. The only place in the world that they could find equity was in the West. If the West had not ‘bought’ these poor Blacks and allegedly ‘enslaved’ them, they would have still have been in Africa - and lost the benefits of the Western meritocracy. Some Black leaders are today claiming that they have even contributed to Western technology.
The sheer audacity!
Similarly, if the Gypsies had not left India, (supposedly) a thousand years ago, they would have lost all the benefits of Western civilization.
Early Punjabi settlers in USA did not properly understand their position in Western society. They were basically inferior people who demanded equality to their White masters. This misperception of course created misdirected protests. These ignorant immigrants from the East did not properly understand Western meritocracy.
The Wisdom Of St.Barnum - If Japanese and Chinese immigrants faced discrimination in the USA, it was their fault - why did they have to look different?
I agree that the West is truly pragmatic!
Dr.RA Mashelkar, a senior scientist and administratr, writes “A recent study by an Indian expert group examined randomly selected 762 US patents, which were granted under A61K35/78 and other IPC classes, having a direct relationship with medicinal plants in terms of their full text. Out of these patents, 374 patents were found to be based on traditional knowledge …”
After annihilating the Australian Aborigines, the Australian Government decided to apologize. What more does the world expect? This apology from the magnanimous West was as pragmatic as anyone can get! We have saying in India, Kishorebhai in India, about cats going on a pilgrimiage after killing a hundred rats. In this case, of course, the West went one better. They killed millions of humans - and apologized for that!
Western practice of Pragmatism at its best!
St.Barnum sez - What could be more pragmatic? I agree with Kishore Mahbubani!
5. Culture Of Peace
The Red Indians were wiped out - nearly the entire race! Today they are a relic - a tourist attraction! Like rare animals in a zoo! Aborigines in Australia have similarly been annihilated. Two world wars in a space of 40 years. The entire Jewish population of the world has been reduced to 10 million - by the West.
But, Kishore Mahbubani says, the Western civilization is about peace! And he is right!
These wars were forced upon the West - and were fought to bring peace on Earth. Now since there are no Red Indians and Aborigines, how can there be a war with the Red Indians and Aborigines. Similarly, if there are no Jews, there cannot be a war with the Jews. The West is also trying to cleanse the Earth of all Muslims. Then there cannot be a war with Muslims also.
St.Barnum pays tribute to Kishore Mahbubani - Kishorebhai, you concept of culture of peace is stunning to say the least. Hats Off.
6.Rule of Law
Completely true and a matter of fact!
Consider the Western laws on slavery! And those related to minorities! Or current laws in the UK and US to deal with terrorism.
The disenfranchisement laws came into effect by the 1890’s - that continue till today. This ensured that the disproportionate numbers of Blacks could not vote - and George Bush became the President of the USA for the 2nd time. After some 60,000 Black Voters were disenfranchised, George Bush technically, won by less than 1000 votes (most of the disenfranchised voters were expected to vote against George Bush).
Petty crime (where poor) Blacks were convicted in higher ratios were grounds for disenfranchisement. These laws ensured that 10 times higher number of Blacks were disqualified compared to Whites. If that is not bad enough, it continues till now. Such tactics continue to be used to limit Black participation in democracy.
Tomas Estrada Palma, ‘puppet’ Cuban President, signed the Platt Amendment of 1904 which allowed the USA to intervene at will - and finally modified only in 1934. The many laws which made Gypsy hunting legal - like laws which made hunting animals legal. The latest news in that Italians are going to crack down on Gypsies - as per a EU law.
St.Barnum confirms - Yes, Kishore Sir! The West believes in laws.
I must admit, that Western education does achieve its goals!
West does produce leaders, generation after generation, who relentlessly execute the same agenda. The annihilation, the massacre, the pogroms - against natives in America and Australia, monorties like Gypsies, Jews and various Christian sects. The kidnapping of Aboriginee and Gypsy children. The massacres in Africa - from Roman times to 20th century. And now the spectre of Islamic Demonization.
St.Barnum adds - This degree of continuity and consistency is missing with others. There is something about Western education Mr.Mahbubani, I agree.
Country Model Of The West
Nothing more and nothing less. And their strategy to ‘white wash’ this - propaganda. With Kishorebhai’s plausible sincerety, I am not quite able to decide if Kishorebhai is an innocent and ignorant victim of Western propaganda or a part of the propaganda.
Either way, his book and his ideas are trash - and this post is a case of intellectual slumming.