China's Cultural "Group-Think" Is Worth Exploring

Authored by Bruce Wilds via Advancing Time blog,

For decades China has been pushing its people towards a more "homogeneous way of thinking." This article is focused on exploring some of the cultural "group-think" countries tend to breed into their population. This is especially true in a country like China where the controlling party assumes the role of plotting society's course "for the greater good." I'm very concerned that governments across the world will up their game when it comes to shaping public opinion. Across the world, all the new technology available is rapidly tightening the noose around the neck of individual thought.

China's Cultural And "Group Think"

Reducing political descent was a core principle of the cultural revolution led by Mao Tse-tung. The Red Guards formed by his youthful followers conducted a mass purge of the "undesirables." They then went on to send the young intellectuals living in the cities into the countryside to be "re-educated" through hard manual labor. This is an example of how propaganda can turn a population to a single focus and direction which causes its members can march in lockstep. With this in mind, it has only been in the last couple of  years that the narrative of China being a threat to America has been bantered about. Before that America was busy patting itself on its back for bringing a backward China into the modern world.

Recently a person commenting on another article wrote;

I have worked in China several times over the years and the rate of change has been incredible. In 1976, state store shelves were nearly empty, later, huge multistory department stores were packed with Western-style goods and customers. But, the people were not totally happy. The Chinese have been described as bandits with a thin patina of civilization.  They are as greedy as the West used to be for social progress.

Younger Americans seem to seek after this Chinese 'miracle,' thinking that Communism is responsible for the wealth increase.  In reality, it is Communism with a capitalist bent. When this slows down we will be "equal."  Then America will follow China back to individualism and populism as was common in an earlier China and the West.

This person may or may not have a good grasp of where things are headed. With this in mind, trying to understand and learn about different cultures is important. The world is at a place in its development where individuals may soon lose their ability to influence the path forward. This means our future is becoming more concentrated in the hands of a few. These elite have assumed the role of leading and shaping society. The problem with this is these so-called leaders will most likely be quick to place their best interest solidly in front of those they govern.

We get a rather different view of China and its people from these videos posted online from two young well-grounded fellas that have lived there for a while. It is a bit different from what has been portrayed over the last few decades by mainstream media. Below are a slew of their videos currently on YouTube. In their videos, they give their take on the area from a boots on the ground perspective rather than an economist view from an ivory tower. This means they seem to look at the Chinese and its current culture from the bottom up rather than the top down. I highly recommend this "ADVChina" series. It is more or less an Adventure Travel show on motorbikes, while it may not be super polished, it is real.

* This video gives their take on China's lack of interest and sensitivity to other cultures. 

* China has a phrase, and it's "mei ban fa". You will hear this everywhere you go. Can you fix this? This is very important in understanding the Chinese "no solution I don't care attitude."

* In this video, the guys give their take on China's "Belt and Road" initiative which they see as problematic and declare it will be a failure.

* Ghost City-Inside The China Housing Bubble (very important-7 minutes in) they explain this deck of cards. If you listen closely you can almost hear the empty buildings deteriorating in the distance.

* Living in Japan versus China

* The secrets of Chinese HOTELS

* Collectivism vs. Individualism is a major mental block for people in different countries. They discuss the advantages and disadvantages of both and why China will beat America

* The fellas talk about China's dystopian social credit system which we have heard so much about.

Without a doubt, China is far less polarized and divided than America where people seem unable to agree on much of anything. The Chinese people, however, appear far more accepting and less willing to take responsibility for much of anything. Individuality runs strong in the human animal, there are pros and cons about the fact we can agree on so little. This is why so many people desire to create a homogeneous society. This is perhaps the most ancient, universal, and subconscious goal that leaders have sought to achieve. This idea stands as a utopian goal where humanity can flourish without strife and conflict.

Forced group-think is evident in how China treats the millions of its citizens that do not make an effort to march in step. It is also why many Americans recoil at the thought of it happening here. The ruling Communist Party in China has built "re-education camps" in an attempt to bring these people into the “modern, civilized” world promote what the government calls “ethnic unity” but in simpler terms, the apparent goal is to force detainees to embrace the Chinese communist party and an effort to fully control the hearts and minds of its population. Much of this is aimed at the ethnic minorities of Uighurs in the western region of Xinjiang.

China’s Great Fire Wall which is considered the largest, most extensive and most advanced Internet censorship regime in the world censors content critical of the Chinese government or contrary to Communist Party policy is key to this suppression. Another is that people simply "disappear" in China and their families are left with little or no information as to where they have gone. The term "group-think" is sometimes associated with George Orwell. He wrote about how the power of groupthink tends to be infectious. Shades of this are exposed in the videos.  I contend that China's culture suffers from a kind of deteriorating mental efficiency. This includes a reduced ability to deal with reality and moral judgments due to in-group pressures to think as one.

It is becoming clear the desire for achieving harmony, conformity, and cohesiveness through group-think comes at a cost. The advantage of allowing diversity is that it increases the competition of ideas and brings out the best in people. If you don't want every place and every person to be exactly alike it means learning to accept that humanity is by nature fragmented and rejecting the idea we would be drastically better off is society was one homogeneous group. We do not need to be indoctrinated into thinking alike but must learn to be more tolerant.

The overriding advantage of a fragmented world is that it offers a competitive environment for economic, social, and judicial systems. All of these play huge roles in our culture and have been the driving force of human progress. Circling back to the issue of the above videos, if you take a gander at one or more, you might find they give you a bit more hope that things here in America are not nearly as bad as we are often led to believe.