Yisha’ou wrote in another thread:

So, what does this tell us?

That western lifestyle is the preferred way of living by many people, otherwise they wouldn’t change.

Right or wrong?

These types of comments always make me laugh. The Chinese have been some of the world’s greatest traders for thousands of years. The Silk Road, with one end in China, was the longest trade route in the world for centuries. People in Asia have, for quite some time now, been very interested indeed in accumulating wealth and improving their position in life, either through business dealings, political dealings, or inherited wealth. The only problem is, for most of history, 95% of the People lived either from hand to mouth, in abject poverty, in some form of slavery or serfdom, or elsewhere on the lowest of rungs.

Now, over the last several decades, many Asian economies have rapidly developed, such that a larger portion of the People have been able to raise themselves up. They buy more material goods, create a better life for themselves, and enjoy themselves. Many Westerners arrogantly assume this is some form of emulation of the Western life. This is simply not the case. As I like to say, we are seeing the Modernization of Asia, not the Westernization.

That’s absolutely correct :bravo:

Although the West has been responsible for a lot of the progress over the last few centuries, the idea that all progress originates from the West needs to be debunked. Contributions toward modern culture have come from all corners of the world. Philosophy, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Bhuddism and Hinduism, agriculture, astronomy, architecture, algebra, silk, paper, paper money, gun powder, the 365-day calendar, zero, the alphabet, the wheel, pottery and toothpaste are only a few of the ideas that came from the East (including the Middle East, Far East and India) and Egypt. The idea that modern culture originated in the West has been used as a weapon in subjugating the New World. The truth ,as I see it, is that cultures continuously influence each other.

Nota bene: As far as I’m concerned, a lot of what has been labelled “progress” will be the bane of our existence and a travesty of intelligence. A sustainable lifestyle is an optimal lifestyle.

That’s right. People often confuse modernization with “Westernization/Americanization”. They forget that in the process of modernization, the Western countries also underwent massive changes in their societies. Life in the West is nothing like it was 100, even 50 years ago. If you could time travel back to your hometown in the 1920s it would as big a culture shock as going to any foreign land. “The past is a foreign country.” Modernization equals change.

Perhaps “non-Western countries” should not adopt all these “western” inventions / ideas like modern transport (cars, trains, subway systems), modern medicines, computers etc etc. After all, we don’t want to taint them with all our western ideas. These changes undoubtedly bring about changes in society (eg Saudi women might start thinking about equality if they see it on the internet - Heaven forbid!) :loco:

Isn’t it odd how the “we’re destoying their cultures” type folks always pick on the very things that many westerners themselves don’t approve of, like fast food, as their examples of how the local culture is being “destroyed”, but shy away from all the positive influences western input has had on these places. You can’t have your cake AND eat it.

As an aside, I once heard that McDs Taiwan is the biggest money-spinner for the company outside the US. Are they FORCING Taiwanese people to queue up DAY AND NIGHT at the store down the road from me?

And maybe we Westerners should de-Easternize ourselves. That means handing over your eyeglasses, paper, alphabets, numbers, algebra, gunpowder, ginger ale, instant noodles, woven clothes…

Who’s had a greater influence over whom? Where’s the whining over the Orientation of the world? Why is it that the dramatic changes made to Western civilization by the East (such as the obsoletion of stone castles due to the importation of gunpowder) are completely ignored while people whine how the West is changing poor, backward Eastern culture?

Why can’t people accept the fact that cultures have a tendancy to influence and integrate each other rather than one necessarily overtaking another?


Very good reply, Imaniou, and my point exactly. The changes happen BOTH ways, and neither side should be whingeing over it. Very few countries / places are being FORCED to do anything (with notable exceptions). Most places WANT the positive influences from outside (like the health benefits and comforts of life brought by foreign inventions and development), but think they can take them on without making their culture more like the one they are copying from.

In fact, if you consider the huge amounts of immigration into the West from the East and Middle East that’s happening at the moment, the speed at which cultures are likely to synchronize is ever-faster.

I do have a friend who has a rather rustic cabin located deep in the woods in the USA that has an outhouse; however I am unaware of a home, restaraunt, hospital, school, medical clinic or train that has a squat toilet in all of my extensive travels in the USA.

Albeit, this is only 1 item, but I believe that this indicates a mind set - the acceptance of such a filthy contraption when better is available - that speaks volumes regarding the ‘progress’ of a culture.

This, and a few other things such as standard of hygene for the food supply, an abysmal disregard for the environment, a lasie faire(sp?, I always forget this one) attitude towards personal/governmental accountability, et al lead me to believe than in most areas of life and culture, ‘Western Standards’ still exceed those of the ‘East.’
It is the ‘East’ that is aspiring to raise its standard of living in these areas, and a few others, to meet established ‘Western’ criteria. Not the reverse.

Please, do not interpret these comments as “culture bashing” or arrogance. It is neither of those. I deeply respect some of the accomplishments of Asian civilization. And believe that each cultural group has demonstrated much that is to be respected and in some cases emulated. But I also beleieve that there is a long way to go before the ‘average person’ sees their personal life benefitting from already accepted standards of health, hygiene, responsibile governing and security that exist in the ‘Western’ world.
I am living on Taiwan by choice. I happen to also like it here, with only a few reservations. But in several very important areas the fabled “3000 years of Civilization” is not a reality based standard to use if dealing with the here and now. Its playing cath-up at a fast and furious pace and these growing pains are a real bitch for these cultures.
Is Asia being Westernized? - Yes.
Is the West being Asianized? - Yes

Asia has continually dealt with outside influence by either isolation, imitation or modification. Just like every other culture has. And it will continue to do so.

And both are benefitting from the good; And both are having to deal with negative societal effects of the bad.

Hell… remember when it was impossible to get Paella in a restaraunt in the USA. Now you can get it all over the place.

No, no, no, TainanCowboy. It’s 5000 years of civilisation, remember!

Now I know the first genuine Chinese dynasty began in 221 BC, and the National Palace Museum has artifacts dating back to around 2000 BC, so that’s 4000 years. Now, where’s the other 1000 years they’re always talking about here… :liar: :help:

[quote=“DSN”]No, no, no, TainanCowboy. It’s 5000 years of civilisation, remember![/quote]Sorry, but it must be 5017. They were boasting it was 5000 when I arrived…

DSN, hsiadogah -
I do thank you both for the update
Hard to keep track of all this. What with the alien invaders and mother ships and all that. :slight_smile:

TC - Forgive me if I’m mistaken, but it seems as if you’re choosing elements of this culture to support your belief that the “mindset” of the West (or perhaps the US, in particular) is superior to that of Asia. I’ve heard this before, in different guises. Let me offer a rebuttal.

First of all, your specific example of squat toilets is antiquated, since the overwhelming majority of toilets (in Taipei, at least) are not squat toilets. Perhaps in more traditional parts of Taiwan this is not the case. But Taipei (and Kaoshiung) are far and away the most modern cities in Taiwan, and it’s not fair to make generalizations about Taiwan (or Asia in general) based on what’s going on in less developed areas. You must isolate and specify your instances, for your generalization is not valid.

Secondly, Japan is quite easily the cleanest place in the world, bar none. The level of hygiene there is simply impressive. Furthermore, the sense of cleanliness there is deeply ingrained in the culture.

Thirdly, other more modern countries in Asia, such as Singapore, are equally clean.

Now, other parts of Asia, as they modernize, are certainly addressing the hygiene issue.

So much for Dirty Asia.

I won’t address each of your other issues, since it would commit too much of my time and involve a long, drawn out back and forth hinging on opinion and hyperbole. Nor do I need to cite 5,000 year old examples to buttress my argument. But I will say the house of cards you built is easily toppled.

The key point here is in an EXTREMELY short period of time most Asian countries have advanced and modernized in myriad ways. Yes, in some areas, Western countries served as models, or examples, just as the US War of Independence served as inspiration for the French in 1789. But it’s ridiculous and ethnocentric to assume that Asian countries are somehow using the Western model as a blueprint for their own development. I’ve made 7 trips to Japan and numerous others to countries around Asia and Europe, while having traveled extensively in North America. Trust me, Asian countries do not aspire to be cookie cutter models of a Western utopia.

Nor are Asian countries to be emulated by the West. But when you make strong assertions about the geo-political flow of change and make claims about the source from which all goodness flows, you’re going to run into opposition.

Finally, and this may be the critical point, while the US and other Western countries assume that the rest of the world aspires to Be Like Mike, wheels will turn and mountains will move. These “little countries” will, through hard labor and focused industry, generate such powerful economies that the naysers will hardly know what hit them. So, if you like, go ahead and continue to make assertions and feel confident. It really doesn’t matter. Because while we are jabbering away in cyber land, billions of people are working their knuckles white and backs red.

Blink, but don’t blink twice. Your new set of clothes are on the way.

Jefferson -
So glad to hear of your travels.
And yes, as I clearly stated, I was addressing a few specific items in my critique.
I quite agree about hygenic standards in Japan - 1st rate. Singapore s a close 2nd.
As to your comments about emerging Asian countries using Western Standards as their guidelines for growth in the areas I specified, well, its true whether you want to believe it or not. These are the standards thathave evolved and the engineers who are building the infrastructure of these societies are doing exactly as I posted - [quote]Asia has continually dealt with outside influence by either isolation, imitation or modification. Just like every other culture has. And it will continue to do so.[/quote]
So parse away and enjoy! :smiley:

  1. Squat toilets could be regarded as more hygienic than hm, “normal toilets”. Whether they are clean or not depends on the people using and cleaning them.

  2. Squat toilets are most probably a Western invention, too. French maybe?

So parse away and enjoy! :smiley:[/quote]

You forgot one: rejection. Or haven’t you heard the news from China lately?

For that matter, have you ever done business in China, Korea, or Japan? I’m going to answer that for you: no. For I can’t believe that anyone who has had extensive dealings with those countries labors under the slightest of pretensions that they are bending over backwards to Be Like Mike.

Your little house has crumbled. You may buy a new deck of cards at Watsons.

So parse away and enjoy! :smiley:[/quote]You forgot one: rejection. Or haven’t you heard the news from China lately?
For that matter, have you ever done business in China, Korea, or Japan? I’m going to answer that for you: no. For I can’t believe that anyone who has had extensive dealings with those countries labors under the slightest of pretensions that they are bending over backwards to Be Like Mike.
Your little house has crumbled. You may buy a new deck of cards at Watsons.[/quote]Jefferson -
Thank goodness you are not my architect. My house is still standing and on a solid foundation.
I did leave out a term I had included when I first wrote the article my post was taken from - adaption. That is, the adaption of a manufacturing method or technology to local/specific needs. But I thought it made my post a bit wordy and I also was expecting dissectors like you to pick the post into small bite-sized pieces to support their real or imagined disagreements.
Also, I have done business in and with Korean companies since 1987, with Japanese co’s since '92 (very protectionist they are), Chinese mainland trading and manufacturing co’s since '90, same dates for Taiwanese co’s, Singaporean, Hong kong, Malaysian co’s since the early '90’s. And just a small bit with a couple of Vietnamese trading co’s - that market is very tough and not yet stable. Add the middle-man in a few Thai and Fillipine ventures to round things out.
And, surprising as it may be, I have never played much cards. Although I think its your turn to…“Go Fish!” :smiley:

Given that, if your exposure has indeed been substantial and is not being inflated, I can only surmise your analysis is based on a careful selection of data to satisfy a previously held belief. Because it’s not possible to sit there with a straight face and claim that Koreans, Japanese, and Chinese want nothing more than to copy a Western style of government, economics, and social order. It simply flies in the face of reality. Since you’ve walked down the streets of Tokyo and Seoul, presumably, you don’t need me to tell you what percentage of vehicles are Japanese and Korean, respectively.

And I didn’t pick holes in your argument. You can’t just say, “A building is made of nothing more than steel and concrete” and expect people to accept it at face value. Or, to use a more mundane example, you can’t serve people chocolate chip cookies without the chocolate chips, receive their “something is lacking” expressions, and then tell them there’s nothing wrong with the cookie.

Keep your pasty cookie, and keep your fish. I’m a vegetarian.

I must’ve missed that one of his posts, because I’m pretty sure he hasn’t said anything of the sort.

The fact that the Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese all have the same German-based civil code legal system might indicate that they already have. Look at what overseas universities their students aspire to attend and the universities that their leaders already have attended. Look at the clothing, furniture, architecture, and so on. Look at their legislatures and administrative structures right on down to the setup of the police and fire stations, and you’ll also see a lot of parallels that have nothing to do with how government decisionmaking and execution were done in the old days before significant and continuing contact with the modern West. Firemen in the old days in Tokyo? A bunch of louts waiting for houses to burn down so that they could extort some money from the homeowners.

Having visited both countries several times, I guess you’re right. And the funny thing is that Japanese and Korean cars in Asia have little tiled pagoda-style hardtop roofs with little windchimes hanging from eaves. For some reason, the CD players in Tokyo also seem to be stuck on the first few notes of that song by The Vapors. However, you have to admit that there is a slight western influence in that the Asians get around Asian cities in cars, motorcycles, subways, buses, etc. instead of those cool flying moves we saw in all those kung-fu movies.