reztrop: I don’t care what Japan did to China in the 1930s in the same way that I don’t care what Japan did to all the people (including my compariots) building the Thai-Burma Railway, for instance. Because that was then and this is now. If I meet a Japanese guy, I don’t think of what his grandparents’ generation did to my grandparents’ generation. Many countries, in this case China, like to play the martyr rather than move on. It’s that simple.
ninman: I agree with you about the compulsory voting thing in Australia, which is why even when I lived in Australia, I wasn’t enrolled to vote, just on principle (plus the fact that I don’t actually believe democracy is a good thing anyway). :raspberry:
As for the U.K., I didn’t say it will collapse, merely that it is unravelling. Plenty of countries limp on without collapsing, but they’re hardly functional in a true sense. I think it’s a measure of how advanced the state of decay is that people gnash their teeth over it but don’t seem to be willing or able to solve these social problems. I’m not entirely sure where they stem from either and I think it’s a confluence of factors. There are plenty of countries where people like a drink. There are plenty of countries that have income disparities or socialised welfare. Take any of the usual explanations or excuses and they don’t explain why the U.K. suffers such social ills to such a degree.
I’m dead serious when I say that these problems are a lot more serious than other comparable countries (I’m not, for a moment, suggesting the U.K. is on a par with Somalia). I’ve travelled to more than forty countries on five continents and I have never felt as unsafe anywhere else in the world as I did in the U.K. and it’s a bit hyperbolic (but only slightly) to say this, but working as a teacher in the U.K. was probably on a par with being sent on a tour of duty to some dusty shithole with people trying to blow you up. I’ve wandered around plenty of large American cities, including some places the average white, middle class guy wouldn’t wander into, and rode Greyhound for what amounted to probably tens of thousands of kilometres, as well as been to places that on paper, should be kind of scary, such as Moscow.
I’m sure any resident of any major city in the world could tell you where the bad areas are and how to avoid trouble and if you heeded their advice, you’d be pretty safe. This probably holds true in Beijing or Shanghai also. I know I complain a lot about Taiwan, but one thing I will give it is that I have never felt even remotely unsafe walking around at night here, and I imagine China is probably not too different. In the U.K., trouble finds you, and in the most random of places or times. That you’re relatively desensitised to it is a product of being in its midst, but it’s shocking to outsiders.
So whilst it’s all good to say that China is a brutal regime (and it is), the perception, if not the reality, is that I’m probably far less likely to suffer violence at the hands of another human being in China than in the U.K., regardless of whether that’s institutionalised or not (and actually, I’d say the chavs in the U.K. are probably as much of an institution, complete with their own government funding, as the secret police are in China). If you’re too terrified to walk out your front door or walk down the street, you’re not actually free.
For further reading, see Theodore Dalrymple.