I didn't realize it until contemplating this statement, but this applies to interpersonal relationships as well as nations. It is the root of tolerance and acceptance. People wind up where they are largely through circumstance, not intention. Circumstance may be as finite as meeting a person in a purely random situation who then goes on to change your life.
Yet we lionize persons we deem successful and study what led them there, rationalizing that the set of attributes that we can observe about them must be the cause of their success. And in speaking with them personally, you'll find, in many cases, impostor syndrome because they understand the randomness that played in their favor.
I make a conscious effort to keep that in mind. It helps keep me from becoming judgmental.
As an individual, you can try to get to steer a ship or you can try to jump to ships you cross with that go in other directions.
Both strategies have a random aspect but if you know where you want to go, and act accordingly on the opportunities presented to you, you can progress toward your goal in an uncertain goal.
The main takeaways are that the world does not owe anything to anyone, even to smart kids, and that merit is hard to discern from luck.
But you are right. Some people make the most of opportunities given to them, some just let it go thinking they have no influence over their life.
(I think the parable starts to break down though. How to describe nations, laws, gender issues, etc? It's too much for such a 'happy' story to go into any depth.)
I see a lot of people trying to get power or changing situation without having a plan or a goal. They spend a lot of energy going nowhere.
But to each his own I guess.
Took me some time to realize that. I haven't seen it so nicely formulated before, though.
For a given period of time, you can find symmetry in subsets of chaos, and thus it can appear predictable or deterministic from that perspective. But the truth might be that we're just specifically looking for it.
There may be a lot of randomness on the way to becoming, or almost becoming a doctor, but you don't get to be a doctor by randomness.
See what I mean?
You get to be a doctor only with quite a very long term intent and perseverance, by stacking the odds, and rolling the dice a lot.
Though I get what you are saying - I also don't think that most people as of yet realize how much actual control they have over themselves and their lives, and they can possibly make it better. That's still a huge hurdle for a lot of people.
I suppose those that have jumped that hurdle could often learn a little empathy for those with bad dice :)
Don't choose to be born in a slum in a third world country, or a trailer park, thats gonna hurt your chances. Make sure you don't pick a family that will abuse you as you grow up. Try to make sure you at least get average genetics for general intelligence and memory (50% of people won't...).
Ideally, choose to have at least one doctor as a parent (increases your odds by more than an order of magnitude). A good mentor or role model at the right time could substitute though.
Of course, people _can_ control their own lives, but most people who succeed at becoming doctors were both lucky AND hard working.
And I'd be willing to be that though they did work like hell to do it, a lot of doctors "sleepwalked into it" because a teacher at school or a parent told them thats what they should do.
Like you said we have been blessed by the hard work of those who went before us and in turn we can raise the next generation to be even more prosperous than us.
I'd rather have a good worth ethnic than 'rich parents' on the road to becoming a doctor anywhere in the Western world.
There are innumerable lazy rich kids and they won't be getting into med school.
> You get to be a doctor only with quite a very long term intent and perseverance, by stacking the odds, and rolling the dice a lot.
I like that way of putting it.
So what do you think is the value of P(becoming doctor | intent and perseverance)? If it's only 50%, then I'd argue that whether someone succeeds in becoming a doctor or not is indeed quite random.
And maybe more relevant, but what are the factors that cause someone to have strong willpower and perseverance, and were those under their own control?
And that's the question, isn't it? Depending on where you draw your battery limits, you can take credit (and responsibility) for absolutely everything, or absolutely nothing.
To quote Tim Minchin, from his speech to UWA grads:
> Remember it’s all luck. You are lucky to be here. You are incalculably lucky to be born and incredibly lucky to be brought up by a nice family who encouraged you to go to uni. Or if you were born into a horrible family that’s unlucky and you have my sympathy but you are still lucky. Lucky that you happen to be made of the sort of DNA that went on to make the sort of brain which when placed in a horrible child environment would make decisions that meant you ended up eventually graduated uni. Well done you for dragging yourself up by your shoelaces. But you were lucky. You didn’t create the bit of you that dragged you up. They’re not even your shoelaces.
> I suppose I worked hard to achieve whatever dubious achievements I’ve achieved but I didn’t make the bit of me that works hard any more than I made the bit of me that ate too many burgers instead of attending lectures when I was here at UWA. Understanding that you can’t truly take credit for your successes nor truly blame others for their failures will humble you and make you more compassionate. Empathy is intuitive. It is also something you can work on intellectually.
> [..] but I didn’t make the bit of me that works hard [..] understanding [that] will humble you
with the half-serious logical extension: if the "bit of you that makes you prone to work hard" is inherited then perhaps also the "bit of you that makes you prone to be humble" can be inherited as well.
But if we go that far, then almost everything about you is just random chance. Congratulations, we've realized that we're not special, but products of evolution, and some of us are more fit than others in certain environments. What practical difference should that make?
You just can't afford to 'zoom out' too far. Focus on immediate small scale things, watch a beautiful sunset, hug your kids, ride a motorbike, eat your favourite meal. Focus on near-term goals like "bootstrap my company" or "reach my fitness goals". Worry about little problems that you can solve. Make someone smile. Smell the roses.
You can stay intellectually aware of the fact that we're transient pond scum on the surface of a space rock in an infinite, arbitrary universe. Just don't dwell on it.
At dinner tables and in churches all across the country, you hear people say "God is in control”. You’ll hear reminders to be humble and appreciate what you have, because anyone can get ill at any time, or lose all all their belongings in fire, or any number of bad events. The chaos out there is real, whether one believes in it or not. And there's an even bigger danger in trying to control the chaos, and history has plenty of examples (Mao's China and USSR most recent). The limited government in America was founded on a distrust of power, top-down control, and people who want to control the world. Without that bottom-up perspective, America will never make sense.
While I haven't looked at the statistics, I can easily imagine that's the result of religious communities/institutions having better infrastructure/peer structure in place to motivate donations, at least vs "unorganized unreligious" people which rarely organize on a similar scale.
Pretty much all religious institutions are dependent on regular donations coming in, they are organizations build to motivate people to donate and keep those donations coming.
In that regard, it shouldn't really be that surprising that they end up being overrepresented when they use these "powers" to collect donations for a non-religious cause. Could just as well be interpreted as the temporary redirection of a revenue stream that'd otherwise just go to said religious institutions, in the form of the regular donations of their members.
Depending on the methodology of the statistics this could actually be checked for: Do "more religious" people actually donate "more" during times of non-religious crisis? Or do they merely have a bigger overall "donation budget", which they can use for these times, due to their religious donation obligation?
To clarify, it's better in the sense of creating better infrastructure/peer structure/social network.
It's also a difference not unlike between tips in America and a fair salary for waitresses in Europe.
If you think a natural disaster is the result of God's plan (and not e.g. climate change), it is perfectly congruent to both contribute to healing in the form of charity, while also being disinterested in climate change regulation.
We have built a progressively more just world - and it gets a little bit more just and civilized every generation that goes by.
It's only possible when most people have some kind of faith, however crude, as the grind away at it. It does not happen by accident - over the long haul, it requires a Will.
We have better and more nuanced ways of making the universe more just these days.
Religion, which is the application of Spirituality (however crude) was essential to the development of morality in humanity, and hence civilization. Much of it has been codified and secularized, but the underlying metaphysical value remains the same and nothing has replaced it.
Scientific Materialists, who can't even seem to grasp that Religion and Spirituality aren't just about 'believing in random stuff' and that these issues are grounded in an existential metaphysical premise - are the real problem.
The combustion engine and nuclear energy are parlour tricks.
Morality and humanity ... much harder.
Progress is not actually hindered that much by some odd religious people worrying about 'too much adultery or gay marriage' - it's hindered by Scientific Materialism which presumes a universe ordered by a specific set of equations - a philosophy which taken to it's full extent implies we are merely random bags of noise, in a random Universe ... and therefore denies the very fact of life itself, let alone love, creativity, intelligence, knowledge, wisdom etc.. It underlines even our most obvious existential challenge: Global Warming (i.e. technology too advanced for our collective morality).
Materialism is ultimately an empty, nihilist world view.
I'm not worried because those who hold it, directly or indirectly so lack faith (I mean that loosely), don't see themselves as part of a greater whole, so much so that they're much less willing to reproduce, and form a bizarre 'end of the evolutionary trail' cohort. Those with at least an inkling of faith - even if only in their bones and not their hearts, let alone minds - will form the future, write future history, and shape creation going forward. And most people do have some kind of faith, actually.
There's hope in the fact that I find usually in the most ardent materialists, it's just a matter of ego. The ego is usually the thing standing between an individual an their own recognition of 'that which is greater'. The Buddhists put it in pretty good, nearly secular terms when they refer to 'egolessness', which is a good place to start for anyone interested in getting it.
The ancient world has a lot of similar Promethean-type myths (i.e. Lucifer etc.) - who brought us fire/light ... but it's the 'fire' or 'light' in our hearts and souls that matters, not literally 'fire', which useful, but ultimately, missing the point.
Hints - Colombia motto: "In Thy light shall we see light", Yale motto: "Light and Truth", Dartmouth Motto: "A voice crying out in the wilderness", Cambridge Motto: ""From here, light and sacred draughts" ...
EDIT: sorry for the lengthy rant :)
Tell me were is 'love' among a bunch of completely random particles, bouncing through the Universe?
Ergo, while Materialism is an extremely useful tool for understanding much of the universe around us - we have to remember that this is all it is - a tool. Science is a Framework, not a Truth.
As posited by religious people and writers of religious texts.
As a counterpoint, keep in mind that modern religions are massively syncretic and many of the moral issues were probably absorbed the same way some ancient cells absorbed mitochondria to create modern cells.
Also, that comment about nihilism is just misguided.
I feel as much spirituality in Carl Sagan vision of the stars being part of us and making us part of the universe, making us the universe observing itself, as you can feel with your books and promises of an afterlife.
I am going to die as well, and that fact makes my own life, and the lives of other people, the most sacred thing ever. No gods are needed to determine this fact.
Reading some of the comments below, and having known some Chinese people ( I am not east asian) I want to point out that it seems like many people missed the intention/ tone of the author. I think his intention was not to brag as some people have misunderstood, but to provide context to how he got to where he got to.
His communication style is different compared to the western style of communication. There is no single coherent message he is trying to drive purposefully or tacitly, but my guess is he was hoping you learn whatever you can from his experience and his way of thought.
Sure the article title could have had the words ‘random’ and ‘musings’ in the same sentence..... meh!
For those of you wondering, the book he was reading is "Life and Death in Shanghai" by Cheng Nien. For me, that was the most interesting part of the article.
I know very little about modern Chinese history and this seems like an interesting place to start.
I wonder what other books fall into this category?
Though implicit, I think this article actually makes an interesting implication about jealousy. What exactly is there to be jealous of in another person if luck, and randomness plays so much in our fortunes?
This article is also a warning against self-help. So much determines our fortunes besides the advice we can take or the effort we make. The best is what -- rolling with the punches --
Luck only comes when you are in position to seize it. Yes despite your best efforts, it might never come. But it can come when you never expect it because you are in the right place and the right time.
that's pretty amazing..is this really true? So if someone applied for marketing or accounting, they would still have to push carts?
The MBA was originally designed for people who had worked their way up from the bottom, and needed to backfill the theory.
China has a population of 1.4 billion. Peking University has 33k students and Tsinghua has 45k.
Obviously this isn't a great comparison because lots of foreigners come to study in the US, but I think it does give a sense of scale.
Why should an article criticise just one side, right?
In the US and europe, I always felt like people were more self selective than in Asia (India is the place I’m familiar with), meaning that more young people would not apply to top schools because they convince themselves (rightfully or not) that they’ll never get in. (Application fees are obviously inportant to consider: 100$ in the US vs free or very cheap (comparatively) in asia)
In India, I met lots of people applying to an unreasonable amount of jobs and colleges, because demand is so small compared to supply.
This means that admissions rates are likely skewed between different countries. Based on my anecdotical evidence, I’d say the average Harvard applicant is more skilled than the average IIT applicant, though the admitted students are probably as skilled.
2. Montesquieu had a theory that people in history rode the wave of what was happening at the time, so Napoleon would not have become Napoleon if he was born in a different time, _but_ if Napoleon had not take control, someone else would have, since circumstances were ripe. Therefore, a person who knows how to read the events & choose a good strategy for the time in which they live will usually be at least moderately successful, and someone incapable of that will nearly always be mediocre. There are outliers and extremely fortunate or unfortunate events, but part of strategy is not becoming a negative outlier and optimizing for higher success. You may miss a specific opportunity, but if you are always looking for opportunity, you will find one of the ones that come along.
It's not individuals reacting but jingoism, our generation was brought up on the idea of globalism and humanism, that we can connect as individuals. But as one gets older it seems jingoism is as alive as ever, only concealed better, where some things are taken for granted and not to be questioned while pointing fingers at others, judging others and making negative assumptions is perfectly ok.
Reluctance to introspect on your own society while cheering on those who criticize their own is a losing game.
Probably not intended as such, but I'll take it as a hilarious send up of "strategy" and will recall it whenever I witness "strategy" being used vacuously.
For my English, for example, native speakers tend to say that it is actually quite correct, but I have a tendency to use words in a specific way in which few native speaker would use them.
I see your point though. I think he does use words in ways that native speakers do not use, but in his anecdotes -- I think he's actually playing up his Chineseness for the comic effect, and he's very much aware of what's happening.
> In Communist China, I was taught that hard work would bring success. In the land of the American dream, I learned that success comes through good luck, the right slogans, and monitoring your own—and others’—emotions.
I don't understand the value of this analogy. In Communist China, I was taught (something that is done to you) something false, but in the U.S. I learned (note: not taught, learned) something X.
Is it true or false? Because it matters whether or not something is true or false. I'm sure the author thinks what he is writing is true, otherwise, why write it? But he just directly compared something he decided on his own to something he was taught to be true that was actually false. This is really murky, and I don't care enough about his feelings about Cambridge or Stanford or Costco to try to make any more sense of it.
"Hard work brings success" is paraphrasing the American Dream.
The author now says he learned that success does not depend on factors that can be controlled. He uses the verb learned in contrast to taught to emphasize that he thinks this is true.
I saw it as more of an expression of irony, that it was unexpected to learn the ideals of the "American Dream" in communist China, and essentially unlearn them while actually living in America. The whole "learned" rather than "taught" was the way he arrived independently at his personal beliefs contrary to what he was forced to learn in school or college.
"western universities" aren't only for "the best and brightest" but also for those who can afford it, this narrowly reduces the number of applicants.
Ahh, yes - the third generation ...
"We are an immigrant nation. The first generation works their fingers to the bone making things; the next generation goes to college and innovates new ideas. The third generation snowboards and takes improv classes."
Maybe the title should be "The Western Elite from a Chinese Elite Perspective". Surely sending kids to school to UK as plan B is not in the average Chinese family's abilities. Doesn't mean we should discount the article or its ideas but it's useful to keep the author's background in mind.
Given his academic performance in his high school, it's unlikely he got a scholarship to a leading UK private high school (Hurtwood House checking his Linkedin). Parents who can afford to send their kid to an overseas high school that charges $40k/year are not modest by Developed country standards, much less Chinese, and even less so Hebeinese.
> He was a child of aristocrats; I am the child of modest workers.
When a one-digit millionaire compares himself to a billionaire like Bill Gates, using "modest" to describe
one's wealth would be appropriate in this context.
I suppose it started to dawn on me when mum commented that if we had stayed in Birmingham they would have used my Grandfather (a headmaster) to try and pull strings to get me into Kings Edwards, BTW this is "the" King Edwards (JRR Tolkien's alma mata) that takes turn with the Oratory for the top school in the country.
A good friend of mine is from Chengdu and for most of his life he thought he was just average - a guy whose parents sent him to the US for high school, pay ~30,000CAD/semester in tuition, bought him an X3 for his first car, etc.
The biggest expensive cities are in league with NYC/SF/London, but there is still a large countryside that is "modest" and vast unpopulated area with noone or villages that are decades behind.
We do, but this success is presented as if coming from an average Chinese experience. But it's very much not so. A lot of success to him came not just from pure hard work but because his family could afford to have "plan B" of sending him abroad.
Like someone here on HN said it, it is not that the elites don't fail, they do, but after each failure they can just keep trying until they succeed.
> Will you read about a blue collar worker's view on Chinese society?
I would love to actually. What would an American welder think about China or, maybe what they would think about how Chinese welders work and vice-versa.
> As societies, we don't really want to read about some Cantonese kid working after school at his parents restaurant for 6 hours a day.
No, but they would love to read about the Cantonese kid working after school and then based on his hard work end up at GS.
The bottom line is growing in up in a family like it doesn't matter what country or culture you come from you already won the lottery. You can live in Venezuela or Africa and still take weekend flight to shop in New York. Your perspective is already very different.
The thing about foreigners in mainland China vs.
Hong Kong, there just aren’t that many at all. Maybe shanghai has the most, but even then it is less than 100k, a drop in the bucket compared to Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, or even Bangkok.
Also, haven’t downvotes anyone on this thread.
[In case you are wondering, I didn't downvote you neither.]
[Also, complains about downvotes and accusations of downvotes are good methods to get more downvotes. See https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html ]
Its what I have been told happens in my home towns Public schools - one of Barack Obamas roomies at Harvard came from one of them.
As suggested a in the UK Public School is what an American would call a private one ie one where rich people send there kids
No, it isn't obvious. In the UK the prefix public and private are both synonymous for "fee paying" for schools.
I went to a prep. school (9 to 13) and a public school (13+) after that. Both of which would be described as private schools.
Certainly caused some mumblings about the general character of some of the most prestigious institutions like Eton. It would be easy to put that simply down to xenophobia but there is a relative difference between the established culture and the new. British aristocratic elites are generally (and of course this is all relative) far poorer than the children of Oligarchs and party officials. Generally the attitude of the aristocratic Brits is to keep their head down and not be flashy, whereas some of their classmates literally have a private jet for their use on weekends.
What I've come to realize is that everything he wrestles with in the essay is not hidden away, it's right there within the testing system. It's studied empirically, the markets are there, it's all in plain view. It doesn't require any special wisdom or insight and anyone trying to simplify things either way are wrong.
These tests that are scrutinized bear only a modest relationship with what they are trying to measure, and what they are trying to measure is only weakly related to what people want to know. That is, the best estimates suggest that they're only correlated about .30 or .40 with actual ability or understanding in any deeper sense at most. And this is over the entire range of ability, meaning that it includes comparisons between people who score in the 2nd percentile and those who score in the 98th percentile -- a huge portion of that correlation is surely due to gross comparisons of that sort.
What's sobering to me is that we know this. We know these tests are not only imperfect, but severely so. And yet we fetishize it. The money being put into the testing field is astounding.
The reason of course, is because, while these tests are poor measures, they're the better than nothing. And we know that they tell us something about people, on average, across many people.
I'm not sure why we overrely on these things, why these discussions are often framed in extremes, where either a test is the criterion for success, or react to it with claims that the tests are completely invalid.
Failure of the meritorious is due to bad-luck and/or circumstance.
The CFO went to university himself. What an ass...
Pity that while the Europeans destroyed the traditions of much of Asia's (incl., sadly, much of India's), that the Chinese themselves destroyed a large part of their own heritage.
It seems to me that tax cutting could lead to increased consumption and therefore a reduction in GDP slack and upward pressure on prices (inflation). Why is it that tax increases would lead to inflation?
Maybe he had the second-worst grades from not knowing the meaning of "perpendicular" even though he studied math
Uh... wouldn't low probability events happen with low frequency? Am I missing something?
* Everything is random.
* A generic Chinese man, who did really well on one test is smarter than most people in Britain.
* Americans, who are capitalists, don't seem to want to focus their lives on the supposed end goal of capitalism.
* MBA programs are nuts, especially if you are on the spectrum.
I'm probably wrong about most of those, but like the author, I just don't see the coherent picture.
edit: this is highlighted by the conclusion, in which he points out the irony of the lesson from his western education (everything is luck) when the traditional message is "if you work hard you will succeed".
i thought it was a great read.
i agree that the article was underdeveloped, but im not sure your critique is entirely fair. the author did go on for a while about that girl, nian, and how inhospitable china was to someone very similar to him. he also hints at how warped the party's version of chinese history is. i think its far from clear that the author thinks china is superior to the west, or vice versa.
* "focus on the process, which we can control, rather than the result"
This is also well explained by Scott Adams: "Goals are for losers... try systems that improve your odds of success."
If he had done better than he did in his Chinese High School, his parents may not have sent him to the UK, in which case he may not have been as successful. So it still aligns with the idea of the story that we really discount the value of luck in our successes.
As I read it, his conclusion in the end is that accepting this nebulosity is possibly the key to happiness.
I also couldn't ignore the headline referring to the "West" (whatever it is) in general, while the author only had some limited experience working in the US and studying in the UK.
I live in Singapore now, and one thing that made me laugh once was an establishment called "Johnson's Western food". Like, that tiny stall encompasses the entire culinary wisdom of France, Italy, Spain, Germany, and more. In reality, they sell soggy pizza and pasta sourced from Mars (at least by the looks of it).
This article is the literary equivalent of the Johnson's Western food stall, although with better pictures.
“It's not about the cards you're dealt, but how you play the hand.”
What's the negative of "expectation of results", ie. the normalization of the expression "no (expectation of results)" in constructive terms. I guess it would have to be perhaps expect failure
It is rather close to the definition of integrity: To do the right thing, even when nobody's looking.
Maybe the reason the west is successful lies in the belief that individuals matters.
If that's the case, then i suppose the OP still has a long way to go.
IMHO, the role of education in the most general sense (encompassing the cultural background you're evolving in) is to help you think that you need to keep trying to make a difference, and not give up, because maybe one time in your life you'll accomplish something, and that'll be worth it.
Most two year olds can't form complex sentences, and so have yet to be indoctrinated into their culture's ideologies. It seems like the context of this whole thread is moreso about economic ideology than basic physics.
Smart hard working people succeed much more often than they don't. Born into difficult circumstances, their probability of 'success' (accumulating prestige and wealth) is much higher than for others.
Of course sometimes circumstances are too oppressive to overcome, and sometimes the stupid and lazy are elevated in spite of themselves... But these are exceptions.
A smart hard working person today might be a hard working computer scientist.
Their skills would be absolutely worthless even a few centuries ago. Their skills would be absolutely worthless even today depending on where they are born and to the parents they are born.
I'm not convinced "smart and hard working" are not post hoc descriptors themselves.
Many people don't have ambition, or they have limited ambition.
It sounds to me you're classifying people as smart/hard working only if they're successful.
Wow, false dichotomy and either racism or ego, take your pick.
Hard to keep reading after that.
A fine essay, the above quote gave me a chuckle.
But the past is not so certain, because the past is under control of the government, and the past undego changes sometimes. The past has its blank spots, there are some unmentionable events in the past that do not make communists proud. So no one really knows what happened.
If you are interested, you might want to read Orwell's 1984, he described extreme case of such a world view.
>you should educate youself better by consuming mass media.
Is this not precisely the opposite of mass media? Marxist social critic Herbert Marcuse wrote about how, beacuse Communism is a subversive movement, and indeed the Left, it cannot gain mass media time, because of its nature as subversive; it can only be snuck in under capitalism, as capitalism is willing to accept any ideology for the sake of profit. I would recommend One-Dimensional Man on the topic of what problems Communists have with late capitalist media and production, and the hiding of information.
>If you are interested, you might want to read Orwell's 1984
I have; although it's a little funny to see Orwell used to rebut the Communist project, seeing as he was a Socialist himself who fought on the side of anarchists in Spain, there's a deeper point here that you are missing. Orwell wrote about very obvious misdirection - "war is peace", "peace is war". However, you are missing the fact that it is not this easy to see.
Nowadays, as I am sure you know, the contradiction and control is hidden not in the sentence but within the noun. In words such as "freedom", "democracy", "control", etc. the actual meaning can be discerned only by the speaker of the word and the historical time period. Please read Marcuse on this topic. I don't know where you're getting the idea that I'm in favour of rewriting the past from.
Under all existing or existed communist government mass media brings The Truth, the government's interpretation of events. If you live here you should know this interpretation, or you risk to show political illiteracy and to be critisized for that. It can damage your career, or you will be forced to attend to courses of political literacy, or both. I believe it didn't work for blue collars, they had more freedom in this sense, but for white collar political illiteracy was a real threat. It was like now in USA with microagression of white males (as I see it from other side of ocean): if you catched on some sort aggression at female, you could be fired and get a "wolf ticket" (in short, it is markings in papers that does not allow to find white collar job), or attend to some sort of training, bring public apoligies, and so on.
> Nowadays, as I am sure you know, the contradiction and control is hidden not in the sentence...
Are you trying to persuade me that USSR was not as bad as it seems from USA? I know that. And USA is not as bad as it seemed from USSR. But I have no intentions to discuss it here. It is a contraversial topic, and it is like swamp: you step there and cannot get out of it. Moreover I see no point in discussing: there is no USSR now. Was it bad, or not so bad -- it does not matter now.
> I don't know where you're getting the idea that I'm in favour of rewriting the past from.
Not you, but all communist states I know about.
This is why both the USA currently and the USSR formerly deserve the same criticism, and we need to move beyond this rationality of unfreedom, and the answer to this I belive lies firmly within the realm of revolutionary Communist movements, but only after realising exactly what inspired the controlling rationalities of the US and the USSR.
The US (as it continues) and USSR both institute(d) a policy in which the only freedom is that which you are told you are supposed to have, and that any freedom which transcends is called either "Socialist" or "capitalist". These are projected as 'bad' because they appear within their respective societies to reach 'the limits of reason itself'. To the American taken in by his 'freedom', Socialism is not only unreasonable, irrational or unjustifiable but it is impossible itself, because to him what is rational is production, the pervasiveness of technology and relentless consumption. Similar things can be said about the USSR and its descendant Marxist-Leninist states.
Within the USSR, there was no qualitative change, there was only quantitative change, and indeed due to their rationality, Socialism could only be seen as quantitative change, a sliding axis between capitalism and Socialism. This is because they were fixed by controlling rationality in which Communism has become quantitative, obscuring the fact that it is truly qualitative, Marx said as much all along: Communism is the rejection of all established notions, Communism abolishes all notions of morality, justice, freedom and indeed stands in opposition, contradiction to all previous societies.
Communists don't have anything resembling a monopoly on this.
Also - we should consider that the kinds of kids who grow up super talented, go to Goldman and top Schools etc. are probably not very representative of the Chinese population.
I've taken a similar class, and the content can be quite uncomfortable (and sometimes the content strays into bs territory, but I and others find much of the content of value). A common reaction to this uncomfort is to deny the validity of the concept of emotions / EQ, but many people who try to understand these concepts do come out with a better understanding of how to engage emotionally
I know for many logic minded people the concept of emotional intelligence seems like bs, but it is real (sorry for asserting this rather than providing evidence, but that's another topic). My brother is on the spectrum and I'm on the autistic side of normal, and it's my experience that EQ can be learned and that learning it valuable and worthwhile personally and professionally
I think, that mottos in Western culture are just pathetic ones. Western culture knows nothing about how to raise steady emotions in people. I was born in USSR, and I saw how it should be done. But there is one consequence: with experience comes tolerance to external attempts to raise my emotions by some lovely motto. Now it is really hard to. "All people deserve to live healthy lives" -- what is it? I was grown on ideas of Worldwide Communist Revolution and bringing freedom from damned capitalists to all people? I read books, I watched films, discussed this in a classes, I learnt world history in terms of societies struggling to make one more step toward communism. And after that I hear motto for preschool kids. The topic for boring school essay about role of Communism in bringing healthy life to everyone. I had eaten tons of this shit before I came to a school. I have eaten even more in school. Why I should have any emotions now?
Really, I can hardly believe that any adult can be touched by such a motto. I'm unable to understand it, even when I try to imagine how it could be, if I was not born under ideologic pressure.
The Black Swan can be a good motto, because it is a symbol of some non-trivial idea, because it reminds me something that I can forget to think through one more time. It reminds me about ideas which I want to think through again and again. But "healty lives for everyone" is something like communism, it will not be like that in the overseeable future. It is just one more ideologic lie, which is must be spoken due to some social protocol. Pointless tradition.
As humans are rationalizers, they construct reasons for these nervous activations after the fact. If you inculcate them with simple slogans that become habitual, they will interpret themselves in terms of those slogans. It's a failure of introspection, or rather a rerouting of any rational introspection through a lens of theory-theory.
Many emotions have physiological "symptoms" and are associated with certain brain regions and pathways. Our understanding of biology does not permit us to define emotions to the level of physiological detail that we have for, say, inflammation, but that doesn't mean emotions don't exist
But even dogs seem to have emotions, don’t they? My dog gets excited if I offer him a treat, and sad if I don’t give it to him.
I grew up in the east block too and I come upon this quite often. The peak of it is the current political situation in the USA.
I wonder if this is connected with the pressure to be young and healthy for as long as possible or at least looking like it which allows you to participate in "young culture" whith everything that comes along with it (tech, speach, dress, views,...). The side effect is a infantile look at the world and concepts that are supposed to run it on all levels.
I work for an US company in Germany and see realities collide every day.
If "steady emotions" is not clear, it may be due to my bad English. I used "steady" in the sense "persistent" and "strong". You say "communism" and people respond with strong emotions, mainly positive. I didn't tried to judge it ethically. Let's leave this for another discussion.
It's not just repressed Communists. I work with scientists and engineers, and they also roll their eyes at corporate slogans. In turn, the managers know this.
I think this is a very bad assumption; Eric Schwitzgebel has spent a lot of his career making the case that it is a bad assumption: http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/
a good example paper: Knowing Your Own Beliefs (2011), http://www.faculty.ucr.edu/~eschwitz/SchwitzAbs/KnowOwnBel.h...
Real world markets are much more complicated than economic models, just as human emotion is more complicated than the author's model of no change heart rate = no change in emotion.
> In highschool, I was taught that hard work would bring success. In college, I learned that success comes through fooling people with good marketing.