Nationalism rose abruptly in China at the beginning of the twenty-first century and became a remarkable social trend of thought. However, the emergence of nationalism can be traced to as early as the beginning of the 1990s when some scholars who were politically sensitive and willing to serve the party and the government suggested that patriotism and nationalism should be the main courses for the education of university students and government officials. Indeed a lesson had been drawn from the June Fourth event that political education in universities had been unsuccessful and that it was not enough just to instil Marxism into students.
I AM a philosopher, but I am not going to talk about philosophy this evening. As a Chinese public intellectual, I should like to say something about my country.
China has attracted worldwide attention in recent years because of the rapid growth of its economy. This growth has given rise to much discussion, and many wonder whether China’s tremendous economic and military capabilities spell good or bad fortune for its neighbouring countries, for the Pacific region and for the world. I do not want to dwell on this problem.
In my opinion it is more important to know what the Chinese people themselves are thinking. The economy and its material goods belong to the people, and it is essential to understand what this new prosperity means to its consumers. I shall focus on the points of view of Chinese intellectuals concerning their country and its future itinerary, noting that these opinions were formed and expressed only after the death of Mao Zedong.
Is there a risk that you get overconfident because of that? One of the things that happened in the ‘20s is that things kept going so well, and the forecasters who predicted a continued boom were right again and again. If you get very confident that government knows what it’s doing and can manage the economy well, does that increase risk at all?
I think the real danger is believing that any forecaster really knows what he or she is doing. One of the problems that people have with forecasting is that they tend to look at past accuracy as an indication whether or not to follow a forecaster, when in fact past accuracy is much more often based on luck, and what you really have to do is try to figure out what these forecasters are thinking about, what their reasons are, and then you can decide whether you want to follow one or another. If you just blindly look as to whether they got it right or wrong, then you’re probably going to fall for a guru one of these days.
You don’t need to leave your house to get to know a far-away country, a big city, or a tiny house in a tiny town. All you need to do is open a book and read.
In this article by Rana Mitter, there are a few tips to work your way through China. Admittedly, I didn’t read many of them, but the ones I read were good. Therefore, the rest of the list must be good as well!
A walk around Old Shanghai today also reminds you that it was one of the great cities of the British Empire, and this lost world is called up in Robert Bickers’s Empire Made Me, the reconstruction of the life of a British policeman who lived and died in the “noisy, stinking streets” of the pre-war city.
The amount of books I add to GoodReads seems neverending – just like my to-read pile of books on my nightstand. The titles marked red are ones I want to read someday. The one marked orange has been lying on my nightstand for a while now. I read bits and pieces of it. Thing is, reading lots of articles in the same field as Thinking, Fast and Slow for my thesis research, does not exactly make me want to read it right now. Somehow it feels like “homework”, so I’m leaving it on the to-read pile for now. Another time, another place.
Books aspiring leaders should read
Eric: What books do you recommend to your students at Harvard?
- Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow
- Victor Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
- Clayton Christensen, How Will You Measure Your Life?
- Nassim Taleb, Fooled by Randomness
- Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, Team of Rivals
- Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney, Willpower
From: “Interview – Harvard Business School professor Gautam Mukunda explains the secrets to being a better leader“, Barking up the wrong tree.