The Washington Post has an article today about the latest trend in Chinese business books – making money the ‘Jewish’ way,
Showcased in bookstores between biographies of Andrew Carnegie and the newest treatise by China’s president are stacks of works built on a stereotype.
One promises “The Eight Most Valuable Business Secrets of the Jewish.”
Another title teases readers with “The Legend of Jewish Wealth.” A third provides a look at “Jewish People and Business: The Bible of How to Live Their Lives.”
In the United States, where making broad generalizations about races, cultures or religions has become unacceptable in most circles, the titles of some of these books might make people cringe. Throughout history and around the world, even outwardly innocuous and broadly accepted characterizations of Jews have sometimes formed the basis for eventual campaigns of violent anti-Semitism.
One really has to wonder if this is anti-Semitic propaganda from some global neo-Nazi plot to reproduce the next group of concentration camps.
Somehow I doubt it. Not because neo-Nazis wouldn’t think the idea was a good one. No. I just doubt they are clever enough to go there.
Thus I have a slightly different take. I can imagine a slightly more ‘benign’ background.
Imagine a gullible Chinese university student in America. She get’s a flaming anti-Semite-but-otherwise-weirdly-likeable-guy as a roommate, think Mel Gibson at twenty. The roommate goes on to explain that Jewish bankers and businessmen are controlling the world and absorbing all the wealth. Having absolutely no reference to Jewish culture (10,000 in a country of 1.3 Billion = not often found in the wild), the Chinese student just buys into the propaganda. And since she just thinks this is ‘normal – everybody knows this in the west,’ she never gets a chance to ‘recalibrate’ the weirdness.
Next, gullible-but-likable Chinese student goes back to China where controlling the world and absorbing all the wealth is ‘in’ and student tries to find a job. At some point the job search ends less then successfully. The student remembers
likeable scumbucket roommate and produces a bullshit book. The book sells well and all the publishers jump on the bandwagon with sillyness and woo. *sigh*
Sound feasible? Yes. Sad, Despicable? Yes.
The WP article is an excellent read and well worth the time. It also points out that the books describe those famous Jewish capitalists “J.P. Morgan (an influential Episcopalian leader) and John D. Rockefeller (a devout Baptist) .” I wonder when they’ll get around to calling Henry Ford Jewish?
But most of all I find this developement worrying.
Stereotypes spread faster than knowledge. Stereotypes are designed to fit the evolutionary pattern matching skills so useful to our ancestors. Indeed, I seem to remember a devastating learning disability caused by a loss of pattern matching skills.
I think China is going to have major problems in a few years. Workers are increasingly moving from the country into cities in the hope of improving their lot. Working for a while and increasing education or returning to the country with wealth and able to ‘enjoy’ a comfortable retirement. This calculation is being made with out thinking about inflation. As more and more Chinese earn more and more, it will become profitable to sell products at higher prices. The dream of education, of a comfortable retirement, of a modicum of wealth will slip through the fingers of the Chinese, just as the dream of a strong middle class is slowly slipping out of the American grasp. Thus a large segement of the Chinese population will end up being discontented.
But having billions of discontented Chinese who also buy into anti-Semitic propaganda?