Read A ‘Bridge’ to China, and Her Family’s Business, in the Trump Cabinet (New York Times)
Elaine Chao has boosted the profile of her family’s shipping company, which benefits from industrial policies in China that are roiling the Trump administration.

If this were written into a spy thriller, you probably wouldn’t believe it.

hat tip:

🎧 Misery in the Name of Liberty | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to Misery in the Name of Liberty from On the Media | WNYC Studios

The Venezuelan press has been facing repression for years. This week, On the Media explores how journalists in the country are struggling to cover the standoff between two men who claim to be president. Also, how both the history of American interventionism and the legacy of Simón Bolívar color coverage of Venezuela. Plus, a critical look at the images coming out of Chinese internment camps.

1. Mariana Zuñiga [@marazuniga], freelance reporter based in Caracas, on her experience covering Venezuela's presidential standoff. Listen

2. Miguel Tinker Salas [@mtinkersalas], professor of history at Pomona College, on the legacy of Simón Bolívar. Listen.

3. Stephen Kinzer [@stephenkinzer], professor of international relations at Brown University, on the history of American intervention in Latin America. Listen

4. Rian Thum [@RianThum], senior research fellow at the University of Nottingham, on the internment of Uighurs by the Chinese government. Listen

I particularly liked the segment on the journalistic issue of photos seen in outlets which are supplied by the Chinese government and what they tell or don’t about the state of the journalism related to the Uighurs.

🎧 “The Daily”: The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": The Ethics of Genetically Editing Babies from New York Times

A scientist in China claimed to have created the world’s first gene-edited human beings. How should the U.S. respond?

🎧 “The Daily”: What the West Got Wrong About China, Part 2 | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": What the West Got Wrong About China, Part 2 by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

The U.S. misunderstood not only how China would respond to economic growth, but how the U.S. would respond to China.

🎧 “The Daily”: What the West Got Wrong About China, Part 1 | New York Times

Listened to "The Daily": What the West Got Wrong About China, Part 1 by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

Many in the United States believed that capitalism would never work without political freedom. Then China began to rise.

I listen to this and it reminds me of the wealth and growth in America in the early 1900’s in part because of the fact that the U.S. had a mixed-economy. Sadly it seems like we’ve moved away from that towards a more capitalistic economy. Perhaps it’s time to swing back?

Sadly, China may be taking advantage of their mixed economy, but they don’t seem to have the level of freedom we’ve got.

👓 The American Dream Is Alive. In China. | New York Times

Read The American Dream Is Alive. In China. (New York Times)
Imagine two poor 18-year-olds, one in the U.S., the other in China. Who has a better chance of success? Are you sure?

The US used to pride itself on things like upward mobility… where’s the leadership on the American Dream these days?

🎧 Started listening to The Fall and Rise of China by Richard Baum

🎧 Started listening to The Fall and Rise of China by Richard Baum from The Great Courses

China—the world’s oldest continuous civilization—has undergone an astonishing transformation in a brief span of recent history. Since the collapse of its once-glorious empire in 1911, China has seen decades of epic turmoil and upheavals, emerging in the new century as both an authoritarian megastate and an economic powerhouse, poised to become an imposing global force.

By current estimates, the People’s Republic is set to outpace the United States economically in the coming decades and to rival or surpass it militarily, making China the richest, most powerful nation on earth.

How did this happen? How can we account for China’s momentous—and almost wholly unanticipated—global rise? And what does it mean, for us in the West and for humanity’s future?

Speaking to these vital and fascinating questions, The Fall and Rise of China, taught by China expert and Professor Richard Baum of the University of California, Los Angeles, brings to vivid life the human struggles, the titanic political upheavals, and the spectacular speed of China’s modern rebirth. Offering multilevel insight into one of the most astounding real-life dramas of modern history, The Fall and Rise of China weaves together the richly diverse developments and sociopolitical currents that created the China we now see in the headlines.

As we enter what some are already calling the “Chinese century,” the role of China is deeply fundamental to our reading of the direction of world civilization and history. In 48 penetrating lectures, The Fall and Rise of China takes you to the heart of the events behind China’s new global presence, leaving you with a clear view of both the story itself and its critical implications for our world.

Redefining a Colossus

The timeliness of Professor Baum’s revealing commentary would be hard to exaggerate.

China’s impact on U.S. domestic issues, such as job outsourcing and energy acquisition, as well as a massive U.S. foreign debt to China and inevitable military power sharing, bind America’s future to the People’s Republic in ways that are becoming compellingly apparent.

As China’s policies increasingly impact the world community in economic, military, and environmental terms, these lectures provide crucial understanding of the most important new force in today’s world.

The Fall and Rise of China also sheds a bright light on the history of the Socialist experiment and the present business environment of China, and deepens your understanding of world civilization through an in-depth look at a culture profoundly different from your own.

A Story to Challenge the Imagination

In Professor Baum’s words, China’s modern history unfolds as a story of awe-inspiring dimensions—a chronicle of the largest revolution in the history of the world, of monumental excesses and abuses of power, of unimaginable hardship for millions, of the effort to reinvent a vast and unwieldy socioeconomic system, and of the often deadly clash between ideology and human realities.

The course gives you a detailed understanding of all the core events in China’s century of stunning change, including these major happenings:

  • Collapse of the Qing dynasty: You study the interlacing social, political, and economic factors that led to the fall of China’s 2,000-year empire and the implacable call for new political paradigms.
  • The Republican era and civil wars: In the wake of the defunct empire, you witness the drama of the short-lived Chinese Republic, followed by political chaos and the long strategic battle between Republican forces and the seemingly unstoppable Communist Party.
  • The “Great Leap Forward”: In a landmark episode of the Mao era, the regime’s grand-scale projects to communize agriculture and galvanize industry saw bureaucratic mismanagement leading to tragedy for tens of millions of Chinese.
  • The Cultural Revolution: During this bitter era of the 1960s, festering tensions between the Maoist regime and its critics erupted in a brutal campaign of terror and repression against perceived enemies of Socialism.
  • China’s post-Mao economic “miracle”: In the later lectures you track the specific reforms and ideological shifts that opened China to global economic engagement and forged its new role as a free-market dynamo.

As your guide to these history-shaping events, Professor Baum takes you far beyond the realm of academic theorizing. Describing his subject as an “adventure story,” he reveals a 40-year personal interface with China, more than 30 visits to the People’s Republic, and an intimate witnessing of the struggles, crises, and victories of the Chinese people.

A storyteller of extraordinary flair, he takes you onto the Beijing streets, into Shanghai industrial plants, and into the thick of highly charged protests and his own vivid encounters with numerous Chinese, recounting key elements of the story as he saw them unfold.

The Human Face of Change

China’s remaking is peopled by some of the 20th century’s most colorful and impactful human beings. Your investigation of key figures in the story includes these fascinating personalities:

  • Cixi, the Empress Dowager: A former concubine and an iron-willed manipulator, she rose to command the Manchu Empire in its death throes, speeding its disintegration through her own calculated opposition to reform.
  • Dr. Sun Yat-sen: A uniquely pivotal revolutionary figure, Sun played key roles in the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, the creation of the Chinese Republic, and the founding of the Chinese Nationalist Party, the Guomindang, still a force on Taiwan.
  • Chiang K’ai-shek: Dynamic but ultimately inept military leader of the Republican forces, he waged a long, unsuccessful battle against the Communists, finally leading his defeated forces to found a regime in exile—the Republic of China on Taiwan.
  • Mao Zedong: China’s larger-than-life revolutionary icon. Enigmatic, brilliant, and ruthless, he led the Communist forces through the long civil wars and presided as a near dictator over the new Socialist state through a quarter-century of trials and tragedies.
  • Deng Xiaoping: Mao’s ultimate successor and a master strategist, he initiated, then fought mightily to preserve the reforms that propelled China to the forefront of global economic power.

Throughout the lectures, Professor Baum reveals highly unusual details that enrich the cinematic sweep of the story. You learn about the Christian warlord who baptized his troops with a fire hose, the strange kidnapping of Chiang K’ai-shek, the politically explosive forgery carried out by Mao’s wife, and Professor Baum’s own smuggling of top-secret documents out of Taiwan.

The Genesis of Chaos and Revolution

As a core strength of the lectures, Professor Baum makes sense of the dramatic events of the story by getting deeply at what underlay them, culturally, socially, and historically—leaving you with a nuanced knowledge of the forces moving China’s modern emergence.

In the spiraling descent of the Qing dynasty you trace the imperial culture of complacent superiority and indifference to global events that undermined the empire’s hold on power.

Following the empire’s demise, you probe the competing ideologies that fed two revolutionary movements, and you study Mao’s tactics of “people’s war” and civil-military relations that gained vast support for the Communist cause.

In the course’s central focus, you study the making of Communist China under Mao and its dramatic turn toward free-market economics.

You witness the consolidation of power by the Maoist regime in the long campaign to suppress counterrevolutionaries and the programs of “thought reform,” in which independent thinkers were compelled to write lengthy public “confessions.”

You study the far-reaching challenges of the transition to Socialism, including the “free rider” problem, where lack of work incentives in collective farming stunted economic growth and bred widespread alienation.

You chart Mao’s utopian drive to achieve “pure” Communism in the Great Leap Forward, and the ways in which this mandate blinded the regime to the desperate realities faced by China’s rural masses.

And you see how obliquely expressed currents of dissent and the regime’s perception of “revisionist” thinking led to the disasters of the Cultural Revolution.

You also dig deeply into the history of Mao’s strained relations with the Soviets, and the cold war moves and countermoves underlying his historic meeting with Nixon and the “normalizing” of relations with the United States.

A Nation Transfigured

In the course’s gripping final section, you observe the profound economic shifts of recent decades that produced China’s phenomenal rise.

Here you come to grips with exactly how they did it, including the strategic introduction of new incentive structures in industry and agriculture; multifront economic competition; and “Special Economic Zones,” sparking export trade and huge foreign investment.

You explore this era’s many critical reversals, such as the cultural “burying” of Chairman Mao, the airing of long-suppressed wounds from the Cultural Revolution, the ideological embrace of free-market economics, and the new culture of individual enrichment.

You also reflect on the contrast between the regime’s path-breaking economic changes and its stern political inflexibility, a tension you witness in the tragic events at Tiananmen Square.

Finally, you contemplate China’s current trajectory as it follows the journey of the Chinese to a new national identity, seemingly returning their nation to a global supremacy it held for much of the last 2,000 years.

Bringing alive the passionate reinvention of China with deep discernment and humanity, Professor Baum portrays the confounding, majestic, heart-rending, and visionary story of a modern giant.

Take this opportunity, in The Fall and Rise of China, to know and comprehend a world-changing development of our times and to understand our civilization as a new and vibrant force shapes it.

👓 The Cybersec World Is Debating Who to Believe in This Story About a Massive Hack | Motherboard | Vice

Read The Cybersec World Is Debating Who to Believe in This Story About a Massive Hack (Motherboard)
No one is really sure who to believe after Businessweek's bombshell story on an alleged Chinese supply chain attack against Apple, Amazon, and others.

👓 China Used a Tiny Chip in a Hack That Infiltrated U.S. Companies | Bloomberg

Read The Big Hack: How China Used a Tiny Chip to Infiltrate U.S. Companies by Jordan Robinson, Michael Riley (Bloomberg)
The attack by Chinese spies reached almost 30 U.S. companies, including Amazon and Apple, by compromising America’s technology supply chain, according to extensive interviews with government and corporate sources. In 2015, Amazon.com Inc. began quietly evaluating a startup called Elemental Technologies, a potential acquisition to help with a major expansion of its streaming video service, known today as Amazon Prime Video. Based in Portland, Ore., Elemental made software for compressing massive video files and formatting them for different devices. Its technology had helped stream the Olympic Games online, communicate with the International Space Station, and funnel drone footage to the Central Intelligence Agency. Elemental’s national security contracts weren’t the main reason for the proposed acquisition, but they fit nicely with Amazon’s government businesses, such as the highly secure cloud that Amazon Web Services (AWS) was building for the CIA.

👓 The End of History? | Francis Fukuyama

Read The End of History? by Francis FukuyamaFrancis Fukuyama (The National Interest | No. 16 (Summer 1989), pp. 3-18)

IN WATCHING the flow of events over the past decade or so, it is hard to avoid the feeling that something very fundamental has happened in world history. The past year has seen a flood of articles commemorating the end of the Cold War, and the fact that "peace" seems to be breaking out in many regions of the world. Most of these analyses lack any larger conceptual framework for distinguishing between what is essential and what is contingent or accidental in world history, and are predictably superficial. If Mr. Gorbachev were ousted from the Kremlin or a new Ayatollah proclaimed the millennium from a desolate Middle Eastern capital, these same commentators would scramble to announce the rebirth of a new era of conflict.

And yet, all of these people sense dimly that there is some larger process at work, a process that gives coherence and order to the daily headlines. The twentieth century saw the developed world descend into a paroxysm of ideological violence, as liberalism contended first with the remnants of absolutism, then bolshevism and fascism, and finally an updated Marxism that threatened to lead to the ultimate apocalypse of nuclear war. But the century that began full of self-confidence in the ultimate triumph of Western liberal democracy seems at its close to be returning full circle to where it started: not to an "end of ideology" or a convergence between capitalism and socialism, as earlier predicted, but to an unabashed victory of economic and political liberalism.

In general, while I’ve been reading Stuart Kauffmann’s At Home in the Universe, I can’t help but thinking about the cascading extinctions he describes and wonder if political extinctions of ideas like Communism or other forms of government or even economies might follow the same types of outcomes described there?   
August 29, 2018 at 09:37AM

Building on this, could we create a list of governments and empires and rank them in order of the length of their spans? There may be subtleties in changes of regimes in some eras, but generally things are probably reasonably well laid out. I wonder if the length of life of particular governments follows a power law? One would suspect it might.   
August 29, 2018 at 09:43AM

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The triumph of the West, of the Western idea, is evident first of all in the total exhaustion of viable systematic alternatives to Western liberalism.  

Total exhaustion?
August 29, 2018 at 08:53AM

What we may be witnessing is not just the end of the Cold War, or the passing of a particular period of postwar history, but the end of history as such: that is, the end point of mankind’s ideological evolution and the universalization of Western liberal democracy as the final form of human government.  

What if, in fact, we’ve only just found a local maximum? What if in the changing landscape there are other places we could potentially get to competitively that supply greater maxima? And possibly worse, what if we need to lose value to get from here to unlock even more value there?
August 29, 2018 at 08:56AM

Hegel believed that history culminated in an absolute moment – a moment in which a final, rational form of society and state became victorious.  

and probably not a bad outcome in an earlier era that thought of things in terms of clockwork and lacked the ideas of quantum theory and its attendant uncertainties.
August 29, 2018 at 08:59AM

Believing that there was no more work for philosophers as well, since Hegel (correctly understood) had already achieved absolute knowledge, Kojève left teaching after the war and spent the remainder of his life working as a bureaucrat in the European Economic Community, until his death in 1968.  

This is depressing on so many levels.
August 29, 2018 at 09:05AM

Paul Kennedy’s hugely successful “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers”, which ascribes the decline of great powers to simple economic overextension.  

Curious how this may relate to the more recent “The End of Power” by Moisés Naím. It doesn’t escape one that the title of the book somewhat echoes the title of this particular essay.
August 29, 2018 at 09:18AM

But whether a highly productive modern industrial society chooses to spend 3 or 7 percent of its GNP on defense rather than consumption is entirely a matter of that society’s political priorities, which are in turn determined in the realm of consciousness.  

It’s not so much the percentage on produced defense goods, but how quickly could a society ramp up production of goods, services, and people to defend itself compared to the militaries of its potential aggressors.

In particular, most of the effort should go to the innovation side of war materiel. The innovation of the atomic bomb is a particularly nice example in that as a result of conceptualizing and then executing on it it allowed the US to win the war in the Pacific and hasten the end of war in Europe. Even if we otherwise had massive stockpiles of people or other weapons, our enemies could potentially have equaled them and dragged the war on interminably. It was the unknown unknown via innovation that unseated Japan and could potentially do the same to us based on innovation coming out of almost any country in the modern age.
August 29, 2018 at 09:24AM

Weber notes that according to any economic theory that posited man as a rational profit-maximizer, raising the piece-work rate should increase labor productivity. But in fact, in many traditional peasant communities, raising the piece-work rate actually had the opposite effect of lowering labor productivity: at the higher rate, a peasant accustomed to earning two and one-half marks per day found he could earn the same amount by working less, and did so because he valued leisure more than income. The choices of leisure over income, or of the militaristic life of the Spartan hoplite over the wealth of the Athenian trader, or even the ascetic life of the early capitalist entrepreneur over that of a traditional leisured aristocrat, cannot possibly be explained by the impersonal working of material forces,  

Science could learn something from this. Science is too far focused on the idealized positive outcomes that it isn’t paying attention to the negative outcomes and using that to better define its outline or overall shape. We need to define a scientific opportunity cost and apply it to the negative side of research to better understand and define what we’re searching for.

Of course, how can we define a new scientific method (or amend/extend it) to better take into account negative results–particularly in an age when so many results aren’t even reproducible?
August 29, 2018 at 09:32AM

FAILURE to understand that the roots of economic behavior lie in the realm of consciousness and culture leads to the common mistake of attributing material causes to phenomena that are essentially ideal in nature.  

August 29, 2018 at 09:44AM

“Protestant” life of wealth and risk over the “Catholic” path of poverty and security.[8]   

Is this simply a restatement of the idea that most of “the interesting things” happen at the border or edge of chaos? The Catholic ethic is firmly inside the stable arena while that of the Protestant ethic is pushing the boundaries.
August 29, 2018 at 09:47AM

Hence it did not matter to Kojève that the consciousness of the postwar generation of Europeans had not been universalized throughout the world; if ideological development had in fact ended, the homogenous state would eventually become victorious throughout the material world.  

This presupposes that homeostasis could ever be achieved.

One thinks of phrases like “The future is here, it just isn’t evenly distributed.” But everything we know about systems and evolving systems often indicates that homeostasis isn’t necessarily a good thing. In many cases, it means eventual “death” instead of evolving towards a longer term lifespan. Again, here Kauffmann’s ideas about co-evolving systems and evolving landscapes may provide some guidance. What if we’re just at a temporary local maximum, but changes in the landscape modify that fact? What then? Shouldn’t we be looking for other potential distant maxima as well?
August 29, 2018 at 09:52AM

But that state of consciousness that permits the growth of liberalism seems to stabilize in the way one would expect at the end of history if it is underwritten by the abundance of a modern free market economy.  

Writers spend an awful lot of time focused too carefully on the free market economy, but don’t acknowledge a lot of the major benefits of the non-free market parts which are undertaken and executed often by governments and regulatory environments. (Hacker & Pierson, 2016)
\August 29, 2018 at 10:02AM

Are there, in other words, any fundamental “contradictions” in human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure?  

Churchill famously said “…democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time…”

Even within this quote it is implicit that there are many others. In some sense he’s admitting that we might possibly be at a local maximum but we’ve just not explored the spaces beyond the adjacent possible.
August 29, 2018 at 10:08AM

For our purposes, it matters very little what strange thoughts occur to people in Albania or Burkina Faso, for we are interested in what one could in some sense call the common ideological heritage of mankind.  

While this seems solid on it’s face, we don’t know what the future landscape will look like. What if climate change brings about massive destruction of homo sapiens? We need to be careful about how and why we explore both the adjacent possible as well as the distant possible. One day we may need them and our current local maximum may not serve us well.
August 29, 2018 at 10:10AM

anomie  

I feel like this word captures very well the exact era of Trumpian Republicanism in which we find ourselves living.
August 29, 2018 at 10:37AM

After the war, it seemed to most people that German fascism as well as its other European and Asian variants were bound to self-destruct. There was no material reason why new fascist movements could not have sprung up again after the war in other locales, but for the fact that expansionist ultranationalism, with its promise of unending conflict leading to disastrous military defeat, had completely lost its appeal. The ruins of the Reich chancellery as well as the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed this ideology on the level of consciousness as well as materially, and all of the pro-fascist movements spawned by the German and Japanese examples like the Peronist movement in Argentina or Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army withered after the war.  

And yet somehow we see these movements anew in America and around the world. What is the difference between then and now?
August 29, 2018 at 11:46AM

This is not to say that there are not rich people and poor people in the United States, or that the gap between them has not grown in recent years. But the root causes of economic inequality do not have to do with the underlying legal and social structure of our society, which remains fundamentally egalitarian and moderately redistributionist, so much as with the cultural and social characteristics of the groups that make it up, which are in turn the historical legacy of premodern conditions.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:47AM

But those who believe that the future must inevitably be socialist tend to be very old, or very marginal to the real political discourse of their societies.  

and then there are the millennials…
August 29, 2018 at 11:51AM

Beginning with the famous third plenum of the Tenth Central Committee in 1978, the Chinese Communist party set about decollectivizing agriculture for the 800 million Chinese who still lived in the countryside. The role of the state in agriculture was reduced to that of a tax collector, while production of consumer goods was sharply increased in order to give peasants a taste of the universal homogenous state and thereby an incentive to work. The reform doubled Chinese grain output in only five years, and in the process created for Deng Xiaoping a solid political base from which he was able to extend the reform to other parts of the economy. Economic Statistics do not begin to describe the dynamism, initiative, and openness evident in China since the reform began.  

August 29, 2018 at 11:58AM

At present, no more than 20 percent of its economy has been marketized, and most importantly it continues to be ruled by a self-appointed Communist party which has given no hint of wanting to devolve power.  

If Facebook were to continue to evolve at it’s current rate and with it’s potential power as well as political influence, I could see it attempting to work the way China does in a new political regime.
August 29, 2018 at 12:04PM

IF WE ADMIT for the moment that the fascist and communist challenges to liberalism are dead, are there any other ideological competitors left? Or put another way, are there contradictions in liberal society beyond that of class that are not resolvable? Two possibilities suggest themselves, those of religion and nationalism.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:19PM

This school in effect applies a Hobbesian view of politics to international relations, and assumes that aggression and insecurity are universal characteristics of human societies rather than the product of specific historical circumstances.  

August 29, 2018 at 12:30PM

But whatever the particular ideological basis, every “developed” country believed in the acceptability of higher civilizations ruling lower ones  

August 29, 2018 at 12:37PM

Perhaps this very prospect of centuries of boredom at the end of history will serve to get history started once again.  

Has it started again with nationalism, racism, and Trump?
August 29, 2018 at 12:48PM

👓 China has the world’s most centralised internet system – The ultimate walled garden | The Economist

Read China has the world’s most centralised internet system (The Economist)
A perfect example of a Hamiltonian internet for maximum control

Leading thinkers in China argue that putting government in charge of technology has one big advantage: the state can distribute the fruits of AI, which would otherwise go to the owners of algorithms.  

Such thinking has also been gaining some traction in the West, although so far only at the political fringes. The underlying idea is that some types of services, including social networks and online search, are essential facilities akin to roads and other kinds of infrastructure and should be regulated as utilities, which in essence means capping their profits. Alternatively, important data services, such as digital identity, could be offered by governments. Evgeny Morozov, a researcher and internet activist, goes one step further, calling for the creation of public data utilities, which would pool vital digital information and ensure equal access to it.  

When it comes to democracy and human rights, a Jeffersonian internet is clearly a safer choice. With Web 3.0 still in its infancy, the West at least will need to find other ways to rein in the online giants. The obvious alternative is regulation.  

🎧 ‘The Daily’: Hong Kong’s Missing Bookseller | New York Times

Listened to ‘The Daily’: Hong Kong’s Missing Bookseller by Michael Barbaro from New York Times

When the owner of a thriving bookstore in Hong Kong went missing in October 2015, questions swirled. What happened? And what did the Chinese government have to do with it?

On today’s episode:

• Alex W. Palmer, a Beijing-based writer who has reported on China for The New York Times Magazine.

Background reading:

• As President Xi Jinping consolidates power, owners of Hong Kong bookstores trafficking in banned books find themselves playing a very dangerous game.

• The Chinese authorities routinely coerce detainees into making videotaped confessions that serve as propaganda tools for the government and as warnings to others who would challenge the state.

• Lam Wing-kee, the bookseller profiled in this episode, plans to reopen his bookstore in Taiwan, a self-governing island that is supplanting Hong Kong as Asia’s bastion of free speech.

🔖 Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China | Science Advances

Bookmarked Moving chairs in Starbucks: Observational studies find rice-wheat cultural differences in daily life in China by Thomas Talhelm, Xuemin Zhang and Shigehiro Oishi (Science Advances)
Traditional paddy rice farmers had to share labor and coordinate irrigation in a way that most wheat farmers did not. We observed people in everyday life to test whether these agricultural legacies gave rice-farming southern China a more interdependent culture and wheat-farming northern China a more independent culture. In Study 1, we counted 8964 people sitting in cafes in six cities and found that people in northern China were more likely to be sitting alone. In Study 2, we moved chairs together in Starbucks across the country so that they were partially blocking the aisle ( n = 678). People in northern China were more likely to move the chair out of the way, which is consistent with findings that people in individualistic cultures are more likely to try to control the environment. People in southern China were more likely to adjust the self to the environment by squeezing through the chairs. Even in China’s most modern cities, rice-wheat differences live on in everyday life.

👓 Your behavior in Starbucks may reveal more about you than you think | Science | AAAS

Read Your behavior in Starbucks may reveal more about you than you think (Science | AAAS)
Cultural differences are revealed in coffee shop etiquette, study in China finds