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Democracy in America, and intellectual imperialism

The US makes a nice punching-bag in two recent online essays. The first blasts an American scientist for his stinginess and insensitivity, while the second attempts to explain why democracy won't work in America.

Earlier this month, Journal of Financial Economics founder and Harvard economics professor Michael C. Jensen wrote in to the Chinese journal Chinese Economic Quarterly, accusing two Chinese scholars of plagiarism in a paper published by the journal in 2002. He alleged that Yang Ruilong, dean of the School of Economics at Renmin University, and Liu Gang, a professor at Nankai University, had copied "Specific and General Knowledge and Organizational Structure," a paper he co-wrote over a decade ago [update after the essay below].

A discussion arose on New Threads, a website devoted to fighting academic malpractice that actually broke the plagiarism allegations back in 2004. One of the responses is translated below:

Oppose interference into internal academic affairs. Oppose America's monopoly on information!

by dsge

Topple American Imperialism! Oppose America's monopoly on information! Long live plagiarism and cheating!

We are under the reign of the university thesis! Those who don't copy are abnormal!

Jensen is the strong party, while those two professors are the weak party. Jensen used the Internet for his own personal justice, etc., etc. Amen!

NO, it is because the American Jensen doesn't have any decency. By plagiarizing his paper, those two professors were showing him respect.

However, these past few days, this American Jensen has actually written in eye-catching words a letter screaming: the dean of the Renmin University Business School and a professor at Nankai University have plagiarized my paper. I will pursue this to the end!

Sharp eyes will immediately understand: this is self-promotion undertaken in the name of protecting rights.

How disgusting!

Oh, people today are so pitiful. They have food, drink, cars, houses, yet all night one thought turns over in their minds: why won't anyone pay attention to me?

So they think up a plan to bring some recognition their way. It's easy to become famous - just do some performance art, or write a bestseller, or take some action out of the ordinary. If these won't do, go and immolate yourself in the plaza.

However, this action of yours I really can't stand.

I've read both of those papers. To tell the truth, your writing doesn't match that of the dean of the Renmin University Business School and the Nankai University professor. Although theirs is plagiarism, their paper's structure is stronger than yours. Theirs was written in an hour or two taken out of their busy schedules - yours? I'd guess it was after nights of effort, pushing and pushing until you'd finally gotten out the goods.

Hype! Hype!

It's easy to see that Harvard University Business School professor and American academician Michael Jensen is using this affair for self-promotion!

Does professor Yang Ruilong have it easy? It was no simple task to scramble his way to the deanship of the Renmin University Business School. This exposure by Jensen lays waste to his future! And even if professor Yang Ruilong did copy, this was created by the larger Chinese environment - to change the plagiarism environment across the whole country, will aiming your guns at one person be of any use??? To tell the truth, isn't it a sign of respect to plagiarize you, Jensen, since if Yang Ruilong hadn't plagiarized you, how many people in China would know your name? And you still aren't thankful???

American Jensen, people should be decent.

Update: China Economic Quarterly issued an open response to Jensen's allegations, in which it acknowledged that Yang and Liu had not acted in accordance with the rules of scholarship when they failed to make proper attribution, but stopped far short of admitting to plagiarism. Both the journal's editor and the paper's author had replied to Jensen's email, and, not receiving a response to their replies, consider the matter settled. Fang Zhouzi, editor of New Threads, wonders what would constitute plagiarism in the mind of the CEQ editors. CEQ also made legal threats against New Threads for publishing the text of Michael Jensen's email to the journal.

The following essay concerns democracy in America. It has been circulating online this week with no attribution.

Why implementing democracy is not appropriate for America

Democracy is a system recognized as good by all humanity, but it is not suited to all countries in the world at all stages of development. It is not appropriate for America to implement a democratic system, or at least at its present stage it is not appropriate for it to implement democracy. This is determined by America's particular national conditions.

1. America's history determines that implementing democracy is not appropriate for America.

America was not founded until 1776. Compared to ancient civilizations, it has few historical traditions and little historical culture to call its own. This determines that democratic ideas, democratic culture, and a democratic system cannot arise out of America, to say nothing of them flourishing in America. And in fact, this is the case. When a country without any sort of democratic history attempts to implement a democratic system, it is like a tree without a root, or a stream without a source. These are crude actions which disrespect and sever history. Such disrespect and cutting off of history is destined to fail.

2. America's culture determines that implementing democracy is not appropriate for America.

America's culture is established on a foundation of extreme individualism. Americans are frequently selfish and self-motivated, looking after their own interests. Advanced thinking like selflessness and struggling for the liberation of all peoples is unacknowledged by society. But implementing a democratic system is based on advanced culture; to implement an advanced democratic system in a country like America where extreme selfishness typifies a backwards cultural direction will create an acute conflict between an advanced social system and a backwards cultural mentality, and will inevitably cause social turbulence.

3. America's large population determines that implementing democracy is not appropriate for America.

America has a population of nearly 300 million. This is five times larger than England or France, ten times larger than Canada, and fifteen times larger than Italy. But America's land area is only about the size of Australia, and is even smaller than Canada's. It is a country of people standing shoulder to shoulder, and to date America has taken no steps to control its population; on the contrary, it has encouraged procreation. The population is large and the area small, but even more serious is the fact that the 300 million Americans lack a unified ideology. History proves that masses are chaotic. For the third-largest country in the world by population to implement a democratic system will inevitably lead to indecision and disunity, and will result in a government that can neither command nor restrict. Even the preservation of basic social stability will not be ensured.

4. The ill-bred American public determines that implementing democracy is not appropriate for America.

America's early residents were primarily of three groups: (1) Native American Indians. Through the 18th century, this group remained a slave society. Later, the majority were exterminated while the remainder took refuge on reservations. (2) Early European immigrants. Some of those who came from Europe at the time were paroled criminals, others were people who could not succeed in Europe. (3) Blacks bought as slaves. It is no secret that the quality of these early residents was poor, but what is more serious is that ancestors transmit their brutishness to their descendants. Although other immigrants came later, they too were people unable to succeed in their home countries, and their coarseness is also no secret. If a country with such an ill-bred general public implements democracy, this fundamentally violates the principles governing social systems and productive forces. It is unquestionably absurd, and it will lead to social regression.

5. America's geographical makeup, religious contradictions, and class contradictions determine that implementing democracy is not appropriate for America.

Opening up a map we can see that America's territory is divided into three parts. Alaska is completely cut off from the territory in the middle of North America, and the Hawaiian Islands are even more isolated off in the ocean. If America were to implement a democratic system, the central government would have no power to control the entire country. Overseas territories and even interior states might clamor for independence, and a split country would be inevitable.

America's ethnic makeup is incredibly complicated. Nearly all of the world's peoples are represented in America, and the country's religions are even more varied, to the point that forces declared by other countries to be cults exist in America. Wars resulting from religious conflict have occurred from the start of human history to the present day. Were America to implement a democratic system, the various ethnicities and religions would each uphold its own truth, inevitably leading to tangled ethno-religious battles. Even worse is that Americans buy guns as freely as cigarettes, so America would be turned into a corpse-strewn battlefield, and America would be obliterated in a day.

In summary, because of America's particular national makeup, we can offer the following conclusions:

(1) It is not appropriate for America to implement a democratic system, or at least at its present stage it is not appropriate for America to implement democracy.

(2) America is pursuing democracy, but it can only advance gradually. At the present stage, it can only explore social developments suited to its national conditions. It must press on with establishing a good foundation and strive to implement democracy at an early date.

(3) If America at its present stage is too hasty in establishing and implementing democracy, then America, the American people, and the Democratic, Republican, and other parties will lose their parties and their country!

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There are currently 7 Comments for Democracy in America, and intellectual imperialism.

Comments on Democracy in America, and intellectual imperialism

The first paper is quite contradictory. dsge writes that the Chinese authors showed respect to Jensen by plagiarizing him and that Jensen should be grateful that they spread his teachings to an even larger audience by publishing in China. Obviously this author does not comprehend what plagiarism is. If Mssrs. Liu and Yang had quoted and attributed their ideas to Jensen then they would not have plagiarized him and they would have been showing him respect. Instead they published their article without mentioning Jensen which is both plagiarism and reprehensible. And no one has a monopoly on information aside from those who create original information.

The second article is quite silly. I will assume for the sake of argument that the author is saying that America can not become a true democracy as opposed to the republic with stong democratic traditions that it currently is. The author says that America can not become democratic because it has no cultural history of democracy. This can be looked at in two ways. The first is that the author does not believe that any country can become a democracy because no country or culture has a long history of democracy. I sure hope that although he lives in a people's republic he does not believe that he lives in a democracy. The second way this can be looked at is that the author is plain wrong. America was founded by men who wanted to create a country based on the finest Western ideals. Western ideals since the founding of the Roman Republic have looked to Greece and specifically, Athens. Athens was a true democracy that embraced law and that is the cultural tradition that America is founded upon, a cultural tradition that is older than Qin Shi Huang's unification of China, by the way. The author also lacks a basic understanding of what makes a democracy work. He criticizes American's attempt at democracy by saying the highly individualistic tendencies will hamper the prosperity of a democracy. Unfortunately for the author, cutting-edge democratic philosophy believes that only if every voter votes according to their individualistic beliefs will democracy thrive. If everyone votes the same then, much like a genetically homogenous population, the state will be more suscetible to damage. Through diversity comes strength and our greatest evidence for that is every biological data taken since Mendell played around with his plants. This also knocks off the author's theory that America's "ill-breeding" hurts America. I am sorry for the following low-blow but perhaps this author has a bit of Japanese blood in him which is why he is so quick to use eugenics and racism for attacks on America's diverse population. Native American's were not living in slave society except in the southwest under Spanish rule. They were not succesfully placed on reservations until 1878 with the conclusion of the Plains' Wars. If this author is a member of the Party then I hope he can read a little more history for the Party is founded on the supposedly correct understanding and interpretation of history, is it not?

Oh, one more thing: America was traditionally founded in 1776, not 1976.

Correction noted - the date was a typo during translation.

"Why implementing democracy is not appropriate for America" is an obvious piece of satire that parodies the CCP's own past claims that "implementing democracy is not appropriate for China." Brilliant, if you ask me.

I think the first piece is also a work of satire. Note the following lins:

"Although theirs is plagiarism, their paper's structure is stronger than yours. Theirs was written in an hour or two taken out of their busy schedules - yours? I'd guess it was after nights of effort, pushing and pushing until you'd finally gotten out the goods."

To me that is a fine example of tongue in cheek snark. Perhaps I am misinterpreting the original meaning, but that is how it comes across.

Couple it with some other lines and you do have some (intentionally or unintentionally) hilarious lines...

Oppose America's monopoly on information! Long live plagiarism and cheating!

Of course those essays are satire. Chinese people do actually have a sense of humor.

Well, about half of them do (based on the responses to the original 论美国不适合实行民主制度).

Alright, I'm grinning sheepishly right now...

I'm sure Chinese people have a sense of humor and I suppose my little response revealed a bit of my naivete.

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