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My Father’s Warnings Against the Leviathan, the Dragon of the East

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My father*, may he rest in peace, was born in Russia-Poland in 1908. Many of the adults he knew, the Jews in the village of Yenzhiveh where he lived, were veterans of the disastrous Russo-Japanese War that had occurred only a few years before he had been born. Some of these veterans came home famous, like Joseph Trumpeldor, a man who didn’t live in Yenzhiveh. He lost an arm in battle, and emigrated to the Land of Israel to help found Jewish villages there. He died fighting Arabs in 1920 at Tel Hai. His name is memorialized in the Zionist youth organization, Beitar, for which this mnemonic is used – brit hano’ár ha’ivrí ‘al shém yósef trumpeldór – “Covenant of Hebrew Youth Founded upon Joseph Trumpeldor’s Name”. Most of the veterans of the Russo-Japanese War, however, resumed their daily lives and did not rise to such fame.

But my father heard from these war veterans nevertheless. They would talk about the battles they fought, the country they fought in, and the wondrous and terrible sights they saw there. One needs to understand some history to realize that the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-5 was not fought in either Russia or Japan. It was fought in China, over Chinese territory. At the time, the Chinese Empire was so weak it could not keep out foreigners from fighting over its land. During this humiliating period in Chinese history, Jewish Russian soldiers saw China, its millions of inhabitants crowding Manchuria, and saw, amongst other things, that the symbol of this country was a dragon.

Only one dragon was known to Jews – the Leviathan.

In stories my father related, he told me to beware the Chinese – that they were a sleeping giant who would one day awake. He told me that the Chinese were like the Leviathan – which he called livi-yússen, the Yiddish pronunciation of the Hebrew word líviatán.

His description was as follows:

“The livi-yússen is a giant whale, and the world rests on this giant whale. One day the livi-yússen will overturn, and when it does, the world will overturn.” I would listen to this fantastic yarn and say, “Yes, Dad.” But my father had a nasty habit of being right, even when it appeared that it was impossible that he should be so at the time.

A more detailed description of the livi-yússen is found at the site “Judeo-Christian Demons”:

Leviathan was a large whale-like sea creature, who may have had 7 heads according to some legends. A lengthy description of him comes from the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Job:

His strong scales are his pride,
Shut up as with a tight seal.
One is so near to another
That no air can come between them.
They are joined one to another;
They clasp each other and cannot be separated.
His sneezes flash forth light,
And his eyes are like
The eyelids of the morning.
Out of his mouth go burning torches;
Sparks of fire leap forth.
Out of his nostrils smoke goes forth
As from a boiling pot and burning rushes.
His breath kindles coals,
And a flame goes forth from his mouth.
In his neck lodges strength,
And dismay leaps before him.
The folds of his flesh are joined together,
Firm on him and immovable. His heart is as hard as a stone,
Even as hard as a lower millstone.
When he raises himself up, the mighty fear;
Because of the crashing they are bewildered.
The sword that reaches him cannot avail,
Nor the spear, the dart or the javelin.
He regards iron as straw, Bronze as rotten wood.
The arrow cannot make him flee;
Sling-stones are turned into stubble for him.

Clubs are regarded as stubble;
He laughs at the rattling of the javelin.
His under-parts are like sharp potsherds;
He spreads out like a threshing sledge on the mire.
He makes the depths boil like a pot;
He makes the sea like a jar of ointment.
Behind him he makes a wake to shine;
One would think the deep to be gray-haired.
Nothing on earth is like him,
One made without fear.
He looks on everything that is high;
He is king over all the sons of pride.
[Job 42:15-32]

Also, according to Isaiah 27:1, on the Day of Judgment the Lord will slay Leviathan:

'In that day the Lord will punish,
With His great, cruel, mighty sword
Leviathan the Elusive Serpent —
Leviathan the Twisting Serpent;
He will slay the Dragon of the sea.'

(bold print mine)

The site also quotes passages from the apocryphal Book of Enoch [1 Enoch 60:7-8], Babylonian Talmud, Bava Batra (75a) and the Bible, Psalms 74:26, but the main descriptions are reproduced above.

So, now that we have a fuller description of the Leviathan at hand, let’s look again at my father’s fantastic yarn. In the 1950s it indeed sounded like nothing more than that. The world was divided between two giant powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, and everyone worried that these two powers would go to war one day and leave the planet nothing but a radioactive cinder, and that the inheritors of the planet would be… cockroaches. Indeed, Albert Einstein had said, “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”

In this world, China did not count too greatly, in spite of its many millions of people, but the Chinese Red Army had fought the United States Armed Forces (and their allies, the Turks, Australians, and New Zealanders) to a draw in Korea. At the time, the United States was the manufacturing giant of the planet. One could buy everything in the States from soup to nuts, and see on the label, “Made in America”. This label did not mean that all the parts were imported from foreign countries and assembled in America – the lame meaning it holds today. This label meant that everything except the most raw materials unobtainable in the United States came from America.

In this world, the dollar had real meaning – from the ring of the silver in the silver dollars my dad would toss me every now and again – to the fact that an ounce of gold was worth $35, that this price was the benchmark of the international financial system, that everybody owed money to the United States of America, that oil was bought and sold in dollars, that air and hotel fares were quoted in dollars, and that English, the binding language of the United States, was the language used by all pilots in the sky.

Oh, how the world has changed in the last 50 years!

The Samsung 753s computer screen that shows me what I’m typing now was probably made in Korea. The cannibalized CRT that powers the computer displaying this image was made in China or Korea. In fact, the only things that I can safely say were ‘made in America’ in my rental home in Israel is the desk my father bought me in 1960, the chair he obtained from Brooklyn College that I’m sitting on right now, the Southwestern Bell Trimline Freedom Phone on my desk to my left (which I’ve had forever), four bookcases made from hard wood in the States in the 1960s, me, my wife, and my kids.

Let’s not talk about the dollar. It has no ring to it. Not anymore. The Pocahantas tokens I have in my drawer that say “one dollar” on them have barely any intrinsic value at all. The same goes for all the other tokens that say “half dollar”, “quarter dollar” “one dime” and “five cents”.

Let’s not talk about what is manufactured in the United States. A year ago, I might have said cars and boats, but today, “Made in China” is far more likely to be seen on manufactured goods here and everywhere else in the world. Let’s not talk about who owns all those bonds the United States Treasury has been hustling in the last few years. “Owned in China” is stamped upon them as well.

Some folks talk about the United States being the “last superpower”.

Really?

To be terribly blunt, about the only wealth-creating nation on the planet today is China. Today, 50 years after my father told me about the livi-yússen, the giant whale the world sits upon, China is the giant manufacturing power the world relies upon for a whole host of goods. Australian kids learn Mandarin – not because they are interested, but because they understand who the real power in their neck of the woods is. The power that China wields is indirect – but palpable. A China-friendly regime rules in Nepal. The nations in Southeast Asia are careful not to challenge the “elder brother” in Peking directly. When the United States needs money, there is usually a trip to Peking for some hard negotiating (a.k.a. begging) involved. Chinese influence can be seen throughout Latin America.

But there is more. Twice in recent years, Chinese military officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons to counter the United States. The Chinese are a careful lot, not given to empty threats, bluff or bluster. While these threats to attack the United States with nuclear weapons are not extant today, they have been made, and the American ruling elites have taken note. And it does not take a lot to see that a nuclear exchange between the Americans and the Chinese would be a lot like that livi-yússen overturning, what my father described 50 years ago.

When we look at what the livi-yússen really is – a dragon, the symbol of China – we see what may well be truth in my father’s warnings. Today, at least 1½ billion people inhabit the People’s Republic of China. And if this livi-yússen overturns, the world will indeed overturn with it.

Dad, do you always have to be right?

 

* Dedicated to Louis Kossover, ziskn-leib ben tzvi-hersh, may his memory be for a blessing for his family and for all the People of Israel, who died on 26 June 1976.

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About Ruvy

Hi!! Thanks for coming to my article! I was raised in Brooklyn, was graduated from the City University of New York in 1978 with a BA in political science and public administration there. I lived in Minnesota for a number of years. There I managed restaurants and wrote stories. We moved with our children family to Israel where we now reside. My work can be found at Ruvy's Roost, Jewish Indy,, and on Facebook under my full name, Reuven Kossover
  • Horace Mungin

    Ruvy, adsolutely lovely writing – I was often remained of the cadance and sentences of Issac Beshevis Singer, a write from whom I have learned the art of self expression. I have read many of Singers books and short fictions and when I lived in New York City while he still lived – I followed his career. He only wrote in Yiddish (which I do not read) so all of his work had to be translated into English and other languages. He wrote for the Daily Forward, a newspaper I know you are aware of. I heard his voice in much of your style in this piece. Maybe later I’ll re-read the piece so I can comment on what it was you were talking about – so caught up was I in the flow of your words that I didn’t pay real attention to your saying something about – was it China?

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    I agree with your dad that, barring sheer catastrophe, civil war, or other unforeseen events, China’s ascendancy is practically assured. I’ve known it for some time, and that was one of the themes of a book I wrote (which book was roundly rejected by all agents and editors).

    And in the larger scheme of things, is that not natural in the march of history, in the intercourse of nations? I consider myself patriotic…but I also consider myself a student of history. In the past, empires could last for over a millennium…but in those times, information and learning traveled at a virtual snail’s pace. Now that we have the internet, we can access knowledge in minutes what would have taken months or years or even decades to research in the past…and as a result, the world changes so much more quickly.

    China’s advantage is that they not only have a preponderance of manufacturing, but they also have the political will borne not only of secular tradition but also of racial unity.

    But China is also threading a minefield. They are not only facing (along with the rest of the planet) global warming accelerated by their own progress and particularly overpopulation, but also the unrest of its people who are not Han Chinese – and they know this. That’s why their army is not meant so much for offense or defense against external countries, but for rapid and effective response to internal disorder.

    In addition to the above, despite the well-deserved nationalistic pride of most Chinese who see how far they have come in a single generation, perhaps the greatest danger – again, one that is well-recognized by the government – is the desire for civil rights such as those enjoyed by citizens of the West. But I think that whether China continues as they are, or whether she transitions to a more democratic state (even violently so), China will continue to grow in power and influence…and will sooner or later exceed America’s influence.

    The reasons to resist China’s ascendancy are legion – the foremost of which is probably their policy of forced abortion, and their tradition of female infanticide. However, short of incredibly destructive war, is there really any way to stop this particular dragon? I say our most effective weapons are those of information, of ideas, of concepts of freedom and self-determination.

    To paraphrase Mel Gibson – whose movies I used to love but now refuse to watch (and you know why) – thanks to the internet, “They can take our lives, but they can’t take away our freedom!” The internet is a Pandora’s Box that China tries mightily (with some success) to close…but the fast, easy freedom of information available today is our surest guarantor against tyranny.

    China’s ascent is almost assured, but once she reaches that summit, I suspect she won’t be the same dragon that China once was, for the lessons of the necessity of benevolence and equality will have been forced on her…

    …which is why even now, China – that bastion of free enterprise (as long as it’s on China’s terms), that paradise of capitalist achievement (as long as they don’t embarrass the government e.g. melamine in milk) – is experimenting with social benefits for its people like a homegrown form of Social Security and even universal health care (like ALL the modern democracies of the world except the U.S.).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    What you’re saying in effect, Glenn, is that if there’s to be any future to the world, it will have to depend on cooperation between nations rather than warfare and open conflict – in which case, the idea(s) of hegemony sort of fade away.

    In fact, Einstein’s quote (see Ruvy’s link, page 2) speak to this issue:

    “I advocate world government because I am convinced that there is no other possible way of eliminating the most terrible danger in which man has ever found himself. The objective of avoiding total destruction must have priority over any other objective. (Albert Einstein, 1947)”

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Well said, and completely true. Of course, that means the right wing will now see Einstein as a commie socialist too….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Well, my friend. I have really stopped worrying about what the right wing will say or do. It’s out of my hands. Just hope that the extremists on both sides will be fewer and fewer and we can set about rebuilding the country.

    The China menace that Ruvy’s talking about is real, but I think your response was excellent. And we won’t be able to stop them by retrenching and going back to the old values – fuck everybody else (if only because we no longer can). We’ve got to be progressive and be the leader of that movement.

    One the other thread concerning the “green revolution” I made a comment following yours – about the opportunities that are now open to come up with a technological breakthrough. Check it out, too, and see how it all connects.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’m reprinting this from another thread because it’s relevant to Ruvy’s piece:

    Well, there’s another argument, zing, for “going green,” and you just alluded to it. Many have argued that to get us out of the present economic crisis, it may take nothing less than a tremendous technological breakthrough – something akin to the steam engine invention and the computer revolution in the early sixties.

    Well, this is one area which is ripe for technological innovation on a scale we can’t even imagine. And it could re-establish our leadership for another hundred years or so (if only to slow down the People’s Republic).

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Shavua Tov! Have a good week, all of you!

    Horace,

    Thank you for your kind words. You make this young geezer blush some. I too, read many of the stories of Isaac Baashevis Singer, and when I grow up, maybe I’ll be able to read his works in the original Yiddish. Then, I’ll first actually understand what he was saying.

    MY favorite writer, Isaac Babel, wrote in Russian, and I’ve only been able to read his works in translation (reading Cyrillic is no great feat – understanding Russian with its six noun cases, on the other hand….). But even in translation, Babel’s influence has been a huge one on me.

    I hope when you reread this article for content, you’ll not be disappointed.

    Glenn,

    To be truthful, this article was a memorial to my father more than political analysis, but he did have a disgusting habit of being right. And it got downright annoying.

    In thinking about him, and the many things he would tell me, I remembered what he told me about the livi yússen. And when I was a kid, I thought what he was talking about to be nothing more than a fairy tale, the kind of thing that old men say when they don’t understand what they see and look to the Bible for the answers. But my father was making an analogy, and I was too stupid to comprehend it when he told me.

    This article, or an article like it, should have been published here a week ago, the Hebrew anniversary of his death, what we call in Yiddish yahrtzeit. But I did not have the ideas laid out in my head clearly.

    As for me, I’m not an American patriot (I once was, and you may be able to see that in this article). I do not think that America will be able to stop this lívi yússen. I honestly think that America has shot her wad, and will not find the will or strength to rise to the tasks of leading a world in which she if the chief debtor. Usually, it is a creditor who runs the show and tells the piper what tunes to play, and the Chinese are the creditors.

    barring sheer catastrophe, civil war, or other unforeseen events, China’s ascendancy is practically assured.

    The “unforseen events”, or shall I say long forseen events, are why I do not think China will achieve the acendancy it appears that she will. Isaiah’s quote is also an analogy – but it’s prophecy. I can’t rightly call myself a “believer” if I do not believe in the prophecies of my own prophets!

    So, there is both belief – and hope.

    Roger,

    Tjhere is nothing wrong with a world government. The Redemption aims at such a thing; Jewish prophetic tradition talks of such a thing. Indeed the Jewish prophetic tradition talks of something called tikkún ‘olám, “repair of the world”, which, if you think about it, has to do with repairing the damage we indolent stewards have done to the planet G-d entrusted us with. There is plenty of work to do to repair the environment, from the the seas to the forests.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Welcome back. I sent you some of the old writings for perusal and comment. Whenever you get to it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Thanks, Roger. That is what I was about to do. I probably won’t get to it tonight. It is past 10 in the evening and I have to drag one of my sons with me to J-lem tomorrow to do some errands. I have to catch the 5:45 bus in the morning to hit all the bureacrats in J-lem, they should only live and be well…. Israel is not all that different from Poland in many ways. There is a line for everything – and nobody wants to stand on line!

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    As they say, Ruvy, talk is cheap. It’s what you do that counts.
    Later then.

  • Komoo

    And why, pray tell, would China attack the US? They can gain everything they want by other means.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Komoo,

    why, pray tell, would China attack the US?

    Where is it written here that China will attack the US? It only says that they have threatened to (check the link), and that these threats are no longer extant, and that the ruling elites have noted the threat.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Ruvy –

    China won’t attack the U.S. – not overtly, because it would not be in their best interests in the foreseeable future.

    I agree that America cannot stop China – but my point effectively was that China’s model of government may be its downfall. A people that is strongly unified by race, language, religion, and culture will normally have a strong sense of nationalism and have a greater measure of political will.

    But the American model of government is far more inclusive, and becomes more so each and every year. America will not stop China, but if China is not able to pass the crisis point that its internal strife will bring about sooner or later, America will still be standing strong. China’s much smarter and wiser than the Soviet Union…but they’re making some of the same mistakes too.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yes, Glenn. And the trend towards multiculturalism and coalescing of cultures is evident not just in US – although we’re the best example – but it likely to spread worldwide, because of globalization.

    I refer you once more to Einstein’s quote, cited above, concerning a world government and perhaps the best reason I’ve heard yet for some such solution. True, the threat of a nuclear war was perhaps more real then that it is today. But one can also argue that the world certainly isn’t a safer place just because we no longer live in a post Cold-War era.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Hi guys! Just got back from patrol in J-lem. To change the topic just a bit, we were discussing some changes in the unit I belong to – changes that would increase training opportunities, increase the quality of service that we can give the public, and increase the toughness of the unit somewhat. To be truthful, I look forward to possible changes in the unit, with the upcoming retirement of the present commander. Terrorist actions seem to go in styles – like bell-bottoms and tight-bottoms. Attacking tramp spots seems to be out of style with the Arabs – at least for the moment.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Anyway, back to the Leviathan that is China, I do not really foresee a military confrontation between China and the USA. But I do foresee the Chinese puting the screws to the Americans in a number of different ways, demanding a real share of the rich booty that is the American continent. This, is my eyes, would be an overturning of the Leviathan, and thus an overturning of America.

    If we entirely disregard the prophecies of Isaiah, we can expect to see a world where China is the “primus inter pares”, a role that various Chinese regimes seem to have liked in the past.

    But, I can’t entirely disregard the prophecies of Isaiah….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I still like Glenn’s point, the last paragraph of #13.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    China certainly will have problems of her own and certainly walks a minefield of the minority Han ruling over an empire. But America’s weaknesses are more fundamental. She cannot pay her bills. At some point the shit and shinola has to end and the creditor has to be paid – or killed.

    And China, the livi-yussen, is trhe creiditor.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    It’s not a matter of liking or not liking what Glenn has to say. It’s a matter of realizing that Americans cannot talk themselves out of the dsebts they owe.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’d like to think there’ll be a push towards globalization (of government) in the near future, which could well cancel the old debt and eradicate the debtor-creditor relationships, everyone starting with a new slate. It’s a matter of reinvigorating the American economy, and that of the West, perhaps by means of some major technological breakthrough – in the area of energy, perhaps, and in conjunction with the “green revolution” (a kind of stimulus comparable to the invention of the steam engine).

    I wouldn’t count off the West just yet; it’s still the leader in brain-power and innovation.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    China would also have a great deal to lose by adopting a hard line policy. Like it’s markets.

  • zingzing

    of course, if china calls in our debts, we’ll call in israel’s. (and everyone else’s too, i suppose.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    It ain’t gonna happen, because going that route is a sure lose-lose proposition for everyone concerned. There’ll be no winners, only losers.

    One way out of this dilemma – perhaps to negotiate some kind of international settlement and then start from scratch.

    The world must and will go on, and cooperation will have to be the governing principle. Otherwise, we all will be heading to hell in a handbasket.

  • Bliffle

    Globalization of government is a disaster. It’ll have all the faults of corporate monopolies. As Godfrey Cambridge said of theSoviet Union: “one big telephone company”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Yet you’re pushing the idea when it comes to integrating government services under one umbrella. The only difference is of scale.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Debt cancellation (your big hope here) is generally an act of enlightened self-interest. And it is usually taken in an “us against the world” attitude to strengthen the new entity being created. Thus, there was debt assumption by the federal government that was to underly the establishment of a strengthened United States in 1787. The same was true for Switzerland in the mid 1800’s to strenthen the Swiss Confederation, for Canada in 1867 to establish the Dominion of Canada, for the Prussians in establishing the North German Confederation of 1867 (the real predecessor of the German Empire of 1871), and for the Australian colonies in 1900 in establishing the Commonwealth of Australia.

    However, the establishment of a “world government” under the aegis of the Chinese will not necessarily involve debt cancellation for the Ubnited States – not before the Chinese have thoroughly humiliated the Americans in a number of ways, and thoroughly humiliated the Europeans and Russians as well. There will be no “us against the world” element involved – as there will be no world to be against. And the Chinese have very solid reasons to desire to humiliate those nations that humiliated China 100 years ago – vengeance. In addition, consider how the west has raped and humiliated Africa. The Chinese are not saints and from my limited understanding of them, they want money – and power. But their sense of justice may include humiliating those who have brutally humiliated others – like the western nations.

    So a policy of leadig the world to the brink of economic disaster – and then taking a hefty share of its wealth as the price of leading the world away from that economuc disaster – may be a far more realistic long run (remember, East Asians do favor long run strategies) strategy being hatched in Peking.

    “All you need is love” was nice for John Lennon to sing – but “all you need is cash” is a more likely Chinese tune. Finally, I would remind you of these lines from the Book of Job:

    Nothing on earth is like him,
    One made without fear.
    He looks on everything that is high;
    He is king over all the sons of pride.

    That is the Leviathan.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    And this is just a remider for the lot of you: the Chinese invented both “cash” and paper money – and know far more about their own inventions than any Harvard or Oxford don can, no matter how many degrees hang from their walls.

  • http://www.joannehuspek.wordpress.com Joanne Huspek

    I have only read the piece and not all the comments (I’ll come back to that later) but I will say that your dad sounds like a wise man. Unfortunately, many of the things you have written about here are true. The US is no longer a “superpower” and we only have ourselves to blame. Where that puts us in the hierarchy of the world stage is yet to be seen.

    I’m wondering if they are looking for immigrants in China… Just a thought.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I’m wondering if they are looking for immigrants in China….

    I don’t think so, Joanne. It’s less crowded here. Most of one and a half billion people live in an area about half the size of the United States, if that gives you any idea of what kind of crowding I’m talking about. A small portion of that 1.5 billion live in the non-crowded areas of the west of China, Chinese Turkestan, Tibet, Outer Mongolia etc.

    With forced abortion to keep the population down, I don’t think they’re looking for newcomers.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Not to mention, they’re probably more ethnocentric than any other race (if I may be allowed to use this not very PC expression).

  • zingzing

    ruvy: “With forced abortion to keep the population down, I don’t think they’re looking for newcomers.”

    you’re joking. they want your western businesses, they want your western clothes, they want your western eyes, they want your western money, they want your western language…

    they are actively seeking western immigration (if you’re the right type).

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t think so, zing. You must be joshing. The least thing they want is a repeat of the past. It is a homogeneous society and they don’t want “the white devils” and their corrupting influence.

  • zingzing

    eh? you ever been there? white devils?

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I’ve been married to a fifth generation Chinese-American, a Mandarin – Susie Wong was her stage name; appealed in Playboy and a movie with Nancy Kwan “Flower Drum Song.” So I know something about it.

    “white devil”
    A word used by the Chinese to refer to Caucasians, particularly from the aspect of the skin tone. Comes from the words “Guai” (Ghost/devil/spirit) and “Lo” (Man) or “Pak” (White) and “Guai”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski
  • Baronius

    Every time I see an article like this, I’m reminded of the inevitable rise of Russia in the 1970’s, Japan in the 1980’s, and Mexico (via NAFTA) in the 1990’s. The three countries had a few things in common, as it turned out: corruption, lousy infrastructure, and trading rivals who were willing to work for even less. Russia and Japan also share severe problems with alcohol and suicide, both societal red flags.

    China has a terrible government, supressing simmering political unrest. They have buildings that fall over, and a serious pollution problem. As they improve their standard of living, they’re going to price themselves out of the labor market, except within their massive prison system. On top of that, any society with such a high percentage of unmarried men is bound to have outbreaks of violence.

    Plus, they’ve got a prosperous, stable neighbor in North Korea.

    The US should definitely take China seriously, and we have got to stop running up our foreign debt. But just like living well is the best revenge, a nation’s economic rivals are no threat if that nation is booming.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Fortunately, it seems we may not have to worry too much just yet about countries like China taking over the West, as this new article, based on facts rather than flights of fancy, indicates – Think Again: Asia’s Rise.

  • zingzing

    roger: “I’ve been married to a fifth generation Chinese-American, a Mandarin – Susie Wong was her stage name; appealed in Playboy and a movie with Nancy Kwan “Flower Drum Song.” So I know something about it.”

    and i dated a second-generation chinese-american, a han, and have visited china with her. i was treated with respect, dignity and maybe even a bit of celebrity. of course, i was in a smaller city (only 4 mil) southwest of beijing… i was treated to dinners with communist officials (heads of the school the girlfriend attended over there) and put up in fine hotels, etc. so, i too know something about it… and more recently than you do, i’d wager.

    “”white devil”
    A word used by the Chinese to refer to Caucasians, particularly from the aspect of the skin tone. Comes from the words “Guai” (Ghost/devil/spirit) and “Lo” (Man) or “Pak” (White) and “Guai””

    yeah, but you’d have to go back several decades to see the last time that was anywhere near a prevailing attitude. it would be around the same time as “chink” was last an acceptable name for chinese people. times have changed, roger.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    I don’t know about that, zing. Prejudices are very slow to die. We may not use the “chink” name anymore, but many still think it. It was only fifty years ago that Chinese Americans weren’t allow to marry whites or they’d face deportation. And they are perhaps the most homogeneous people on earth. They’ve certainly tasted the fruits of exposure to white, and these things are not easily erased from the national psyche.
    Don’t forget, too, the Asian capacity for double-face. Japanese are the best at it. They may be more courteous than anyone you’ve ever met. But you never know what they really think.

    My ex wasn’t a fool. Her father, too, was a highly educated man, an architect. And one of the top honchos in the Hop Sing Tong.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger and zing –

    You would be referring to ‘quai-loh’ – which can refer not only to whites, but can be translated also as ‘foreign devil’.

    That’s one of the sad things about the world – the preference we whites are given – in China, in Southeast Asia, in India, and in Africa (with the recent and only temporary exception of Zimbabwe).

    But why is that? Not because we’re white, but because of money and power…and who has had the most money for the 1500’s? Europeans, and later Americans.

    For proof of this I point to the 1980’s, how many were giving preference to Japanese…and how Japanese men were suddenly attracting white women as wives.

    As time goes on, if China is successful in assuming the role of world leadership, then they – and ethnic Asians as a whole – may find themselves receiving the preferential treatment that we whites do now…

    …AND world leadership by China may not be a bad thing, because if global warming turns out to be as bad as scientists are predicting, it will take strong leadership to take the steps necessary to mitigate the worldwide effect of global warming. Strong leadership on such a global scale does not appear to be possible by Washington, regardless of who is in charge. IMO only China may have the financial and industrial wherewithal combined with the political will to take the necessary actions.

    But of course global warming doesn’t exist – I’m reminded of this every time I look at Mount Rainier and see that the Nisqually glacier is less than a quarter of what it was in photos from the 1930’s….

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    The actual term she used is “lao fun/fan” The last part is phonetic – don’t know the Chinese character. But the meaning is pretty much the same.

    I don’t share your optimistic view about Chinese benevolence. They’re totally unto themselves. Have been so throughout their history. And they’ve always regarded themselves superior.

    You can’t undo this, what I regard as, national character trait overnight, not even in the climate of national cooperation, necessary as it may be because of the impending globalization process which waits for no one.

  • http://twitter.com/tolstoyscat Cindy

    But why is that? Not because we’re white, but because of money and power…and who has had the most money for the 1500’s? Europeans, and later Americans.

    For proof of this I point to the 1980’s, how many were giving preference to Japanese…and how Japanese men were suddenly attracting white women as wives.

    It’s like an outline for a vignette on human soul sickness and craziness.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    I don’t think I ever said the Chinese were ‘benevolent’. I agree that they’ve always regarded themselves as superior.

    What I was referring to was that if global warming starts tumbling to its worst-case scenario, the world will need strong leadership that brooks no dissent…and the Chinese, whose governments have always been about self-interest (as most governments are, really), might be humanity’s last, best hope at minimizing GW’s damage to civilization.

  • zingzing

    glenn: ” I agree that they’ve always regarded themselves as superior.”

    of course, they’re wrong, because we’re the ones who are superior. (and we’ve always regarded ourselves as such.)

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Miss the point, zing. We’re all inclusive (except for the likes of Archie Bunker). Chinese are anything but.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    I looked at the article from Foreign Policy that Chris Rose offered up. Another case of whistling past the graveyard. The issue is not when Asian countries will “catch up” to the weat. The issue is how fast will the west collapse under self-induced hyper-inflation, and whether the countries in hock to the Chinese will actively resist the Chinese seizing assets when the west – particularly the US, cannot cough up the cash.

    At some point the Chinese will realize that the west (a.k.a. the USA) belongs to them already – and that it is just a matter o how to take possession without killing a goose that might yet lay a few golden eggs.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    “Seizing the assets” and “taking possession.”
    There are rather drastic actions if not backed by the military. Do you really envisage such a scenario, like we’re just gonna roll over and die?

    I keep on repeating. China needs the West for export. It can’t cut off the hand that feeds it.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Let’s make this simple for you to understand. Let’s say you have 8 kids to feed and you are in hock to the grocer for $75,000 because you haven’t been economizing but buying the fanciest and most expensive foods. Your house is worth $80,000. The grocer isn’t going to kick you into the street and let you starve – he doesn’t want to “lose” the market – but he wants what is rightfully his and cuts you a deal. He gets deed to your house and continues to feed you to the tune of ten thou over the $80 grand. But you have to start to economize.

    Something like that is what I envision for the United States in the not too distant future – 25 months, rather 25 than years.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    So what? We’ve sold the Rockefeller Center to the Japanese a while back, and in spite of the initial shock of it, what’s the big deal. Lots of US assets are already in foreign hands. Yes, there will be deals and international settlement. I spoke of that. But it’s not going to be a lose-lose situation. It will be workable.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    Roger,

    Chinese takeovers are all going to be more like the Russian exploitation of Poland was a half century ago or more than some deal with the Japanese. Americans will become strictly aware of how much is being skimmed off the top to go to China, adn there will be immense resentment over this.

    That’s ‘so what’.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    Folks, please note that the Foreign Policy article about Asia I linked to in #39 was written by a person with a Chinese name and based on facts and reasoning.

    This is in stark contrast to everything Ruvy is saying on the subject, which is based on a stupefying (to him) combination of unsupported suppositions and faith based superstition.

    Ruvy tries to brush off reason at every opportunity because it is his mortal enemy, so we get dismissive remarks like “Another case of whistling past the graveyard.”

    There’s a graveyard not 100 yards from where I live and I walk past it most days and have never felt the need to whistle, but then I don’t go around with a head full of hate and superstition.

    Everything he is saying, both on this thread and over at the Jewish Guilt article, isn’t based on actual contemporary facts but ancient and outdated creation myths, resentment of the past, hatred and fear of others, and the desire to infect others with his silliness.

    Don’t buy in to it; there is nothing to fear except fear itself…

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    The Foreign Policy article, contained straw men – “all Asia is not one unit” – duh! It spent its time on false issues and analogies that were interesting and even persuasive – if you could actually believe in the stability of western economies.

    And that is the real issue. The stability of the western economies – particularly that of the United States – is not credible any longer. This is clear in the States, where the whole Ponzi scheme of bad bankers loans is coming crashing down and unemployment – real unemployment – has surpassed 14 million people.

    So the focus of the article – how fast will Asian countries “catch up” to the west – is a false focus. The true focus ought to be on how fast will hyper-inflating economies collapse, reaching the level of “Asia” today.

    My father’s fantastical yarn – told him as a child – was an analogy. And this analogy is coming to fruition now, over thirty years after he passed to his reward. And that has been the point of this article.

  • http://www.EurocriticsMagazine.com Christopher Rose

    That’s right, Ruvy; you can snatch six words out of context and call it as straw man. Way to go with the compelling reasoning, it is so persuasive.

    You’re not an economist, you’re not a politician, you’re not a banker, you’re just an ex fast food worker now living in a tiny village in the Middle East, but you know better.

    Must be all that magical thinking you do, the magic being in how you manage to sell such drivel to yourself…

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Ruvy,

    I was living in Poland when it was a satellite. In addition to military presence, the Polish Politburo was manned if not by the Soviets outright, then at least by those who towed the party line. There was no room for opposition.

    If those are some of the features you’re referring to, sorry – it ain’t gonna happen.

  • zingzing

    roger: ” Chinese are anything but [inclusive].”

    i don’t know why you think that.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Perhaps I’m going by what I see in the Chinese immigrant community.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    That reminds me of when I was working for the USPS. An tall, gaunt, frankly spooky-looking old man had just finished his transaction, which was a small package he was sending to Latvia. He turned to go, and I said, “Spaceeba, tovarisch!”

    He turned back to me and said in a deep voice, rich with a Eastern European accent, “Don’t ever say that to me again.”

    By what had to be my deer-in-the-headlights expression, he probably felt he had to explain. “That’s what the KGB would say when they were about to take you away.”

    When he said that, you KNEW he knew what the heck he was talking about. To this day, I still shiver when I remember the tone in his voice.

    The Cold War was no joke.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Roger –

    Comment #57 was in reference to what you said about living in Poland, btw.

    If it makes you feel better, my Filipino nephew was walking around the house today wearing a t-shirt that had a picture of a lot of crumpled beer cans. The caption was, “What I did in Krakow”.

  • http://takeitorleaveit.typepad.com/ roger nowosielski

    Poland was nowhere near as bad as Russia. Even so, let me direct you to Eminent Domain, a fairly grim and realistic picture of the Polish Politburo (with Donald Sutherland and Anne Archer).

    Worth watching.

  • http://ruvysroost.blogspot.com Ruvy

    That’s right, Roger. There was no room for opposition in Poland. But there were shitloads of real resentment. And that is what you will see when the Chinese attempt to take their due in the States.

    From the looks of things, when Obama realizes that he can’t play anymore shit and shinola with the Chinese, he will start coughing up the goods like a man worshipping at the ivory throne.

    Your goods – not his. This guy is a slick thief from Chicago. He hangs only with the best – like Rahm Emanuel and Hot-rod Rodney.