The Ecological Civilization Debate in China

Modernization has been a dream of China’s for a century. After the Great Cultural Revolution, the Chinese government joined most developing countries in treating modernization as its goal. China’s achievements on this path, such as its fast GDP growth, have amazed the world. However, the price has been extremely high, including environmental problems, an increasing gap between the rich and the poor, and growing disenchantment with growth within the populace as a whole. Is there any alternative to the current form of modernization? “Constructive postmodern thinking proposes such an alternative.”81 Kang Ouyang, a leading Marxist scholar in China and vice president of Huazhong University of Science and Technology, has explored the positive and negative sides of modernization. For him the negative includes: treating economic growth as the ultimate goal; neglecting ecology, the value of tradition, and aesthetic wisdom as complements to scientific knowledge; rejection of the positive role that religion can play in human life; and overemphasis on individuality at the expense of community.


Reform vs. Awakening (revisited)

ERIC SCHECHTER—As I’ve already mentioned, people aren’t basically greedy and selfish. But our current culture certainly trains those traits into us. They’re built into the so-called “American dream”: You keep your stuff in your house, I keep my stuff in my house, and we’re taught that we don’t need to care about each other. Shootings in schools and shopping malls have become commonplace.


Why “Torture Doesn’t Work”

STEVEN JONAS—The authors of the Geneva Conventions just assumed that everyone “knows” what torture is; they didn’t bother to define it any detail.  The UN Convention defines it in general terms as “Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession . . .”