Chinese Materialism in the First Sense

Chinese materialismI arrived to live in China in 1991. I was uncomfortable with many things, but one day a few years later, I realized that Communist philosophy had infiltrated the country in terms of materialism while Marxist economics were being tossed aside.  Even Confucianism is very pragmatic and down to earth, so this tangible materialistic thought was deep. Chinese materialism is deeply held.

Pure Communist theology posits that Matter is God. It is the base of all life, and there is nothing else. There is no spirit but only chemical processes called life. Love would just be hormones for example. Everything could be measured. Matter is eternal and preeminent in this way of thinking.

A Judeo-Christian heritage quote has a different taste.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Most Chinese people cannot express materialism as preeminent, but it helps describe why they have trouble grasping brands, intellectual property and soft power naturally.  Most Westerners do not explicitly consider that they believe that Love, Joy and Happiness are more important than a stack of gold. Yet, most Westerners have high respect for things that are unseen like love or God.

Chinese Materialism Can Slowly Give Way

Chinese people are deep feeling people who teach poetry to their young children. Despite their heavy Confucian pragmatism and Communist background, the hold of a strict materialist way of thinking will and is giving way. However, the closer you get to the party, the closer you get to this frame of reference, and it is good to be mindful of it. Also check out Chinese World View Issues and Your Company.

You can also see this in their focus on infrastructure as tangible development while precious little effort goes into unmeasurable cultural development.  I do like the signs in town talking about values like not cutting people off, so we cannot say there is no grasp.

They just tend to look down on the non material. They will pay big money for the medicine but little for the doctor’s thoughts. See also Materialism in the Second Sense.


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Posted in: China, Chinese Culture, Government Issues

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