What are your thoughts on China's ecological civilization construction and green development? Would you mind sharing your opinions arising out of your trip to China last year.
John Cobb's Response:
My view is that an ecological civilization can only be built on local ecological communities. These can be urban neighborhoods, but villages are generally better. Sadly most villages are not ecological and many of them are not communities. Nevertheless China's commitment to save its villages rather than dismantle them in favor of industrial agriculture is a wonderful beginning. I hope now that the combination of the way China is treated by the U.S. and plague will lead China to become more concerned about food security and in general self-sufficiency. Food security would require a greater emphasis on local production, but also an end to poisoning the soil and the beginning of its cleansing. It would also require a lot of three dimensional agriculture. Farming would once again become a prestigious profession. The government could make it one that would support a middle class livelihood.
In addition the Chinese diet should return to one in which meat is reserved for special occasions. China cannot produce enough food to provide a meat-based diet for all its people. In any case Chinese will be healthier if meat is a minor part of the diet. Food security is very difficult to achieve in cities, but there will need to be planning both for many people to move nearer where food is produced and how food can be brought into cities when the transportation system breaks down. Incidentally, Bolivar taught this and Venezuela is still organized into small units that largely take care of their own needs.
Of course, there is much more to ecological civilization than food security. One example would be to go beyond pairing the environment and economy to integrating them. This would mean giving up the use of GDP altogether. It does not measure anything worthwhile. There are several offerings of single measures that include both the health of the environment and human economic wellbeing.. China is far more advanced than most other countries, certainly the United States, in understanding the superiority of such measures. Giving up the standard global measure would create problems, I realize, but conforming to bad global practice is not the answer. And it is possible that within a few years many countries would make the shift to a better measure.
To sum up my understanding, China is in a position to move forward toward an ecological civilization. But There is a danger that it will be guided by modern values instead. Understandably many Chinese assimilated these values in their schooling and they are reinforced by the international community. Fortunately, the incapacity of the capitalist system to protect people from the virus, has created a climate when breaking from these values would be a little easier. That is what I hope for.
How can the rest of the world cooperate with China in promoting ecological civilization construction and green development?
John Cobb's Response:
Green development is already affirmed by much of the world. It can be fitted into capitalism. In short, it can be profitable. I think it would be an easy matter for China to cooperate with other countries in what they call green development. This is an improvement over much development; so I do not dismiss it.
But ecological civilization is another matter. Capitalism determines political structures, education, and even, to a large extent, spiritual matters. It is based on competition among individuals. The communities favored by ecological civilization are places in which competition is in the service of cooperation. Without the primacy of cooperation, humanity will perish. So this is non-negotiable.
In the response to the virus a great many people have worked cooperatively. We who seek an ecological civilization must insist this is just as natural, perhaps more natural, than competition. Sadly China's educational; system promotes competition, and this blocks its advance into ecological civilization. In many other countries modernity's condescension toward cooperation is deeply entrenched. If China leads in making the change, there is hope that many countries will join. But until it changes its examination system, I'm not sure it can lead.
More Links On Process in China and John Cobb's Role in its Future