Propaganda & Mass Persuasion: Something Jacques Ellul did not mention:

Monday, January 30, 2006

Something Jacques Ellul did not mention:

This article will take China, North and South Korea and Japan, four countries as examples to tell the four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world exiting in Asian cultures.

In THE CHARACTERISTICS OF PROPAGANDA, Jacques Ellul said: It seems to us that there are four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world. By this we mean not only the western world, but including communist world, though not yet the African or Asian worlds. These common presupposition of bourgeois and proletarian are that man’s aim in life is happiness, that man is naturally good, that history develops in endless progress, and that everything is matter. (P22 Top Column)

Jacques Ellul stated that his understanding about the four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world does not apply to African and Asian cultures. But, what about those cultures? Leave them untouched?

There is no doubt about the idea that it is extremely hard to have a unified understanding about the world view or social philosophy hold by African or Asian cultures. Actually Africa, still a land of mysteries and diversified lifestyle today, has so many cultures and sub-cultures, even some primitive cultures existing at the same time, does not even have a unified worldview. It is a shame that people today still doesn’t know exactly how many ethnic tribes are there in Africa, let along the world views or the four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world.

Asian cultures, for most of the time, were taken as a whole. Actually, among Asian countries, even within a single Asian country, people’s idea about the four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world are dramatically different.

This article will take China, both North and South Korea and Japan, four countries as examples to tell the four great collective sociological presuppositions in the world exiting in Asian cultures. These four countries, due to the geographic and historic relations have a lot of things in common in the field of world view. But individually, they are totally different.
When the term “Asian Culture” was mentioned, for most of the time, it refers to the combination of cultures existing in these four countries.

During the Spring and Autumn Period, (see links) the Emperor of China started to loose his control over the whole country. Taken as the “the Son of Heaven”, he was officially the ruler of the whole country consists of tens of small states, but with no real authority over them. Rulers of individual states were their own kings, and in order to have the authority over each other, they began to hire Wiseman to help rule their country.

Due to this situation, several important philosophers came onto the stage and began to use their knowledge and understanding to influence the others. Both the founder of Confucianism—Confucius, and the founder of Taoism—Lao-Zi, appeared at that time as Wiseman and leading thinkers. Their thinking, latter on, would be taken as the main body of Asian, at least Chinese philosophy.

Lao-zi came earlier than Confucius did; he was believed to be the teacher of Confucius to some degree. He believed both the bad and the good takes each other as the condition of existence. In this way, people after him did not believe that man was born naturally good or evil. Both are possible.

Confucius was once in charge of the writing of the history of the Spring and Autumn period. He admired the time before the country fell into small pieces de facto, the time when the “Son of Heaven”—the Emperor was still the real ruler of the whole country and he believed that the latter generations would gradually loose the good traditions of their fathers and in this way, the whole society cannot be believed to develop constantly. His ideal society only existed in the past, he believe the society one after another does not necessarily get better. He always admired the “order” existing among different people and believed the “responsibility” was the most important thing for every individual. When his idea and philosophy was latter taken as the dominant, people in China began to believe that the reason for man to live is not for his own happiness but those of his family and his people if he is the ruler.

People latter began to use Confucius idea about the responsibility of family members to promote their idea about the authority of rulers. Chinese emperor after that was always taken as the “son of the heaven” and the “father of all the people on earth”. In this way, he should be only responsible for heaven, but all the people under him should be responsible for him. Even those Emperors, due to their belief of the teaching of Confucius, believed that as the “father of all the people on earth” their aim of life should not be the happiness of their own, but that of his family—all the people under him or the whole world.

Most Chinese Empires had the tradition to keep a detailed historic record of it own. When the dynasty was over, the following dynasty, usually people from another clan will use that record to write the history. In this way, the following people tend to think that all dynasties, no matter how long the period will be, will eventually be replaced by new one, because of the corruption of the government and the problem of the Emperor.
In this way, people do not really believe in the development of the whole society but expect the new beginning of a new society.

Gosh, too tired to continue, I will finish this soon……
just want to tell everybody
1. The man's aim in life is the happiness of family members
2. If man is naturally good or naturally bad never has a conclusion in Asian culture ever since 200BC (proofs will be offered)
3. The history dose not develops in endless progress. It is changing towards better and worse. The technology and science in it is developing, but, social relations are blieved to get worse one generation after another. Society has its routine from birth to death, and from birth to death again.(history means a different thing in Asian country )
4. Only important things matters. (Mainland China, North Korea(Communist), Taiwan, South Korea (capitalist) has different explanation about it. )
5. Ideology difference, like communism orf capitalism did not change anything, but tries to use different presupposition and myth to promote their idea. (this part will be interesting)
6. Neither China nor North Korea really uses the teaching of Karl Marx (you can not believe this, but this will be proved true)



Blogger A. Mattson said...

This is quite a post. I think you have hit on one of Ellul's weaker points. Remember he was writing 40 years ago. He does gloss over Asia & Africa. This is becuase he does not feel that those areas are a part of the same general western world view that he describes as the "four great collective sociological presuppositions." It would be silly to ignore the great differences between different Asian or African cultures. I do think that he is trying to say that both communist and captialist ideologies share certain western "collective sociological presuppositions" despite their apparent opposition.

Thank you for the lesson in Chinese history.

1/31/2006 12:40 AM  
Anonymous PHANTOM bLOGGER said...


2/07/2006 12:55 AM  

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