Ok.... long time without posting. In what should be a joyous development for all long time ShaMao readers, I have moved back to Asia (well, Asia Lite anyways), to Singapore. My regional role here should provide endless fodder for posts as well as putting me much closer to the debauched leviathan that is China.
When the more philosophical Chinese leaders dream of a utopia, I suspect that they are thinking of Singapore. Orderly, clean, modern (kind of... more on that later),technocratic, controlled, submissive, covetous, and generally lacking in any creative independent spark. Of course China is still far away from the first few of these characteristics but when I look at the city and society of Singapore, and compare it to what I experienced in my years in China, it is clear that they are two points on a linear plane.
Sometimes you hear people compare Singapore to Switzerland. Business people (and consultants like me!) especially like to say this. Seems the Singaporeans themselves also like the comparison. Myself, I think another comparison is much more apt; the Axiom, the spaceship in the movie Wall-E. If you recall, this was where the remaining remnants of the human race had taken refuge after environmentally destroying the earth (oh! another unintended comparison!). On the Axiom they lived an entirely vapid life where all of their needs were completely taken care and they could simply consume all day. Singaporeans are a lot thinner, but the Axiom is just a few points farther down on that same linear plane.
Now, I'm not sure that this is wrong per se. This is something I have thought about every day since touching down here. I suspect that you will hear much more (much too much more probably) on this topic as we go forward.