As predicted, the acrimony of the 2016 US presidential election has now degenerated into the virulence of the post-election analysis and finger pointing.
The Chinese can help.
Western culture is built on a deductive, scientific worldview. Above all else, we believe in the sanctity of cause and effect. If A, then B, etc. Always. Every time.
When something happens that we don’t like, as a result, we take it personally. We’re offended. Science did not win the day. If it had we would not be here. (The monotheistic religions, by the way, are different faces of objectivism. Both organized religion and science rely heavily on cause and effect. Which is not to say that either is in error.)
The Chinese worldview, on the other hand, is inductive in nature. It starts with the effect and works back. Not everything, therefore, can be explained. To the Taoist (also called Daoist), in fact, nothing can. The way of the universe is merely too complex for humans to comprehend.
So, too, perhaps, is American politics. I have read article after article since the election that claims to solve the riddle of what happened. The articles are full of science, or, in this case, statistics. This group stayed home; this group split; this group was angry. On and on and on.
The Chinese, I believe, would be inclined to explain it all this way. (Since they aren’t inclined to explain things that have already happened this is obviously only an opinion.) I think they would scratch their chin and say, “Donald Trump won because he received more Electoral College votes.”
Carl Gustav Jung (1875 – 1961) was the famous Swiss psychiatrist who coined the term synchronicity. While I can’t do the topic justice in this short blog, Jung believed in “meaningful coincidences” that had no causal relationship other than their meaningfulness. He also referred to it as “acausal parallelism”, but I think the more appropriate contemporary description might be “s_it happens.”
A key to synchronicity is the notion of the collective unconscious, a common thread to all of us that we are unaware of and can’t explain. That makes it, by definition, decidedly unscientific and, to some, fatalistic.
Jung, who was not Chinese, was a student of Taoism and Buddhism, both of which undoubtedly provide some trail markers as to how he got to synchronicity. As somewhat of a Chinese inductivist, however, I’m not sure it matters.
The Chinese are not devastated by this election. Nor would they have been should the other side have won. They won’t be doing any internal soul-searching about where to go from here. They know exactly where they’re going and they fully intend to get there.
And I won’t bet against them. I have no idea what kind of president Donald Trump will be. Any more than I had any idea of what kind of president Secretary Clinton would have been. That’s up to the collective unconscious to sort out.
I only know that ongoing vitriol won’t solve anything. It will surely be the Chinese Century if we spend it fruitlessly dissecting the cause and effect of past events.
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