Part 12 - Democracy and Universal
December 21, 2022
United States of America has many laws, but why does it have them? As an
example, why does your country have laws against insider trading in securities?
The answer should be obvious: at some time in the past, some Americans tried to
unfairly enrich themselves by gaming the system. Your government responded by
enacting legislation and regulations that might prevent or at least punish
those who committed these acts in the future. But then why doesn't everybody
have these same laws? It isn't because they approve of insider trading; it's
because they have (so far) had no need for such laws. Some countries have no
stock exchanges, so the point is moot. Some countries have stock trading in its
infancy and insider trading has not been a problem. Maybe in some countries the
people are more honest than Americans or, more likely, have found other preferred
ways to cheat the system. In any case, not everyone has what you have. The
reason your country has these laws is because you needed them. Your nation
developed in a manner that exposed a weakness which required preventive
most importantly, your securities legislation was not enacted because God told
you to do it. That excuse is reserved for George Bush invading Iraq to find
WMDs. The laws are there because of your country's history - the way your
nation developed. It shouldn't be necessary to point out to you that
another nation that developed in a different way might well have different
laws. The point of all this, is that there ain't no "democracy"
here. There ain't no religion here, no freedoms, no human rights, no universal
values, here. What there is here, is "let's stop some Americans from
cheating". And no more than that. Again, you should be able to
extrapolate from this one example, and maybe begin to more clearly see your
country the way it is.
did your former governments insist on a separation of church and state? And why
didn't every nation enact those laws? Why did your government - and ONLY
your government - adopt the principle of separation of powers? Why did it
proclaim the (largely illusory) independence of the judiciary? The reason
should be obvious to you. There was a felt need for such legislation because of
the way your nation developed. Your laws, policies, procedures, attitudes,
developed from your history. You are a product of your environment, or maybe your
environment is the product of you. You have enacted all these laws, adopted all
these attitudes, because they were necessary - for you. Since each other nation
did what was necessary for them, not everything is the same - nor should it be.
do people in the UK drive their cars on the left side of the road, when you
drive on the right? And who cares? They developed differently than you, and
they do things differently. Are you going to tell us that driving on the right
side of the road is a "universal value that reflects the true yearnings
of all mankind"? Do you want to add this to your long and foolish list
of the 1,001 things included in "democracy, freedom and human rights"?
Other countries may not need those same laws, for any number of reasons. So, in
what mental state are you operating when you demand that all other nations
adopt these same values - just because YOU have them? Who are you, anyway?
this, you should be able to extrapolate a bit further and make some sense of
who you are and what is your place in the world. Your country, the US, for
whatever reason, has developed into a strongly individualistic society where
the apparent focus is on ME - My freedoms, My rights, My everything.
Most other nations are pluralistic, unlike you, and those that do resemble you
are much more moderate in their expression. All these me-focused attitudes are
again the result of your nation's development. They are not "universal"
in any sense. They are not "human rights"; they are not
anything. And they sure as hell do not represent the "true yearnings of
all mankind". They are just you. They represent what YOU are, because
of where you have been. And no more than that.
might interest you to know that your "exceptional" US is the
most litigious nation in the world - by orders of magnitude. The US had, at
last count, one lawyer for every 265 people. China has one lawyer for every
66,000 people. Why do you suppose that is? Because China's legal system is
undeveloped? Not so. The simple truth is that this flows from your primitive
individualism and your moralistic Christian heritage. Asian morality
negotiates to find a compromise that everyone can live with. Americans are true
believers in "the law of the jungle", where we fight and have
a clear winner and a clear loser. You thrive on conflict, often seeking it out
if it doesn't exist. Americans spend more money on lawyers than on purchasing
new cars, but to you, your excessive litigiousness is normal, natural, and
necessary. To the remaining 96% of the world, you're just crazy.
"right to sue" is not a universal value and God-given freedom
and human right. It's none of those things. It's just you - aggressive,
belligerent, and always looking for a fight. No other nations share your
natural belligerence, nor are they so desperate to rationalise their own
failings as to resort to the delusional and simple-minded pretense of
transfiguring a vice into a virtue. Once again, this ain't no "democracy"
here, no "universal values", no religion, no "human
rights and freedoms". This is just YOU, preferring to fight rather
than talk. This is what you chose, because of what you are. Keep it, if
you're happy with it, but don't try to impose it on the rest of the world,
because they don't want it.
conjunction with the strong individualism, your nation has developed what some
would term an excessively strong capitalist culture - to the extent that even
giving your people a universal health care system would mean "the end of
freedom in America", at least according to Ronald Reagan. It should be no
surprise that there is no other country in the world that agrees with you. You
are all alone on this one. But again, this fierce and unrestrained capitalism
developed in your nation alone, because of you and your history, and because of
who and what you are. It did not develop anywhere else on the planet. And like
most everything else you believe, this fierce capitalism of yours is not a
"universal value", and in truth, nobody but you values it. It
is not religion; it is not human rights or freedoms; it is not "democracy".
It is just you. And you are in no position to tell other nations
they're wrong, if they don't want your "values".
is the one you will like least. Do you believe you have your multi-party "democracy"
because an Angel descended from Heaven with some golden tablets and showed you
"The Way of The Universe"? Was that the same Angel who
introduced your country to black slavery? The same one who encouraged you to
exterminate 98% of the aboriginal natives in your country? The same Angel who
encouraged you to go to Vietnam, kill 5 million people, and go home? Your form
of government developed in the same way as all your other beliefs, attitudes,
values and laws. It is one more product of the environment; if that past
environment had been different, your government system would undoubtedly
reflect that. If you really are one of the 25%, you know that a multi-party
electoral system is simply one form of participatory government, and nothing
very special. It sure as hell is not a religion, not even if you live in
use your head. Your vaunted "democracy" is no more a "universal
value" than were your black and white slaves. Your people believed so
firmly that slavery was a "God-given human right" that your
country maintained it for centuries. Today that idea is dead, but it sure
wasn't dead 150 years ago, and back then your grandfather was screaming about
the fundamental human right to own slaves, just as today you mindlessly parrot
the same nonsense about "democracy". He was crazy then, and
you're crazy now. Your form of government evolved from the accidents of who you
are and how you developed. Most of the world is different, and most of the
world has values different from yours. Some would say that's a good thing.
we have Freedoms! and Human Rights! What Americans choose to define as human
rights (or civil rights) is unique in the world. We sometimes see
supermarkets where almost everything appears to be "On Sale",
analogous to the all-encompassing American definition of "democracy"
- which one American acquaintance insisted included the "right to dog
food" for her pets. The American definition of this term is becoming
increasingly all-inclusive, containing every manner of "right"
- of which Americans appear to have zillions - including human rights, civil
rights, media rights, legal rights, assembly rights. It really just doesn't
end, and people in many countries just don't stop laughing.
This individualism has conditioned most Americans
to view all these so-called "rights" as universal values. But few other
nations have this characteristic, and none have it anywhere near as strongly. A
large majority of the world's peoples are socially pluralistic and are much
less interested than Americans in these so-called rights. Pluralistic
societies value stability more than many of the small rights and freedoms
that Americans hold so religiously. These people are willing to tolerate many
kinds of restrictions in exchange for something they value more. And you can't
tell them they're wrong.
appear unable to accept this, having foolishly elevated all these values to a
theological status. During Google's recent dispute with the Chinese government,
the Western media were full of claims that Google was a "human right".
To people in most nations, that's just childish nonsense. Americans cannot
understand that what they have, is merely a reflection of what they are and
where they have been. And that other nations developed differently and hold
different values. We see this in everything from Google to Twitter to IP and
patent claims, to business practices to social conventions. With IP and patent
issues, for example, pluralistic societies are much more "open-source"
than is the US. It's a bit like hearing a funny story and passing it on without
even thinking of "crediting the original source".
in pluralistic societies are much less concerned with ownership of ideas,
concepts, designs. Much is generally considered to be in the public domain. And
there is no basis - "democratic" or otherwise - on which you
can tell these people they are wrong. But Americans, with their moralistic
Christianity and fierce individualism, cannot understand this, and constantly
demand that the entire world adopt American attitudes and values - on the
simple-minded thesis that these are "universal". But they are
not universal, not in any sense. They are American constructs or, at least,
Western ones. Most of the world does not think that way and resents the push to
be remade in the American image. The world does not like to have foreign
American values shoved down their throats.
my American friend, who do you think you are, to demand that the entire world
adopt your values, systems, standards, beliefs? And you do indeed demand this,
often using the power of your military to achieve it. In truth, very little of
what you hold to be so dear and so true, is "universal" in any
sense of the meaning of that word. You have what you want, so be happy with it.
But you are only 4% of the world's population. What do you think about, that
you should blindly demand that the other 96% of the world's people adopt what
you have? They don't want what you have. They don't want your "universal"
values - or your "democracy" because neither your values nor
your system of government are in any way universal. Other nations don't
want to be like you; they want to be like them.
Mr. Romanoff’s writing has been translated
into 32 languages and his articles posted on more than 150 foreign-language
news and politics websites in more than 30 countries, as well as more than 100
English language platforms. Larry Romanoff is a retired management consultant and
businessman. He has held senior executive positions in international consulting
firms, and owned an international import-export business. He has been a
visiting professor at Shanghai’s Fudan University, presenting case studies in
international affairs to senior EMBA classes. Mr. Romanoff lives in Shanghai
and is currently writing a series of ten books generally related to China and
the West. He is one of the contributing authors to Cynthia McKinney’s new
anthology ‘When China Sneezes’. (Chapt. 2 — Dealing with Demons).
His full archive can be seen at
He can be contacted at:
Copyright © Larry Romanoff, Blue Moon of Shanghai, Moon of Shanghai, 2022