Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Chinese Selfish Gene

Chinese Selfish Gene
Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins argue, as its title speaks for itself, every gene is inherently selfish. The cultural parallel of a gene is meme where a unit of idea can spread from one generation to another through writing, speech or even gesture.

An interesting example of meme is when a macaque, the red - face Japanese monkey, has learnt to wash a potato and then season it in salty water. Others started to copy him and then this trait even passed from one generation to another.

The Chinese race has its own selfish gene. 2000 years of dynastic rule ingrain people with a sense of obedience. This meme is so strong that it not only imprints into the Chinese gene but has passed to the Chinese generation in the 21st century. If you understand that, then you won't be surprised to see the news saying a man not daring to utter a sound when he witnessed his wife is beaten and raped by a police (news here). After all, just stay obedient and silent. 

Another characteristic of the Chinese selfish gene is the stress on collectivity. When the Westerner first came to China in early centuries, they were amazed by the immense irrigation system that the Chinese collectively built. It's almost a cruel irony when it is precisely this collectivity that achieve the greatest selfishness. A collective love for everyone means a love reserving for no one (just like collective responsibility means no one is responsible)

This is the reason why the 18 bystanders in Foshan can stay unmoved when they saw a 2 year old girl get ran over two times by vans. (news, here and video, here) After all, who cares? Someone will take care of that.

In 1949 October 1, this gene has mutated into the Communist China, inheriting all the dynastic meme and continuing to spread them under the name of 'people 's dictatorship'.  This gene does have strong adaptability. 

Hong Kong fortunately has been purified with some rule of law and has been taught with some more civilized meme. But after 1997, this Chinese gene and has found its way to filter through to invade. Let's stay vigilant against it. 


標少 said...

Hey William,

Your article is interesting. You really read a lot. What kind of gene do you have? I am afraid we are mutating without us knowing.

Tso William said...

hi Bill,
thanks for your comment. i agree with you that we might be mutating without us even knowing (as i have seen from this news:

But I remain hopeful that we can be a model and a source of inspiration for the mainland people, as long as we hold on our values and stay vigilant

標少 said...


It is good you can remain hopeful to hold on something good without compromising. It is easier said than done. Intellectual aspirations are not easy to maintain. I am bleaker than you in this regard. I always try to see things as objective as possible and see myself from a distance. I am not a good thinker. Though shallow my views are, I try to put forth something against the majority views of the society. My concentration is on the Judiciary, my familiar turf. By the way, could I ask how you bumped into my blog?