My Parents Didn't Raise Me,
My Grandparents Did
Why are Chinese turning to Process Philosophy?
Because the human and ecological
costs of modernization
are too high.
The 85 minute documentary Last Train Home, offered below, will show you the costs of modernization to one migrant family. Watch the trailer; you'll probably want to see more. It's in six segments. An article by John B. Cobb, Jr. in JJB -- Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet (GO) -- is a companion to the film. It will show you why the Whiteheadian alternative is increasingly attractive to Chinese intellectuals, policy makers, and educators.
In China Whitehead's philosophy is sometimes called constructive postmodernism. If modern means urban and industrial then postmodern does not mean anti-modern but rather beyond-the-modern. It seeks to develop a way of living in which rural and urban life are jointly appreciated and in which, in both instances, family life and community life is valued more than economic growth. Postmodernism is interested in economics for community, not economics for growth alone.
There are than twenty centers in China which, with varying degrees of success, are exploring alternatives for rural development, urban design, and agriculture of the kind recommended by John Cobb in Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet. There is also an international institute, directed by Dr. Zhihe Wang, which is helping foster exactly the kind of changes Dr. Cobb recomends. It is called the Institute for the Postmodern Development of China. You can learn about some of its work on its website: GO. But first watch as much of the documentary as you can.
The documentary shows how one family is torn apart by "modern" industrialization and the false hopes it brings to people. It is a hope for prosperity at the expense of community. Chinese process thinkers believe that Whitehead's philosophy offers a better hope. If postmodernism means reclaiming the values of local communities, and also realizing that the world can be a community of communities in which local communities are given chances to survive, and in which parents, too, get to raise their children --- then the whole world needs more postmodernism.
(Note: We are glad to offer you the documentary in segmented portions below, and we encourage you to purchase the documentary as a seamless whole as soon as it is available: Contact Zeitgeist Films (GO) We do not own the copyright to this documentary; we sharing it from reputable video-sharing site.)
Last Train Home: Part I
Last Train Home: Part II
Last Train Home: Part III
Last Train Home: Part IV
Last Train Home: Part V
Last Train Home: Part VI
From the Producers of the Film:
"Every spring, China’s cities are plunged into chaos as 130 million migrant workers journey to their home villages for the New Year’s holiday. This mass exodus is the world’s largest human migration—an epic spectacle that reveals a country tragically caught between its rural past and industrial future.
Working over several years in classic verité style Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Lixin Fan (with the producers of the award-winning hit documentary Up the Yangtze) travels with one couple who have embarked on this annual trek for almost two decades.
Like so many of China’s rural poor, Changhua and Sugin Zhang left behind their two infant children for grueling factory jobs. Their daughter Qin—now a restless and rebellious teenager—both bitterly resents their absence and longs for her own freedom away from school, much to the utter devastation of her parents.
Emotionally engaging and starkly beautiful, Last Train Home’s intimate observation of one fractured family sheds light on the human cost of China’s ascendance as an economic superpower."
How Can Process Philosophy Help?
1. It offers a way of understanding reality that highights the primacy of community over economic growth.
2. It is not a "religion" but can be appropriated by people from many different religious points of view, including Christian and Buddhist points of view. This is important because Christianity is growing rapidly in China today.
3. It has natural affinities with traditional Chinese ways of thinking: traditional medicine, food culture, poetry, the arts. It affirms the wisdom of the past as well as the hopes for the future.
4. It is scientific. It builds upon the best of modern science and encourages evidence-based thinking.
5. It has practical implications for education and educational reform, some of which are being explored in China today.
6. It values the creative possibilities of rural as well as urban life, thus emphasizing the importance of rural education, rural health care, and rural economic development.
7. It invites a return to local manufacturing wherever possible, and recommends practical steps for gaining freedom from the worst aspects of economic globalization.
8. It includes a philosophy of agriculture which emphasizes small-acreage farming and local self-reliance.
These are some of the reasons, but we hope you'll turn to the more detailed version if your interests are piqued: Ten Ideas for Saving the Planet (GO).