Friday, March 20, 2009

Boxer Rebellion - In Our Time

BBC's In Our Time discussed the Boxer Rebellion an uprising in China in which an unorganized, popular front took on the forces of modernity on their land. They were against the railways, against Christianity and although they threatened foreigners, they made the most victims among Chinese. The foreigners then united and defeated the Boxers.

Isn't it amazing that Japan, Russia, Germany, France and Great Britain could unite internationally in 1901? Just before they whirled into large scale devastating war among themselves? How deep must they have felt the threat of those country bumpkins way back in the Chinese Hinterland. And alternately, how did those Chinese manage to feel that the western influence was their problem, when they had starvation, floods and bad Chinese rulers on their hands?

Pondering about this, I was suddenly struck by the similarities with Al-Queida. Also an unorganized popular uprising, instilling the greatest fears in the West and who have serious practical issues to confront, but see fit to blame western influence. And who eventually take more local than western victims, although the west is ready to overcome all its differences to overcome this nuisance. Could there be a lesson? The spirit of the Boxers never died. China was humiliated again and the Boxer spirit found its way to Mao and on.

More In Our Time:
The library of Alexandria,
The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot,
The destruction of Carthage,
The brothers Grimm,
The modest proposal.

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