The Far East: A Modern History

The Far East: A Modern History

The Far East: A Modern History

The Far East: A Modern History

Excerpt

The history of any people at any time is social history, cultural history, the chronicle of how they have developed the institutions in which they order their lives and the beliefs and moral values by which they live. Of no people and at no time has this been more true than of the inhabitants of the Far East in the last hundred years. The consequences of the impact of the new and freshly invigorated West on the old and static East have been felt in the daily lives of the Far Eastern peoples, in the way they earn their livelihood, in the way they live together, in their thoughts and feelings and attitudes, and, of course, in the conventional stuff that is known as history--politics, revolutions, wars. The struggle that engulfed all Asia after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the fall of China to the Communists, the nationalistic uprisings against Western empires throughout Southeastern Asia--these are but the latest and most dramatic incidents. The history of the modern Far East is a study in comparative culture--the relation between one form of life and another.

In one sense this is not peculiar to the Far East. It may be that the West, too, is suffering from the impact of a new scheme of life on its traditional institutions, and that the modern history of the West, too, is a study in comparative culture. For what we now call Western, by contrast with the East, is really the effect of scientific discoveries applied to production and distribution through the use of machinery. And this was as new to the West 150 years ago as it is to the East now. From the internal combustion engine to the atomic bomb, science and the scheme of life founded on it--industrialism and the machine age--have unhinged our institutions and disturbed the balance of both collective and individual life, and the consequences are now being recognizably felt.

The world wars--the effect as much as the cause of our instability--

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