This work is about arguing that the maps of the world should be reconsidered in a global dialogue: in a process that opens the dispute of boundaries between union-states, regions, zones, or other similar geo-political terms. David Marquand, in his important opus The End of the West (2011) reminds us that West and East perhaps never existed and in the case wherein we are told that they do, have, and are: such are parochial and illegitimate claims.
BY DR JEAN-PAUL GAGNON | APRIL 16, 2012
We shall have to put the (Indian) inventors of Arabic numerals in our pantheon alongside the Greek inventors of geometry, and Ibn Rushd alongside Aristotle. We shall have to abandon our self-centred and patronizing belief that democracy and free discussion were exported to a backward “East” by a progressive “West,” and reconstruct our mental universe to take account of the indigenous Indian tradition of public reasoning and religious toleration that long antedated the “Western” presence in the subcontinent. More generally, we shall have to recognize that the familiar “Western” narrative of global history, in which uniquely precious and, in evolutionary terms, uniquely successful “Western” values moulded the modern world in our great-grandparents’ image, is a parochial distortion of a far more complex truth. (Marquand, 2011: 176-77)
His argument, I feel, is important because it challenges what many in this world have come to take for granted. In the case of this paper, it is the maps we are familiar with, the design of the globe that we have on our desks or which are offered to our children, which are parochial and relics of imperial abuses. This discussion is a needed one, as we have for example, no clear indication as to where Europe stops and that indigenous peoples for example have not had the inclusive and legitimate chance to contest the territorial boundaries which often split their nations. It is an attempt to bring a democratic legitimacy to cartography which is patently lacking.
This will be done firstly by discussing in a broad and simple way why current maps are parochial and relics of imperial domination. We will then follow this argument up with another broad argument detailing how we could begin a global dialogue designed to spark debate over maps and to form a call for the democratic reform of cartography. Essentially, it argues that we must give people and groups a chance to define their boundaries and not have them imposed on us by those holding the Maxim Gun. Lastly, we will engage this discussion in relation to China’s territorial claims.
Depending on climatic conditions, hunter-gatherer societies have a population density from 0.1 to 1 person per square kilometre, while the invention of agriculture permits densities to rise to 40-60 per square kilometre. Human beings were now in contact with one another on a much broader scale, and this required a very different form of social organization. – Francis Fukuyama, The Origins of Political Order, 2011
A new work by Francis Fukuyama has established a logical understanding of the way in which human beings probably came to organize themselves politically through evolutionary terms. Should we consider Locke, Hobbes, and Rousseau for example, their conceptions of the social contract began with the heuristic device of a “blank slate.” From this blank slate (or state of nature) human beings were theorised to have joined for a variety of reasons. Fukuyama takes the aforementioned evolutionary approach and argues rather that it is perhaps improbable to trace wherein we exactly developed our methods of socio-political organization (those parameters which even underpin hunter-gatherer humanoids). Rather, we were perhaps born into already established systems and contributed to them over millions of years.Because of this potentiality, we perhaps never had a chance in our history to collectively decide in non-violent democratic processes not only how we should like to organize ourselves politically, or what our deepest desired long-term goals are, but also (for the purposes of this paper) how our union-states or nation-states are bounded territorially.
According to the plan, 75.2% of the proposed New Rural Financial Institutions would be set up in the area where agriculture plays an essential role in local economy, 65.9% in the Central and Western provinces and 35.7% in the poor area. It is remarkable that the rural and underdeveloped areas have been put in the privileged position in this financial arrangement. To make sure that fund could flow between the developed and underdeveloped, rural and urban area, the plan required that the promoters who intend to create a new institution in urban or other developed area have to set up a counterpart in the rural or other underdeveloped area simultaneously.
However, this plan is not the beginning of the Rural Financial Transformation. The transformation in fact has been carried out from December 2006 when the CBRC decided to set up experimental rural financial institutions in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu, Neimenggu, Jilin and Hubei Provinces. The first list experimental institutions included 21 Village Banks, 10 Rural Mutual Cooperatives and 5 Loan Companies. In 2007, the experiment was extended to 23 provinces. By June 2009, 118 New Rural Financial Institutions had been established, which were composed of 100 Village Banks, 11 Rural Mutual Cooperatives and 7 Loan Companies, of which 87 were in Central and Western area. Regardless of the aggressive plan of 2009-2011, the progress from December 2006 to July 2009 of the Rural Financial Transformation was also conspicuous.
In the statement of the three-year plan, one fact was particularly highlighted, which was the poor coverage of the financial institution in rural area. It was reflected by two issues: the first is that there were still 1424 townships which hadn't been covered by any financial institutions by 2008; the second is it was still difficult for rural residents and enterprises to gain loans. Why has the financial supply in rural area been not able to meet their demand? Is this situation a newly emerged problem or a long-term dilemma? To answer these questions, we should throw light on the financial scheme in rural area.
By 1997, the rural financial structure was composed of four parts: the Big Four State-owned Commercial Banks, the Rural Credit Cooperatives, the Postal Savings Bank and Rural Cooperative Foundations. During the period of late 1970s to mid-1990s, with the deepening reforms in Chinese economy, the county territory economy in China had experienced rapid growth which was not only revealed by its proportion within the whole economy, but also characterized by a variety of growing financial bodies within the county territory. In addition to the Rural Credit Cooperative and local branches of the Big Four Banks, varied types of Rural Cooperative Foundations had played an active role in meeting the financial demand of rural people and enterprises. In 1992, there were 17,400 Rural Cooperative Foundations set in township and 112,500 set in villages. During the period from 1993 to 1996, different types of foundations continued booming under the policy supports of central government. By the end of 1996, just before the central government ordered emergent shutdown of the Rural Cooperative Foundations, the number of foundations at township level was up to 21,000.
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