Harmonic power of the New Silk Roads
A new era of mankind is taking shape. The New Silk Roads over land and sea are its expressions. We are experiencing the rise of a multipolar world community. China has spelled out its basic principle: Our burning questions of economic and environmental development can only be solved jointly. We are realizing that our cultural differences do not separate, but in fact unite us. A new respectful practice which fosters a global network of win-win-situations is developing. The new multi-perspectivist reality is starting to make us realize that the pluralities of cultures and civilizations is our shared reservoir of future economic development. This means an historical quantum leap in global human consciousness: Eons of human work, including all its cultural refinements and civilizational struggles, are finally turning out to be seen as an expression of one collective urge. Finally, humanity's need for self-completion is starting to see its common destination.
But this new consciousness has just been born. It is only in the first stage of awareness. We have to nurture it. It is growing in an environment which is still haunted by out-dated mentalities being stuck in ignorance and dangerous principles, spreading conflicts all over. But we have to avoid humanity's self-destruction. The developments toward a multipolar world community are the only reasonable choice to make. They represent the saving force, growing besides the lurking danger. They stand on the stable and age-appreciated ground, the core wisdom of humanity, the Golden Rule which is the shared foundation of ancient Chinese, Egyptian, Vedic, Persian, Greek, Roman, Islamic and other civilizations. Two and a half millennia ago, it was already expressed by the ancient Chinese sage Confucius: "Don't do to others, what you do not want them to do to you."
On this basis, humanity has to shift to a mode of mutual giving. Mutual giving means to mutually share in justly dimensioned proportions with regard to the whole, as a fair distribution of the result of the joint efforts. In this new era, we therefore also need a shift of terms in the political discourse. Old terms like softpower and hardpower are not helpful to describe the new developments. They are part of a basic fallacy of the adepts of monopolarism, who are even unable to see that their alleged exclusiveness can never bring long-term success even for themselves either. Those who behave ignorantly toward the necessity of the joint development of a win-win-based world system always fear to loose, because they always want to have it all. But nobody can have it all, and the future belongs to no one alone. To deny this means a weakness of logical insight. It prevents the understanding that a true unity can always only mean a unity in multiplicity. The common egoist is trapped in the logical mistake of mixing an alleged exclusiveness and his actual self-separation from humanity with unity. This is a basic delusional fallacy.
To boost the force of the beneficial multipolar developments instead, those who understand the necessities have to bring it to the minds of people today. The economic and developmental new reality of transcending egoism has to be lifted up in the consciousness of the peoples of the world. It still has to be made more and more conscious. Therefore it needs a name. I propose to introduce the new term harmonic power in this regard. Harmonic power represents the basis of the multipolar perspective. It is to be understood as a new form of power in world relations, as the awakening of a new principle which also has very ancient roots in the ancient past of the historical Silk Roads. In addition, the rise of unprecedented technological possibilities, an environment of totally networked technologies, is calling for the wisdom of harmonic power.
Harmonic power can only be developed in deeply interwoven patterns of cooperation and coevolution. It is multi-perspectival. It defines the ability to see, balance out, tune and fine-tune all the perspectives and interests to create the new economic and cultural life of humanity. By making use of harmonic power we are transforming the tension of conflicting separate interests into complementary and shared forms of interest. This means to create win-win-situations. We have to transfer the principle of coevolution and cooperation and complementarity – which is also the inherent nature of life and all ecosystems itself – to the field of the planetary economic, political and cultural interaction between human communities and their representatives on all levels.
To give and to share will then always also mean to receive from all the others at the same time. The harmonic power of the New Silk Roads will then also be understood as the basic condition for the most crucial element of all – planetary peace. At the same time, the world might learn that it also represents the most ancient wisdom and understanding of the Chinese people: The harmonic principles of nature, the principles of shared unity and coevolution, have to be represented in the social relations and conditions of humanity.
The author is a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.