Are Chinese people materialistic? If so, why

Homogeneity and Materialism in China - “Why We Lack a Cultivated Approach to Life”

“The Chinese are materialistic, they are uniform and homogeneous. Your only topics of conversation revolve around 'apartments' and 'cars'. In their approach to life, they lack the plurality that the West can show. " With this thesis from his essay “Why we lack a cultivated attitude towards life”, the Chinese historian Xiao Gongqin summarized in 2006 what many Chinese think today: Our society is all about money. Xiao says: “We Chinese are not lacking in wisdom, willpower, fluency or power of action. What we lack is a romantic approach to life. " An overview of comments on Xiao's essay by Marie-Luise Abshagen.

Xiao contradicts claims that China's materialism is related to the fact that the population has lived in poverty for so long. And he also denies that plurality can only arise as soon as everyone is rich. Xiao sees the explanation for the uniform attitude towards life of the Chinese rather anchored in the lack of a religion with an idea of ​​paradise, which in other societies has led to a value system that goes beyond pure calculation of benefits in life. In his opinion, the original Confucianism had an equally balanced outlook on life in mind, but since it was alienated from political ideology early on, it could not bring harmony.

Blogger ljbnoble takes up Xiao's thoughts on values ​​in a society and the benefits of original Confucianism for the Chinese.

“[...] 我们 是 不 缺少 作为 民族 精神 支柱 的 东西 , 只是 我们 习惯 性 的 盲目 追求 , 总 以为 从 别人 别人 那里 得到 的” 真知 ”真知 真正 的” 真理 ”真理… 儒家 思想 中 许多 优秀 的 的 ,早已 被 我们 遗忘! 社会 的 进步 带来 了 什么? 很多 时候 我 无法 想像 自己 处于 一个 什么 样 的 社会 当中。 功利 性 的 追求 已经 成为 生命 的 目标 , 我们 无法 逃脱 , 就 只能 在 这个 圈子 里 徘徊。。
为什么 我们 的 社会 会 变成 现在 的 样子 呢? 道德 与 人性 的 沦丧 , 仅仅 是 因为 社会 处于 转型 转型 期 吗?? 当 我们 都 冷漠 的 对 待着 身边 的 一切 , 我们 的 心 在 想些什么? 我 认为 正如 萧教授 所言 , 回到 儒家 原 典 中 找到 些 对 我们 有用 的 东西。 真正 优秀 的 特质 我们 民族 曾经 有 有 过 , 现在 也 也 有 很多 人 拥有 , 而 而 我们 的 遗忘 却要 生硬 的 将 它 抹去 , 到底 自己 是 为谁 活着? ”

“[…] We do not lack things that we can use as moral support for our people. We are just used to following blindly, always thinking that “the knowledge” gained by others really describes “the truth”. We have long since forgotten many great aspects of Confucianism. What does the progress of our society actually bring with it? Often I don't know myself what kind of society I belong to. The pursuit of material benefit has become the goal of life and we are not able to escape it, but always have to go in circles. How did our society become like this? Does the loss of morality and humanity only come from the fact that we are in a phase of transformation? How does our heart feel when we treat everything indifferently? We know that just as Professor Xiao wrote, we must go back to the original works of Confucianism and find something useful in them. Many people today still have the really great qualities that our people already had in the past. But we erased them from our minds. You have to ask yourself who you actually live for. "

"Old monkey" justifies the materialistic attitude towards life of the Chinese with reference to their family culture.

“[…] 我 认为 的 , 所谓 缺少 特例 独行 的 人生 态度 的 一个 原因 , 是 中国 人 的 的 家族 的 观念。 什么 意思? 中国 中国 社会 , 中国 人 , 从来 就 不是 一个 人。 记得 曾仕强 教授 说过 , 任何 一个人 身上 要 背着 祖先 和 子孙 , 第三 位 的 才会 是 自己。 我们 中国 人 , 做什么事 情 , 常常 会 会 想 丢 不 丢 祖宗 的 脸 , 对 不 对得起 子孙 呢? […] 为什么 中国 人 有钱了 , 还想 更 有钱 呢? 荣耀 祖宗 , 付 荫 子孙。 [...] ”

“[…] I believe that one reason for our so-called lack of a cultivated outlook on life lies in the Chinese concept of the family. What do i mean by that? You are never alone in Chinese society. Remember what Professor Zeng Shiqiang said: Everyone carries their ancestors and descendants on their backs, you only come in third place. When we Chinese do something, we often wonder whether our ancestors could lose face as a result, and whether we can answer for it to the next generations. […] So why does a Chinese with money still need more money? To honor the ancestors and protect the descendants. [...] ”

An anonymous blogger takes up the argument of plurality through a common wealth.

“因为 美国人 已经 不需要 再 为 车子 房子 而 操劳 了。 但 对于 我们 , 买一套房子 , 买 一辆 车 , 都是 不简单 的 事 , 我们 大多数 人 都 没有 解决 这些 问题 , 哪里 有 精力 去看 什么 哲学。 我们 的 生活水平 如果 能 达到 他们 的 水平 , 自然 会 涌现 出 更多 元 元 的 人生 追求。 ”

“Americans no longer have to work hard for cars and homes. But for us, buying an apartment or a car is not an easy thing. Most of the people here have not yet resolved these problems. Where can you get the energy to read philosophy? When our standard of living has reached their level, then of course much more different goals in life will arise. "

“Black Whale” philosophizes about the importance of the political system in relation to Xiao's theses.

“[…] 不得不 承认 , 我们 所 置身 的 政治 制度 有 很大 的 关系。 而 制度 的 建立 , 和 我们 几 千年 千年 积累 下来 的 农业 社会 特有 的 意识 有关。 马克思 基本上 是 正确 的 , 没有 经过 工业社会 的 革命 , 许多 东西 就 缺失 了! 我 一直 认为 , 进化 不 等于 进步。 进化 应该 被 看作 是 是 过程 , 无所谓 好坏。 但 某些 某些 东西 却 是 有 可能 在 向后 , 有些 东西 也 真的 是 在向前 发展 的。 说到底 , 能 按照 本性 , 简单 (而 绝不 是 复杂) 地 活着 , 就是 幸福。。 这 点 在 一定 一定 程度 上 , 与 贫穷 和 富裕 无关! [...] ”

“[…] One cannot avoid admitting that the political system in which we find ourselves plays a major role. And that the development of this system is related to our consciousness, which has grown over a thousand years and is characteristic of an agricultural society. Marxism is fundamentally right that there can be no revolution without first going through industrialization, because such a society lacks too many things. I always think development is not the same as progress. Development must be viewed as a process, good or bad, with some things going backwards and others actually going forward. What I actually want to say: happiness is when you can lead a simple (and not complicated) life according to your nature. To a certain extent this has nothing to do with poverty or wealth! [...] ”

Blogger qiao8280 thinks that the alleged materialism of the Chinese is actually only related to the fact that one does not want to talk to others about very private things.

“其实 每个 人 都有 特立独行 的 人生 态度 , 这 并不是 什么 新 事物。 但这 不能 作为 共同 语言 语言 来 交流。 一个 成熟 的 人 , 不能 把 自己 真正 真正 追求 的 东西 拿出 来 跟 大家 探讨 以 寻求 中庸。追求 往往 是 极端 的 , 旁人 所 难以理解 的 , 没 必要 解释。 我们 之所以 在 见面 的 时候 讨论 房 、 车 之 之 类 , 无非 是 为了 为了 能 有 共同 语言 , 如同 英国人 见了 面 谈论 天气。 如今 的 中国, 还是 发展中国家 , 犹如 长征 中 的 红军 , 生存 乃 第一 要 义。 […] ”

“Actually every person has a cultivated attitude towards life. That is nothing new. However, this cannot be made a general topic of conversation. A grown man cannot, just to find a good balance, so simply produce the things he really strives for and discuss them with everyone. Your own aspirations are often extreme and difficult for other people to understand. You don't necessarily have to explain it. The reason we talk about apartments, cars and things like that when we get together is because we have a common language. It's like the English talking about the weather. Today's China is still a developing country, and just like the Red Arms during the Long March, survival is of the utmost importance. [...] ”

A blogger by the name of “A Korean Buddhist Monk Learning” writes about the social pressures that prevent you from living out your dreams.

“事实上 在 暗地里 真的 有 很多 人 想去 追求 那 梦想 的。 但是 最终 总是 处于 一种 两难 两难 的 境地 上 , 为了 幸福 幸福 去 追求 自己 的 梦想 , 却 到头 得到 的 是 自己 最爱 的 人 的 反对 和不 幸福。… 正如 文 中 指出 的 那个 湖南 爱 哲学 的 孩子 , 抛弃 亲生 父母 去 追求 自己 所 爱 爱 , 并非 一般 人 能 做到 的 , 这 代价 太大。 […] ”

“In fact, there are many people who would secretly like to secretly pursue their dreams. But then in the end you always find yourself in a dilemma. If you pursue your dreams in order to be happy, the end result is that you arouse resistance and unhappiness in the people you love. … Just like in the story of the boy from Hunan, who loved philosophy so much that he abandoned his parents to pursue that love. This is not something an ordinary person should do because the price is too high. [...] ”

“Teemond” also criticizes the fact that you often simply cannot express your actual dreams.


“[…] 身 在 这个 社会 , 有 很多 无可奈何。 不过 也许 , 不能 否认 的 是 , 在 这些 谈论 物质 的 人 的 心底 , 也许 也 存在 着” 为什么 我 要 谈 这些 , 我 的 理想 追求 在 哪里 ”这样 的想法。 只不过 大家 都不 说 , 所以 也 就没 人 说 了。 ”

“[...] If you find yourself in this company, you have no choice in a lot of things.But it cannot be denied that in the hearts of people who talk about materialistic things there is also the thought: “Why should I talk about it? Where have the ideals gone that I pursue? " But because nobody says that, you don't talk about it either. "


“Sterntaler” also finds that the reason for Chinese materialism is to be found in the constraints of society.

“深 有 同感 , 好好的 人 都 被 社会 给 同化 了 , 当 身边 的 同事 同学 都 在 津津有味 的 讨论 买车 买房 的 时候 , 当 一个 人 的 成功 与否 仅仅 是 拿 这 辈子 买 了 几 套房 或是 开什么 车子 的 时候 , 人 是 很难 不受影响 的。 这篇 文章 , 写 的 很 现实。 ”

“I totally agree. The good people are all assimilated into society. If colleagues or classmates talk enthusiastically about how they bought a car or an apartment, and if a person's success is only measured by how many apartments they have bought in this life or how many cars they have driven, then It's hard not to be influenced by it. The essay described this very realistically. "