Comparing the Great Wall of China to the Great Wall of Trump

I’m in the middle of reading the brilliant travel book Ryszard Kapuściński ‘Travels with Herodotus’ in which the author talks about his travels as a young journalist through Mao’s China of the 1960’s. Kapuscinski sets out the politics of China in such a poetic and intensely profound way that it resonates across the decades. His reasoning is resonant for Trump’s proposed wall as it is for China’s crumbling monolith.  

 [The Great Wall] is how the world’s energy is wasted. In complete irrationality, in complete futility! For the Great Wall and it is gigantic, a giant wall fortress stretching for thousands of kilometres through uninhabited mountains and wilderness, an object of pride and a wonder of the world – is also proof of a kind of human weakness, of aberration, of a horrifying mistake. 

It is evidence of a historic inability of people in this part of the planet to communicate, confer and jointly determine how to best deploy enormous reserves of human energy and intellect. 

The very first reflex in the face of potential trouble was to build a wall. To shut oneself in, fence oneself off. Because whatever comes from without, from over there can only be a threat, an omen of misfortune, a harbinger of evil – perhaps the most genuine evil there is. 

And a wall is not merely motivated by exterior considerations. Protecting against foreign menaces, it also allows one to control what is happening internally […]

The worst aspect of the wall is to turn so many people into its defenders and to produce a mental attitude that sees a wall running through everything, imagines the world as being divided into an evil and inferior part, on the outside and a good and superior part on the inside. A keeper of the wall need not be in physical proximity to it; he can be far away and it is enough that he carry within himself its image and pledge allegiance to the logical principles that the wall dictates.”   

SourceTravels with Herodotus by Ryszard-Kapuscinski

9780141021140

How prescient and appropriate that this passage from the 1960’s about the Great Wall of China by a Polish journalist could be equally applied to Trump’s border wall in 2018. 

Source: Poorly drawn lines

2 Comments

  1. Tish Farrell

    I love Kapuscinski’s take on things. Been reading his Africa writings The Shadow on the Sun. Travels with Herodotus looks like a great read too. Thanks, Catnip.

    1. Content Catnip

      You will love Travels with Herodotus I think. I haven’t read Shadows of the Sun although that’s his famous book. It will be great to see Africa from his point of view. I love seeing Africa in your posts too it makes me want to go there. xx

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