A revealing essay appears in the Daily Yomiuri highlighting this anxiety titled "'Headless monster' changing society." The headless monster is societal revolution and change that can come about without leadership, such as the blog-fueled movement in China that forced the closure of the Starbucks in Beijing's Forbidden City. An interesting, if not ironic, excerpt is here:
History has been full of fads and trends. It has not been unusual to experience one major social change after another with a majority of society quickly latching on to these new phenomena. Rumors, popular songs and fashions of the past can be seen as the works of headless monsters. But a new type of monster is now affecting social issues and politics as well, a situation that may be a new phenomenon.
This new century has seen the emergence of factors that are increasingly favorable for this new monster. First, we are seeing the death of traditional ideologies, which means that human beings no longer have a stable guides to follow even though they are still prone being swayed by latent feelings of anger and disgust. In China, the state's enforcement of communist ideology has been waning. Japan's Marxism-inspired political parties do not even bring up the name of Karl Marx anymore.
It is curious that the writer associates traditional Chinese culture with communism rather than Confucianism.
Yesterday, we spent the afternoon at a tea ceremony in Kyoto. The hosts, the descendants and disciples of tea masters, said that tea ceremony of today in Japan would be unrecognizable to its practitioners of hundreds of years ago. Society changes, culture changes, and tea adapts. It is, like a stream, not at all like the way it started although its essence remains. One of the tradition's characteristics is to balance formality with relaxation, rigidity with flexibility, so that a balance is obtained.
It seems to me that Japan's approach to globalization is instructive to those who can afford to learn. Adaptation and innovation have found harmony with a sense of fairness and tradition.
Photo by El Fotopakismo.