cles. The decline of outdcxjr sport innthis sense is but an early warning signalnthat having things done for us is not thenroad to autonomy.nJ. he tyranny of a different kind ofntechnique, cultural amnesia, is representednin Orville Schell’s journalisticnaccount of the recent opening of Chinanto Western capitalism, “Watch Out fornthe Foreign Guests/’]ust as an uncheckednreliance on the mechanicalnimitation of natural phenomena robs usnof autonomy, so too when the past isnno longer present with us the new overwhelmsnbecause we are stripped of anynmoral context with which to judge (Inalmost said “monitor”) our decisions,nour relationship to the body politic. Onenof Schell’s informants puts the problemnthis way:nWe Chinese have traditionally beenncut off from outside influences. Inthink we often resist foreign ideas atnfirst. But when foreign influencesnfinally do make an impact, we don’tnseem to know where to stop. We don’tnseem to know how to balance. Suddenlynsome people want to get rid ofneverything Chinese and have everythingnforeign.nWhat is our own response today innAmerica to cultural forces that wouldnswamp generations of accumulated wisdomn(as opposed to prejudice).’nWhen outside influences dictate ournchoices we need to question what innernpowers have been abandoned. Fornchoice, after all, is a matter of identity,nand identity leans heavily on harmoniousntransactions among self and others.nChina’s fall from grace (“grace” conceived,nof course, entirely from China’snown perspective) points to a peculiarnmoral dilemma endemic to totalitariannsocieties: when initiative flowsndownward rather than surges upwardnalong the social/political hierarchy, wenwitness the ablation of a people’s ethicalnresolve. Indeed, Schell wonders “… howna people once so involved in using theirnhistory as a guide can now seem so dis­n4()inChronicles of Culturenconnected from it; how they can startnanew without either truly taking stocknor losing nerve over the series of selfconfessednfailures which lie behindnthem.”nThe point of the cultural drama beingnplayed out here has little to do withnthe incompatibility of our ideologicalnsystems. Instead, to understand China’sndilemma is to become aware of thenmounting pressures on the integrity ofnour own connectedness, and thus tonrealize the extent to which our choicesnin life result from the continuity of annearned identity or are merely jerk-kneednresponses to seductive expediency. Thenimage of a group of Chinese youngstersnscrambling after some Polaroid snapshotsndispensed magically by an Americanntourist graphically illustrates hownfragile is our autonomy in such temptingnsituations. Indeed, the episode forcesnus to question, along with Schell, “hownthe Chinese will ever keep their mindsnon their revolution and maintain a beliefnin their own strength if they are constantlynsubjected to such distracting demonstrationsnof Western consumer prowess.”nSuccess lies in getting us to forgetnour reasons (as opposed to our excuses)nfor purchasing the product in the firstnplace.nAll too many of the character transformationsnSchell describes are startling,nand equally depressing, for they leavenus merely with a caricature of what libertynmight hold forth for the individual:nFor Wang to sit here in this den ofnPeking iniquity, boasting with insouciancenthat his father got him into thenarmy ‘through the back door,’ isnsomething akin to the Reverend BillynGraham suddenly announcing that henhas joined a cult of Satan worshippers.nHere self-expression and the new freedomnhave become a pretext for self-indulgence.nYet, how ironic it is that instancesnof such “self-indulgence” yieldna self-righteous “I told you so” responsenin our minds.nThe Western community has alwaysnbeen skeptical of what motivated MaoistnnnChina. It is sad to think that it takesnChina’s emerging problems of crime andncorruption, unemployment and inflationnto establish a common bond of understandingnand recognition. China’s failuresnshould not be viewed smugly bynAmerica; rather, these failures shouldngive us pause to scrutinize the shortcomingsnof our own institutions. Onenof the introspective women Schell talkednwith in Peking locates the central issuenof choice that we share with the Chinese:n”You know, I still think about thatncontradiction, between the need to servenone’s country and one’s self. And I stillndon’t know how to make the two harmonious.”nFreedom has little to do with thenindividual satisfying externally stimulatedndesires; it has everything to do withnresponsibility. Responsibility is choicenconnected with a past. Lib culture rejoicesnwhenever another tie is brokenn— all in the name of progress.nThe self-social paradox—with whichnneither the left nor the right has ade­nquately dealt since the cogent theorizingnof our unequaled foimding fathers—nsuggests a final technique galloping outnof control: symbolic behavior and itsnfelonious drift toward invisibility andnthe unassailable. The gestures of ournlives roll merrily along, their contentnseemingly hidden from us. The morenthese patterns of social exchange andnstatus become routinized, the more ourn