I was just reading Shards of China‘s new blog post, “Chinese Economy — Real Estate Rumbles,” and was particularly intrigued by the photograph he included of empty suburbia in Inner Mongolia (see right).
Reminds me of a quote from George Orwell’s Burmese Days, which is set in 1920s Burma in the waning days of the British Empire. The English teak trader, Flory, is ranting about the long term impact of British imperialism on Burma and says the following:
“‘… Where’s it going to lead, this uprush of modern progress, as you call it? Just to our own swinery of gramophones and billycock hats. Sometimes I think that in two hundred years all this’–he waved a foot towards the horizon–‘all this will be gone–forests, villages, monasteries, pagodas all vanished. And instead, pink villas fifty yards apart; all over those hills, as far as you can see, villa after villa, with all the gramophones playing the same tune. And all the forests shaved flat–chewed into wood-pulp for the News of the World, or sawn up into gramophone cases. …'” (Chapter 3, emphasis mine)
Just cut the fifty yards down to zero, substitute TV for “gramophone” and CCTV’s New Year’s Gala for “tune.”