by Zi Zhongyun 资中筠
Zi was born in 1930 and is a very experienced writer and translator. She is a senior fellow and former director of the American Studies Institute in the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). She is highly proficient in English and French and her major research area is International Politics and Sino-US relations. She is also a prolific writer, here is the list of her books in Amazon, some in Chinese, some in English.
She has also translated some influential English and French masterpieces, including classics and contemporary, from Balzac's La Comedie Humaine,The Bridges of Madison County, Willa Cather's My Antonia by Bohemian Girl. also Alain de Botton's Consolations of Philosophy
On human nature, culture and system is a collection of commentaries published on Si Xiang Chao (Waves of Thoughts)
1, Currently the reality in China is that the contagious corruption has permeated into each field from the political sphere, including in areas that are supposed to be kept pristine, like education and culture... Chinese people are getting richer but their spirit is close to empty. Facing this situation people have issued some diagnosis and prescription. There is new wave of debates on the merits and demerits of Chinese and Western culture. There is also the revival of “traditional Chinese culture”. Another extreme is to feel nostalgia towards the extremely closed part of history in China, the absolute egalitarianism in severe poverty. They imagine as if there was once a pure era in China where everyone was nice and simple.
2, “Thoughts can not be bought by money”, or pushed by oppression. The “blossoming time” under great unification of political power and economics might not necessarily produce excellent culture. History has proven many times that the most dynamic thoughts, and most prosperous culture mostly burst out in chaotic times, like in Spring and Autumn Period and the Warring States, Wei Jin and Six Dynasties, and in the beginning of Republican times, etc. Of course culture does not necessarily always blossom in chaotic time. It is just that the “blossoming time” in China is usually when there is severe authoritarian control with strict cultural and thought manipulation. It is not necessarily the case in other countries.
3, In my article Fang Xiaoru and Bruno, I mentioned that Chinese people lack the curiosity of things that have nothing to do with material reality. For Chinese people, even when they choose to believe in some religion, they are very pragmatic and give functions to each God or Goddess, like the God of wealth helps them getting rich, Guan Yin helps with fertility, and The Dragon King is in charge of rain and irrigation... Temples are not for purifying the soul, but corrupting Gods and Goddesses.
4, This problem does not limit to China. The extreme form of marketization makes culture more vulgar.
Here is an article written by a staff at the John Hopskins Centre in Nanjing and introduced more of Zi's work.
In a book fair in Hong Kong a couple of years ago, Zi was also very outspoken about the corrupted education system in China – how it kills children's creativity and independent thinking; how China should allow more private schools; and how it has also exported too much corruption to Hong Kong.
By Chen Xingzhi, writer and commentator, born in 1951 in Tianjin
(A very critical commentary on the current political jungle fight)
(He starts with this saying that 林子大了，什么鸟都有, in a big forest, there are all kinds of birds, which used to refer to different sorts of realities, but could also symbolizes the variety of existence, which is not the case in contemporary China)
1, .... At least in the past decade or so, those “leaders of the Party and the country” who are at the upper level of the food chain are not necessarily smarter than those who drip their saliva and waiting to die. Their extraordinary mediocrity was magnified to omnipresent state power. This kind of authoritarian control at least provided mental support for bad intellectuals. It leads to the result that the whole society lacks the cry for integrity. Or we can say, people's cry for integrity is suffocated by national power.
2, If we continue to look at the Chinese society as a “forest”, we could not see birds flying or singing by the branch. We just see numberless tigers and countless beasts running after tigers. It is those wild beasts' engulfing and mauling of national wealth and resources. What we hear it their roar of anti-freedom, anti-democracy, anti-constitutionalization with national ideological tools. It is blunt ignorance and violent oppression on people's will and interests on the term of “stability the priority”. This forest has definitely become a political jungle, like all the jungles without proper regulations, its striking characteristics are violent and ruleless. It is the weaker (the people) eaten by the stronger (the country, power). It is a serious imbalance in the political ecology.
3, Indeed, recently we have heard some gunshots in the dark side of the forest. And we have seen that some tigers are beaten down. However, there is no procedure for the people to enter into national political decisions and people are still kept out of national affairs. We are not really sure of what is happening in places we can't see. Was it a bloody fight among tigers who were completing their territories? Or there are really some ambitious people who have fired the gun of integrity, which was expected by the people for a long time?