Thursday, February 12, 2015

Articles and Intellectuals, 15-02-12

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 CountyWilla 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.
1, 当前的中国的现实是:弥漫性的的腐败从官场已经渗入各个领域,包括本该是净土的教育、文化领域;行业失范,食品、药品都可以下毒;各种伤天害理之事,乃至荒诞剧层出不穷。人人哀叹:道德滑坡,人心不古。中国人钱袋鼓起来而精神趋于空虚。面对这种情况,人们提出了各种诊断,开出各种药方。争论了一百年的东西文化优劣之论又兴起,出现了“国学热”。另一种极端是怀念过去闭关锁国,在物资极端贫乏中的绝对平均主义,在幻觉中想象似乎中国曾经有过人心朴实的一片净土。

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)
(Some quotation)
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.
1, ....至少在过去十余年时间里,不要说生物链上游的某些“党和国家领导人”,并不比流哈喇子混吃等死的庸人聪颖,其超出常人的平庸却能够被国家权力放大为无所不能的专制,这种专制反过来至少在客观上为不良知识分子提供了精神支持,从而导致整个社会丧失来自人民的正义呼喊,或者说,人民正义的呼喊被国家强力所窒息;

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. 
2, 如果继续把中国社会作为“林子”来观察,我们已经看不到鸟儿翩翩起舞,听不到枝头上的啁啾鸣啭,我们看到的是无数只老虎以及老虎身边身后数不清的野兽在奔行,是豺狼虎豹们对国民财富民脂民膏贪婪残暴的吞噬和撕咬;我们听到的是它们借助于国家意识形态工具发出的反自由、反民主、反宪政的啸叫,是藉着“稳定压倒一切”对人民意志和利益的公开漠视甚至暴力镇压……这片林子的确进入到了政治学意义上的“丛林”状态,就像所有不具备正义法则的丛林一样,它的凸出特点是野蛮和无规则,是弱(人民、民众)肉强(国家、权力)食,这是政治生态的严重失衡!

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?
3, 是的,我们最近的确从幽暗的林子深处听到了几声枪响,的确看到一些老虎被打倒了,然而由于人民没有经由程序正义进入国家政治过程,由于人民仍然置身于国家事务之外,所以我们并不确切地知道在我们看不到的地方究竟发生了什么事情,是老虎与老虎为了争夺地盘所进行的权力火拼?还是的确有人雄才伟略,打响了民众期盼的正义的枪声?

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