First of all, how do you categorize the Chinese nationalism? Is it civic or traditionalistic? Secondly, what have you learned from this article, things that strike you most? Lastly, what does democracy mean to the Chinese youth and how do they perceive the role played by the United States?
Some contrasts between civic & ethnic nationalism
Civic Nationalists Ethnic Nationalists
emphasize emphasize Examples
Law Common roots ("blood") Citizenship
Choice Inheritance "born into"
Rational attachment Emotional attachment supreme court, flag
Unity by consent Unity by ascription town hall, tribe
Democratic pluralism Ethnic majority rules CA, Singapore
Liberty Fraternity ALCU, homeland
Individual creates nation Nation creates individual founding myths
D. Civic nationalism is the more "realistic” source of belonging
Than ethnic nationalism, Ignatieff believes
1. Common ethnicity helps people unite against ethnic others but
--it doesn't help overcome other divisions--such as class, gender, and scarce resources-----
Political Ideologies 322 Online
The article ‘Angry Youth’ displays by the aforementioned youth a modernized traditionalistic civic nationalism. Expressed commonly by the subjects of this in-depth work by Evan Osnos is a shared ‘frustration’ with the Westernization of China. This is a feeling that does not revolve around either Mao and his theme of government by Communist Revolution or the theme of National Humiliation following the loss of the Opium Wars that Mao replaced. Instead, this frustration revealed among the Chinese students of today patriotism that quite frankly scares the hell out of many in the West, and concerned Chinese government officials enough that action was taken to tamp down the sentiment.
Nationalism is, especially when compared to the very ancient history of China, a modern European concept that many believe developed around the time Napoleon found his ability to marshal the French people into a unified state. Noteworthy here is the use of two phrases by Tang, the director of the six minute video that excited a new, yet conservative, mood of patriotism among the youth it reached; first, a mantra of former Chairman Mao, the use of which is intended to remind students of a more recent time when China was isolated from the rest of the world and at apparent odds with itself, “Imperialism will never abandon its intention to destroy us.” In this way, Tang reaches out to a traditionalistic nationalism; however, the last phrase (“We will stand up and hold together always as one family in harmony!”) serves to call to mind the former but as well a call to action: Such is the way of civic nationalism, in that it is focused on ‘all who subscribe to the political creed of a nation,’ not on ethnicity.
These are a people who feel ‘strategically contained’ by the ever-burgeoning west, led by America and her capitalistic allies. They make up and belong to, both on the internet and off, a community of equal rights bearing citizens united in patriotic attachment to a shared set of political practices and values, which is how our text defines nationalism. Tang made a video that, in the end, was civic in its pursuit not of ‘liberal democracy but in defense of sovereignty and prosperity.’
Nationalism is, according to Moreno (also captured in our text), the most powerful of all political ideologies, and there is a mention of how the ‘initial rhetoric’ of the Chinese ‘national outcry’ reminded the many and the already skeptical of ‘the rise of the skinheads in Europe.’ But Tang was clear in saying that there truly was no desire for violence, only for someone to hear their anger and their reasons. Many people foreign to China think that people in the age range of the director and his wife, Wu-Tang, are ‘unwise to the distortions of censorship,’ but when you live ‘in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are being brainwashed.’
Tang and his like are rightfully angry at bigots like former CNN commentator Jack Cafferty, rightfully distrusting of outlets like CNN and MSNBC and FOX, etc., and anxious to gather as much information about a subject as they can, be there a ‘firewall’ or no. Decades of suspicion towards China from the West, and no doubt vice versa, has left a bad taste in the mouths of many investors, including those from IBM and 3Com. This separation goes both ways, maybe, but for students like Tang, there is a feeling of victimization that has not calcified into resentment; instead, they believe that they know well enough the history of western government…they know the love they feel for China is a love shared by their neighbor, not a feeling that developed ‘spontaneously.’ That much of the hullaballoo addressed by the video was in response to the way China treated Tibet made even less sense to the Chinese than if Mexico were to abandon the next American Olympics because of the Alamo.
As ‘landmarks of national progress…[like] highways, supermarkets, and internet cafes’ began to spread throughout China, so did a feeling of ‘cultural strangulation.’ Here, the author makes sure to use the word humiliating; this was the clue I needed. Turns out, after the Opium Wars, which China lost to Japan (thus, humiliation), China (in the eyes of many Chinese, at least) signed a series of more than one hundred ‘unfair treaties.’ This set the stage for the Maoist revolution, and may have something to do with why the Chinese government ‘treated the online patriots warily,’ ‘calling for ‘rational patriotism.’ If the Chinese government was in fear that this generation of students would rebel a la Tiananmen Square, they need not have worried- this is a generation that believes the Chinese government was right in putting down, in any way possible, the Student Uprising of 1989.
While Tang feels that his age group in China is acceptant of democracy and recognizes the value in human rights, he speaks for a nation that understands democracy does not mean bread on the table or coffee in your cup. There is a ‘metastasizing’ feeling of ‘strategic containment’, a coming ‘New Cold War, waged by the West, that angers the Chinese nation as a whole; this is a people who understand the promises of democracy but realize that their nation was not, and likely is not, fully ready for a transition away from the communism practiced and preached. Another voice in the article, Liu, expressed what must be a common sentiment, that ‘democracy can really give you the good life, that’s good. But, without democracy, if we can still have the good life, why should we choose democracy?’ Why indeed. This is how democracy is viewed, with suspicion and distrust—why change what clearly works?
To conclude, there is a rising conservatism in China, a conservatism that requires a cleaving to the ancient while adjusting to current capitalistic reality. This is a movement that, like the conservative re-awakening in America after the success of the civil rights movement, that is not satisfied with the status quo; this is the demand for action part of civic nationalism that convinced me. They know that they are Westernized, and this ‘classical revival’ among the youth to re-visit ‘ancient China’ shows, yes, a modernized traditionalistic civic nationalism. The role of the United States is that of foil, in that America and China contrast, each highlighting particular qualities the other lacks. Democracy is not seen as the all-powerful, omnipotent force that many in the United States believe it to be, but instead a whittling down to nothing of Chinese culture.
What struck me the most was the idea that if my family wanted to have a second child—while news from yesterday is that China is officially abandoning their one child policy- my family could merely pay a fine of rice or other commodities. No one comes and kills the ‘extra’ kid, there is no national shame on the family for the addition…this was news to me. What I have learned is about the period of National Humiliation, how that time came and went, leaving us with an economic partner in China that views western interests as inevitably set to conquer them. I cannot speak to the sense of victimhood both countries feel, and I am no expert in the finer arguments between communism and capitalism, but as both nations move forward, I expect this Chinese nationalism (modernized traditionalistic civic) to continue presenting economic and other (human rights, still, is a major issue) problems to American interests. The question I am left with is: It would seem that capitalism has taken root in China; will it too become ancient?