The State, Culture and Nationalism (2) – The Essence of the Chinese Civilization

The word “Chinese” is a term which stands for a civilization. As long as there is somebody who can write Chinese and comprehend its culture and art, the Chinese civilization will not perish. Even in future we no longer live in the Earth, but in some other planets, we are still the descendants of such civilization. To preserve such culture should be the task for every Chinese to work on, instead of the attempts to sustain its political power.

For national identity, the prevailing theory among the Chinese mainlanders is:

A.    You are a “Han Chinese”;

B.     So you possess the “Han Chinese” blood linkage”;

C.     So you belong to a nation called “Han Chinese”;

D.    All the “Han Chinese” should be united.

In Taiwan, similar theory used to prevail, with many arguments based on the way of thinking as above. For example, they emphasized their blood linkages to the Taiwanese aborigines, as a way to cope with the Han Chinese theory. From such way of thinking, they accepted the People’s Republic a China as a nation of the Chinese. To establish their own identity, they gave up the word “Mainland” which they had used to name those living in the opposite of the strait. Those living in the other side of the strait were Chinese, since we were not.

Such argument was based on the distorted concept of the Chinese mainlanders. When you follow the rules of game set by the others, you become logically inconsistent as they are. When you follow the logically inconsistent arguments of their, yours arguments are just the same. When they are emphasizing blood linkage and you do the same, then those inhabitants who do not share the same blood linkage are excluded. The logical argument should be like this:

1. There is just no such thing as “Han Chinese” blood linkage. “Han Chinese” is just a    casual term assigned by a group of foreigners who had little understanding on their varieties. The concept of “Han Chinese” arose in Qing Dynasty as a contrast to the concept of “Manchurian”. In Yuan Dynasty, “Han Chinese” was a term assigned to inhabitants in Northern China. So this is a cultural concept, not a national one, and there is just no need to talk about blood linkage.

2.   If you are lucky enough not to be misled by the word “China” (中國, the Chinese word “國” has the meaning of a “state”) or “Chinese”, is a word for civilization, not a nation-state. Chinese civilization is just like the Christian or Islamic civilization, is a group of civilizations. The “Chinese people” in geographical sense is equivalent to a European, in cultural sense it has the same meaning as a Christian. It is just not a word to be comprehended from modern nation-state perspective.

3.   So why a Taiwanese is a Taiwanese? It is not because someone mixed his blood with another in some distant years. Instead, the identity was built up when at a certain point of time people from different origins in this land started to face the same fate and same challenge. Their descendants share the same collective memory, which becomes the basis to form a group. So what formed the identity of Taiwanese has nothing to do with blood relation. It is the experience and challenges we share. For example, as a Taiwanese, you have read “Young Guns” (A famous manga of Taiwan), you have seen the puppet shows, and have experienced earthquakes and hurricanes.

4.  Such valuable affection and memory shared by the Taiwanese are the reasons why they became Taiwanese, not the insane blood linkage theory. “Once upon a time, and then so and so”, is nonsense. One is living in the present, not in the ancient time.

So humans know who they are after their birth. Their self-identity is built up after birth; self-identity is originated from the common memory or experience. When such identity makes that group of people to sacrifice for the future together, they become Taiwanese. With the same memory during grow-up, they are willing to sacrifice for those who share the common experience of memory.

The reason why ethnic conflicts arise is due to the logical inconsistency from the problematic ideology. When you delve deeper, you will find that such ideology, for example the pedigree theory, only lead you to endless conflicts, due to its inherent inconsistencies in logic.

2 thoughts on “The State, Culture and Nationalism (2) – The Essence of the Chinese Civilization

  1. Han Chinese always say they are descendants of Huang Di, personally its a political tool to unite different ppls together while ignoring their own “local history and culture”.

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