Published on Truthout (http://www.truth-out.org)
Chinese Fascism's Global Consequences
Sunday 5 February 2012
by: Roland Farris, Truthout | News Analysis
A smoggy morning exercise drill in
I wake up this morning to the sun slicing warm, golden slits through the barred windows of my little apartment in Dali Old Town, one of southern
What is remarkable is its ubiquity. It is the same music I battle to suppress from my on-campus apartment in one of
Accompanying the music is a voice calling out callisthenic exercises in a cadence that would be almost cheery if it didn't carry such grim undertones of mindless conformity. "Yi, Er, San, Si, Wu, Liu, Qi, Ba, Er, Er, San, Si, Wu, Liu, Qi, Ba," the high-pitched male voice encourages the often-absent students. This is a real-life equivalent of the "physical jerks" in Orwell's "1984." Twice a day, on the mark, speakers across the campus blast out this music. Students at my university are obliged to participate at least once a week. There seems to be a club for those who want to show particular enthusiasm. I am told that these exercises along with their uniform marching music are obligatory daily routines on all school campuses up until the end of high school. Failure to show sufficient enthusiasm in one's daily jerks is grounds for academic penalties. This aspect of living and studying in China is something that it seems is often missed in the excessively positive and business-oriented coverage given by the mainstream media, and it is part of a troubling trend that I am most able to witness in the education system - but which extends to every facet of life in the Middle Kingdom.
There was a time when
Paxton provides a useful definition of fascism as "a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal restraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion."
As an educator trying to inculcate a sense of global citizenship in young Chinese, these characteristics are far too common in my encounters with the minds of Chinese youth. The most succinct example of such indoctrination came when one of my "International Education" students became angry about a discussion concerning global environmental degradation. Despite the fact that the documentary which framed our discussion focused on a wide range of global environmental issues and that it in fact made no reference to
It becomes clear very early on to those who venture outside the venues of the rich, powerful and tactful, that the education system is rife with lessons in national humiliation, social Darwinism and the cult of the nation. Students are taught that, prior to recent history,
Social Darwinism has reached the level of state religion in modern Chinese society, with the ubiquitous phrases expounding the importance of "developing oneself" and "using one's advantage" to prove one's fitness over others. There is usually a racial overtone to such talk, with the Han Chinese cast as the dominant race in the globe that - due to national complacency - were recently overtaken by hairy barbarians from the West, but will eventually reinstate their domination over the globe. Those of other ethnic origins, particularly of African descent, are often spoken of in condescending, almost sub-human terms, as a kind of hapless helper race to be valued for their physical strength and musical talents, but otherwise to be "managed" by one of the superior, more "developed" races. Such views are not implicitly conveyed, but explicitly, in the form of an overtly racist natural history taught in the school system wherein Chinese physical characteristics of reduced body hair and physical size are taken to indicate a higher level of racial development over hairier and supposedly more physically robust Europeans and Africans who only recently became civilized and so bear the characteristics of a harsher lifestyle. My students unflinchingly express a condescending affection for Africans, with statements such as, "I like black people, because, since they are closer to animals, they are really good at sports." There is a widespread belief among average Chinese that Africans and Chinese are not able to produce offspring together and, therefore, effectively constitute separate species.
Another key indicator of fascist state organization is the militarization of the youth, which is an integral part of the Chinese education system - and indeed of Chinese working life. All university students in their freshman year are obliged to enroll in five weeks of military training and indoctrination, most of which consists in standing still for long periods of time, marching for hours on end from 5 AM until 1 AM, shouting, "Yi! Er!" over and over and mass-rehearsed and largely useless hand-to-hand combat drills. While some schools provide riflery and first-aid training, the purpose of the training is largely to inculcate in the students a sense that their education is part of the nation's strength rather than their individual personal aspirations. Such training begins in middle school and is a yearly event all the way up until the first year of university, after which it ceases. There truly is nothing scarier than 18-year-old boys dressed up in ill-fitting military uniforms running around with plastic truncheons.
While Chinese rarely express an open desire for imperialist expansion, an ideological sense of the inevitability of such expansion is a hidden part of national political consciousness. Rather than being self-admitted expansionists, Chinese expansion is instead expressed by characterizing foreign nations as "part of
Fascist states have long relied upon their competitive advantage in attracting foreign investment. Authoritarian control of the labor force and national policymaking makes good business sense. Such was the case with
Chinese will often accept this as a necessary part of their national development, a development which seems increasingly to benefit only those with power and connections and to increasingly marginalize the common people. One need not look merely at the statements of business leaders, but much mainstream media attention has praised the "efficiency" of the Chinese fascist regime while deriding the clumsiness and inconvenience of states which remain nominal liberal democracies.
The issue of Chinese fascism is one which the people of the world must pay much greater attention than they have to date. Too much emphasis is placed on the economic power of
If the Chinese fascist regime is permitted by the international community to continue its rise to prominence, then the consequences will be borne by the people of democratic nations and we have already seen the early stages of this global trend. A powerful fascist state of such maturity and size in the world will increasingly come to determine political debate in nominally democratic countries as the economic advantages of such a regime draws more and more financial resources away from less "efficient" political systems. If
This trend is already far advanced and if it remains unchecked by the active engagement and protest of constituent peoples in the form of actively entrenching our essential social and political norms of individual rights and egalitarian application of the rule of law, then we will witness the slow erosion of the democratic freedoms that were fought for nearly 70 years ago. It is no longer adequate to harp on about "human rights." The necessity of economically isolating regimes which fail to meet certain normative political and legal standards is of paramount importance to the long-term survival of the idea of pluralist government which protects a measure of individual freedom.
Failure to do so will result in an inevitable process of socio-cultural decline which will prove hard to reverse in the short to medium term. Democracy is messy and individual freedoms are inconvenient for the operation of the socioeconomic system we use to organize the globe. That we recognize this does not logically lead to the conclusion that we should submit to the dilution of those freedoms out of a misplaced desire for expediency. The reason we pursued increasing market freedoms in the past 70 years was ostensibly to spread democratic and individual freedoms. If we now find that the means have come into conflict with the end, it is time to come back to the drawing board, lest in our pursuit of the material well-being that underpins a society which can afford educated, independent individual life, we end up creating the conditions for subsuming all individual freedom and development to fascist ideals of national power and undo all the achievements of 70 years of struggle and sacrifice.
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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs