Bloody shovel

Don't call it a spade

State and Church

I say we need a new religion; the Western State doesn’t agree with me. They have their own, thank you.

China has its own too, and doesn’t want a new one. What it wants is to dismantle the old ones. Which is pretty much what the West has been doing. We have freedom of religion. All churches can do what they want as long as they’re progressive. Like the model-T. China finally figured out how that works. And so…

Context is China just passed new regulations about religion (in English here). The new regulations call for all religions in China (the 5 legally recognized) must do more to adapt to society and obey the government. Take proactive measures against extremism. Extremism being of course a relative term.

I want something. You want something. Say you draw a line, at one end it’s what I want, at the other end it’s what you want. If you accommodate to what I want, well you stop being you. If you try to do what you want but not too hard, then you’re a moderate. If you try very hard to do what you want and don’t care about what I want, then you’re an extremist. Quite literally so.

tong_xin_great_mosque_ning_xia_china2

Chinese mosque

Again, that’s no fallacy. If you try very hard to get what you want and don’t care about what I want, well the logical end is to kill me, then get what you want. And that’s what extremists do. That’s not good, obviously, and China wants to eliminate extremism. They very wisely have chosen to do away with the charade that a country can be multicultural. It can be multiethnic, given that the ethnic groups live separately, and the government has as little popular input as possible. But multiculturalism, of which religious freedom is but a subset makes no sense. The point of having a distinct culture is to set borders to the ingroup and compete with other groups. The very point of culture is to prepare for conflict. You don’t want internal conflict in a state. That’s bad for everyone.

Which is why everyone in the West must be progressive, and everyone in China must be… “sinicized”. Chinese. Not Han, mind you. The official ideology in China is that “China” is this multiethnic utopia, of which the Han are an important, but not unique part. It’s all still quite blood and soil though, compared to the universalist blank slatism of baizuo religion. And of course Progressive infiltration of religion is a fact, but never stated overtly. De jure we have Freedom of Religion. China insists on being honest.

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39 responses to “State and Church

  1. Pingback: State and Church | @the_arv

  2. Pingback: State and Church | Reaction Times

  3. aceofspades September 9, 2017 at 21:01

    I think part of the reason why the Chinese government is doing this is because there has been an increase in religiosity among the Chinese recently, and the Chinese government want to make sure it doesn’t become too dangerous. I have a friend living in China, and he told me that the Hui Muslims are becoming more religious, and now Hui women are wearing the headscarf more often. And, supposedly, there has been a huge increase in Christianity in China, especially with the underground house churches, although I don’t know how much of that is true or just wishful thinking on the part of the Western media

    • spandrell September 9, 2017 at 22:28

      I think the Christianity thing is wishful thinking. There are some weird cults around there but they aren’t that big and they’re as much Christian as the Taiping were.
      The Hui in some areas are starting to get annoying and I do think this is mostly about them.

  4. Garr September 9, 2017 at 23:55

    The beauty of Western alienation from Velvet Underground’s “Ocean” back to Achilles moping by the wine-dark sea … this is worth fighting for.

  5. Lalit September 10, 2017 at 15:03

    Taoism? I thought Taoism was already Sinic! Why does Taoism have to be Sinicized? Or are they including Taoism just so the Abrahamic faiths don’t feel like they are being singled out?

    • spandrell September 10, 2017 at 15:50

      The religion bureau recognized 5 religions, and this time they said “all religions must sinicize or else”. Of course both Taoism and Buddhism, to the extent they even function today, are sinicized to the core, but the point here is that the government will give them orders and they better not resist them.

  6. j September 10, 2017 at 18:28

    I visited Kaifeng and found a Jewish community totally Sinized. Officially recognized by the State. More Chinese than the Han. More patriotic than Yue Fei. They invited me to a banquet and gave me moon cakes. Indigestible for this Jew.

  7. Dividualist September 11, 2017 at 13:32

    Hi Spandrell

    I have never really understood what it actually means that China is ruled by communists and I get it less and less. Here is what I figured so far. Marx was adamant that you cannot skip over phases of progress. You do not go from agricultural backwads country to community, you need a bourgeois revolution and capitalism in between. So Lenin figured they will just do that, the capitalist period, under communist state control. A form of state capitalism, the state exploits, saves and reinvests, like a capitalist in the Marxian model.

    And Mao never even cared about Marx, he cared about the Soviet model. What he saw was effectively centralized state control and a modernizing approach: http://soviethistory.msu.edu/1921-2/electrification-campaign/communism-is-soviet-power-electrification-of-the-whole-country/ “Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country.”

    This is what Mao basically thought Communism means. That he will be in power, and in power over a united country, not squabbling warlords, and will modernize.

    This is very far from the concept of Communism by any means. But that is how things changed.

    So my guess is that in China “communist” means “modernizing centralist”, not much more. Right?

    But how is it possible intelligent people can live with such a huge cognitive dissonance? AND of course it leaves a HUGE avenue open for Prog infiltration: they can claim they want real Communism. And they easily recruit intellectuals by demonstrating them this thing isn’t. This means, it can easily be demonstrated that Chinese communists in power are hypocrites. Why do they leave such a subversion avenue open? They could fix it easily. Rename from communist to something else. Like in NK. They renamed it to juche. So nobody could argue in NK it is not real communism, because it is not communism but juche, and real juche is whatever Kim says it is so gap closed. Why don’t they do this?

    • Wency September 11, 2017 at 14:22

      My guess is that they judge the risk of perceived loss of legitimacy from a name change to be greater than the risk you’re describing. The Communists are the current dynasty, and that dynasty name still has positive associations in China due to its accomplishments, even if the name itself is now meaningless.

      Do we have cognitive dissonance in the U.S. with our meaningless political party names? At some point, a name is just a name, and people don’t think about what it means. “Communist” strikes us as a provocative label, but then “Republican” would be a pretty provocative political label in Saudi Arabia.

      The Kims were in a very different circumstance from the CPC — the Kim name is what’s important, not the Communist brand — and their cost-benefit analysis came out differently.

      Also, anyone who pushes the angle that the CPC needs to be more true to its name is an idiot or a sociopath (or both), so it’s a good way to identify those sorts of people.

    • Daniel Chieh September 11, 2017 at 14:59

      It wouldn’t be that easy. They would also have to demonstrate any other model of Communism was successful in providing for its people; if they just use theoretical principles, they become baizuo and can be dismissed. If they try to be maozuo, then they have to back up with evidence that Mao would agree with them. Its an uphill battle.

    • spandrell September 11, 2017 at 18:42

      Dude… you live in this fantasy world where people have clear ideas, talk about these clear ideas all the time, and then try to apply this clear ideas in a clear way.

      I haven’t spent much time looking at what they teach at the Party Schools in China, but to the extent I’ve seen some of that stuff it is hopelessly convoluted prose trying to justify why Socialism with Chinese Characteristics is Good, and how we can find some justifying quotes in Marx’s or Lenin’s writing. Which of course you can, it’s not like Marx or Lenin’s ideas were that clear anyway.

      At any rate, 99% of Party officials have no recollection at all of the ideology they were taught in the Party Schools. What they know is the Slogan of the week, which they must use to write a few pages of propaganda. The whole country is full of posters with the Slogan of the Week or the Concept of the Year, or the 20 Important Buzzwords or whatever.

      In China, Communist means whatever the Propaganda Department has decided this week that it must mean. In the West, Progress means whatever the Cathedral has decided this week means Progress. Nobody reads old books, nobody remembers anything. Meaning is use, and use is getting the joke.

      • With the thoughts you'd be thinkin September 12, 2017 at 08:06

        I like this extract from “The Party” by Richard McGregor:

        At a lunch in Washington at the Cosmos Club in the mid-eighties, Tom Robinson,
        the late political scientist, and host of the meal, had badgered Chen about the apparent contradictions between the state’s official Marxist ideology and the free-market reforms then unfolding in China. After a while, Chen tired of the inquisition, ostentatiously put down his knife and fork, and firmly put a stop to the questions. ‘Listen Mr Robinson,’ he said, ‘we are the Communist Party, and we will define what communism is.’

        The Chen in the quote is Chen Yuan, former governor of the Chinese Development Bank. His father was Chen Yun one of the top Party officials in the 80s and 90s.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Yuan
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chen_Yun

    • Cornelius Squiggly September 13, 2017 at 19:41

      This is more or less what Chomsky says in certain contexts: Communism IRL means “modernization within a single generation.” (The centralization element is not additional; rather, it is *entailed* by modernization. The former is the means by which the latter is accomplished.)

  8. lalit September 11, 2017 at 23:06

    Seems to me that China is the immovable object that can stop this seemingly irresistible force they call Islam. You seem to admire China since it is a bulwark against the Cathedral. And I admire them grudgingly because it is the rock against which all of Islam’s wiles/tricks/strategies get smashed to smithereens.

    *Shaking my head*

  9. Christian Talour September 14, 2017 at 04:23

    The Chinese all adamantly claim their country is multi-ethnic: “We have 56 ethnic groups!” But the majority of those minorities are indistinguishable from each other.

    • danielchieh September 14, 2017 at 05:27

      China wouldn’t have needed 五族共和 if that was indeed true. But yes, sinicization has been successful and “assimilation” is often understood as intermarriage.

      • spandrell September 14, 2017 at 13:13

        五族共和 was crap and you know it. At any rate the Manchus are gone, the Mongols are effectively gone, the Tibetans are few and the Muslims are being taken care of. The rest of tribes are indeed barely a tourist attraction.

        • danielchieh September 14, 2017 at 15:09

          In its actual success at being an unifier? Yes, but it doesn’t mean that the minorities didn’t exist and were meaningful blocs at one point. From a genetic perspective, I don’t think the Manchus,etc are gone.

          If you’re saying that, as a distinct culture and political bloc they’re pretty much gone, then yes. But the last time I was Shanghai, there were still people who self-identified as Yueh and they, too, were once a meaningful bloc. For all practical purposes, they are Han, though.

          So I suppose that’s why I’ll have a harder time being comfortable just saying that China is an ethnostate the way that the alt-right seems to want to imagine it, at least genetically. Its more like, the 同化 process literally blends away the minorities after a few generations, and then their children become included in a larger definition of Han.

          I’m part-Mongol, for example, and my dad’s dark enough that Filipinos used to try to speak in Tagalong to him. But it neither stopped my ancestors from becoming mandarins or landlords in the Qing dynasty, nor do modern Chinese doubt that I am “Han” five seconds after I speak Mandarin, and I identify with 周瑜, not Genghis Khan.

          • spandrell September 14, 2017 at 15:55

            I’m guessing this 越 friend of yours is just some college student playing minority as part of his victim game. Manchus are genetically gone too; there’s been 300 years of intermarriage. And it’s a pity, they could have left a couple of towns to keep the language alive. Alas.

            • danielchieh September 14, 2017 at 16:07

              Language is indeed everything.

            • Duke of Qin September 15, 2017 at 00:21

              This isn’t quite true. The degree of intermarriage between the Manchu and the Han population was very low up until the Qing collapsed. They were still a visible and cohesive enough community to get massacred early on by Republican revolutionaries. The intermarriage rates didn’t kick into high gear until after the 2nd Communist Revolution. So the idea of a Han-Manchu union is a fiction of Soviet influenced ethnic policy as compared to the original (and correct) stridently anti-barbarian attitudes of the early Republicans.

              I say “quite” because even during the height of the Qing, the Manchu weren’t quite “Manchu” as most Westerners think of the term. The historically accurate term for the Manchu is Qiren, the bannermen. Manchu was not an ethnicity to begin with because the very word itself is a political creation of the 17th century for a social-military caste system of composite ethnic origins combining Han (race-traitors), Mongolian, and Jurchen groups. There were Han, “Manchu”, and Mongolian banners at the outset but because of the mixed of the populations on the Liaodong peninsula during the late Ming, how one ended up in a Han or Manchu banner tended to be somewhat arbitrary. A close reading of some of the family histories of the Qing occupation will show quite a number of ostensibly Jurchen nobility from the banner system quite clearly having Han origins, like for example that bitch Cixi though her Han pedigree is via a different manner. The Bannermen (what most English writers will call Manchu) as a rule generally didn’t intermarry with non bannermen, but they did intermarry within the banner system which by the 19th century had degenerated into government funded welfare parasitism by an ostensibly military caste.

              Regarding keeping the Jurchen language alive, there is/was a small isolated community called the Xibe that were settled in Xinjiang during the 18th century to occupy the newly depopulated Dzungar basin. Rather than staffing newly conquered territories with loyalists as modern people assume, this was actually a punishment posting for a whole community of actual Jurchen dialect speakers who ran afoul of the court. Funny thing was this community of barbarians naturally ended up siding with barbarian forces, first with the Qing loyalists and later oddly enough with the Soviet backed so-called “East Turkestan” republic. I don’t know which history of that period is more laughable, the official Communist version peddled by the CCP or the “Turkestani” version peddled by the exile Uighur halfwits, but that is another topic entirely.

              • Unknown128 September 15, 2017 at 09:22

                Interesting information. I did read among one of the “new Qing historians” that bannermen tended to take Han concubines and that the offspring of such unions also became bannermen. If thats true the genetic composition of the Manchu and Mongols stationed in China proper must have changed over time and by the early 19th century been rather Han(ish).

                • Duke of Qin September 15, 2017 at 15:08

                  This may have been true of the Jurchen Imperial clan and the nobility but it certainly wasn’t true for the vast majority. As I said, Manchu was a hereditary military caste system financed entirely by the state. They weren’t allowed occupations outside of soldiering so their only source of income was government money. To afford a concubine means a certain degree of wealth. The Manchu as a rule were in general too poor to afford concubines. Qing government revenues never were very high and lower than the Ming despite a near quadruple population towards the end of the dynasty. The Manchus were poorer on average than the Han civilians they lived amongst by the 19th century. I can’t think of very many instances in which a conquering military elite end up poorer than the natives, but there you go.

                  • spandrell September 15, 2017 at 20:09

                    You should write about the brand new president of Singapore. Fancy a guest post?

                  • Duke of Qin September 16, 2017 at 01:44

                    Thank you for the generous offer but there isn’t really much to be said about the mina being president of Singapore. The majority of Singapore’s presidents have been non Chinese and all of them have been unelected for obvious reasons. To feign outrage toward Halima would be to pretend that this wasn’t business as usual for the PAP to make ethnic pandering overtures.

                    The sad and pathetic thing is, when the Muslim Malay politician resort to ethnic pandering it usually means threatening to slit Chinese throats and jailing an actually democratically elected official on blasphemy charges. Yet for us Chinese it means paying a Muslima millions of dollars to castigate us for our “racism”. No wonder Muslims worldwide hold non Muslims in contempt, I would too if it weren’t for the fact that my people were on the receiving end.

              • spandrell September 15, 2017 at 10:43

                As you note, the bannermen weren’t pure Manchu, and they had been intermarrying with Han bannermen forever. So I think is fair to assume that most Manchus in China proper around 1911 were already quite mixed.

                I know about the Xibe, but their’s is a very weird dialect. Good Manchu is dead.

              • Xiahou Dun September 16, 2017 at 01:34

                The early revolutionaries had quite a hard time telling banner people apart from normal Han though. I was reading in one account that they would make the person speak then tell from their accent.

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