How far is the hat of “extreme nationalism” from China?

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Source: Xinchao meditation (ID: Xinchao chensi)

Author: Liu Menglong

Over the past few months, a series of events triggered by the public opinion’s attitude towards the Japanese right wing, the Japanese cultural invasion, and the issue of “seizing Japan” have led to quite a number of people waving flags and shouting, claiming to be vigilant against extreme nationalism in China, Even more, some people worry that “China’s extreme nationalism will take the road of militarism” and so on. The same logic is that “contemporary Japan has declined, so it will not take the road of militarism, so there is no need to worry about their right-wing tendency and tendency to seek normalization” and so on.

In fact, such slogans have come out from time to time over the years. Today, we might as well talk about such slogans. It is undeniable that the criticism of Japanese right-wing thinking and the phenomenon of “seizing Japan” in public opinion over the past few years has to some extent expanded. However, because of the expansion, does it mean that such criticism and sentiment are completely “extreme nationalism”?

We need to clarify this issue in detail. Is nationalism popular in China? Objectively speaking, it should be. But will the current popularity of nationalism necessarily slide to “extreme nationalism”, or even “militarism” and “fascism”? Many people are confused about the concept.

In the mouth of some people, nationalism is often bound with patriotic behavior, and they think that patriotism is to engage in nationalism. Being very patriotic is obviously extreme nationalism, and it is obviously a fascist tendency. In the discourse system of Chinese intellectuals and Internet Key politics, such logic and discourse have existed for a long time.

Not only the liberals on the right like to do this, but also some groups on the left in a broad sense, such as the Tories, such as some Western Humanist Marxist School advocates, such as believing in American style progressivism. In fact, leftist groups that are not really leftists in our spectrum also like to hold this view. These people have different purposes and often the same means.

However, in these scripts, there are often a wide range of double labeling behaviors. In fact, the modern standard concept of “nationalism” is imported to us, and it can not well summarize the actual situation in China. However, in the mouth of the above-mentioned people, it often becomes that only China pursues nationalism and only the Chinese people are patriotic, as if all western countries are benevolent people with new internationalism and universal ideals.


Is that the truth? Obviously not. Judging from the various Western centrism, superiority theory, racial discrimination, Orientalism, anti China and other behaviors, it is clear who is really engaging in extremism. However, the Western superiority theory does not focus on a single nation. Therefore, in recent years, netizens often use the concept of the Anglo American system to describe it.

The script on the right is often accompanied by negation of the general public. It is nothing more than emphasizing the need to integrate into the West. The west is the right path. Even if you kneel down to the west, you are approaching the truth and paying tribute as incense. Such as the Trotskyites, they speak one by one, but they often separate the country and the people from the real conditions and deny any positive relationship between the two. These two factions seem to be opposed to each other, but in fact they are similar in that they are saying that they should abandon the country (most of the time, they specifically refer to China) and follow me.

Indeed, even in the contemporary society, the state is still a product based on class contradiction. For example, there are still many problems in the field of social distribution in China. But are there any conflicts between criticizing internal problems, fighting against internal injustices, and uniting to defend our legitimate rights and interests in the face of external powers? For example, in the case of COVID-19, if all of us had not united to resolutely curb the spread of the virus, China would not only be much worse than the situation faced by the west, but also become the victim of the West’s crazy export of contradictions to cover up its own failure.


Of course, we should still talk clearly about what role contemporary nationalism is playing, and what the objective situation of our country is. We need to clarify some long-term doubts. For example, will China, a late developing country, go astray like Japan and Germany in those years, and eventually become prosperous and perish suddenly.

What is the current situation in China? The objective national condition is that we have just achieved a well-off life, but we have not yet achieved comprehensive modernization, and the people’s life is still very difficult. It is generally expected that we can share the dividends of development through domestic industrial upgrading and realize the improvement of life. China has played a successful role as a major producer in the world industrial system, but now it is facing a serious external blockade represented by the trade war.

Under such circumstances, regardless of the melancholy of historical emotions since modern times, even in order to oppose the deliberate suppression aimed at blocking the progress of the latecomers, in order to safeguard the monopoly position of the developed countries, and to pursue the most basic right of survival and progress, it is necessary to provide a broad growth space for domestic nationalism.

How dangerous is this growth? So far, it should be said that there is not much danger, even a necessary supplement under stress conditions. To put it bluntly, the general public opinion in our country is far from the strong will to break with the old world. As the main beneficiary of post cold war peace for decades, China’s development has so far benefited from the old system. Of course, this benefit is the hard work of our people. As the world’s largest industrial country, it provides consumer goods to the world, providing nearly 40% of the world’s total production capacity. It is the result of screws.

From a realistic point of view, up to now, China’s main demand has not yet been to overthrow imperialism. It only hopes to do good business with the imperialist powers, and can progress from selling refrigerators and color TV sets to selling cars and ships. Moreover, we are not trying to buy or sell by force. We are sincerely willing to make more money by providing better products and services under the condition of fair competition.

Over the past 40 years, China’s economic and social development has indeed relied on the external environment. The foreign trade oriented economy occupies a key position in China’s economic structure. This has led to a very strong Pro foreign sentiment in our country, and there has always been a general excessive goodwill in our people’s understanding of the external world. Needless to say, as an important member of the Western led global economic system, we have enjoyed the peace and development dividends after the victory of the cold war, and will inevitably encounter widespread penetration. For a long time, the pro Western forces in China have been very strong.


On the other hand, China’s national capitalism is still very immature. Unlike the big western plutocrats, it has undergone the baptism of the cold war, and the vast majority of it still stays at the level of business. In the face of the trade war, this kind of all-round confrontation, which stresses politics more than economy, divides the camps by nation, country, and even civilization, and reduces economy to secondary consideration, lacks psychological preparation, and generally exists illusion. It is not only our national capitalism, it should be said that this situation also widely exists in our entire society. Therefore, we can often see such ideas and practices as “endure, endure and retreat” in our foreign exchanges.

Fundamentally speaking, China is still the main beneficiary of the contemporary system. The system has indeed gone wrong, making it increasingly difficult to maintain. However, this problem does not lie in China, but in the main developed countries represented by the west, which are the leaders of this system. Represented by the United States, they are continuously losing their leading ability and are afraid of this future. Because they are unable to solve their own difficulties, they try to lift the table and eat alone. Under such circumstances, it is understandable that China is unwilling to cede its seat, to break the old system with violence, and to maintain the peace situation for as long as possible to strive for development.

Of course, this kind of maintenance does not mean that there is no struggle, but that extremely fierce struggles have taken place in various fields, and even this struggle is still intensifying. However, at the present stage, China is indeed striving to fight without breaking. At least so far, China has not much willingness to actively destroy the contemporary globalization system. China’s main energy is still improving its internal strength, and it is more passive in responding to the war. Domestic adjustment is still at a critical moment. Naturally, there is not much impulse to try to stir up nationalism and transfer contradictions to the outside world. This is not in line with China’s long-term dependence on development and the current practical interests. This idea should belong to the western countries that are in the recession stage.

This situation will inevitably make China extremely cautious on issues such as foreign conflicts. Even if we have to fight back, in the final analysis, it is also for the sake of maintaining a long-term peace situation. We pursue the point to the end, and are not willing to make it long-term and complicated. A typical example is the confrontation between China and India in donglang a few years ago, which is also the one most supported by the national mood. And its premise is precisely that the conflict here is the most controllable, the most difficult to expand, and the most likely to produce deterrence. Small fighting is just for small fighting.

On the other hand, when it comes to the heartland like the southeast coast, the whole society is extremely cautious in the face of the strong enemy like the Western powers and the possible big break. In fact, the general mentality of the Chinese people is rather hesitant, even for the purpose of achieving national reunification and safeguarding territorial integrity. Even in the face of the constant provocations from the west, the Chinese people are constantly patient and increasingly determined to fight to the end once they break the bottom line. However, this kind of determination also inevitably has a solemn and stirring feeling of forcing the tiger to jump over the wall and break the bridge.

Although more and more people realize that in the external struggle, we should combine hardness and softness, especially the background of the Western paper tiger is becoming more and more exposed. However, the long-term national attitude of hiding one’s capacity and biding one’s time, which had to be formed under the objective weakness and seeking development through concessions and compromises, can never be completely improved in a short time.

Under such circumstances, especially in addition to the outbreak of direct armed conflicts, we and western developed countries have actually formed very fierce confrontations in various fields, which can be called a war without smoke. Appropriate nationalism is of course a useful supplement. This will not only help to enhance the internal cohesion, but also help us to be more hardheaded and less concessions in the external struggle. After all, up to now, China’s industrial upgrading, core technology breakthroughs, and competition in key fields are facing many difficulties and severe blockades, and there is really not much room to retreat. In particular, against the backdrop that the global great depression may come at any time, it is indeed necessary to fight more if we can.

Rather, when it comes to nationalism, some people are really nervous. They can immediately associate chauvinism with militarism. This is simply comparable to the past Daoism. Seeing hands can be associated with white thighs, and seeing white thighs can be associated with nudity.

There is nothing wrong with a big country and a powerful country having national self-confidence and pride. Rather, it is somewhat magical to talk about chauvinism before the problem of super national treatment of foreigners in Chinese society has been completely solved.

As for militarism, the Chinese people generally have not experienced the stage of imperialism, so it is inevitable to have a wrong understanding. In fact, there is no question that the world’s second generation will definitely engage in militarism and war risk like the Germans in those days. To put it bluntly, a late developing country like China is not the same as Japan and Germany in those days.

Why was Prussia militaristic? It wanted to be a thug for Britain with a small and broad scale. Why is the militarism of the Second Reich of Germany? It can not overwhelm Britain in industry, still less can it resist the sum of Britain and France. It is equally important to fight against France, and each has its own advantages. Behind it is a rapidly industrializing Czarist Russia relying on French loans. However, it has no money and resources to win over Czarist Russia and can only sit back and wait. In 1914, the Germans took the initiative to launch a preventive war. Otherwise, it might be that after it was defeated by Czarist Russia and Austria Hungary, the World War II script was staged in advance. As for Germany and Japan in the Second World War, they went straight to the road of cannons without butter. If they did not start a war to grab a hand, their domestic economy would collapse directly.


What kind of late developing country is China today? It is a country that can win as long as it does business well. Militarism is unlikely to occur in such a country at the rising stage. Rather, what it really needs to guard against is the excessive breeding of free capitalism, which leads to unprincipled compromise in order to do business and puts the cart before the horse.

In the final analysis, the so-called strong militaristic countries are actually industrialized countries that have shown a trend of failure, face serious risks of internal explosion or external pressure, and are difficult to solve through development. In essence, it is that it has no internal solution to the crisis and can only hope on military risks. When it comes to worrying about the dangers of militarism, the contemporary western countries need to worry more. They are in line with the situation faced by several militarist countries in the 20th century, except that there is no transition stage of Weimar collapse.

In contemporary China, we can’t wait for world peace, more money and more years of development. We must draw an analogy with China. A relatively suitable analogy is the United States in the early 20th century. However, it is difficult to say how much similarity there is, because China is obviously more mature than the United States in those years, and its strategic geographical pattern and national cultural background are greatly different.

In fact, contemporary China has put forward a fairly clear future world plan, but many people choose to turn a blind eye to it. That is a prosperous belt with East Asia as the center, represented by the Belt and Road and RCEP (regional comprehensive economic partnership agreement). Including ASEAN, Europe, Russia, and even the Middle East and Africa in the future, all have their own positions in this system. However, this system is different from the old system that the world was familiar with in the past. It is based on China’s strong productive forces and emphasizes multilateralism and multi win.

We also recognize that there is a potential conflict risk in the Western Pacific region that subverts the situation between the East and the West and changes the Western dominated world operation pattern. But the main responsibility for this danger lies in the West. It is the West that must stop China’s national reunification and stop China’s development at all costs. Therefore, even if there is a military conflict around China in the end, it can only be passive and self-defense, and it is like the advanced countries fighting against the big empire.

If we put it more bluntly, over the past 40 years, China has been the most peaceful of all the major countries in the world. The western developed countries, led by the United States, have never stopped the war for various reasons.


Even many of these wars were caused by their internal strife. For example, the war in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia seems to be consistent with Europe and the United States. In fact, the United States is consciously beating old Europe, while China has become one of the victims. Another example is the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which was forced by the United States and is still trying to fan the flames. The resulting energy and food crisis may eventually kill European industry. To this extent, we can only say that the ferocity of imperialism is hard for third world countries to imagine. It is so cruel to its own people. Do you dare to relax your vigilance against it?

Therefore, a group of people can’t see a bunch of warmongers and a bunch of powder kegs. They worry about the most honest country, the country that needs peace and development most, and fear that it will make mistakes in the future. This is inevitably ridiculous.

However, we should also see why this is the case and why Europe is the first to bear the brunt. It is only because the old system is difficult to maintain and the accumulated huge pressure urgently needs a short board to vent. Europe, as a relatively weak link that is deeply controlled by the United States, will become the most likely victim. On the other hand, if our attitude of resistance is not firm and our strength is not strong, our country will probably come to the same end.

In fact, if we still talk about the danger of domestic nationalism in the contemporary era, it is not only groundless worry, but also some short-sighted things. We take the kimono incident as an example. Finally, the network dispute ended with a black humor. The concept of “kimono equals Okamoto” has almost deconstructed the debate on all grand issues.

In fact, contemporary domestic nationalism is facing a serious deconstruction crisis while it continues to grow under the stimulation of external pressure. The proliferation of free capitalism and the deconstruction of consumerism are all in danger of turning people into ghosts. The most important thing is the grim situation of domestic distribution. All these make the traditional grand narrative less and less popular with young people. If the whole domestic public opinion and social environment cannot be improved, more and more people will only choose to care about the enormous pressure they are under.

Our country is indeed facing a critical moment. We need all people to work together to overcome difficulties and win the future. This is a time of urgent need for unity. However, under such circumstances, we should not only look at the external problems, but also look at the internal problems and try our best to solve them. Only in this way can we solve the external problems have real significance.

After all, the people are the foundation of the country. The development and decline of western countries have provided enough lessons for late developing countries like ours. The jungle law of the jungle, which has been dominated by the West for four hundred years, is by no means natural, whether internally or externally, nor can it shape the ideal world. It will only bring about a repeated cycle of chaos.

Looking back on the past, we should build a new world that conforms to the overall interests of the Chinese people and the people of the world. The two are by no means contradictory, but an organic unity.

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