Interesting stuff today. I’ve said this before, but I really feel like I need to start tape-recording these lectures and maybe posting them online in mp3. I, at least, find the lectures that interesting and fun to listen to.

Today Gregor talked about nationalism in general and Chinese nationalism in particular, and began to go in depth about Sun Yat-Sen’s political writings. If anything, he seems particularly concerned with rehabilitating the legacy of Sun among Westerners and particualrly Western scholars, whom he says have egregiously ignored and maligned him.

One of his frequent talking points is bafflement at the fact that Marxist theory is still so prominent and Sun’s philosophy has been generally discarded, especially when he seems so prescient in his methids and predictions and Marxism was so woefully unable to predict anything.

Among Sun’s turn-of-the-century writings: he was making policy suggestions about developing an industrial economy in China 50 years before the rest of the world came up with the idea of developmental economics. In 1900, he spoke about the need of vast amounts of capital in order to industrialize a backward, agrarian nation. People nowadays would say “Well, duh” to such a thing, but the dominant attitude of the time was that a nonindustrial country could industrialize simply by force of will and planning. That’s a simplification, of course, but it captures a critical point that economic theorists of the time were missing. He was also unflinching in his acceptance of the fact that any effective industrialization of China would cause massive unavoidable cultural change, and that it was futile to try to hold on to the “Chinese” cultural characteristics that conflicted with industry. Millions of people didn’t understand that then . Hell, millions of people don’t understand it now. Any survey of anti-globos will show you that.

His writings about race, highly criticized at the time, are much more in line with the basic idea of population genetics that we hold today. He didn’t consider races as some kind of static taxonomy of varying degrees of purity and mongrelization based on a system of 3 or 5 or 10 or however many discrete racial groups.

He went farther than that also, for he took race and nationality to be essentially interchangable terms, and was forthright in saying that all Chinese must become aggressive nationalists and subordinate their traditional affiliations of family, clan, etc and the Marxist affiliations of class, in order for China to survive.

All fascinating stuff. Stay tuned, hopefully for recorded lectures, in the upcoming days.

last update : 24-11-2017

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