Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Chinese and Violence

Many people have commented on my post dedicated to the analysis of Amy Chua's article that presents child abuse as an inescapable  part of Chinese identity. It is my firm belief that this intelligent (albeit vile) Yale professor has picked up on an important cultural trend that she wants to milk for all it's worth. I predict that we will see the images of nasty, cold, heartless Chinese more and more often in the media over the next decade. I also expect those images to become as widely popular as the image of the angry Arabs and the dissolute French.

The American animosity towards China is growing as fast as the US debt to China. This country is losing its political and economic hegemony on the world scale. I think this process is irreversible, but feel free to argue. Now other countries are moving into the position of world leadership. As I see it, these countries are India and China. Some people also suggest Brazil, but as much as I'd welcome that, I don't see it. (If you believe Brazil - or any other country - should be put on that list of contenders for world domination, feel free to share your arguments in the comments section. I'm very open to new information here.) Chua is one of the first people to jump onto the wave of anti-Chinese sentiment and ride it all the way to the bank.

I am so confident that anti-Chinese propaganda is about to hit us because I have seen this very process take place in Russia. The Russians haven't gotten themselves into the economic bondage to China, but they are located close geographically. Russia likes to believe itself a possible candidate for world domination (OK, I know how ridiculous that is. I'm just relaying information here, so don't kill the messenger). China's success is experienced as very painful in Russia, so now there is a seething resentment against the Chinese. For the Americans, it has been more difficult to take China seriously. The US sees itself as the winner of the Cold War (once again, I know how silly that is, but the media managed to sell this bill of goods to the people). For this reason, nobody from the former Communist camp was taken seriously. That is, until the debt began to grow. Today the situation has become so dire that it's impossible even to find the real numbers of how much the US owes to China. The official figures provided by the US governement have been referred to as "unusable" by people who study the subject.

This is why I am convinced that Chua is not an isolated China-hater. She is just a very shrewd person, willing to malign her country of origin to make a quick buck. Let's see how fast others join the trend.


wanderlust said...

I believe this has already been going on for a while now. I can recall several articles about Chinese parents in China which say similar things as Chua's article. I can recall several such stories from during the Beijing Olympics.

Also, I don't believe India is even close to being any sort of world leader. Which is both good and bad. Good because it's not like China - there is at least some semblance of democracy present. Bad because the systems are very corrupt which are holding it back.

Lindsay said...

I don't know about you, but it looks to me like we (the U.S.) are almost reusing the same Cold War mindset, about those evil, soulless, scary Communists who are going to take over the world if we let down our guard for one second, only we are casting China in the role of Evil Empire.

(I'd like to know what you think of this theory, since you seem to know more Cold War history, from both sides, than I do!)

Gordon said...

I'm not sure we're going to see a proliferation of stereotypes as much as we're going to see greater politicization of them. Certainly Chua's article wasn't overtly political, and it appealed to already widespread stereotypes of nerdy students. But the constant contrasts with "Western" parenting seemed to imply that parenting accounts for the new dynamic between China and the US. I don't think this was Chau's intention (it seemed she only wanted to justify her parenting as different/acceptable instead of as better), but I do think that it was an easy point to gather. My prediction is that the propaganda (I'm not sure if that's the right word, but I'll go with it) in America is going to shift from that of the image of the nerdy student to that of the soulless technocrat. Same stereotype, different archetype--if that makes any sense.

V said...

Chua is not a China-hater. The newspaper may have welcomed a chance to publish a piece which can serve as anti-Chinese propaganda, when Chua in her arrogant superiority provided them them such a piece.
But I am sure Chua's own intention was to produce a piece of pro-Chinese propaganda. She sees her methods as good and valuable; westerners who see them as highly problematic should not ascribe their own motivations and their own feelings to her.

Also, concerning Russia and China. The tension is not just of a psychological variety a.k.a. unfulfilled imperial ambitions. Russia is worried that if not by war then by slow infusion the Chinese will eventually take over the resource-rich Siberia. Chinese recently held a massive military exercise which looked much more about taking over some part of a large flat country than about taking over Taiwan. Russia countered with "anti-terrorist" military exercise in which its ability to quickly relocate bombers from Europe to Chinese border was tested, and blowing up a nuclear device (NB: not by terrorists, but by Russian army fighting those imaginary army-sized terrorists) was simulated.

Greenconsciousness said...

I must say this post does not show understanding of old world culture. Among most cultures children are regularly beaten, verbally abused and used for the emotional catharsis of the parents who also came from such childhoods. And there is worse: among some there is a tradition of selling children;among others, infibulation, clitoritomy, and other forms of genital mutilation; and the common practice of child slavery. We have a clear picture of the animal abuse that exists in all countries, and the severity of that brutality will mirror the amount of child abuse in a country. To measure the compassion and empathy of a culture, look at how all the dependent are treated by their superiors. This is also true about US culture. About 40% of our children suffer physical and emotional abuse and the exposure of this is only one generation old.

It is with exposure of the consequencesof child abuse and public opprobrium that change occurs as cultures evolve toward modernity and these practices lessen.Generally that comes with an understanding that the practices within the family unit are eventually inflicted on the greater community.

I think that you should compile actual autobiographies written before 2009 by other Chinese women. I have four or five here starting with Rice Bowl women but I cannot find them now. I will look.

Even Pearl Buck's Good Earth documents the role of children but it does not come close to the writing of modern women who are actually born into the particular ethnic group. You must not ignore the painful truth that gifted authors tell when they write the truth of their lives. We often reject their reporting if we have not suffered abuse and believe in a less personal political perspective that to us seems most important.

This political obscuring of the truth about the roots of violence is being done in Tucson now. As long as that happens we do not see the truth about violence and the real needs of the people.

The roots of depression, violence and dysfunction are in the parenting. That, however, is too threatening a fact where reproduction is a right without much responsibility to the welfare of the child. Everywhere children are considered property of the parents.

Secrets always help the abuser. Women and children are particularly victimized when we ignore the truth of their actual lives. The personal is the REAL politics of our lives.

There is a Vietnamese book called The Unwanted which is an eye opener.
Kien Nguyen, I wish I could remember the other books but i will dig them out and bring them back. The important thing is not to see them as Chinese or Vietnamese or Italian or Somalian but to understand that this treatment of children from beating through trafficking is universal and is the root cause of violence in the world.