Yes indeed, well said. Ah, and such a pitiable little story in the link you give, such a sad life. Pretty typical of nationalists everywhere, stuff on that Han minzu site could just be the same as what you find on other people's nationalist sites, you just replace 'han' with whatever other ethnic group. It's all the same drivel the world over. People who think they are cultivating pride in their culture and heritage, and really are just disgracing it.
But I just don't understand nationalism. I'm just a 'rootless cosmopolitan', liked they'd have said in Stalin-era USSR. It is normal and good to have pride in one's own culture and heritage, and to study it, discuss it etc, but I just never understood why this desire to prove some kind of 'purity'. I guess I just don't care. To me all peoples are as good as each other, and I don't care what mix got into them, including my own ancestors and myself. I always think it's kind of strange that people get so rabidly attached to these things, when ultimately, who knows, maybe they were a Manchu bannerman in a past life.
Nationalism is dangerous and stupid in my view. It's the product of people with inferiority complexes and ignorant minds.
Purity is part and parcel of the collectivist mindset, which is encouraged by the modern conception of nation as practiced in East Asia. Confucian culturalism may have encouraged the formation of bonds without any reference to purity beyond the ideological level, but the post-racial world has different presumptions about what ought to be the "natural" level of political community. Such beliefs, while controlled by political correctness, are a latent force in the modern world. I don't think anyone could seriously argue, for example, that "physical race" has no bearing on the way identities are constructed even in the West.
Yet as much as I attribute this to Western modernity, some of it also has to do with the East Asian fixation on genealogy and clan. Consider the degree to which lineage formed the basis for political legitimization in ancient China and you will find that the transition to a racialist view of affairs (but unsurprisingly biased towards "paternal race") is not particularly surprising. Why do Han nationalists entertain a belief in common genetic descent? You may as well ask the same question to the Warring States gentry that popularized the Huangdi myth, and in doing so began the practice of tracing all Chinese people to the same paternal origin. Indeed, one could make the case that part of becoming Chinese, even in the ancient world, was to buy into the ideological construct of common descent. Clearly, the idea has profound power realized by even the ancients.
The German sociologist Max Weber had the following to say about the definition of ethnic groups:
"[Ethnic groups are] those human groups that entertain a subjective belief in their common descent because of similarities of physical type or of customs or both, or because of memories of colonization and migration; this belief must be important for group formation; furthermore it does not matter whether an objective blood relationship exists."
If beliefs in common descent and subjective blood relations are fundamental to the formation of ethnic identities, then in an age of ethnic nationalism they would "naturally" take on political significance.
Edited by Eidolon, 19 March 2011 - 01:17 AM.