The Replacement Race Part 2: Chinese ultranationalism when the bottom falls out | Nathan Wilson
Following on from Part 1, we now can examine the how this all links into China’s response to these problems, this being through hardcore ultranationalism. Subsequently, it is this that remains a core part of how a nation like China attempts to approach problem solving during times of mass upheaval. For more information, towards how nations understand and act towards such specific conditions, I would recommend ‘Upheaval’ by Jared Diamond, alongside other individuals like Peter Turchin, and David Hackett Fischer.
Firstly, regarding nationalism it is important to understand what specifically is meant by such a loaded term. I understand that this is entire debate in of itself, but for simplicity I will argue that most forms of nationalism fall into one of two camps. Firstly, is that of Civic Nationalism which involves a more inclusive and liberal interpretation, lacking a direct ethnocentrism inside itself. Subsequently, most ‘acceptable’ forms of nationalism are found within this branch of political thought.
Secondly, is that of ethnic/ ethnonationalism, which looks at an understanding, which orbits around a given ethnic group. This presents a level of shared cultural insight and heritage amongst the participants of such groups. The idea of ethnonationalism and the ‘nation’ becomes equivalent when regarding China (Han) and how it aims to deal with its own internal problems. As such, when we are talking about ethnonationalism, we often overlap into the realm of ultranationalism, which places stronger emphasis on themselves becoming hegemonic in nature.
Subsequently, when we use terms like communism and socialism regarding China, we are not talking about a typical Eurocentric idea that can be accurately applied. The same can be said for nationalism within China, although it is firmly placed within the ethnonationalism spectre ‘said of life’. As previously mentioned, China has been attempting to format a solidly Han-centric culturally base for which to propel itself forward as a nation. It is this, which helps expose its internal methodological reasoning since its victory over the Chinese Nationalists in 1949, ending the Chinese Civil War. These attitudes have been paramount towards several generations of Chinese political thought and history, towards Tibetan’s, Mongolians, Uyghurs, and other ethnic minority groups. This has been both on ethnic and cultural lines of development and restriction.
This can be broken down into three key points for ultranationalism. Firstly, Chinese ultranationalism represents the end stage of China as a hegemonic force, both internationally and domestically. Simply put, a special group, has a special ‘China Dream’, for which filters into a Han-centric Manifest Destiny towards the future.
Secondly, is that of ultranationalism being used as part of cultural nexus in generating specific national responses to upcoming upheaval. This is in part due to the ongoing technological and cultural conditions, that the Chinese state are seeking to implement amongst its population.
Thirdly, ultranationalism will present a national backup fault setting for which China can rely on and project itself forward. When you know that things are coming to an end, it is what you do with what you have got that defines you. This plus having a strong cultural identity, that gives people something to centre themselves around too.
Alongside this, if you include the forementioned Laobaixing that make up much of the Chinese population that is deemed to be socially and ethnically desirable within the nation, we can observe a much clear and distinct image of what is occurring.
Firstly, and most importantly, China’s emphasis on ultranationalism is contingent on its own self belief that it in of itself is special. As mentioned prior, ethnonationalists believe that their own specific ethical group is special and holds more weight than another, it is this that becomes the basis for a national identity and body politic to occur.
China does believe that it is special and that specifically the Han are special. The emergence of a Hanisation process in China, merely further demonstrates this point. After being dominated by Manchus for centuries and various Eurasian Steppe Hordes before that, Han Chinese people had typically been always on the backfoot within their own cultural and ethnic survival. In addition to this, the period from the 1840’s to the 1940’s became known as the ‘Century of Humiliation’, this was because of various national crises which struck the relatively isolated country. These ranged from the Opium Wars, the Taiping Rebellion, Japanese Occupation, Civil Wars, Warlord Periods, Revolutions, and that is all before Mao Zedong took control over the nation. Throughout this period all of China, had been subjugated ten times over and subsequently developed a very important ‘never again attitude’ (NAA). This NAA has been one and the same within the Hanisation process of China and its invoking of nationalism, it remains a major undertone throughout all the articles, before and after.
As such, this ethnonationalism and ultranationalism is merely the logical end goal, for a Han-Centric nation state to use to protect itself. This is in part because they know and understand that China in the past has gone through periods of mass upheaval and has suffered greatly. Consequently, this allows the government to attempt to prevent these measures by creating a strong cohesion national identity that can be used to prevent internal division and external coercion. A strong Han identity means the adoption of these policies and hammer them home when things start to begin to fail within the nation. This mirrors other East Asian nations like Japan and Korea (both), which too use this similar logic to justify their stances against multiculturalism and maintain a strong cohesive national identity. This contrasts with nations like Singapore, and Vietnam.
This links into the subsequent point because it shows that how the theory of this idea, then fits into the material conditions that can be used within the country, alongside misunderstanding what technology is being used for in accordance with producing this worldview.
The second key point is that we often think of China as being ultra-repressive with its social systems, I think this is true but convenes, a more complex view. Instead, the use of technology and ideology is not just about the repression of minorities or other undesirables within the nation but instead generation.
This ‘generation’ is key, vitally misunderstood and almost universally ignored. When you repress people or curtail them, you are socialising them towards certain attitudes and actions. In short, you are systemically training people not become broken down, but into producing a certain set of results within their ascribed ethnic group (in this case the Han). Repression is about making people lose faith or the silence them, while generation is instead about streamlining people’s underlining beliefs and attitudes towards an end goal.
This generation of action presents a key cornerstone for why ultranationalism can and will eventually be used within China, when the system starts to break down. This is because China knows it can use the pre-existing systems of technology and ethnocentrism within the country, to when needed rally the Han people together. It is line of thought, alongside clamping down on videogames, celebrity culture and other perceived ‘liberal’ and ‘Green’ (I will explain what is meant by this in the following section regarding Wang Huning) problems that have emerged and absorbed into mainland China. Subsequently, the generation of ultranationalism (specifically around the Han) helps to move around and re-centre the core of China as a political and ethnic identity.
This will be done using the pre-existing social systems in place, alongside the future periods of uncertainty to roll this dice, so to speak. Subsequently, this itself fits into the final point regarding how the usage of ultranationalism matters. This is in specific reference to Heidegger and the concept of Poesis, which will be explored later.
The last core idea, found within that of ultranationalism, as this is the backup default stance for nations in times of upheaval. As demonstrated in the first section, it has remained commonplace throughout history (especially within the Asia-Pacific) that nationalism when used is probably the strongest political force (something championed by John Mearsheimer). Consequently, China is no different regarding this topic and with its subtle attempts to achieve just that desired effect. What does become interesting and scary, is what China is willing to do regarding this topic when it eventually feels like a potential collapse is in order.
It is worth emphasising that as noted throughout this will become the national reserve stance, for China. This is not dissimilar to that of hardcore lockdowns in the era of ‘Zero-Covid’, within the nation. When a nation like China (in part because it lacks the ability to conduct honest self-assessment (too many engineering degrees)) cannot think outside of the self-imposed parameters placed down, they naturally become dogmatic regarding their problem solving. In simple terms, ‘if you have a hammer, all you will see is nails’, but regarding your national cultural system that maintains your respective political systems.
When a nation, realises that the bottom is going to fall out, it must unite itself for the upcoming problems. The best way of doing this is through heightened levels of nationalism, as previously mentioned. On a philosophical level, such ideas can be observed with individuals like Heidegger and his idea of Poesis. However, instead of focusing on technology and revelation, we should instead see ideology (specifically Chinese Ultranationalism as a form of Poesis/ revelation) coming forward.
In short, the material conditions for a wooden cup have always existed (wood exists for humans to use), it is only when we realise what we can use wood for do we then bring wooden cups into existence. This is similar but in ideological terms with the conditions for ultranationalism have already existed (and largely exacerbated), it is merely a question of when needed, realising it into existence too. Its usage, as explored will be down to demographic decline and other forms of civilisational collapse, that will occur within its system (debt, water crisis, food shortages, economic stagnation etc).
Subsequently, I must admit the idea of from an outsider looking in of promoting ultranationalist Confucian Communism, on paper sounds like the biggest contradiction. However, in a weird way this is maybe the best way of thinking about such topics. As such, the communal part of communism does not exist within China, as communism in Mandarin roughly really translates as ‘public propertyism’, a weird but adapt way of revealing both how the state sees its own ideology and how citizens interact with it.
In conclusion, I argue that what we see is a nation, who understands and knows that strong winds are ahead and now seeks to batter down the hatches, it is its response to these multiple problems which show how China aims to approach its problems on a macro-level. The rigidness for which ultranationalism can operate out of, is too great a tool for China not to ignore or downplay when needed.
This can be reflected in other avenues within China more recently. Firstly, the Hong Kong Protests in 2019-2020 was a good example of this with the Liaison Office within the SAR being unable to fully address and deal with the rise in political tensions. Subsequent government and police failings made major protests become a weekly occurrence for the better part of a year, only really ending due to the Coronavirus Pandemic and the introduction of the ‘National Security Law’. This is not withstanding police brutality, democratic erosion and global image loss all compounded together within the SAR.
Secondly, is the Coronavirus Lockdowns in 2022 throughout the nation (specifically Shanghai). These lockdowns showed that the Zero-Covid strategy (alongside failures in vaccine effectiveness and provincial politics) will be the economic car crash.
Both situations have placed larger structural stress on the body politic of China than anything else, since the June Fourth Incident in 1989. It is worth stating that neither of these situations could/ will be cured by ultranationalism, but then again ultranationalism is not meant to be a cure. As succinctly as possible, for China, if you are backed against the wall then ultranationalism, is your very last resort. In truth, Premier Xi knows and understands that the existing economic system cannot guarantee economic growth, because if America shuts down the global exporting market, then China collapses, energy markets crash then China fails. Subsequently, Xi and the CCP are trying to convince the average Chinese person that this is no longer economic, it is political.
As such, the following article will look at and examine the origins for the core internal philosophy at play within China and the individuals behind it. This will specifically focus on the life of an individual called Wang Huning, and why he is perhaps the most important academic you have never heard of. This will help explain the larger structural image that China holds of the Western World and will feature a large amount of Leo Strauss and Han Fei.