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« Can a Black Man be Chinese? | Main | After Kim »

September 09, 2008


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I'm less worried about "faking" modernity. I don't think China is doing that, its industrial might stands as testament against such an assertion. However, I am terrified at the idea that China is undergoing a partial modernization like Germany and Japan did . . .

How would we know if China's modernization is not partial?

I don't really know. You are the poli sci expert after all. Do you think China is following a sonderweg? It certainly looks like it could go that way to me. After all, there have been massive changes in the industrial sphere. It also seems like there have been some changes in the social sphere, which is heartening. But are they enough? The political sphere is also quite stagnant. Inter-party democracy, anyone?

Do you think China is following a sonderweg?
Guy: Aren't you just stealing a page from Neo-con on China ? So,taking China as a partial modernity, or a faking modernity as a fact, who is your candidate as a perfectly un-partial, non-faking modernity?

On "The political sphere is also quite stagnant", here is a good reference point from the best pol sci expert:

Heh. Good youtube.

As for perfect examples of modernity, aren't Britain, France, and America considered fully-modern within the Sonderweg theory, as the theory defines the terms? Are they perfect systems? Clearly not. But I don't see that as problematic for the thesis. A lot of it depends on how we are defining 'modernity', sure.

The sonderweg thing strikes me as a Germany nationalist fantasy. Why should we believe that Nazism was somehow inevitable? I take a much more contingent view of history, all histories. That said, I think processes of modernization are generally destabilizing wherever they occur. The US civil war can be understood as a result of modernizing forces, etc. So, it is less a matter of whether China has only "partially" modernized but, rather, simply a matter of how the destabilizing forces of modernization play themselves out in the particular case of China. That does not necessarily mean that China will become militarily aggressive; I think global geo-strategic factors limit that possibility. If I were to guess, I would suggest that internal social instability, which may or may not prove to be manageable within the current political framework, is the most likely outcome in the next decade or two. But that's just a guess.

Yes-and-no. While neither Nazism nor the American Civil War were inevitable, they did indeed happen. And since they did happen, we can trace their influences and causes and (hopefully) learn from them. As for military aggression, I'd agree that China is less likely to follow a military route like Japan and Germany, the geo-political environment has changed a great deal since then. But in China's sonderweg, I'm not sure that things like multiculturalism, for example, are bound to arise because of economic advancements. Another troubling factor is that we could be wrong on the geo-political climate. America has done a fine job reviving jingoism and military adventurism. Additionally, a classic solution to internal problems is to focus people's attentions elsewhere. A good war takes care of that quite nicely. Though the modern way to do it is invent an omnipresent opponent, such as "Communists" or "Terrorists" and 'fight' them.

If each country has its own particular sonderweg, than no one weg is particularly sonder. That is, if all is contingency, which seems right to me, than there are no exceptions to a general pattern, because there is no general pattern...
And, yes, I agree, my "China will multiculturalize" argument is in need of refurbishment.

I don't think every country undergoes a sonderweg. I think that the sonderweg thesis can be applied to countries undergoing partial modernization. And, loathe though I am to agree with twits like in the article, China may be going through just such a process.

To use an overexposed example, look at all the shinanigans at the Olympics. Perfectly normal for a non-modern state that is able to filter the information that its population receives. But quite sonderbar for a modern state.

Now, I'll agree that what constitutes a modern state is up for debate. So it all boils down to how you define 'modernity'.

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