N.S. Lyons: The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning

NB: A very thought-provoking essay.    “The real cell of society in the United States is the individual…. the family, has disintegrated.’ (In the American system) “everything has a dual nature, and the glamour of high commodification abounds. Human flesh, sex, knowledge, politics, power, and law can all become the target of commodification (which) corrupts society… the economic system has created human loneliness” as its foremost product, along with spectacular inequality. “Nihilism has become the American way, which is a fatal shock to cultural development and the American spirit.” Reflecting on the universities and quoting from Allan Bloom’s The Closing of the American Mind, he notes a growing tension between Enlightenment liberal rationalism and a “younger generation [that] is ignorant of traditional Western values… If the value system collapses,” he wonders, “how can the social system be sustained?” Faced with critical social issues like drug addiction, America’s atomized, deracinated, and dispirited society has found itself with “an insurmountable problem” because it no longer has any coherent conceptual grounds from which to mount any resistance.. 

Wang Huning shares Oswald Spengler’s pessimistic view of human character; and reams of sculpting a new personality – a pursuit going back to Rousseau and the Jacobins. A great many issues are raised in this essay, however, which may not be dismissed easily. But I would say to him that if radical individualism is nihilist, so is the dream of total control of the human soul which seems to have possessed the Chinese Communist Party. It was the case with Chairman Mao in the days of the GPCR; it remains the same today. And if human nature is fundamentally evil, as he argues, how may we describe a system that is so terrified of a frail old human rights campaigner that it jails and murders him for asking for the implementation of the Chinese Constitution? 

‘Values’ cannot be manufactured by secret cabals and enforced by tyrants. Not in China and not in India. No solution to the crisis of modern nihilism  may be found outside of the free dialogue of the human conscience. If total freedom is a nihilist illusion; total control by any Great Leader is equally nihilist. Forget it comrade. We have seen the fateful end of all such pipe-dreams. DS

The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning

One day in August 2021, Zhao Wei disappeared. For one of China’s best-known actresses to physically vanish from public view would have been enough to cause a stir on its own. But Zhao’s disappearing act was far more thorough: overnight, she was erased from the internet. Her Weibo social media page, with its 86 million followers, went offline, as did fan sites dedicated to her. Searches for her many films and television shows returned no results on streaming sites. Zhao’s name was scrubbed from the credits of projects she had appeared in or directed, replaced with a blank space. Online discussions uttering her name were censored. Suddenly, little trace remained that the 45-year-old celebrity had ever existed.

Totalitarian Friendship: Carl Schmitt in Contemporary China

She wasn’t alone. Other Chinese entertainers also began to vanish as Chinese government regulators announced a “heightened crackdown” intended to dispense with “vulgar internet celebrities” promoting lascivious lifestyles and to “resolve the problem of chaos” created by online fandom culture. Those imitating the effeminate or androgynous aesthetics of Korean boyband stars—colorfully referred to as “xiao xian rou,” or “little fresh meat”—were next to go, with the government vowing to “resolutely put an end to sissy men” appearing on the screens of China’s impressionable youth.

Zhao and her unfortunate compatriots in the entertainment industry were caught up in something far larger than themselves: a sudden wave of new government policies that are currently upending Chinese life in what state media has characterized as a “profound transformation” of the country. Officially referred to as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “Common Prosperity” campaign, this transformation is proceeding along two parallel lines: a vast regulatory crackdown roiling the private sector economy and a broader moralistic effort to reengineer Chinese culture from the top down.

But why is this “profound transformation” happening? And why now? Most analysis has focused on one man: Xi and his seemingly endless personal obsession with political control. The overlooked answer, however, is that this is indeed the culmination of decades of thinking and planning by a very powerful man—but that man is not Xi Jinping…


Totalitarian Friendship: Carl Schmitt in Contemporary China

Book review: The State as Faction: Mao’s Cultural Revolution

‘He killed a party and a country’: a Chinese insider hits out at Xi Jinping


The Crises of Party Culture: by Yang Guang


Prasenjit Duara – The Chinese World Order in Historical Perspective (2019)


Book review: The State as Faction: Mao’s Cultural Revolution


The Return of the Show Trial: China’s Televised “Confessions”. By Magnus Fiskesjö


Tom Phillips – Cambridge University Press accused of ‘selling its soul’ over Chinese censorship


Book reviews – ‘Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962,’ by Yang Jisheng


The People’s Republic of Thuggery – Chinese agents bar access to the ‘free’ wife of Liu Xiaobo


Ravi Bhoothalingam: Coronavirus and the Mandate of Heaven


China’s feminists protest against wave of online abuse with ‘internet violence museum’


Modi blows hot air at China in a rally in Arunachal Pradesh – forgetting Vajpayee’s surrender in 2003


Hong Kong pro-democracy protests – in pictures


Hong Kong students begin democracy protest – Chinese people struggle for democracy


Cops, Protesters Clash In Huge Hong Kong Demonstrations – Photos


Magnus Fiskesjö: China’s Thousandfold Guantánamos


China is committing ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang – it’s time for the world to stand up: Frances Eve


Dissident artist Ai Weiwei says virus has only strengthened China’s ‘police state’
China’s hidden camps What’s happened to the vanished Uighurs of Xinjiang?


Hong Kong police arrest pro-democracy activists in widening crackdown


Reading Strauss in Beijing – China’s strange taste in Western philosophers


Uyghur leader Dolkun Isa’s statement on India’s withdrawal of his visa // India denies visa to Tiananmen activist Lu Jinghua


Meetu Jain: Sardar Patel statue, Made In China (2015)


Matt Sheehan – Silent documentary on China’s unspooling environmental disasters


The Return of the Show Trial: China’s Televised “Confessions”. By Magnus Fiskesjö


Tom Phillips – Cambridge University Press accused of ‘selling its soul’ over Chinese censorship


Book reviews – ‘Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962,’ by Yang Jisheng


The People’s Republic of Thuggery – Chinese agents bar access to the ‘free’ wife of Liu Xiaobo


Bharat Bhushan: China sizes up PM Modi and India // Mohan Guruswamy: Why the Chinese are laughing at us


Photographer Li Zhensheng remembered for his harrowing images of the Cultural Revolution


Lt Gen H. S. Panag (retd): India’s Fingers have come under Chinese boots. Denial won’t help us // Colonel S Dinny: How China changed status quo


13-Year-Old Mongolian Girl Hunts With Golden Eagles


Wei Jingsheng THE FIFTH MODERNIZATION (1978) // Rong Jian: A China bereft of thought (2013)


Gui Minhai, detained Hong Kong bookseller, jailed for 10 years in China


Chinese Nobel laureate’s widow ‘ready to die’ in house arrest


China’s gift to Europe is a new version of crony capitalism. By Martin Hala


An Open Letter to the world on the Bangladesh crisis of 1971


Remembering June 4, 1989 – Families of Tiananmen Square victims accuse Beijing of three decades of ‘white terror’ // Tiananmen Mothers: No Amount of Power Can Rub Out June Fourth


June 4, 1989 – the Chinese people struggle for democracy. Timeline of the Tiananmen protests


China’s Brave Underground Journal – Remembrance


Looking Back at the June 4 Massacre, Twenty-Four Years on


June 4, 1989 – the Chinese people struggle for democracy



The People’s Republic of Amnesia – Remembering A Forgotten Tiananmen


Minxin Pei – China’s historical amnesia