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Bibliographic Data: Zarrow, Peter. After Empire: The Conceptual Transformation of the Chinese State, 1885-1924. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012.

Main Argument:
The Revolution of 1911 replaced a monarchical system with a republic. The republic was heavily flavored with the taste of military dictatorship and soon fell into warlordism, but the ideal of republicanism continued to motivate intellectuals and activists. At the same time, the range of beliefs that had surrounded the emperorship survived the revolution: the need for enlightened rulers, the power of sageness, the paternalistic responsibilities of the educated classes, and a moralized cosmology. The 1911 Revolution could not have happened unless large numbers of people were prepared to accept an emperor-less world, but it did not only overthrow entrenched views: it built on them as well. […] The fall of the last dynasty, the Qing, represented the collapse not just of a single dynasty but of the entire imperial system, though this was not clear to all in the immediate wake of the revolution. The whole cultural edifice of the imperial system declined together, including: first, the coercive powers of the imperial court vis-a-vis local society; second, the civil service examination system that recruited the bureaucracy and reaffirmed the cultural capital of the gentry; and third, the immense system of classical (sacred) learning upon which the exams were based. (viii-ix)

Historiographical Engagement: Schwartz, etc

Introduction: Argument, Sources, Examples Although the complex of ideas Zarrow terms "imperial Confucianism" "shaped efforts to build new political systems into the twenty-first century," the monarchy itself was gone for good in 1911--indeed, was past due, given the speed and success of the anti-Qing Revolution (3).
The system, not any particular emperor or dynasty, had come to be seen as autocratic and despotic, inherently incapable of responding to the challenges of the day, and opposed by its very nature to the creation of modern citizens. For, it was felt, the imperial forms had to be rooted up if China was to become the rational, dynamic, and civilized nation-state that it needed to become if it were to survive in a dangerous world. This was the view of both those who supported and those who opposed violent revolution. In a sense, the task they set themselves was no less than the creation of China itself out of the moribund empire. Once the revolution had taken place, there was no going back, as Yuan Shikai learned to his cost. (4)
And indeed, nationalism and statism were the keys to this new political discourse: statism, the relationship between state and citizen, who is defined by "rights and duties," led to the concept of citizenship, who by nationalism was constituted as "Chinese," which ≠ "men of Qing": "The empire, which was a multinational project, was not compatible with the concept of a 'people' who more or less shared common blood and a common culture and who were collectively the subject of history. In this view, what counted in history was not one great dynasty succeeding another but the formation of a Chinese people who could stand equally with the other peoples of the world. No people could stand without a state. And so the logic of nationalism led to statism, and ultimately a view of the sovereign state as the subject of history" (ibid).

Chapter 1: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at Kang Youwei's ideas of "popular power" (民權)and his influence in the 1898 "hundred days of reform," which according to Zarrow decisively changed the rules of the game: it "marked a pivotal moment in the creation of a distinctively Chinese national identity defined in political terms that implied a future of full-fledged political rights and participation of citizens. The question of the emperor's relation both to the state and particularly to the nation suddenly emerged as urgent and troubling to any reform agenda" (26-27). Moreover, 1898 legitimated "new forms of political engagement and new standards of state-society relations" among townspeople and literati, while the Manchu court had to prove its legitimacy (26). By the 1890s in general and 1898 in particular, this crisis was almost overdetermined: Cixi and the Guangxu emperor were each centers of incomplete legitimacy in competition with and dependent on each other; the defeat of the Sino-Japanese War (1894-95) was shocking and added to the ongoing crises; the Cixi and Guangxu factions had expanded to constitute an ideological divide in the gentry, which was a precipitating cause of the 1898 reforms; and finally, "the very reforms advocated in 1898 marked a contradiction at the very root of the attempt to reconceptualize the state. …The logical consequence of this intellectual tension was that if the emperor proved incapable of implementing reforms, then he was expendable" (28-29). Kang's thought pushed the classical tradition to the point that it imploded, and although it was easy for others to use his work to separate sovereignty from the emperor, the failure of the 1898 reforms also had an intellectual basis, namely the problem of legitimacy and what it would be based upon once the emperor was stripped of his sagehood.

Chapter 2: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at the thought of Liang Qichao, Kang's most famous student. Fleeing China for Japan in 1898, by 1902 Liang had divorced himself from the Confucian classics as anything but a source of personal morality and was advocating a strong state in the name of nationalism. This was a new epistemology, but it was an epistemology in fits and starts; the weight of the old order was not so easily cast off. Liang's method for political change borrowed from Confucian moral training: self-cultivation and 静坐 were to be applied to the individual, who in groups came to be associated with the public (公)while the monarchy came to be associated with the private (私), which had traditionally been distrusted because it was selfish. Liang's thought both legitimated the individual (i.e. the private realm) and deinstrumentalized it, rendering it integral to an ongoing political process in which the nation had to be constituted in order to survive in a Spencerian world.

Chapter 3: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at the three Western views of the state which were important among Qing intellectuals at the turn of the C20: social contract theory, the organic state, and the sovereign territorialized state as defined in international law. The translation of Elements of International Law and Wheaton's secular definition of the state as something made by humans for their own purposes were highly influential in the question of what the state was--also because the Great Qing was in the process of being remade as a "perfectly equal" state according, allegedly, to these principles. Liang by 1903 had taken a "conservative turn,"
But more importantly, he combined social Darwinism and an organic theory of the state to place the state clearly above society and individual. States have their own purposes, and cannot be reduced to the private interests of anyone, including the emperor. States are transcendent persons (not machines). They are fragile. They must be protected from their own people as well as outside threats. States need a capable, competent citizenry. In return, states nourish and protect their citizens. The interests of a given citizen and the state largely correspond. Liang was skeptical of revolution, democracy, and the revolutionaries, whom he thought were immature and ignorant–yet the revolutionaries, while more optimistic about developing democracy in China, shared Liang's fundamental presumptions about the nature of the state. (117-18)

Chapter 4: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at the reactionaries and their beliefs. By 1905, after the defeats of the Boxer Rebellion and what Hevia identified as the disastrous third phase of imperial pedagogy, these conservatives had come around to the need for Qing constitutionalism, which as Zarrow points out "was partly a response to international pressures and trends that had essentially created the need for modern state-building" (146). Additionally, "the court's promise to turn the Qing into a constitutional monarchy was also an attempt to combine the graded hierarchies of the Confucian social order, with their unequal but mutual responsibilities, with something of the egalitarianism of the nation-state" (146). This dialectic was in fact dependent on the acceptance of a radically different set of discursive terms, namely the need for political modernity on the side of both state and subject. The conservatives had won the day in 1898, but the war did not go in their favor.

Chapter 5: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at how "ideas about identity, history, and the state came together to justify revolution in China," and indeed, by 1898 four of the five big components had already come together in the thought of Tan Sitong: republicanism, egalitarianism, repudiation of the Confucian cosmic-social hierarchy, and anti-Manchuism (147). At the time of his martyr's death in 1898, the only thing that remained "was to define the Han-Manchu distinction more precisely and construct the 'Han nation'" (148). Partly this was done through the uptake of Spencerian theories of evolution: "Liang's real interest was in the evolution of political institution, not races. The lesson he drew from evolution was that humans made history, not history humans, though they did so in groups" (154). Racial science and social Darwinism, when combined with readings of the classics and of mythical figures such as the Yellow Emperor, led both to Han nationalism and to the historical study of the monarchy itself, which led to two challenges to the imperial state: one, "the logic of the dynastic cycle suggested that the Qing was coming to an end," and two, "it was seen that the monarchy was not eternal–there was a time, in many ways superior, before the hereditary dynastic system was established, and there was now another time of fundamental change. … There was often an implication–a hint in the dry textbookish air–that as the dynastic cycle might be bringing the Qing to its end, so larger progressive forces were bringing the monarchy itself to an end. Whether the result was a constitutional monarchy or a republic scarcely mattered in terms of the fundamental political transformation being hinted at" (179).

Chapter 6: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at the dialogue between reformers and revolutionaries in the first decade of the C20; in many ways, the revolutionaries were more conservative, with their calls for "restoration" (guangfu) and "recovery" (huifu)--but the key point is that the Qing had alienated their natural supporters, the local gentry, who by 1910 were committed to constitutionalism, and who were willing to support republicanism if the monarchy refused to compromise, which when push came to shove it did. The Revolution of 1911 was highly contingent and almost comically slow and piecemeal, although the Manchus who died in mob violence attest to the fact that it was not wholly un-violent; indeed, the New Army provided its locus and eventually, in the form of Yuan Shikai, the Republic of China's new president.

Chapter 7: Argument, Sources, Examples This chapter looks at the multiple foundlings of the Republic of China (which under Yuan Shikai proclaimed the unity of the five races even as it represented itself as the 中華民國) and its political rituals, specifically the holiday of Double Ten, or the national day commemorating the beginning of the Revolution: "while involving many of the same physical actions such as parades, lanterns, and banquets, emphasized common identity," even as that identity was constituted through new bodily practices and gestures, such as the end of the queue and of foot-binding, of short hair for men and long hair for women, of the adoption of the handshake of bowing, and of sartorial reform (239). At the same time, Double Ten constituted individuals as part of groups (Spencer again) and through groups the state reached and claimed them. Zarrow argues that the revolution's real triumph was its promulgation of the status and symbols of citizenship to previously disenfranchised groups in the early Republic, even as that citizenship remained unstable and the Republic itself questionable.

Chapter 8: Argument, Sources, Examples The last emperors of China--Puyi and Yuan Shikai--were deposed multiple times by military force between 1911 and 1924, but military force was not the point: despite the constitutional monarchists and Qing loyalists lurking in and around the Forbidden City, no one who mattered any longer conceived of a state based on an emperor. The Revolution, however partial, could not be undone.

Conclusion: Argument, Sources, Examples
…the historical commonplace that the 1911 Revolution was merely one stage of a longer revolutionary process that culminated in the 1939 Communist Revolution–or that "1911" was less important than "1949"–is misleading. The creation of the Republic of China in 1912, whatever its flaws, marked the establishment of modern Chinese national identity. We can see this in the use of the terms "Chinese" and "citizen" and loyalty to the nation-state, and all this implied for the destruction of the old sociopolitical system and the ambiguities of filling that vacuum. This process required "awakening" as John Fitzgerald has shown–awaking of the self, the nation, the masses–and we may add this in turn rested on considerable intellectual work on the problem of what people should be awakened to. If modern Chinese identity is understood as a project, it was not finished in 1912, and it is still not finished today. […]

The Chinese technocratic state of the twenty-first century no doubt owes much to Qing officialdom. But its normative base has been remade; it can claim no transcendental legitimacy. The struggles over political meaning that began in the late Qing have not yet concluded. (272-73; 296)

Critical assessment: Sentence fragments: many. I think Zarrow is pretty much correct in what he says; my brain is too full to venture much more than that, tbh.

Further reading: Schwartz, In Search of Wealth and Power; Karl, Staging the World; Hevia, English Lessons; Liu, Clash of Empires; Jones, Developmental Fairy Tales

(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 04:50 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
the civil service examination system that recruited the bureaucracy and reaffirmed the cultural capital of the henry

I assume that last word is a autocorrection run wrong. "Court" seems the obvious original, but I see no clear tyop that could lead to that transformation. What was it?


(no subject)

Date: 2014-04-09 14:20 (UTC)
lnhammer: lo-fi photo of a tall, thin man - caption: "some guy" (Default)
From: [personal profile] lnhammer
Oh, gentry. That makes more sense.



ahorbinski: shelves stuffed with books (Default)
Andrea J. Horbinski

August 2017

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