Liberty Times Editorial: Unfolding Culture Against the CCP Regime
Yu Ying-shih (余英時), one of the world’s leading Chinese scholars and member of Academia Sinica, died in his sleep at his home in New Jersey on August 1 at the age of 91.
Yu – who studied with Qian Mu (錢穆), considered by many to be the master of sinology – specialized in the history of Chinese thought and culture, and was known for his unique ideas through his numerous publications.
Among his many awards are the John W. Kluge Prize for the Study of Humanity and the Tang Prize for Sinology, which he won in the inaugural year of the prize.
In addition to his academic ideas, Yu has never shied away from expressing his political views, criticizing the dictatorship of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), and supporting democratic movements in Taiwan and Hong Kong. He was considered the most influential public intellectual in the Chinese-speaking world, and his sudden death deeply saddened many.
As a typical Chinese scholar, it was natural that Yu had a close connection to Chinese culture, but at the same time, he was able to avoid the trap of nationalism that ordinary historians easily fall into. He was a culturalist who clearly separated the political orthodoxy represented by the CCP regime from the Confucian orthodoxy inherited from the culture, hoping that Confucianism would restrain political orthodoxy.
Because of this, he viewed the CCP as separate from China and preserved his fascination with its culture.
Yu said that the CCP’s rule has amplified what is bad in Chinese culture, while rejecting what is good.
The role of Mao Zedong (毛澤東) in the story was incriminating, Yu said, adding that “from ancient times to today there has never been anyone [who was] a meaner person than Mao.
Yu said that the destruction of culture and the CCP’s persecution of intellectuals put him on an “anti-civilizational path.”
In a long article titled “Anti-intellectualism and the Chinese Political Tradition” (反 智 論 與 中國 政治 傳統) published early in his career, Yu strongly criticized Mao’s Cultural Revolution.
An anti-intellectualism that denies academic expertise and banishes intellectuals is an obscurantist weapon commonly used by dictators to deceive the public.
Due to his clear decoupling of political orthodoxy from Confucian orthodoxy and China’s CCP, Yu was not deceived by the CCP’s nationalism and “Chinese dream”.
Supporting the “great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation”, calling for forced unification with Taiwan and engaging in “wolf warrior” diplomacy against the Western world are the tricks that Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) and the “little ones roses ”- young, chauvinist Chinese Nationalists and Internet Socialists – use it to disguise their hegemonic ambitions and invoke the evil spirit of Chinese nationalism.
Yu understood all of this and warned the world that the CCP wants to deploy nationalism to finalize political control, to bring China to a Nazi-style regime to create “Nazism with Chinese characteristics.”
For Yu, national interests and glory are meaningless compared to freedom, democracy and humanity.
Therefore, unlike Xi’s Chinese dream which emphasizes power and nationalism, Yu said, “My dream is that everyone can live in peace, do what they want and say what they want. This kind of society is my dream.
This seemingly simple and ordinary dream, but solid, is the dream of a free person, and it shatters the illusion of any dictator.
Yu’s support for democratic movements in the Chinese-speaking world is also worth mentioning. Regarding the Taiwan Democratic Movement, Yu published in the New York Times in support of members of the opposition dangwai (黨外, “outside the party”) movement such as Huang Hsin-chieh (黃 信 介), Chen Chu (陳菊) and Lin I-hsiung (林義雄), who were the subject of a military trial for the 1979 Kaohsiung incident.
After the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, Yu raised funds to establish the Princeton Initiative in China to help Chinese students and intellectuals in exile and to run supportive media advertisements.
Most recently, Yu supported the 2014 Sunflower movement in Taiwan, which he described as “extremely impressive”, as well as the democracy protests in Hong Kong.
He encouraged Hong Kong people to fight for freedom and democracy, saying that they “cannot just be submissive grandsons” or that they will end up being “100% slaves”.
He asserted the “civil disobedience” of Hong Kong people, and stressed that although there would be a price to pay, “to go to jail for it would be a very honorable thing.”
He admires and has high hopes for the success of Taiwan’s democratic transition. Coming from backward and authoritarian China to the liberal and democratic United States, Yu believed that democracy was the only system that could guarantee a peaceful transfer of power without bloodshed. From this point of view, Yu believed that Taiwan’s democratic transition, despite being a small nation, was of great importance to China and could serve as a point of reference.
Based on his love for Taiwan’s democracy, he called for protecting the nation from the CCP’s “united front” strategy and ambition to annex Taiwan, calling it the last place the Chinese people could enjoy. freedom and democracy.
For this reason, he decisively criticized former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) for his pro-China stance, claiming that it was based on “fear of the CCP and was extremely unpromising and embarrassing.” “.
After Chinese historians were hampered by old conventions and began to covet prosperity and wealth, they easily became advocates for “Greater China” hegemony and began to defend and justify the autocratic dictatorship. of the CCP.
Countless academic authorities have surrendered to the dictator, replaced their scholarship with flattery for the regime, which is truly shameful.
However, Yu showed great courage and a strong intellectual character. He stood on the side of the people and criticized the government, pointing out that exiting China is democracy, and the CCP is not equal to China.
Laudably, Yu admitted in his memoir that as a young man, just like his idealistic left-wing peers, he also contracted religious-type fanaticism and “left-wing naivety,” with unrealistic fantasies of what the CCP could realize.
Having witnessed the atrocities committed by the Soviet Red Army and the CCP, he quickly woke up from this misconception, but is still ashamed of himself 60 years later when he remembers this part. of his past.
After waking up from this dream, Yu plunged into the sea of Chinese philosophy and culture. Over time, he developed a unique system of thought and became one of the masters of our time and an intellectual who wrote the most insightful critique of an autocratic regime.
Translated by Lin Lee-kai
Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Comments containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. The final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.