Today I bring you two stories from China which, at a passing glance are unrelated but have deep relationship to a central challenge of modern Chinese governance. This challenge is to resist the insidious infection of Western values The first story comes out of Quartz the central issue is summed up nicely in the opening sentence “In China, they say that there are three genders: male, female, and female PhD.” China did not have the sexual revolution or the civil rights movement or the union battles or suffragette movements or cultural Marxism. They did have the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s own version of “Cultural Marxism” but despite the tumult of the Cultural Revolution traditional values still cling to the bones of Chinese history. Mao’s “cultural Marxism” had more to do with his own appraisal of Chinese culture as the fundamental weakness of Chinese society mixed with…well… Marxism (also used as leverage to gauge loyalty tear down opponents and adopt some of the weird communist egalitarian doctrines which by today’s standards are quite quaint). Mao’s revolution was more western supremacist than the mere swapping of Europeans for the bourgeois. While the western world has had nearly 60 years to adjust and acclimate to the movement of women into the workplace China’s experience with China’s only had two and a half decades. Women working under a communist system weren’t subjected to the same incentives as the modern west, one status signaled by loyalty to whatever was the current fad in party doctrine not necessarily by working hard to acquire masculine competitive status signals (in addition female peasants used to work just as did their western counterparts). The great leap forward for all its strife was not as radical or tumultuous to Chinese culture as the changes ripping through the West. When subjected both to Western education and Western style capitalism women in the workplace experience the emergent conflicts between traditional gender roles and the limitations of the masculine path to status. China’s resurgence of Confucian values is advantageous to China’s memetic sovereignty, which is why their own “NGO” is called the Confucius Institute not the Maoist institute. The Confucius Institute is funded by the Ministry of Education of the People’s Republic of China which it uses as a tool to spread its influence and soft power.
For an example of a traditional Chinese idea “…is that no woman should occupy a position higher than that of her husband.” I would describe this more as a positive observation about equilibrium in gender roles. While in the Western sense in which analysis is based solely on the individual (and their identity etc.) this seems to be a normative statement about women. While it may have normative connotations and origins, considered from a teleofunctionalist perspective it is a functional description of both female and male psychology and stable gender roles. Marriage is a carcinisation selected for by Gnon which allows for a dramatic increase in child investment. This relationship happens to be most stable when men make more money (a form of status and a fitness test) or possess more status than their wives. People, and women are no exception, judge status and values relatively. While a man might from an objective perspective be worthy, if they possess less status than their wife, the wife will feel as if the man has no status. Her evaluation of status and wealth is from the fixed perspective of her income and status not in comparison to what she needs or even wants (as in spoken rather than revealed preferences) or the available pool of men. The positive differential in status and wealth between a man and his wife provides a sense of security in addition to the traditional trade of resources (social capital included) for genetic replication. If the balanced is reversed there is no sense of gain from the relationship and the wife allows reproduction for free. That is why given the stratification of abilities, fitness etc. of a pool of men, increasing women’s status decreases the available pool of marriageable men and tends to lower the stability and longevity of marriages.
“Educated Chinese women weren’t always treated this way. In the early days of the People’s Republic, the Communist party worked hard to overturn old Confucian ideas about women. Mao Zedong famously called on women to “hold up half the sky,” by going to school and taking up jobs.
As a result, high school enrollment for girls reached 40% in 1981 (pdf, p. 381), up from 25% in 1949, while university enrollment rose from 20% to 34% over the same period, according to a 1992 analysis by the East West Center in Hawaii.
As many as 90% of women were working in the mid-1980s, according to the same paper…Ever since China started dismantling its planned economy in the 1980s and 1990s, dissolving many of the state-owned enterprises that employed women, more conservative values have begun to resurface. Now traditional ideas about women are creeping back into Chinese society. “It’s like returning to the idea that ignorance is a woman’s virtue,” says He Yufei, 27, one of Deng’s classmates at Hong Kong University, quoting an old idiom used to encourage women to focus on their roles as mothers or wives.”-Quartz
Under communism women like most of China had government jobs. Jobs provided by bloated firms which provided, until their dismantling, cradle to grave employment and care. This was not the competitive world of the market but the slow “cushy” (this is more of a statement about goals and pace rather than wealth) jobs of bureaucracy. As I said before when there is little incentive to compete then there is no status signaling based on merit? Status signaling even in communist China was determined partly by the job you took but this was in turn controlled by the party. In addition this was not a pattern voluntarily chosen by the people but one enforced by edict. Chinese women were not lured but shoved into the work place. While “ignorance is a woman’s virtue” might be a bit of an overstatement it is clear today that the majority of women should not forsake motherhood for the pursuit of knowledge. The trend of female employment has slowly declined since the communist days. Classical class roles including the status that went with them quickly resumed after Deng Xiaoping’s “To get rich is glorious” reforms.
“As a result, China’s female labor-force participation, once among the world’s highest, has been ticking downward. The proportion of urban women in the workforce fell to 60.8% in 2010, compared to 77.4% in 1990, as more women choose to stay home after having a child. ” –Quartz
Education is one of many ways in which men compete for status and resources. Given that this competition quickly results in escalation becoming a top dog on the educational pile has over two centuries become a lengthy and demanding process requiring the sacrifice of most of one’s 20’s. The PhD actually emerged from the Prussian tradition of education. Before PhD’s were extant outside of Prussia, American and other Western Academics would travel to Germany and later other parts of Europe to one up their Undergraduate counterparts by getting a Prussian Doctorate. This practice was eventually transplanted across the western world. The PhD still functions very well as a symbol of status and academic merit less so for its rigor as much as the time and resources spent in academia ( one will note that every year of experience on the job is an asset but half a PhD is not). While the sacrifice of your 20’s works well enough within the male gender role it is anathema to the female. In the western world we are accustomed to females eschewing gender roles, however it is quite obvious in China when women are putting something before family.
“According to their many critics, they are aloof, unattractive, self-important careerists who, according to some Chinese academics and officials, even threaten the country’s very social fabric by putting education before family.” –Quartz
Again to the Western first part of this sentence may seem offensive but relatable, the second part ridiculous. Yet like many civilizations before us, we forget babies don’t grow on trees and they certainly aren’t raised by them. In order for the population to replace itself, a good portion of the fairer half of the population must devote it’s time to raising children for the better part of two decades or longer. Even China which has eschewed population growth for the one child policy (which has been somewhat relaxed of late: among other changes two only children are allowed to have two children) understands that investment in children requires a traditional family structure. To get a glimpse into what the traditional Chinese mindset on the female gender role entails we can look no further to the concept of shengnu 剩女 leftover women roughly defined as women who are 27 or older and aren’t married. “’Women are seen primarily as these reproductive entities, having babies for the good of the nation…’”-Quartz Well only one gender can carry a child and it takes half of a marriage to raise a child, so I don’t see why that is such a radical position. Chinese traditions reflect the typical ages when women are both at their peak market value and when they are most likely to produce healthy children. Some societies have norms which skew the normal marriage age as far as 26 but generally speaking “traditional” societies don’t go much past this. China, which is a shame not guilt based culture, is reacting much in the same the way that their great-grandparents would have to old spinsters: they are shaming them. “They are already old, like yellowed pearls” and “Single women who undertake doctoral degrees are like “products that depreciate in value.”” Other pejoratives associated with old maids in China are “third gender”, “UFOs” (ugly, foolish and old) and “nun of no mercy” after a fictional mannish female Kung-Fu character. These characterizations are unsurprising given the average PhD program is completed by age 28 one year after a Chinese woman is considered a “leftover woman”. It is one thing to be for whatever reason unmarried at 28 it is another to choose to pursue a path which almost guarantee’s forgoing marriage.
Let’s see what some random Chinese internet denizen has to say about them “They are unscrupulous, hypocritical, filthy, and weak.” That sounds really familiar. What does that description remind me of? Let’s take a closer look a pair of the third gender.
“Deng defies the stereotype. She is talkative, with a high, soft voice and a short bob that gives her a cherubic look. She is researching conditions at Chinese factories in the hopes of improving life for workers.”
“Huang Yalan, a 25-year-old woman earning a PhD in communications at Tsinghua University in Beijing, lives in a small single dorm on campus and spends most of her day poring over articles on propaganda theory, her thesis topic.” –Quartz
I will reserve judgment on the content of their majors for now as often majors and subjects of study get lost in translation especially with western media trying to advance a narrative. For example China does employ a large number of people to write and produce propaganda. Maybe this woman is just a loyal comrade?
Deng ““I think female PhD students can show another kind of life for women,” she said. “As in, not living life through their husbands, sons, or brothers but showing women can be educated, independent, and happy.”” –Quartz
Given that Deng is studying in Hong Kong it is unsurprising that she shares this sort of sentiment. But it is telling that this is coming from a woman going against the prevailing norms in society. Again this could simply be the framing of Western media, but it points to a dangerous trend of implicitly if not explicit Feminists back-dooring Chinese culture. You don’t actually have to have Western Academics on campus for women to seek liberation, just a healthy dose of Western media and an opportunity to pursue traditionally male paths. After all this is not the first time in history Women have been liberated and feminism ( the tendencies of decadent societies to liberate women and the resultant side effects ) is much older than Feminism™.
After hearing from the UFOs lets hear how the media feels about these reactionary sentiments from the Chinese?
“Today, Chinese women are more educated than ever, with more women seeking advanced degrees. But as their numbers increase so does the criticism and ridicule leveled at them. It’s a worrying reflection, gender experts say, of increasingly conservative Chinese attitudes toward women even as the country’s citizens grow richer and more educated.” –Quartz
First of all “gender experts”? Second this quote underlines the basic Western Liberal assumption that as people become more wealthy and educated that they magically turn into Brahmins and that for that matter education is an unalloyed good. While there is a correlation between wealth education and Brahminhood the Chinese have some ability to maintain memetic sovereignty over their educated and merchant class. They aren’t perfect there are plenty of defectors but they typically end up on the right tail edge of the Overton window in values though not in signaling. Speaking of signaling as it turns out Brahmin don’t actually care about family all that much. 77% of Solid Liberals and 72% of Next Generation Left ( part of the most recent Pew typology and the two groups most similar to the Menciian Brahmin Caste both upper class highly educated and liberal ) believed that “Society is well off if people have priorities other than marriage & children.” Whatever they might say, they don’t care about the well-being and raising of children. To them children are just warm bodies that haven’t been assimilated through education. Having and raising children is the duty of their inferiors. This is in stark contract to China, which as it turns out is more concerned with healthy families than the rest of Asia.
“Discouraging women from getting jobs or education hurts any country’s economy, and especially China’s. The country faces a rapidly aging population and a labor force that is expected to start shedding as many as 10 million workers this year. The working-age population, which has been shrinking since 2012, fell by almost 4 million last year. Two neighboring countries with similar demographic problems, Japan and South Korea, have both launched public campaigns to get more women in the workforce. China has initiated no such campaigns.”
Actually having women in the workforce tends to lower wages and the only benefit is an increase in taxable labor. It is unsurprising that the two countries in Asia still occupied by American forces and with close ties to the American regime are following the “proper” path and it is equally unsurprising that the one country in Asia with an ounce of memetic sovereignty is not. In order to maintain its sovereignty China is putting their foot down on foreign NGOs. Its no secret that American NGO’s typically come with an American perspective. Its also no secret that this perspective is typically on the left side of the American Overton window. China is wise to want to limit foreign influence and to build a memetic wall to complement their Great Firewall. The second story is about they very memetic wall via The Diplomat.
On Monday, China announced that it would move to “regulate” foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to keep political checks on these organizations and to prevent them from fomenting political unrest. NGO regulation is part of a new law being discussed this week, according to reports in Chinese state media. Reuters reports that the new law will primarily step up supervision of the “fast-growing” NGO sector in China. The law is under debate following a months-long investigation into foreign NGO operations in China as part of a national security initiative. Chinese President Xi Jinping himself headed the national panel under which the NGO investigation was conducted. –The Diplomat
It appears that they are taking the issue seriously if Xi Jinping is involved. Regulation is key to rooting out agitators and subversion. Given the stark differences between Brahmin and Chinese culture any on person or organization could be a carrier of dangerously subversive ideas. Even an apolitical moderate still carries strains of the leftward drift from the past few hundred years. The very idea of Western Democracy is one foreign to Chinese culture.
China’s move to regulate NGOs is occurring at both national and local levels. For example, Guangzhou recently passed a law requiring NGOs and other civic groups to register with the city government. The city government cited concerns over “illegal” social organizations. Critics of the law noted that it would almost certainly result in a large decrease in civil society activism in and around the city. –The Diplomat
While the western media might see a decrease in social activism as a bad thing that is precisely the point of the laws, they are designed to create stability and limit activist activities. America was founded on activist roots it is in the DNA of our institutions and civic religion. Modern activism is celebrated like the heroes of old. Institutions like Western media which make their money selling stories of activism and fanning flames could not comprehend a world where citizens accept their lot and go about their lives with no concern for the political life. Just as politics has come to consume the West, China has made a point of squashing any sort of nascent activist or political movements.
”the bill aims to regulate the activities of overseas NGOs in China, protect their legal rights and interests, and promote exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreigners.” Additionally, under the law, all levels of government bureaucracy in China will be required to ”provide policy consultation, assistance and guidance for overseas NGOs so that they can effectively and legally operate in the mainland.” ”It is necessary to have a law to regulate, guide and supervise their activities,”
In the same way China regulates foreign companies by forcing them to partner with Chinese ones, China will leverage its vast bureaucracy to monitor and control NGOs. In this way it can allow NGOs to enter but only if they play the game. Similarly it will have eyes on their operations to make it more difficult for them operate. As it turns out China was not the first major country to implement laws regulating foreign NGOs. Lets look at an article from Xinhua. Xinhua was reporting on a speech from Putin discussing Russia’s own foreign NGO laws.
Putin: “If we do not have sovereignty, we will dissolve, whether quietly or with tragedies on the way. But either way we cannot let this happen.”-Xinhua
This strikes at the heart of the issue of NGOs: they are a threat to a country’s sovereignty. They change the very psyche of the people by introducing novel memes. The law classifies any NGOs which are financed abroad as foreign agents. It calls the west on their bull and makes the drop the mask if they want to attempt to operate in Russia. The west can’t see that NGOs are foreign agents precisely because it assumes that activism is a right of man and that it would be only natural that NGOs operate in the subversive ways they do. This law as well as the one in China are firm stands against one of the strongest tools in the Western arsenal.
Putin “no one is pressuring us, they are trying to … their arms are not long enough…Putin said in his state of the nation address that Russia will not bow to outside pressure because “the more we retreat, the more our opponents will behave cynically and aggressively.”-Xinhua
Putin either implicitly or explicitly recognizes the predatory behavior of the West. If Russia and United States were offered to sign a memetic cease fire tomorrow Russia would gladly sign and the United States would tear up the contract mumbling something about Democracy and Freedom. Russia being the prey doesn’t have the power to overcome the social order created by the soft power of the United States, it can only play defense. The U.S. knows it and will take every opportunity to condemn Russia for its backwards despotism all the while trying to enforce its ideas on Russia’s populace.
The primary objective of the law was to prevent people abroad from “using financial resources to meddle in our political life, in our internal political affairs,” –Xinhua
When reading Xinhua’s own account of the Chinese law we can hear a muted echo of Putin’s rhetoric: “legislators reviewed a draft law on national security, recognizing the necessity of such a law in safeguarding national sovereignty and interests and social stability as well as in promoting the rule of law.” – Xinhua For the west this is just another geopolitical game to be played out on the grand stage of history, another potential story on the nighttime news to be quickly forgotten. For China sovereignty is something to be fought for before it becomes another casualty in the universal experiment of the enlightenment.