Further Reading: Discourse on Han-Tartar-West Cultural Systems, Part 1

Participants of the Orbis Institute and Song Yuren, at the Zhengzhou Confucian Temple, June 2007.

Song Qingsheng (宋慶勝), or more popularly known by his courtesy address Yuren (豫人), is a prominent speaker of Hanist thought in the Huaxia Restoration Movement. He is self-titled as “Researcher for the purpose of Saving Huaxia culture (华夏文明研救者)”, and a transmitter of the Standards Vessel sect of the Yi School (School of Changes) thought (易家制器派傳人). After his retirement from his post as a CCP local official, he has been actively studying, writing, and lecturing about the possibilities and necessity of a revival of Han Chinese tradition as a cultural backbone to restoring prominence and survival of the Han Chinese race. For the past two years, Song has travelled across China and Malaysia to give lectures in his discourse, as well as in ritual and etiquette of the Han Chinese tradition. In the details of this post is an example of his lectures, usually an hour long, on recategorizing discourse found in China into three major systems divided not by political spectrum, but as cultural groups. He notes as his conclusion that for the past two centuries, China has been continually experimenting with foreign systems of thought with varying degrees of success, but to ensure survival of the race, one must rely on indigenous virtues and discourse to ensure existance of the Chinese legacy in the future. 

In this translation, I will attempt to maintain the grammatical structure of the original Chinese language (including the many redundancies found in public speech patterns), so that the reader can follow through with the original lecture without too much difficulty. 

Mr. SONG Yuren’s Han Lectures at the Elm Altar Series
Cultural Discourse of Han, Tartar, and Western Systems
(Lecture 1, morning of Saturday, October 24) 

[Former] video link:http://v.blog.sohu.com/u/vw/3708516
[New] Video download: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMTM3NzYxODUy.html


Venue:Every Saturday and Sunday, under the elm tree in the Zhengzhou City God Temple 

Welcome everyone to the Han School Forum! Because I had to go to Beijing last week, I wasn’t here. This week we’ll continue: Today our topic of discussion is Han, Tartar, West – three systems of culture. Because this is a cultural arts forum, not a martial arts forum, that’s why someone cam here asking, why don’t I ever see you practicing martial arts? That’s because we’re all cultural people, and there are plenty of other places to practice martial arts, plenty of wushu schools around. We’re here to play around with culture, so we’ll talk culture. When some people talk about culture nowadays, there’s a huge area of misconception, especially when it comes to the culture in our Chinese territory. This misconception is too huge, so today we’ll only take on this topic with a basic investigation. 


First of all, we have to know what is culture [wen-hua 文化], what exactly is this culture thing. When you look at the definition of culture today, then there’s plenty out there: Go to your closest Xinhua Bookstore and find a book discussing culture, and go find a definition. From what I see, there’s no less than 50 or 60 of them. Definitions of every kind, like what humans create, like material, like whatever. Whatever the case, there’s a whole string of them and I can’t remember them all. In actuality, our ancestors have a very simple explanation for culture. You want to know culture, you must first know what is wen 文 and what is hua 化. Because we are a Han School forum, we stand from the perspective of interpretation based on our Han school of theory, not the angle of Westerners, nor the perspective of those former nomadic ethnicities. 

What exactly is this wen thing? What does this wen equate to in the distant past? Interchangeable with this character, is the word [wen 紋], as in “pattern [hua-wen 花紋]”. Some ask, what does the wen in “pattern” mean? This is actually quite simple. Take a look and look again, see that roosters, peacocks – as long as they [animals] are male, the patterns are all naturally beautiful. In the animal world, as long as they’re stronger, or slightly higher up the hierarchy, their bodies all have patterns, this is the pattern from evolution. Some ask, why does it need to evolve a pattern? You’ll get it when you go observe them. Nowadays the Westerners have taken many television documentaries about the natural world. They observed nature in detail – in actuality, in this animal world, they have a commonality, shared trait. As long as they have patterns on them, they’re relatively advanced in the animal world. How advanced is it? In many respects it starts to not have to use brute force. For example, take a chicken – in this coop of chickens you have a rooster, and you pluck its feathers clean. This old rooster, it’s not pretty, so it’ll feel embarassed – like people, say if you’re bare naked now, it’d be hugely embarassed, and it’ll hide itself up. Even chicks have the same reason – you pluck its fancy coat, and it’ll hide itself away. Say that it managed to come back out, gotten used to it, and wants to find a hen to mate – it only has one method. What method? That’d only be brute force. 

What is this brute force [man-jing 蠻勁]? The meaning of man is a large animal that can grab smaller animals. That’s why our ancestors once called the people living south of us, our Southerners, as man, as barbarians [ye-man ren 野蠻人]. They called them man, why is that? They were just like tigers and panthers, and hunt small animals for food, up in the mountains. So we called them barbarians, since they only used brute force. A rooster, given that it has no good looks, and it wants to find a hen, will have to chase all over the yard, and whenever the hen can no longer run, can this rooster accomplish its wish. On the other hand, those roosters that look pretty, with good looks, and a graceful call – that kind of rooster, with one flap of the wing, give a “cuckoo”, and the hens will rally up and flock to its side. This rooster doesn’t need to use brute force. So what does this wen 文 mean? That’d be not using brute force – it is an opposing concept relative to brute force. Say that you grab a knife, and tell the other guy to get up. Then that’s not wen, that’d be “wu” [武, martial] – or actually, it’s not even wu, that’s just man, brute force, or you could even say it’s tyranny, but the closest name would still be “brute”. Man and wen are opposing concepts. 

So what does this Hua 化 mean? Our ancestors said, “A myriad things come to being [萬物化成]”, meaning that nature has evolved into this state. Hua is to change. So what does Wen-hua [culture] really mean? If we have to give it a definition, as in a relatively easier to understand terms, that’d be “trying to change someone else by not using brute force”, that’d be called Wen-hua. It is actually very simple, and once you understand this you’ll get what culture means. Some say that the Manchu Qing Empire had no wen-hua, and the Mongols had no wen-hua, then they’re absolutely right – that’s because back then when they came in [China], they were holding onto a knife, grabbing a big axe, and “Get the bloody hell out of the Central Plains!” and the Hans ran. You don’t fight them, they chop off your head. What is this called? This is called brute force. They have taken us, our exemplary people, and turned them into a bunch of barbarians, making us become slaves. What is this hua‘ing us? This is called Man-hua [蠻化, lit. “Barbarian-izing”]. When our ancestors talked about wen-hua and man-hua, they were talking about opposing concepts. 

Once you have a concept of wenhua, then you’d know what is a wenhua-person. What is this cultural person? That’d be someone who can change others without using brute force. If you are to call yourself a cultural person, then you cannot change someone by means of force. If you are to do that, then you are called a barbarianizing person, not a cultural person. You must make very clear of this idea. Let’s raise an example to better understand this. What example? Look at the guy doing fortune-telling at the end of the street – he is a cultural person. Originally, an old lady was holding a basket, about to shop for some groceries. When she got there, he says, “Come here Sis, sit down for a moment, and I’ll give you a word of advice or two.” Once he starts talking away, saying this and that is good, bringing up a whole set of theories, one moment going all the way out there, and the other back down to earth. The first moment he’d go to your ancestors, and the next moment about today, and then starts talking about the future. This old lady listens, and thinks that there’s some sense in it – now keep in mind that she was originally intending on shopping – she’s not going to do that now, so she places down her basket, “wait for me there Bro’,” and she goes back home – what for? To get spare change to tip this guy! This is the archetypical person of culture. He hasn’t used any brute force, and he didn’t point a knife at the old lady and said, “go home and get me money”, or drag a hammer – all he did was talk reason, never using brute force. The old lady was originally planning on buying groceries but now she’s not, so what’s she changed to doing now? She’s now going to go home and get money for the fortunetelling guy, this is the typical wenhua person. 

So what’s a barbarian-izing person? Let me give an example, easily understandable to the lay person – the city inspectors you find today. These city inspectors go in their patrol cars, and just stand there. Voila, the street peddlers all run for their lives. Those merchants and vendors were originally set up shop there, but that changes changes as soon as they see the car coming, and they change attitudes because they’re scared. But through what is this fear caused by? This is not through wen that they’re scared, but by the city inspectors’ brute force. That’s because they know that if they don’t scuttle, the inspectors don’t give a darn and kick down the stalls first. What happens if you still don’t listen? If you don’t comply, fine, several of them grab you and stuff you into the car, and drag you to an isolated place. They rely completely on brute force. This is the typical barbarianizing person. Actually, we don’t even need to go far – just head out onto the street and take a look, and you can see the difference between cultural people and barbarianizing people. Of course there’d also be ones with a bit higher level, that is, they know how to use both wenhua and manhua: First they come try to talk some reason to you, and if that doesn’t work, they use their fists. If he knows both, then their standard is a bit higher. The examples we’ve raised here are all cultural people on the small scale, and he could change no more than an old lady or the several stalls out there on the street. 

What is a big cultural person? That’d be those who sit at the top of our Social Sciences Academy, those military commander-in-chiefs, or those at the top of the institutions – they are all big cultural figures. They don’t have to grab knives or guns, they create a set of theories for you. What kind of theory? Nowadays, stocks are a beautiful thing. Look at how much money you can get out of the stock market – the idiot from my village threw two thousand kuai into it, and now it’s worth twenty thousand. As soon as they advertise it on TV, and then they find a couple of role models for publicity, and the people hear it, and voila! This is amazing stuff, since the money was originally put there for his retirement, or for buying a house, and with that whole bit the thing kicks off, and the couple discusses it, “let’s not buy the house, or retire, and let’s throw our money that way – even the village idiot can make money, so we could probably do better than that too?” and they invest their money too. How many people do you think these guys on TV have changed? They have changed thousands upon thousands of people, and these are called big cultural figures. Now what kind of a cultural person am I? The kind I am is called the in-between cultural figure, since I can’t convert people by the thousands, nor change the lives of a single old woman. What can I change? Those who come listen to my lectures, and over time, I can change thirty or fifty, or maybe even seven, eight hundred. This is called an in-between cultural person. This “culture” and “cultural person” concept is actually very simple, by using our Han School definition. Now every one of us here have this concept clear – since we are discussing culture today, if you don’t even know what is culture, how can you discuss it? 

What is the second thing we have to discuss now? Since our topic today is on the Han, Tartar, and West systems of culture — first of all, what is this “Han, Tartar, West” thing? Second, why is it called Han, Tartar, and West? This is the foundational concept. If you don’t have these basics, you will have a hard time getting it. What is “Han”? Nowadays we put down “ethnic Han [hanzu 漢族] when we fill our application forms, but does this “Han” refer to us ethnic Hans? It does not. Our ancestors have a name in history, which its formal title is “Huaxia people”, and its smaller, informal title “Han people”. When we mention “Han” here means that it is us Han people, not our [government’s] “ethnic Hans”. So when did we begin to have this “ethnic Han” name? Legally, it existed only after the 1950’s, after Mao Zedong and them people who consider Karl Marx as their ancestors [who thought of it]. Their lineage by blood is Han, and this group of people call themselves “ethnic Hans”. But what we’re talking about here is not ethnic Hans, but Han people. They are our ancestors, or all the ethnic Chinese around the world and their ancestors. Currently, everyone who has Chinese bloodlines may not be ethnic Hans – some of them went to the Huis, some went to the Tujias, some went to Zhuangs, and others Manchus, Mongolians et cetera. Some overseas have even formed a new ethnic Asians, and they haven’t ever filled out their forms in their whole lives as “ethnic Hans”. They aren’t people who lived inside the territory of Mao Zedong’s Republic. Even those who live in this territory, not everyone who is a descendent of the Han people are ethnic Hans, since their registry could be changed to another ethnicity. Some have been assigned to another ethnicity after the classification after the 1950’s. 

This concept of “Huaxia people” and “Han people” must be made clear. “Huaxia people” is a formal title. “Han people” is an informal title. It refers to the people living on this planet Earth, prior to their elimination by the Manchus, all the descendents of Sage Kings Yan and Huang, and those who identify with our Huaxia civilization. But then some people may not identify with it, and went to another ethnicity, like when the Manchus invaded, we had many Huaxia people, Han people, and went under the Banner, became the Banner people of the Manchus. They are no longer Huaxia people. Just like changing your registry today, they have changed to become another ethnicity. They are no longer part of the Han people. This is despite they may still have the same blood, since ethnicity is a matter of both lineage and civilization. 

This “Han” refers to Huaxia people, Han people. So what does “Da” (韃) refer to? That’d be the Tartars of history. Tartars lived in what is now the USSR (the USSR no longer exists), they currently live within what is modern day Russia. These Tartars used to be a sect of the Mongols back then, a branch of the Mongolian race. However, most other civilizations use this name to refer to all other similar tribes. Nomadic ethnicities and fishing-hunter ethnicities are a horseback people. They don’t grow crops, they’re a non-settling group of people. They don’t have a fixed place of living. Us Huaxia people are a settled people – that is, we live at one place, and they don’t move easily – this is [the definition of] a settler. As for this “Tartar”, they are non-settlers. In history, they have two major branches. One branch, we have many names for them – such as Huns, Turks, Mongols, the Five Barbarians, Zahu (雜胡, lit. “various barbarians”), Dalu (韃虜, lit. “Tartar bandits”), et cetera. We have given them many names. What is the commonality among this branch of people? They stretch from our Northeast, all the way to the plains of Hungary, travelling east-west on the grassy plains of the Earth. Wherever there is grass, they go there to graze their herd. Whenever there’s no more to eat, whichever settled group is close to them, they go pillage that settlement. This is their trait in history. This kind of people, us civilized people later on called them by an umbrella term “Tartars”, hence can be shortened to “Da” (韃). Later we called them Dalu, because they come and pillage our things. Lu (虜) means to rob something, hence we called them Dalu. From an ethnic viewpoint, it refers to the ethnicity who rode on horses and robbed people, historically. 

What is this other branch of the “Da” people? There is another branch which are not nomadic herders, but historically fisherman-hunter ethnicities, which is equivalent to our ancestors 10,000 to 20,000 years ago. At that time they relied on hunting and gathering, and didn’t have any means of production. They are not comparable even to the nomadic herders, since even they can breed horses, or donkeys and sheep. If conditions allow it they may even produce a bit, after they’ve got their basics setttled out. While the nomad herders are so, these others are still in their primal stages, the stage of wild men, and they never produce. What do they do? They go catch fish and hunt, hence calling them fishing-hunter ethnicities. How do these fisher-hunters travel on the earth? They stretch from our Changbai mountains, in the Northeast, to the areas around the Arctic region. They wander through the tundra, prairies, and yellow plains in a north-south direction. The archetypical surviving example of such a race in our northeastern parts are the Manchus, along with several other ethnicities – they are all descendents of fishing-hunter ethnicities from then. These people are a totally different issue from nomadic herders, not the same – one wanders east-west, and the other north-south. However, their shared trait is that they don’t settle – they do not have a fixed territory to settle and live. This means that in history, nomadic herders and fishing-hunter ethnicities have no concept of country and nation, not the concepts that we are speaking of today. The concept of country and nation are all concepts of settled people. This “Tartar” is an ethnicity that robs others on horseback, historically. Why does the world call them Tartars? This is a transliteration, “Ta-ta-ta-ta”, the sound of galloping horses. Regardless which civilization it is, East or West, settled people all called them Tartar, Dazi, Tartar people. Some people read the two [Chinese] characters as “Da-dan“, but actually should be read “Da-da” (韃靼), but it’s fine even if you read it as da-dan. It’s not a big deal if you mispronounce it, as long as the meaning is generally understood. 

And finally there is a concept of the “West”. What does this “West” refer to? “West” refers to: asides from us settled people of Huaxia, and the Tartar ethnic groups, another group of ethnicities who have risen later on in a land West of us. This is represented by Europe. The ethnic groups represented by Europeans and Americans, we call them the Western ethnic groups. Their unique trait are different from us Huaxia settled people, but are also different from those nomads and hunters. What unique characteristics do they have? They do not like to plunder – as they have also been constantly plundered in history. Since they are mostly settled people, or the descendents of those people – but they are also plundered by those Arabs, and those nomadic peoples. But ever since the Renaissance, the corpus consisting of mainly Western Europeans have come about, and become strong. Especially after the Industrial Revolution, this Western ethnicity group has truly risen. At the starting point, they have a unique trait, much similar to that [Huaxia], as its main body settled and produced, working towards Industrialization, but another group of people, learned from the nomadic tribes and went out to expand. How did it expand? Because early on, it could not fight the Arabs and the nomadic tribes, so they had to take to the ocean, hence it is said that they have become “ocean-faring nomads” in some sense, ranging [in examples] from Portugal and England, and many others, European nations that have risen similarly. They sail their boats to new land, annex them, and forge a new small country – its colonies – they take a piece of land and form their own colonies. 

After they have formed their colonies, their [aggressive] trait is different from those Tartar ethnicities. The Tartars usually ride in with their horses, break through your defenses, and plunder your valuables. What about Western ethnicities? When they break through your defenses they don’t plunder your things, so what do they do? They have a prominent feature – they force you to buy and sell. They come in on their boats: India has to give us your spices, we’ll find something to give you to trade for it. They come to China, the Orient, (back then it was the Manchu Qing Empire, our China was already eliminated), then you’ll have to give us your silk, porcelain and things, treasures. If you say that you won’t do it, what would happen if you don’t comply? If you won’t do it we’ll blow you open with cannons, beat you. After defeating you, they don’t plunder you, so what then? “Well, you’ve lost now, so you have to open your ports for me to do business.” What kind of situation appeared in history? Before they have defeated you, their things were still cheaply sold; but after they’ve defeated you, they still pay you even more for the same thing. Why is this? The things they buy from your place, after transporting back to the home country, they can profit a hundred times over.  Why couldn’t they wring out that money [in the past]? Who wrought all the wealth away? It’s all wrung out by the Tartar ethnicities, taken away by those Arabs back then. This was especially the case when the Mongols invaded: The Mongols didn’t do business, all they do is plunder, they don’t do business. They think that trading is an embarassment. They thought they were the Big Brother, the king, the Khan of the entire world – what use is trading? Just like our true bigwigs today, those kings, who’d go do business? They don’t look up to it. So who would do the business? The Arabs love to do it. Since they’re nomads, circling around and trading whenever they couldn’t fight over another, and plunder whenever they could. Hence it is said when the Arabs controlled the riches of the Orient and resold it to the Occident, the Arabs were able to gain profit by tenfold margins. The Westerners felt that they were always on the exploited side, and since they know that the goods came from the East, they drove their ships and ran straight for us, filled up their boats, and tugged the goods back home themselves, hence gaining much greater profit. 

These are the distinct differences of these three different strands of ethnicities. These three ethnic groups, we’ve just explored from the ethnic-racial perspective, three groups. Our topic today is not on the relationships between these ethnic groups. This is only the basis. What is our point of discussion today? It is the three strands of culture of these ethnicities, with particular to Han, Tartar, and Western groups. However, this culture and ethnicity are not equating concepts, we are not saying that this culture is that ethnicity’s culture. Why is that? When you look at the Tartars from history, there’s not much culture to speak of. You can say that there is some essential elements from them, but since we are describing “systems”, as in overall structural frameworks, it is a cultural framework – this is different. It is a different concept. A structural framework or system – this is a complete cultural structure. Tartar ethnicities – nomadic or fishing-hunter, they originally do not have much of a cultural system, so why do we suddenly bring up a “Tartar system” of cultural framework? These three strands of culture in actuality is a phenomenon that arose on our Chinese territory in the past several hundred years, particularly in the recent century or two. 

What does the Han system of culture mean? The Han system has a bottom line – you must remember this – a bottom line. Only the proper lineage of Huaxia civilization can save China. Because this is a cultural system appearing from modern times, this is the bottom line of the Han line of culture, that only our true authentic Huaxia civilization can save the Middle Kingdom. Its origin or background is in our ancestors’ “Hua-yi discourse”. That was when the barbarians were invading our Spring-and-Autumn and Warring States period, our Guan Zhong of Qi proposed this Hua-yi discourse, and our ancestors have followed it for several millennia. In other words, if we want to have stability on our Chinese territory, to become strong, we can only use our Huaxia authentic [traditional] civilization. Hence, when we speak of its cultural proponents and people supporting it, they do not recognize foreigners’ regimes on Chinese soil. They say that it does not belong to the official lineage of China, such as the states back then known as Northen Wei, the Mongol Empire, the Manchu Qing Empire, et cetera. They believe that these are not Huaxia, not Chinese tradition. Hence it is said that us Chinese people have always cried “Expel the Tartars, restore Zhonghua” in revolution since time immemorial, not recognizing them as truly Zhonghua [Central and magnificient]. This is the bottomline of the Han line of culture. 

What is the Western system of culture? The Western culture also has a bottom line: since the Western stream of culture appeared in our Central land relatively late, its [historical] background is the importing of Western knowledge during the Manchu Qing. After Westerners’ culture came in, through upheavals especially the May Fourth Movement, they have established a cultural framework, and is considerably powerful in our land, as embodied in the Kuomintang and the Communist Party. What is their bottom line? The bottomline of Western culture is: Only socialism and liberal democracy can save China. To put it bluntly, only Westerners’ culture can save China. Don’t be fooled by the massive conflicts between the Parties now, they actually belong to the same system, taking differences on perspectives through the Western cultural viewpoints, and taking a different course of development. This is called the Western system of culture – it has formed a system of its own, and is considerably strong, especially in the past hundred years. Although the Han system of culture dates back to antiquity, and is colossal in framework, but after the Manchus have eliminated us, this system we had has been deformed and altered by the Qing regime. It has been alienated, castrated, and mutilated, and has formed our present culture, our so-called traditional culture today. This is the prestigeous “traditional culture” of China today, and it is the Tartar system of culture. The Tartar system doesn’t have to be understood as the culture as originally created by the Tartar ethnicities I mentioned earlier. The Han and Western systems can both trace to its ethnic roots, but after the ethnicities of the West have matured in form, in the past few hundred years, after the Renaissance, it has formed a new system, cultural framework. The Han system of culture, or the preserved cultural framework by the Han people themselves, also have its own historical contexts. 

So when was this Tartar system of culture formulated? The Tartar system of culture was formulated earlier than the Western system, so what is its bottomline? What does it actually believe? Only foreign transfusion can save China. They believe that Huaxia civilization is good, but it is the culture developed by the agrarian stage of society, and after a length of time it’ll become something like [Southern] Song – gradually weakened. Hence, it needs foreign invasion, those nomadic herders and fisherman-hunters to invade, in order to have it become strong. What is that in today’s terms? It’d be the mainstream viewpoint in our doctrine of traditional culture of the Great Solidarity of the Chinese ethnicities [Zhonghua Minzu]. They don’t believe those events in history should be called invasions, they believe that foreigners in history who have come over are all called solidarities or coming-togethers, a blood transfusion. If you raise an uglier example, it’d be that your family – your lineage is a bit weak, the man is sickly, weak. They believe that you should get another man outside and have your woman sleep with them, transfuse a little semen, especially from a barbarian, transfer it over, and your future generations will become stronger. To put it in a more disgraceful example, this is the kind of viewpoint they are raising. 

This is the difference between the three systems. They all develop into their own individual frameworks. People who hold strongly to Tartar-system of culture do not necessarily have to be of the Tartar-group of ethnicities – you must make clear of this. The executing and promoting members of all these cultures are still mainly us Hans. They are what we now call descendents of Huaxia, the sons of the Sage Kings Yan and Huang, the later generations of Huaxia. This is for the past century, a hundred and some years, our cultural struggle. The real struggle, is in these three systems of cultural forms. 

So where is the cultural background of the Tartar culture? Its context can be traced back to the invasion of Buddhism. After the Five Barbarians causing chaos in China, Buddhism has spread throughout the Central Kingdom along with the rise of the foreigners. Later on, us Hans united all our powers in order to resist Buddhism, and formed Daoism. Later on, many emperors, because many of the Northern emperors were foreigners, they too didn’t dare to say whether Buddhism or Daoism was the right one, nor dared to take sides, so they said that they’re all one school, Buddhist-Daoist-Confucian as one school. Why was this? He did not want these forces to cause ruckus on his land, did not want to have diverging opinions, so the best way was that everyone was the same, merge them all together and be done with it. This is what we now call the “Shi-Dao-Ru Sanjiao (Buddhist-Daoist-Confucian, three teachings) as one school”. In practice, this has also failed in history. Up to today, Buddhists are still Buddhists, Daoists are still Daoists, and Confucians are still Confucians. This was its historical context, hence we say later on when the Five Barbarians invaded, the Mongols invaded, the Manchu Qing invading, they eventually formed up this cultural framework.

When it comes to the central plains of our Chinese nation, which stream is the strongest, then without a doubt that right now, the Western system of culture is the largest. Over here on the mainland, they’re crying that only socialism can save China, while Taiwan and some from the mainland cry only liberal democracy can save China. In actuality, both of these kinds are Western. The ones in power today are largely disciples and transmitters of this Western system of culture. The professors, cultural promoters, the people at the Central Bureau of Propaganda, the Department of Culture, they are all largely Western system people, influenced by Western concepts after the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, and are the most prevalent now. Their primary debate now is nothing out of whether socialism can save China or will democracy do that. What about the Tartars? The Tartar system believes that neither from the Western system can save China, and total Westernization is a definite no-go. What does it agree on? They don’t dare to openly agree on reviving the Great Mongol Empire, or reviving the Great Manchu Empire, they don’t dare to. They know that if they tried that, the Xinhai Revolution and its results would immediately hound them, and the Hans will never accept it. Hence they take on the cultural system as preferred by the barbarian emperors back then, a.k.a “Manchu-Han as one family”, or the Zhonghua ethnicities’ Great Solidarity. The invasions in history or not invasions, but rather ethnic coming-togethers, as necessary by the Great Solidarity principle. Iconicized by the cultural people of Beijing, they hold the upper hand in the traditional culture sector.

As for us Hanist culture, because we had the upper hand historically, prior to our destruction, but after that our Hanist culture has been in a low profile. When did us Hanist culture rise? That’d be just before the Xinhai revolution. The eve of the Xinhai Revolution brought the Hanist culture system back on its feet, suggesting “expel the Tartars and restore Zhonghua”, in other words a complete rejection of the Manchu Qing, Mongol Yuan Empires as a Chinese tradition. Back when the Ming was first founded Zhu Yuanzhang more or less wanted to admit to the legitimacy of the Mongols as a Chinese tradition, but once we get to Xinhai, the Hanist cultural people came out, and they completely rejected the idea. According to our ancestors’ cultural system, as in “expel the foreigners, restore Zhonghua”, Zhu Yuanzhang back then was also “expelling the foreigners and restoring Zhonghua”, and he also did not admit to them being authentically Chinese, but once he got into power, he for some reason and consideration suddenly admitted again. What is a large possibility of the reason? Because Zhu Yuanzhang’s upbringing was a low position, and he wasn’t much cultured, much like the Communists today – they don’t have much culture in them either, so they used the Han collaborators (hanjian) of the Mongols, so they say must mobilize to convince Zhu Yuanzhang to admit that the Mongols were a legit regime. If he didn’t, then these cultural people would have no more ground to hold. Same thing today, why do you think they are suggesting the Manchu Qing was a legit regime of China? That’s because the Communist Party doesn’t have cultural people, so the Party’s mainstream cultural workers are descendents of the Tartar system of culture, or in other words those sons and daughters of those Han collaborators [traitors], or their students and disciples. Therefore, they must say that the Manchu Qing is of the tradition. The Communist Party had to use these cultural people and not offend them, or perhaps they had other ideas, but had to accept these people regardless, much like Zhu Yuanzhang back then.

But just prior to the Xinhai Revolution, our cultural system has returned, and it had a revolutionary result. Before Zhu Yuanzhang, this cultural system also sprung forward and had a revolutionary result. The result in Zhu’s time was the establishment of the Ming dynasty, a Han ethnic dynasty’s establishment. After this cultural framework appeared at the Xinhai revolution, it formed a “Republican” nation’s establishment, as well the establishment of Yuan Shikai’s Chinese Empire, and the establishment of today’s Chinese Republic. These are all the results from this culture. However, their mistake was the same as Zhu Yuanzhang – as in accepting the Tartar culture after they were successful. This was because those cultural people – those Tartar system people – were too great in number. The Han cultural people, those cultural people before the Xinhai revolution, many of them were expended for the sake of the revolution, and the anti-Japanese war effort also ground away its potential. Ever since the rise of Chiang Kai-Shek, both Han and Tartar systems were pressed down in favor of the Western system. This was because around the time of Xinhai, these three systems were already contesting fiercely. The Tartars still want to establish a country using Qing principles such as Manchu-Han unity, or a Republic of five-races. This was represented by the early “Republic of China”. The Han system wanted to establish a Han Chinese nation, and this is represented by the Republic’s later, mid-late period. That’s to say that in the middle of the Republican era, China did not admit that they had ethnic minorities, and was a Han nation, established by Han citizens, a Han people’s Republic. Yuan Shikai believed that this country was a Han people’s empire, is a country established by a ethnic Han king and elites. They are all the results of Hanist culture.

Now when you look at the People’s Republic, it has gone backwards again. The People’s Republic once again accepts the idea of the multi-ethnic Republic, with multi-Party systems. These Republics, these multiple layers of hierarchy, is again closer to Tartar culture. That’s why you can see that during Mao Zedong’s era, he has actually defended the Hanist line, defended it quite well, but he was a disciple from the Western school. Sun Yat-Sen, Chiang Kai-Shek, Mao Zedong, Lu Xun and the whole generation of figures are essentially all students of the Western system, they all accepted Western culture, but they kept a partial seedling to Hanist culture, therefore creating this halfbred thing between the Western and Hanist cultures. After the death of Mao, Tartar systems have seen a revival on a large scale. This was because during Chiang and Mao’s time, the Tartar system has also failed. For what reason? For example, the attempt to revive Manchukuo, Zhang Xun’s revival have all ended in failure. The Han system also failed. Why? The Chinese Empire, Yuan Shikai’s Chinese Empire has also failed, because the Western system has pressed them all down.

But along with the Open Economic Reforms, Tartar culture has been in high gear, and Western culture has been on decline ever since. Ever since the Open Reforms, don’t just look at the exclaimations of those crying for democracy, the minds of those in power are against liberal democracy, because they do not want to submit and become the West entirely. Struggling and defeating Zhao Ziyang is perhaps their greatest result. Until today, those truly fighting for the democrats are also suppressed – they are caught as soon as they get into a situation. However, the real Left wing are also suppressed, old Mao’s faction are also being limited. If you tried to pay homage on the day of Mao Zedong’s death, they might just as well arrest you! Them Tartar systems is undergoing a massive recovery, because ever since the Zhao Ziyang incident [of 1989-90], the government has been trying to search back its traditional culture. But then, since Mao Zedong has crushed the Tartar culture, so did the May Fourth elites – but after Mao’s death, nothing stopped them from reviving. This is represented from the past few decades, whenever you turn on the television all you see are praise for the Manchu Qing, and for that so-called ethnic solidarity, and developing along that line to today, they have denied the historical figures like Yue Fei of their national status, and erected 56 equally-large pillars at Tian’anmen, and basically reversed the results of the Xinhai Revolution altogether.

But along with the re-rise of the Tartar system, the Han system has floated to the surface. Because of the suppression from the past few decades – ever since Yuan Shikai was defeated, Han system of culture has been suppressed, by both the West and Tartar systems together. However, along with the massive rise of the Tartar system, within the past decade, Han ethnic cultural framework has made a rebound. This is the basic context and changes of these three systems. It has been in a fierce struggle since the end of the Qing, and culturally, it has floated back to the surface today. The next step for these three would still be fierce competition, and only time will tell its result. The struggle of culture, at times, it may not be limited in just the cultural scope – culture does not use martial force, it does not use brute strength, but once put in desperation, just like people in a heated argument, people will start using force. Just as someone keeps hogging the speakerphone and does not let others to speak, then others will come and grab the mic, and if they couldn’t grab the speaker, then they’ll grab the speaker and beat them up – since you won’t let me speak anyways, so I’ll just beat you up – and a brawl ensues. All possibilities are open. Right now, we are still in the stage of cultural competition, with the strongest one the Western system, but it is going downhill; and the most high profile now is the Tartar system, madly reviving itself; and the one with most potential is the Han system, because Han culture represents the millennia of authentic Chinese tradition.

At a Glance: Song Yuren suggests three distinct streams of thought in modern China

With the rise of these three cultural systems, it represents the three different directions of China’s future, and only time will tell what will happen. The system most beneficial to us Han people would undoubtedly be the Han system, hence we say that for the past few years, the Chinese communities around the world have been stirring up a self-saving movement. The Hanfu Movement, race-saving movement. This is the practical implementation of this cultural system. Of course, the framework of this system is still in the works, and is in need of restoring our ancestors’ cultural structure. This is because our current one was mutilated by others, so what do we do? When your culture has been castrated, rewritten, and you try to find it in its original form, it is very difficult to find it back. The only way to do it is to do as what our ancestors have said, called “restructuring”. When this tower of ours has been sabotaged, and someone else has built a similar tower, but is different in actuality, if you were to grab elements from that tower and rebuild it, what form would that take? Since you couldn’t find the original blueprints, what do you do? We will need to completely restudy our ancestors, rediscover the basic elements and traits of our ancestors, and according to their basic concepts design and build a new tower, one that has inherent qualities of our ancestors. When others look at it, they will feel that this tower was similar to the old one. When our ancestors of various periods have successfully restored China, they have modeled it after pre-Han/Tang models. Because we didn’t have video cameras and such before the Han, so we don’t know how it originally looked like even if we looked for it – but we have “if ritual is lost, look for it in the wild (禮失求諸野)”, we can look for it in the “wild”. Right now there are many places to refer to – Japan, Korea, the Chinese around the world, within the civilian tradition, as well as other civilizations that have once referenced our civilization – we can find them back, and rebuild our system.

Asides from the bottom lines, these three cultural systems also have different perspectives toward history. For example, the Western system believes that whether Han or Tartar, they are all feudal superstition, and are things that are behind, in need of demolition. They need advanced Western things to save China. Their opinion of [Chinese] history is feudal superstition. What does the Tartar system believe? They believe that Huaxia culture in history has been too narrow, and they believe that only the product of Huaxia culture and culture brought in by the foreign barbarians are good. Why is this? That’s where their benefit is, because they came in with the barbarians, and stayed here, while another portion of them are descendents of the victorious Han collaborators. Of course they’ll want to hold onto this, because if they don’t they will have no more influence to speak of. The Han system of culture believes that only historically Huaxia original creations can be called truly Chinese. What culture do the barbarians have? They are nothing more than a bunch of Han traitors who have taken our land, and reform our culture according to their standards of right and wrong, and say that it is their culture – it is a castrated and reformed Tartar culture. In actuality this stuff is all based according to their standard of ethics, and reshaped us Huaxia people, that’s why at first glance it looks a bit like Huaxia, and that’s its most misleading point.

This is three different kinds of explanations towards history, such as the Tartar system believing that the Manchu Qing and Mongols are part of genuine Chinese lineage, but the Han system believed them to be invaders, and they are Dalu, hence they are different views. This is like saying that right now in our histories, after the Five Barbarians came in it became a period where it is called “the North and South Period”, but us Han cultural system people will consider this period to be an era of disunion, a fault, called the Six Dynasties, not “North and South Dynasties”. The two Jins, Song, Qi, Liang, Chen – these are the six dynasties of us Hans. Your so-called Northern Wei, East and Western Wei et cetera do not count, but they think it does. This is why when you open a history textbook, you see “North and South Dynasties”, then you’ll know at first glance which party wrote the thing. If it were written by a Han cultural system person, he or she will definitely write it as the Six Dynasties period, or Era of Six Periods, since back then it can’t really be called a “Dynasty”, at most calling it Six Periods. Or for another example the time that we live in now: if it were written by a Tartar system person, they will write that it is a golden age of Zhonghua ethnicities’ Great Solidarity. If a Han person was to write it, then this period is in a state of divide. Why is this? Our Huaxia land – the People’s Republic and the Republic coexist. If later on Puxi had the ability, then he’ll split another country in Sichuan, making three countries. One point you have to make note is that Puxi’s rationale today is a little like Liu Bi – if you were to say that the People’s Republic is the Han [dynasty], he’ll compare himself as the later Han, just like Liu Bi and protect those grey skies and land. The only difference is that he hasn’t yet found his Zhuge Liang. Alright, thanks everyone for listening!

(Original Chinese transcript organized by Baiyang Xiaoxiao 白楊蕭蕭, translated by Satsuki Shizuka for the Toronto Guqin Society website, https://torguqin.wordpress.com.)

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