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Experiments in Happiness

Life and Love in New Culture China. Experiments in Happiness. New Classes, New Opportunities. Coping with reality of foreign ideas and goods and the confidence of youth and women

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Experiments in Happiness

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  1. Life and Love in New Culture China Experiments in Happiness

  2. New Classes, New Opportunities • Coping with reality of foreign ideas and goods and the confidence of youth and women • The emergence of a working class, Professionals – teachers, doctors, lawyers and Xiao Shimin – Petty Urbanites created anxieties and freedoms

  3. Print, Commerce, and Culture • The interaction between technology, language, and culture was a large part of what made the New Culture so new. The era brought together the technical possibility of mass-market publication of periodicals and newspapers with linguistic reforms that popularized a simpler, easier language in which the published material could be read even by people who were not highly literate. P. 76

  4. Love, Labor, and Liberty • Perhaps it is in the area of the new possibilities for love that the May Fourth era really belonged to the young. Of course, there were many older who found new spouses and lovers in the turmoil of those years, but this was the generation that had the first and fullest chance to think about the end of the extended family and arranged marriages, and explore romance (a concept originally translated phonetically as luo-man-ti-ke) and, more daringly, ideas of more anarchic ‘free love’. It was not for nothing that the Nationalists, when they turned to cultural conservatism, attacked the Communists with the slogan ‘property in common, wives in common.’ (The Chinese term for ‘Communist’ gongchan, literally translates as ‘common property’.) The association of spouse-swapping with Marxist dialectics and land redistribution, while not entirely fair, is a good indication of the daring nature of the ideas which the era had thrown up. • Ding Ling’s Miss Sophie’s Diary embodied individualism and self-obsession

  5. Ask Taofen! • How to balance the world of work and love • ZouTaofen offered pessimistic realism while advocating men and women interacting socially • Respect female expectations for happiness and free will • Zhang Henshui’sFate in Tears and Laughter conservative critique of new ways

  6. The May Fourth Entrepreneur • ZouTaofen becomes first Chinese media mogul as editor and publisher of Life • Business geniuses won Zou’s heart and he argued for entrepreneurialism on the basis of its benefit to humankind as a means of reconciling business with Confucianism.

  7. Saving the Nation, Making a Profit • Du Zhongyuan – Nationalist entrepreneur spurred on by the national humiliation of the twenty one demands made by the Japanese • Ceramic technology and the development of the porcelain industry • Built a brickworks

  8. End of an Era • The people who lived through this era saw China in a period of change, yet there were many directions in which that change could have led. Du Zongyuan’s story is a May Fourth one just as much as Lu Xun’s. A faith in science and technology, linked with ideas of national salvation and reform, seemed to many to provide a way forward out of China’s crisis. The era was also obsessed with the purifying qualities of difficulty and struggle. The retrospective glow which the CCP has cast on collective values simultaneously down-graded the experiences of entrepreneurs and capitalists in general as exploitative and in league with the imperialist powers, until the 1980s, when they were praised once again during Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms. P. 101

  9. Goodbye Confucius: New Culture, New Politics • To many Chinese, their country, which just a few decades before had been one of the world’s great land empires, now seemed to have split into fragments, ruled by avaricious militarists and under attack from foreign invaders. Yet from this seeming chaos would come the most important threads of cultural and political thinking which would still be shaping China nearly a century later. Chaos produced disorder and disillusionment, but it also opened up new ways of thinking and a profoundly different understanding of what it meant to be Chinese. Pp. 108

  10. Iconoclasm • Lu Xun Condemns traditional emphasis on Chastity • Moderation condemned as turning a blind eye to corruption • A Diary of a Madman describes tradition as a form of cannibalism and ends with a plea to save the children • Rejection of the past a sign of self-loathing and self-doubt of the May 4th generation

  11. Goodbye Confucius? • Confucianism was viewed as prison which forced hierarchies on the vulnerable including women and the poor • Communist used Confucianism • New Life movement was the Nationalist attempt to utilize Confucianism • Confucianism, then, did not simply disappear, however much its iconoclastic opponents might have wished it to do so. Yet it is clear that terms such as ‘nationalism’, ‘science’, and ‘democracy’ became widespread in May Fourth China

  12. China’s Road to Nationalism • Chinese Nationalism was rooted in Enlightenment traditions of liberal democracy and Communism • There were few Chinese fascists, for instance. They did exist, and in the 1930s Chiang Kaishek even explored some of the mobilization techniques of the European fascist states, whose ability to unite their nations he had admired. But the mainstream rhetoric from most prominent Chinese nationalist was taken from Enlightenment modernity, and used the language of science, technological progress, and democratic politics. Mao Zedong and Chiang Kaishek had rather different ideas about what those concepts meant, so much so that they ended up at war with each other for two decades, but they started from the same premise that China needed to be modern. P. 121

  13. Internationalism, Cosmopolitanism, and Nationalism • China participated in post war order but did not acquiesce in that order. • Looking East • Not Just the West: Thinking Beyond Europe • Japan’s Promise, Japan’s Menace

  14. Party Politics • The Communists • The Nationalists • Nationalists and Communists, United and Divided

  15. The Question of Woman • The urgent issues of gender relations were often marginalized or absent in the political discourses discussed in this chapter: Sun Yatsenism, revised Confucianism, Gandhianism, and even, to large extent, Communism and nationalism. But in fact, there was a significant feminist movement in the era, although it was later suppressed both by the Nationalists and the CCP. From girls and young women working in the factories, to the new professionals such as Zhu Su’e, to the girls in the park fearing what foreigners would say about their harassers, women, and men, were in a new world where Confucian norms could no longer operate.

  16. Conclusion: Goodbye May Fourth? • It was not, in the late 1920s, clear that the New Culture Movement had been brought to a halt because of the installation of the regime in Nanjing. Published discussion certainly continued to talk about China’s future in the context of internationalism and anti-imperialism. The revolution, it was clear, was not yet finished. The increasingly menacing power on the other side of Sea of Japan, though, would be largely responsible for deciding whether it would ever be finished – or, at least, whether it would be finished under the Nationalists, p. 152

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