11 April 2007

ESWN points out an article in FEER entitled “Have China Scholars All Been Bought?”. As someone who has actually held the title “independent scholar”, which is another term for unemployed, I can safely say no one has bought me off yet. Carsten A. Holz seems to me a bit fed up, listing numerous grievances about the state of China research. Some of them are issues I feel are not as neglected as Dr. Holz believes. But one part stuck with me about the Communist Party:

Our use of language to conform to the image the Party wishes to project is pervasive. Would the description “a secret society characterized by an attitude of popular hostility to law and government” not properly describe the secrecy of the Party’s operations, its supremacy above the law and its total control of government? In Webster’s New World College Dictionary, this is the definition of “mafia.”

This part reminded me of something a Singaporean Chinese friend of mine once told me in China. He had once been on a flight sitting next to a gentleman who turned out to be Sicilian. Passing the time in conversation, they compared their respective cultures positions on family, elders, honor and business. They found many similarities, my friend said. “The Godfather, mate,” he said, having spent time in Australia, “Watch the Godfather and you’ll know all you need to know to understand China”.

The other thing it reminds me of, curiously enough, is the following exchange in the film The Good Shepherd, between Matt Damon’s Edward Wilson, a Skull & Bones alumni and CIA counter-intelligence chief, and Joe Pesci’s Joseph Palmi, mafia boss, who asks about Damon’s people, referring to WASPs:

Joseph Palmi: Let me ask you something… we Italians, we got our families, and we got the chuch; the Irish they have the homeland, jews their tradition; even the niggas, they got their music. What about you people, Mr. Wilson, what do you have?
Edward Wilson: The United States of America, and the rest of you are just visiting.

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