16 Comments

A good write up but in the prologue and conclusion you commit the usual western fallacy of equating culture-cide and geno-cide. They aren't the same (though often go hand in hand). This false equality is at the root of western inability to confront barbarian cultures in their midst. After all saying bad things about culture inevitably means genocide.

But the two concepts are distinct. Killing memes is not killing people. If Chinese manage to eradicate Islam from Western Turkestan (or utterly neuter it) - good for them and congratulations. If they manage to do it without killing people who don't fight them - there is no moral problem with what they are doing. If, on the other hand, they kill indiscriminately with the intent to "kill them all" this would be something to object to.

It is hard to tell given the abysmal quality of "reporting" from these areas but it seems that Chinese are doing the former rather than the latter.

Expand full comment
author

this is a fair point. though the dzungars is pretty straightfwd.

Expand full comment

Right, no argument there. Of course there is nothing unusual or eyebrow raising in what they did compared to what Aztecs, Muslims, Jews, Africans, Europeans etc. etc. did to their enemies. The concept "they are evil - kill them all" is probably older than Homo sapiens.

Expand full comment

Obvious hatred of Muslims and Islam.

Expand full comment

Perhaps Eugene would submit to voluntary cultural genocide by the Chinese

Expand full comment

Islam - yes for modern fundamentalist body of beliefs and many (most?) historical ones. No - for some currently marginal sects.

Muslims - no, in general. Yes to those who take modern fundamentalist body of beliefs seriously.

There is no such thing as cultural genocide. There is genocide and there is cultural eradication (usually accompanied by a lot of violence). Given that Islam is likely the world champion in doing the latter I find muslims' complaints and whining when somebody finally fights back using the same methods laughable.

Expand full comment

So offer your self to a Chinese reeducation camp. As cultural genocide is non existent.

β€˜Given that Islam is likely the world champion in doing the latter I find muslims' complaints and whining when somebody finally fights back using the same methods laughable.’

Who is fighting back? Chinese ? How is Islam the champion? Quite the opposite? Your skim derp prejudice shows . Now that is truly laughable !

Expand full comment

I'm afraid the more recent American schoolyard chestnut "he who smelt it, dealt it" better explains the convenient "amnesia" we see in the west.

Just to illustrate the point...take a look at a map of Xinjiang. It happens to be right next to...Afghanistan. The country where for two decades, the locals have been subject to western re-education, airstrikes, torture, and weapons testing (remember the "M.O.A.B."??).

Furthermore...take a look at a map of oil reserves in China. Xinjiang happens to have the biggest "blob of black". Curiously similar big "blobs of black" happen to trapped under regions where the west has "human rights" based regime change policies (Venezuela, Iran, Iraq).

President Trump (who I actually like) says "we're not so innocent - and we're going to take the oil!". It happens right in front of our eyes in Syria...and rather than any discussions about boycotts of American goods & sanctions on their leaders...you get brave academic dissertations about the benefits of stealing Syrian wheat on top the oil!

Having said all this...you don't want "culture-cide" of the Uighur's (sorry Eugene G.!). They're beautiful people, beautiful women, beautiful dresses, beautiful dances. But more importantly, this world needs more "conservative" types with strong family values. Eugene compares them to "barbarians". But when American culture consists of Disney-owned ABC & NFL star Michael Strahan celebrating "Bacha Bazi" on national television...ain't that "backwards"? (ever heard of Sodom and Gomorrah??). Certainly more backwards than anything I've heard the Uighur's accused of!

You ask me (no one does, on account of being a highschool dropout) the key to "saving the Uighur's" is being sincere. You can't have the desire to cripple China in your heart - while spouting hypocritical sanctimony from your mouth. You can't unfairly personalize this issue around Xi Jinping ​- because you want to protect your future ability to do business in China.

If I (to reiterate, a highschool dropout) can see through it...then of course the Chinese see through it. And that's not helping anyone. We need to have man-to-man relationships, crude jokes, and possibly some innocent misogyny. It's what we used to call "diplomacy" (before those jobs became rewards for friends & funders).

Without getting into specifics (probably because I want one of those "reward" appointments lol!) there are successful eastern examples of "fundamentalist Islamic communities" being integrated into "secular" nation-states. The peoples retain their "hard" culture & identity...yet end up becoming loyal & valuable resources for the state & military. It's the key to "saving the Uighur's" & "preventing a genocide/culturecide"...yet not one western "scholar" has considered or proposed such a solution.

Expand full comment
founding

Razib: Truly an excellent essay. Thank you.

A point about the Qing and China that has always struck me. The fact that they were outsiders allowed them space to act outside of the constraints of the Confucian ethical system.

It was Machiavelli who first articulated the necessity for princes to violate the articulated ethical system in order to secure their rule and the peace of the state.

We see this tension in contemporary American society in the disputes inside and outside the military between those people who want to constrain the military's freedom of action with laws like the Geneva Conventions and fuzzier concepts of international law and the warriors who feel the necessity of acting outside of those constraints to ensure the success of their missions.

Expand full comment

blown away by this! great essay.

Expand full comment

Very good essay; I knew about the Dzungar genocide, but not much more than that it had

happened. We are a violent species. The combination of lust for power, violence and the

development of superweapons will most likely destroy us.

Nick Patterson

Expand full comment

Good piece! China has a vast history that we in the west are sadly too ignorant of. The problem with history is just that there's just too much of it πŸ˜…

Regarding some the description of the Dzungar people - I am a little wary of the tempting story of soft kingdoms vs tough barbarians that seems to come up a lot in these contexts. A blogger I like calls this the Fremen Mirage. Certainly we can see it doesn't work out for the "barbarians" in the end very often vs a well-equipped empire, regardless of how "decadent" they are.

Expand full comment

very good essay on taking a long range view of human culpabilities. We humans are basically the same species now or 100 or 1000 or 10000 years back; so how would behavior change vastly

Expand full comment

Fantastic work! Thank you.

One question - on one hand, Tanner says that the Qing state was surprisingly libertarian by modern conceptions (probably because of a combination of a lack of state capacity in the pre-modern era, the legitimacy of the dynasty depending on their being hands-off WRT traditional Chinese and Confucian culture, and Chinese historical precedent which did not require homogeneity except of the scholar-official literati class). On the other, this very modern genocide.

So was the state at that time some weird hybrid beast (by modern standards) best described as a Levia'thin' of some kind - quite thin, but also a terror?

Expand full comment

Great essay on a part of Chinese history I knew nothing about. Your point on the bureaucratic efficiency of the modern totalitarian state reminds me of 'Modernity and the Holocaust' by Zygmunt Bauman which itself draws partly on Richard Rubenstein's 'The Cunning of History' which views the Holocaust as a "thoroughly modern exercise in total domination that could only have been carried out by an advanced political community with a highly trained, tightly disciplined police and civil service bureaucracy."

Expand full comment

Read a longread on Falun Gong recently and the author pretty much called their persecution a genocide as well. It sounds pretty bad, if not worse for FG in China.

Expand full comment