Cul­ture a cat­a­lyst to na­tional re­ju­ve­na­tion

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - VIEWS -

Cul­ture some­times helps dis­tin­guish civ­i­liza­tions from less com­plex so­ci­eties. Many so­ci­ol­o­gists and an­thro­pol­o­gists iden­tify cul­ture with civ­i­liza­tion. And all of them agree that cul­tures, both elite and folk, have played a key role in the progress of hu­man civ­i­liza­tion.

In China, cul­ture is the source of self-con­fi­dence for ev­ery cit­i­zen, and to strengthen peo­ple’s con­fi­dence in our cul­ture and shape the na­tion’s fu­ture, we need to dig deep into our tra­di­tional cul­ture.

Our cul­ture has in­spired us to pur­sue the re­ju­ve­na­tion of the Chi­nese na­tion, in or­der to build a strong and pros­per­ous so­ci­ety. To be sure, China has al­ready made great progress to­ward achiev­ing this goal thanks to its fast-paced mod­ern­iza­tion. And al­though China has no in­ten­tion of be­com­ing the “ce­les­tial em­pire” of the past, tra­di­tional cul­ture con­tin­ues to play a sig­nif­i­cant role in con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety.

The crit­i­cal fac­tor that dis­tin- guishes China from the rest of the world is not only its hard power, but also its soft power, which has its roots in tra­di­tional cul­ture. In fact, de­liv­er­ing a speech at Pek­ing Univer­sity on May 4, 2015, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping stressed: “We the Chi­nese have our own unique spir­i­tual world.” And this “unique spir­i­tual world” of ours is more of a cultural con­cept than a ge­o­graph­i­cal con­cept.

As Con­fu­cian scholar Tu Weim­ing has said in Cultural China: The Pe­riph­ery as the Cen­ter: “China, one of the long­est con­tin­u­ous civ­i­liza­tions in hu­man history, may be vi­su­al­ized as a ma­jes­tic flow­ing stream. Chi­nese cul­ture, the generic term sym­bol­iz­ing the vi­cis­si­tudes of the ma­te­rial and spir­i­tual ac­com­plish­ments of the Chi­nese peo­ple, has un­der­gone ma­jor in­ter­pre­tive phases in re­cent decades and is now en­ter­ing a new era of crit­i­cal re­flec­tion. The meaning of being Chi­nese is in­ter­twined with China as geopo­lit­i­cal con­cept and Chi­nese cul­ture as a living re­al­ity.”

A cen­tripetal force con­nects the Chi­nese peo­ple, be­cause they share the same spir­i­tu­al­ity and be­liefs, which are ir­re­place­able cultural as­pects of a civ­i­liza­tion.

If ac­cord­ing to Max We­ber, in The Protes­tant Ethic and the Spirit of Cap­i­tal­ism, the com­bi­na­tion of Protes­tant work ethic and the spirit of cap­i­tal­ism for­mu­lated the cultural code fos­ter­ing the rise of the West, what is the cultural code in­spir­ing China’s development? The an­swer is ad­vanced so­cial­ist cul­ture, which com­bines the strengths of hu­man civ­i­liza­tion and has the po­ten­tial to meet the de­mands of the times.

The spirit of hu­man­ism and moral­ity is the lifeblood of Chi­nese cul­ture. Old Chi­nese proverbs, such as “ev­ery man alive has a duty to­ward his coun­try”, re­flect pa­tri­o­tism, Con­fu­cian ex­hor­ta­tions, such as “being vig­or­ous and promis­ing”, show the striv­ing spirit, and mod­ern “say­ings”, such as “har­mony but not same­ness” and “ad­vance with the times and keep im­prov­ing through re­forms”, pro­vide the ba­sic prin­ci­ples — and the wis­dom of re­form — to deal with dif­fer­ent cul­tures in the world.

It is with these spir­its that the Com­mu­nist Party of China has been lead­ing the Chi­nese peo­ple to build a pros­per­ous and har­mo­nious so­ci­ety. Chi­nese cul­ture has also helped shape the Party’s phi­los­o­phy of so­cial­ism with Chi­nese char­ac­ter­is­tics.

If we ex­tend the his­tor­i­cal ma­te­ri­al­ism ap­proach — a me­thod­i­cal ap­proach to the study of hu­man so­ci­eties and their development over time — we will see how cul­ture helped cre­ate the his­tor­i­cal con­di­tions for the Chi­nese peo­ple to build a truly pros­per­ous so­ci­ety. To up­hold the im­por­tance of Chi­nese cul­ture, three prin­ci­ples have to be fol­lowed.

First, since “gen­uine knowl­edge comes from prac­tice”, we should im­ple­ment the suc­cess­ful ex­pe­ri­ences and prac­tices in or­der to re­ju­ve­nate the Chi­nese na­tion. Sec­ond, in our pur­suit of cultural re­vival, we should never in­dulge in for­mal­ism, he­do­nism or ex­trav­a­gance. And third, ex­change of knowl­edge and em­pha­sis on in­no­va­tion are es­sen­tial to al­low tra­di­tional cul­ture to ad­vance with the times and cater to the de­mands of con­tem­po­rary so­ci­ety.

The crit­i­cal fac­tor that dis­tin­guishes China from the rest of the world is not only its hard power, but also its soft power, which has its roots in tra­di­tional cul­ture.

The au­thor is a pro­fes­sor at the School of Marx­ism, Party School of the Cen­tral Com­mit­tee of the Com­mu­nist Party of China.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from China

© PressReader. All rights reserved.