Liu Junning: If there is no competition in culture

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In 2020, outside the gate of Peking University. Peking University is one of the top universities in China and holds a special place in the cultural and political life of the capital. THOMAS PETER/REUTERS

Liu Junning|If there is no competition in culture

Abstract: If there is no difference between different cultures in the world, there will be no distinction between the so-called excellent culture or inferior culture in the world, nor the distinction between advanced culture and backward culture that is often said. If it is argued that there is no superiority between bad money and good money, then it must be the bad money and bad money holders who benefit from this claim. According to the proposition that there is no difference in culture, there is no difference between the culture of Qin’s autocracy and the unification of the culture behind constitutional democracy. So the people who benefit from this proposition must be the Qin culture established by Shang Yang and the Qin system established by Ying Zheng.

The Origin of ” No Competitive Culture “

In recent years, the idea of ​​” no superiority in culture ” has become quite popular in the Chinese court and opposition. This proposition originated from the “Jiashen Cultural Manifesto”. In September 2004 , the China Culture Promotion Association hosted a cultural summit forum and issued the “Jiashen Cultural Manifesto”.

There are two comments in this manifesto that have received a lot of response. One opinion is that ” civilization belongs to the category of history and has become the enduring beliefs, behaviors and customs of different ethnic groups, and it should be universally respected ” . It means that as long as a civilization (culture) becomes the enduring beliefs, behaviors and customs of an ethnic group, no matter how good or bad, they should be universally respected.

Another opinion is, ” We oppose narrow nationalism that excludes heterogeneous civilizations, and even more oppose the use of superiors and inferiors to demonstrate. ” It turned out that the most important purpose of publishing the “Jiashen Cultural Manifesto” was to object to superiors and inferiors. In other words, according to this Manifesto, there is no superiority or inferiority between different civilizations, all are the same.

Many people take the view that the Jiashen Cultural Manifesto does not demonstrate the merits or demerits. Therefore, on the basis of the “Jiashen Cultural Manifesto”, two propositions emerged: one is that ” there is no superiority in culture, and there are advantages and disadvantages in the system ” ; Inferior. Two propositions have one meaning: no culture is superior.

” No superiority of cultures ” echoes an earlier claim: ” Each is beautiful in its own way, the beauty of the beauties is the beauty of the beauty, the beauty and the beauty are in common, and the world is in harmony. ” This claim sounds beautiful, as if it could solve all problems between different cultures, although It does not, by itself, provide a criterion for judging the superiority or inferiority of cultures. However, when viewed in unison, this claim is clearly a utopian gesture of a peacemaker and a denial of absolute moral truth. If the beauty of this culture and the beauty of the other culture are in complete conflict, it is impossible for both sides to be beautiful at the same time, and it is even more impossible to share the beauty and beauty together. How can the culture of Britain and the United States be in harmony with the culture of the Taliban? How does the culture of Iran and Syria match the culture of Israel? Therefore, the United States and the United States are obviously just wishful thinking. Of course, we can not impose our own culture on others, and we can also insist on our own culture in front of other people’s culture. Even so, it does not mean that the culture is not superior.

If the culture is truly incomparable

If there is a difference between various cultures, this difference must include the difference between high and low. Competitiveness is one kind of difference, one of the most important differences. From a phenomenal level, it is difficult to hold the conclusion that cultures are not superior. If we do not recognize that there is a difference between cultures and that Chinese culture has lagged behind Western culture for thousands of years, why should we study Western culture since the 16th century, especially after the Opium War?

If the various cultures in the world do not compete with each other, there will be no so-called difference between the so-called excellent culture or the inferior culture, and there will be no difference between the advanced culture and the backward culture. There is no difference between a culture that allows child marriage and a culture that prohibits child marriage. No matter how savage some culture is, it should not be called savage, let alone define savage culture as inferior, and can describe culture (civilization) as superior or inferior.

” No superiority in culture ” is also a ” non-controversial ” proposition that excludes freedom of thought. If the government believes that there is no difference between cultures, where is there any room for debate about cultural highs and lows? On the contrary, it is only possible to usher in a free market of ideas by advocating that ” cultures are superior and inferior ” , because all parties must try to demonstrate why a culture is high and why it is low. If socialism is to be compared, there is bound to be a heated debate about the superiority and inferiority of capitalism, and the outcome is likely to be debated. In order to avoid the distinction between who is superior and who is inferior, the only way is not to argue, or rather, not to argue. Therefore, the idea of ​​” no superiority in culture ” invites political intervention; the idea of ​​superiority in culture promotes free discussion, but instead allows various cultures to have more space for self-explanation.

If cultures are not competitive, which cultures and which institutions can benefit from this claim? The Qin culture established by Shang Yang and the Qin system established by Ying Zheng certainly benefited from it. If the bad money and the good money are equally protected, the bad money must benefit. To give another example, if a professor says that South Korea’s Christian-based culture is no different from North Korea’s Marxist-Leninist-based culture, it’s self-evident which culture would benefit from this conclusion.

If there is no difference between different cultures, there should be no substantial difference in the degree of development and civilization of different countries, and there will be no such stark contrast between South Korea and North Korea in all aspects. ” No culture is superior ” , is it defending North Korea’s political culture, or is it defending South Korea’s political culture? Are you defending bad culture, or are you defending good culture? Is this a reasonable and valid defense, or a strong argument? The answer is obvious.

Behind the ” No Competitive Culture “

We know that different cultures are attached to different religions and beliefs. If cultures are not competitive, is there a difference between religions and beliefs? For example, is there a distinction between voodoo culture and Judeo-Christian culture? For another example, why are beliefs and religions different from each other, but the cultures that carry them are not? This obviously cannot be justified. If there is no competition in culture, it means that there is no competition in belief. But this obviously doesn’t match the facts. Behind the ” no superiority of culture ” is materialism and atheism, because materialism denies that consciousness determines existence, and atheism denies that belief is the core of culture.

According to the proposition that there is no difference in culture, although the Qin government is not superior to a constitutional democracy in terms of system, the culture of the Qin Dynasty and the culture behind constitutional democracy are not comparable. What kind of culture and its institutions are such claims protecting? Is it for Qin government or for constitutional democracy?

There are various kinds of relativism behind the ” no competition in culture ” . Cultural relativism is behind cultural relativism, moral relativism is behind cultural relativism, and truth relativism is behind moral relativism. That is to say, ” no culture is superior ” means that there is no absolute right and wrong, right and wrong, right or wrong in the world, only the specific views of each individual or each culture on these issues. Since there is no absolute standard, each asserts that each culture has its meaning in a specific historical era. Such a claim cancels out the absolute moral standards that distinguish right from wrong, good from evil, righteousness from unrighteousness, freedom from tyranny, and so on. The consequence must be that sin, injustice, and despotism will prevail and prevail.

Cultural relativism believes that all cultures have their reasons, and although there are differences between them, there is no distinction between superior and inferior. Therefore, you have your culture, I have my culture, you have your truth, and I have my truth. Please take care of your family’s affairs and do not interfere in my internal affairs, because there is no distinction between cultures. ” Culture is no better ” also means that truth is not unique or absolute, meaning that there is no dividing line between lies and truth. If there is no difference between cultures, there is no difference between a culture based on lies and a culture based on truth. Therefore, advocating that ” culture has no superiority ” is the most suitable excuse for rejecting excellent culture.

Cultural relativism is a handy theoretical tool for the left to defend barbaric, authoritarian culture. They believe that the door of truth is open and everyone can have a place in the temple of truth, but this result will eventually lead to the temple of truth being monopolized by Pharaoh . If there is no distinction between cultures, it is tantamount to handing over the right to characterize cultures to secular rulers. If the pharaoh were to characterize the Egyptian culture under his rule, his conclusion must be that this culture represents the direction of human culture.

If there is no difference in culture, support Yahweh (English: Yahweh, /ˈjɑːhweɪ/ or /ˈjɑːweɪ/), also translated as Yahweh or Yahuwei, the highest name of God in Judaism and Christianity, Yahweh, the name of God. Wikipedia — Editor’s Note) The culture of a liberal order has no advantage over a culture that supports the autocratic order of the pharaohs. The divine order that allows people to fully enjoy freedom is no more worthy of pursuit than the pharaonic order of slavery and despotism. If the culture is not competitive, the Western culture with the Bible as the core and the Legalist culture have the same superiority. The pharaoh’s order wins, and the pharaoh has the last laugh. This is the political consequence of advocating that there is no superiority in culture.

culture, in the view of conservatives

For conservatives, culture is the root of politics and institutions, and religious belief is the root of culture. In other words, the relation sequence should be belief, culture, politics, institution. This point of view comes from Newhouse, a famous American conservative cultural man born in Canada. The core of culture is belief, concept and thought, and the external manifestations are utensils, customs, morality, art, system and so on. As stated at the beginning of Genesis, God created all things, including man. Culture is the product of creation by man imitating the image of God. Culture is the imprint of Yahweh’s image on people and its long-term accumulation.

It is even more important to stress here that belief is the core of culture, not artifacts or institutions. Eliot (a conservative humanist) wrote in Notes on the Definition of Culture: Nothing deserves the name of culture if it does not include religion.

Culture is a phenomenon unique to human beings. We know that man is divine compared to animals because he was created by Yahweh in his own image. Therefore, culture is a unique phenomenon of human beings, and animals and plants are not related to culture. Animals also have habits in their behavior, but they have no religion, so any behavior or habit of animals does not deserve the name of culture. For example, orangutans have no orangutan culture, lions have no lion culture, and plant Clivia has no Clivia culture.

Since belief is the core of culture, culture and religious belief are inextricably intertwined. Every culture is formed with religious beliefs. It can be said that culture is the product of religious belief. Culture is the externalization and expression of belief, and the relationship between truth, goodness and beauty. If you have a nihilistic attitude towards the differences in morality between different cultures and ignore the level of truth, goodness and beauty contained in different cultures, you are indulging in falsehood, evil and ugliness. A good culture nurtures the good things in society; a bad culture destroys the good things in society and indulges the bad things. Therefore, the judgment of culture is ultimately the judgment of faith, and the choice of culture is ultimately the choice of faith.

Beliefs are at the heart of culture. The Yahweh faith and the Bible are the core of Western culture. Although the culture of ancient Greece and Rome was brilliant, it did not provide the core of belief for Western culture. Kirk particularly emphasized this point in “The Roots of the American Order”. Among the four cities that affected the United States, the first and most important was Jerusalem, not Greece, not Rome. Two books are particularly recommended here: the first is Dawson’s “Religion and the Rise of Western Culture”; the second is Eliot’s “Christianity and Culture”. Both books were translated and published in the 1980s. Now largely forgotten, these two books are important for understanding conservative claims about culture.

Conservatism emphasizes the differences between cultures and the difference between cultures, but this goes hand in hand with the tolerance of cultures. Recognizing the differences between cultures does not mean that there is a perfect culture in the world, since human beings are imperfect and limited Sinful, there can be no perfect culture. So, when we praise a certain culture, it does not mean that we need to cover up the various flaws in that culture.

Since culture is divided into superior and inferior, then how to judge the superiority of culture. Here are three criteria to refer to:

One is the attitude of various cultures towards God. There are two kinds of cultures: one is a culture with gods and beliefs in gods, and the other is a culture without gods and denies the existence of gods. Taking North and South Korea as an example, one is the culture of gods – the South Korean culture, and the other is the culture of the gods – the culture of North Korea.

To subdivide the attitude toward God, it is the attitude toward Yahweh. How to judge the superiority of a culture depends on its attitude towards Yahweh, such as American, British, Israeli, European, American, and Western cultures, at least in their core cultural concepts and systems, they respect Yahweh.

The second is the attitude of various cultures towards people. If this culture recognizes that everyone is equal and has the same dignity, freedom and rights. Such a culture is a higher culture. If the attitude towards people is to deny that people have the same dignity, then such a culture is a low-quality culture.

The third is the attitude of culture towards the right to life, liberty and property rights. If the culture respects and protects the rights to life, liberty, and property, then this culture is a good culture; otherwise, it is an inferior culture.

In fact, the attitude towards people is also determined by the attitude towards Yahweh. Because of human dignity, human rights to life, liberty, and property all come from Yahweh, not from Pharaoh. Therefore, the attitude toward man is determined by the attitude toward God. If cultures do not differentiate between superiors and inferiors, then human dignity, human freedom, rights and equality will not be guaranteed, and cultures and systems that harm human beings will continue to be rampant and enduring. If a culture that appeals to liberty is compared with a culture that appeals to power, the former must be superior, the latter must be barbaric. To deny the competition between these two cultures is to deny the competition between freedom and autocracy. Therefore, the difference in belief determines the difference in culture, the level of belief determines the level of culture, and excellent culture must reflect the goodness of the Creator, which is also the fundamental criterion for judging the level of culture.

There is no need to even judge cultures if they cannot be judged on a scale of superiority or inferiority. There is no difference between different cultures in many places, and the ability to distinguish the difference has become a more critical indicator.

Conclusion: Pharaoh, or Yahweh?

Regarding the discussion of cultural superiority, the ultimate question is to choose between Yahweh and Pharaoh: which side should we stand on? Are you on the side of God or on the side of man? On the side of Yahweh, or on the side of Pharaoh? Only on the side of Yahweh can human dignity and freedom be guaranteed. To stand on the side of the pharaoh, that is the side where the people are bound to be slaves, the side that loses their dignity and freedom. This has been made very clear in the book of Exodus. Yahweh rescued the Israelites from the slave land in Egypt under the tyranny of Pharaoh, and led them across the Red Sea and out of Egypt. Anyone who is not on the side of Yahweh will eventually be on the side of Pharaoh, because there is no middle ground, the middle ground is the Red Sea. To stand on the side of ” no superiority in culture ” is, by nature, standing on the side of the pharaoh.