What is a nationalism? Is it a bad thing, or a good thing? The word always reminds me the dawn of WWII that Japan empire was, in my history education, powered by its fanatic nationalism spirits to conquer the world and to bring prosperity to its new lands.
What made me think of this word, however, is something that parallels this feeling, and I don't know yet how to put it — China's 大国崛起, its ambition to reestablish its past glory (presumably existed in history, which I actually have a quite different opinion), which in many cases involves two themes — to get a campus of followers (surrounding neighbours), and to live a life of the good, old times.
But, this is really troublesome, to me. First of all, the glory of leadership is a terrible thought. This is consistent of the hierarchical structure you see everywhere China that somehow someone must be the boss while everyone else around him/her will be obedient. Not only this is a social dynamics leading to rigid command chain thus staleness, but if you ever look at the countries around us and ask yourself how many devoted admirers there are, the practical answer is, none. That's right, none. There is no single country around the China's virtual sphere that will kowtow, because they look at this giant next door not as a powerful neighbour with a smile and friendship, but a powerful neighbour with an unpredictable temper. I don't recall where I picked up this line, but the best analysis of the image of China was summarized as "Having a big China is like you are sitting on a subway, and here comes sits down a big guy next to you with tattoos and no shirt on"... So if we think about in our life how you will like someone like that, you start to realize that an affection (between two people) is more about similar taste, view of the world, education, flavor of coffee, favourate movie, sports, and so on, rather than a party's sheer power. If the formers grow apart, one's power can only become a threat instead of a selling point.
Second, the thought of living the past glory, and to live the good old time. I constantly find myself wanting to go to the past (of my life) because I miss the girls I loved and wished a different outcome with them if I could turn back the clock. So I'm guilty as charged. The talk about how rich 宋朝 dynasty was, and how wonderful they were treating people, how well doing people were (according to novels like 金瓶梅) all sound romantic. There might even be a trace of unsatisfaction of the present because, otherwise, why would you go back? But if one takes a step back, I think this is really a human tendency to romanticize the past. Past wasn't that good; it's just the brain (and history) filtered the unpleasants and left you with all the happiness and fun. Take 宋朝 for example, the life quality you are enjoying today is far superior to the emperor back then — he had no TV, no car, no fitness center, no flu shot, no ice cream , no plane to travel, no ipad, no swimming pool, no Nike shoe, no bike, no talk show, no library, no book store, no coffee shop, no Mozart... what he had was just power, human labor, and an illusion of glory because he truly believed his empire was the center of the universe! But really, if anyone can hold that type of thoughts (and I actually have met quite many who do!), they don't need to go back to the past, they are living the past! — they all think they are powerful, and they are the best... give me a break!
If that's the type of price to pay to be glorified again, I don't want it. It's far better to be humbled because you realize how big the world is, how diversified people are, how split views of a seemingly common sense can be, how little you know, and how much you haven't got chance to learn... everytime I walk into a book store or a museum, I felt so insignificant because here I was, standing in front of presence of master minds of human specie who had done something tremendously outstanding, even vulgar arts count — they are reality of someone's mind and effort, so I admire that achievement of 0→1. So why would one want to live in a cave just be called a king and feel good about himself?
I think it's all about power, the pipe dream of power, the thought that the country is now powerful, and I want to be that part of power, somehow. This, is what I call Chinese nationalism in the 21st century. How sad, how ridiculous, how dangerous a thought! No, seriously, you don't want to live in 宋朝 for its so called glory. Just think about it, why would you live a life in which salt is a government monopolized, precious stuff?... if you are really addicted to power, the last thing you want is to have someone's finger on your salt supply valve and grin.
— by Feng Xia