Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Laikwan Pang's "One and All"

Laikwan Pang is the Choh-Ming Li Professor of Cultural Studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

She applied the "Page 99 Test" to her new book, One and All: The Logic of Chinese Sovereignty, and reported the following:
Page 99 of my book, One and All, can be seen as a snapshot of one of the biggest challenges of this book: to facilitate some true dialogues between Chinese and European political theories.

More specifically, here I want to explain how and why some contemporary Chinese intellectuals have incorporated both the traditional Chinese Confucian-Legalist ideas and works of Carl Schmitt to support their statist discourses. In other words, I have to explain three sets of political theories/agendas vastly different from each other to make sense of this phenomenon.

The current Chinese government raises state sovereignty as its highest political principle under the premise that it embodies the Chinese people's integrity, dignity, and common good. To give such a mythical status to state sovereignty, the statists have labored to assemble many ideas together. In this section, I want to demonstrate how this sovereigntism selectively picks and chooses elements from the political ideas of ancient China and contemporary Europe to justify its supreme political position.

Here I explain how the current Chinese statist theories ignored both Schmitt’s premise of the state’s neutrality and the challenges the earliest Legalist theorists in the fourth century BCE posed to the current powerful aristocrats. Schmitt upheld the state only because he believed it is neutral enough to protect the people’s best interest, while the ancient Chinese Legalists dared to provoke some of the most powerful parties of the time. In other words, subversive factors of the source materials of this Chinese sovereignty could be employed to challenge this state discourse. But obviously, the more challenging ideas are ignored, and this sovereigntism highlights only the supremacy of that state.
Learn more about One and All at the Stanford University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue