Humanities under Siege: Chinese Intelligentsia in the Global Village

By Xia Li.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

While the precarious future of humanist values was anticipated by leading Western intellectuals well before the turn of the century, the concern of Chinese intellectuals about the vulnerability of the “spirit of humanism” (renwen jingshen) was only highlighted in the literary magazine “Dushu”, some twenty years after Deng Xiaoping’s programmatic vision of China’s role in the ‘brave new world’ of global market economy. The initial concern with regard to the morality of the unrestrained surge of consumerism, “commodity fetishism” and the overt political promotion of a free market ideology, that is, Western capitalism, climaxed between 1992-1994 in an open discussion in which the collective purpose the intellectual as social critic in the public arena was forcefully articulated. Regrettably, the hopes pinned on globalisation in this matter, in the East and the West, have not been realized. On the contrary, the future of the humanities and the humanistic consciousness of intellectuals is more bleak and uncertain than ever before. This paper attempts to elucidate and explore both, the commitment and the failure of the Chinese intelligentsia (literati) in defense of humanistic values in a market-driven consumer-society, or what Noam Chomsky refers to as the “responsibilities of intellectuals”.

Keywords: Chinese Intellectuals, Humanist Values, Spirit of Humanism, Globalism, Market Ideology, Chinese Society

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.319-334. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1019.200KB).

Dr. Xia Li

Convenor of Chinese, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, NSW, Australia

Originally from the PRC, Dr. Li Xia is Convenor of Chinese in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where she lecturers in Chinese language, literature and translation. Her research interests and publications are in the areas of comparative literature, cultural studies, translation studies and Chinese literature. She has more than 30 research-quality publications to her credit and her articles have appeared in Neohelicon, Canadian Review of Comparative Literature, Interlitteraria, Modern Chinese Literature and so on. She is also a highly qualified translator and interpreter as well as a teacher of English as a foreign/second language.

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