12/30 - Apathy is not apolitical

(In the context of contemporary China)

Liberals are mistaken when they work with an overly narrow definition of politics as none other than organized dissent, thereby equating participatory apathy with political apathy.  It is only natural, then, that they see the "apolitical" mass as being deluded and coaxed into obedient subjects of an authoritarian state.

Conservatives are mistaken when they insist on the personal nature of their politics, thereby taking a cynical stance toward all interpersonal (often dubbed "universal") values.  The process of "conversion" from liberal to conservative among young Chinese today is often triggered by personal encounters with a "hostile" foreign ideology, e.g. study/work abroad.  Having arrived at this intensely personal, even egoistic political stance, they feel insulted by the liberal criticism of their being "apathy" and "apolitical," hence the frequent analogy to liberal "preaching" of "gospels".

What would a more capacious sphere of politics look like?  Some may say that it is not even possible without major external changes to the nation.  A more urgent question to me, it seems, is whether we are capable of imagining it, and willing to acknowledge one's own limitations.

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