defense of south china or offense against the people

Thu, 23 Jan 97 21:11:36 CST

Mark Jones said something I thought interesting and important about the
Jurched invasion of South China, 1127-1141; that it was not stopped by Yangzi
valley mud, for one thing. But as I cannot find his post at this time, I'm
uncertain what to say about it, as it deals with a historical problem about
which a truly fantastic amount of uncertainty exists.

Let's go back to First Principles for a second. We are living in the Present
of a society, ie, a Delusional Systematic Representation of the objective
reality of that society which is Reality to us. The extent to which our
misrepresentation of "our" society, whatever that means, is to be left to
the determination of those who do not share our culture, though they may
harbour delusions to the effect that they do. That is, they may take for
granted that they are in or partake of the same Tradition that we are ourselves
an early stage of.

I'm sorry, but this suggests a digression. In Getting Through The Day in
the everyday-life praxis of the Observed, which is what the social scientist
must do in order to get paid for social science, rather than get Put Away for
Bizarre Behaviour unbecoming of a member of the Learned Professions, it is
necessary to obliterate from consciousness the development of past forms into
present forms, assuming that any continuity existed, and is not merely
suppositious on the Observer's part. Consider:
Two days ago, I went to the locally prestigious Bookstore, where I bought
Weighty Books, by content, as well as in pounds-ounces (or kg/g). As I'd got
a heavy book bag, and my dry-cleaning from next door in a large plastic bag
previously obtained from this same bookstore, I asked the Churchly-looking
woman salesclerk whether she perhaps had a potato sack for the books. "You
know, Industrial Hemp, that's a potato sack, hemp, OE *haenep*, from L *canna-
bis*, Gr *kannabis*. I'm terribly sorry about that. Perhaps, if this establish-
ment might happen to sell canvas bags, like the other place (Barnes & Noble),
it might simplify matter greatly, oh, excuse me, canvas of course deriving more
directly from *cannabis*, and it's simply dreadful that, in an old sailing port
as this city once was, it is required to teach little children the euphemism
"naval stores," given that, if an army be said to travel on its stomach, a
navy even more truly travelled on marijuana, the rope, sails, etc. This
language, doubtless, was concocted by Drug-crazed people." With the Churchly
salesclerk utterly horrified, but with little chance of Summoning Authorities
in time, I'd demonstrated to myself the forgettingness of Tradition as critical
to delusional faith in its transmission.

The delusional Present requires a Past whose ideologically compelling power
is its apparent success in having Given Rise to the Present. Consider that
even in Multicultural Times such as ours, "the Greeks" and "the Romans" have
got stuck in "our" Past like Splinters. Take them out. But then, in these
days of Industrialized Manufacture of Meanings on an Extended Scale, we can
generate a Meaningful Heritage or Contribution to Our Ancestral Tradition out
of damned near *anything*.
1. Name the Principal Products of the Visigoths.
2. Explain closeness of San Ysidro and San Leandro. ŹNo credit for any
mention of or reference to Orange County in whole or in part, class.┘
--Ms Pu, please explain these Chinese Characters on your answer to Question 2.
--It say, Surely we study fengshui
Aspects Else of Toponymy art
So make Overflowing quality
Peach & Pear Garden *xian*.
--Ms Pu, is Peach and Pear Garden your idea of renaming Orange County?
--Oh no! It's *obscene*!

The Past, when it was a delusional Present of its own, had no intention,
of course, of giving rise to *our* Present; and had generated a Past of its
own, wherewith it was satisfied that there *had been* a Past whose telos was
to have given rise to itself. One curious additional mental gizmo operates in
our mental contraption about "our" Past, which is, we are much more Distant
from "ours" then lesser peoples still living uncomfortably close to, or stuck
in, even, their own.
Who, out there, is not convinced of the age-old tradition of Chinese
handicraftspersonship in fine plastics? That for sure, Chinese plastics
artistry goes back to Yao & Shun, or something? That only the most exquisite
of plasticwear bears the label FABRIQUE EN CHINE? That the price goes *up*
before the name goes on, as with all crafty goods.
--Ms Pu, can you please read aloud the manufacturers' name, in English, which
I'm sure yours isn't, of your upscale Rodeo Drive footwear?
--What kinda filthy disgusting pervert are you?!?
--I must confess, actually, I'm checking up on if it's the same one's made
my $17.99 Payless chainstore schlock, ALL MAN MADE MATERIALS.
--Well, fuck you, anyway, it's Confiscate Footwear Corp, Shenzhen.
--Quite, uh, interesting, same as mine.
--Unbelievable, so like, totally, in their TV commercials, I mean, that shot
of Tiger George's loincloth, he's like, 'I must confiscate your shoes now. You
won't be needing them where you're going.'
--Is that, uh, a Chinese, uh, that is, uh....
--No, it's GRAY SLUGS! From 'Earthwoman Abduction Etiquette, Vol I'.
*** At any moment you, too, may become Clueless, and the word Clueless
itself be changed without warning. ***

As you can readily detect, I'd rather do almost anything than discuss the
tangled mess of the defense, if that is what it was, of South China from the
Jurched, 1127-1141. Recall the Greatest, and Only, fighting general in the
history of the Song dynasty, holder of the worst and longest unbroken losing
streak in military history, and if there's a Warfare Hall of Ill-Fame somewhere
in the Universe, the Song military has earned a wall or glass case in it. Out
of nothing and nowhere, Yue Fei apparently, as Chinese historians may prefer
to believe, Yue Fei won victories with peasant infantry, who ferociously
attacked the Jurched cavalry, mired or impeded as the latter may have been
by Yangzi valley mud or lost in river systems from the Huai valley on south.

The career of Yue Fei is treated, then and to this very day, in terms,
anachronistic or Elsewise, of Duty, Honour, and Country. For Taiwanese as
much as those in the People's Republic, Yue Fei was the Patriot killed by
a conspiracy of Traitors, executed (or purged, as we would say), in 1141
*because he was victorious*, thereby impeding the chickenshit government
from concluding a shameful peace acknowledging humiliating defeat; vassalage
of Song to Jin (Jurched); 600,000 units tribute, half silk, half silver. In
1161 Yue Fei was "rehabilitated," a statue to his heroic memory erected, and
the cabal blamed for his death portrayed kneeling at his feet (and vandalized
in proportion to Rise of Nationalism).

What was happening?

Let's review the achievements of Want Anshi, the Great Administator.
Briefly, he couldn't have done anything for Chiang Kai-Shek, but he might
have done wonders for winning World War II in Washington, what with his
fertility in creating new agencies (with acronyms), his slogan, "many
officials," and his faith in lavish equipment and quantitative expansion.
I-forget-who said, "By the year 1100, China had many of the characteristics
of an industrial society. Someone-entirely-Else noted that, about the year
1000, the government in Kaifeng was by exaggeration called "the hundred
bureaus"; by 1100, "it was an understatement." The ruling class was split
down the middle by material vested interests, by generation, by pedigree
vs arriviste. The most magnificent achievement of Wang Ansh's administration
was, actually, getting the system to pay for itself. It was by no means self-
evident to the Yangzi valley landlords that, merely because they got a windfall
in production subsidies from the Green Sprouts Administration, that they
should pay land taxes in full. Which was the major presupposition in state
The Green Sprouts Administration enabled the
state to increase grain production to feed its merchant class and
marketing hierarchy, its industrial working class (no kidding), its standing
army of 1.25 million men, armour-plated and Elsewise expensively equipped,
and its metastasizing cancerous bureaucracy--gotta finish this in 40 minutes,
value-neutrality next week--just as one aspect of expanded state activities
(there's the controversial tea-supply monopoly granted southwestern producers,
which elicited screams of pain from southeastern tea producers, for the
purposes of the activities of the Tea and Horse Administration, which appears
to have made a lot of money, but did nothing for Song cavalry forces). If
I'm getting lost in confusion here, it's not a total loss, because there
was enough anger on the part of vested interests benefiting or suffering,
along with their dependent peasants, to confuse people at the time.
When the arty emperor Huizong proved slack in cracking down on tax
delinquencies, the whole social order seemed to have come unstuck. The
Yangzi valley estates were on acreage tax, which was regressive to begin
with; the same percentage of the crop was collected by the state regardless
of ability to pay, if any. So long as the landlords paid the heavy taxes,
the illusion of equitability might be kept up. But a screwball emperor, as
Huizong was, who did not, frankly, care as much about state finance as he
did about the fitting and proper hierarchical ranking of gods, and whether
the artists were painting the way he did (they didn't; his stuff was ridiculed
as overly ornate; the hip artists went for Chan, marketed by Japan under the
name Zen, minimalism), might easily allow landlords to evade taxes which were
then collected directly from the cultivators instead, under fraudulent
Already, under Huizong, there was an uprising of a sect with White Lotusish
beliefs, "basically Buddhist, were tinged with Manichaean influences. Its
members were strict vegetarians and worshipped devils." That was in Zhejiang.
"Very poorly armed, the insurgents, who were led by one Fang La, massacred the
distinguished, the rich, and government officials."

Upon the loss of North China, a peasant movement around Lake Dongting, in
Hunan, appears to have fought the Jurched, the regular Song army, and
mercenaries hired by local landlords on emergency retainers. "A peasant rising
broke out in 1130, led by a certain Zhong Xiang, who was a talented military
leader, magician, and healer. Zhong Xiang is alleged to have remarked, 'The
law separates the high and the low, the rich man and the poor man. I shall
publish a law ordering that the high and the low, the rich man and the poor
man shall be equal.' He was soon captured and executed, but his troops
increased in number and built themselves defenses in the marshes of the
lake." This is from Gernet, 2nd ed, p. 315. "In order to eliminate this
abscess, which interfered with the organization of the defenses against the
Jurchen, a vast repressive operation was mounted. It went on until 1135 and
was directed in its final year by the famous general Yue Fei." (ibid)

The Jin, or Jurched, empire should be seen, maybe, as a Chinese state,
without the sources of legitimacy, yet by the same token, with the idiocies
and irrationalities corresponding to the sources of legitimation removed.
The Jin (Jurched) preferred, when possible, to keep Song officials in office
in territories overrun by themselves. They had neither need nor use for
egalitarian-anarchic "liberated areas," which were what these peasant-rebel
enclaves amounted to. The peasants denied these territories to both sides,
as well as to the landlords' mercenaries/gangsters, who were the law wherever
they could manage to attain arbitrary extralegal power.

The achievements of Yue Fei were, first, to stomp the egalitarian enclaves.
Then, having destroyed the peasant forces, in armed strength and in livelihood,
he gave them something to do, paying them in an improvised fashion. That is,
they were turned loose to plunder and loot the Jurched, and hitherto-pacified
agriculturalists under their control. By mutual agreement of both states
pretending to Civilization, which in its most brutal essentials is a situation
wherein one bunch does the Work, and a wholly different crowd does the
Civilization, this sort of predation, howbeit of advantage to the Song, and
at the expense of the Jin, was a threat and menace to the meaning and purpose
of existence as construed by Song and Jin alike. While it was not certain that
Yue Fei would die quietly until ordered to do so, he indeed did; and thereafter
could be safely, ie, posthumously, commemorated.

Daniel A. Foss