辞不达意 – Words that fail to express meanings – English

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The appropriation of the Diaoyu Islands by Japan has caused great social unrest, including a round of heated online debate. This once against aroused my interest in public discussions, so I decided to write this series of columns on ‘how do we learn discussion today’, and the book will be published as ‘before the coming of democracy’. The fact that we can have a good discussion today, and calmly deal with differing views, means we have already passed the threshold of democracy.

Words that fail to express meaning.

In the face of a major social event, you will find that expressions are limited. There are many sides to the issue, including political, economic, diplomatic, military and all sorts of other aspect. There’s what appears on the surface, and what floats below the waterline. There is the vertical point of view of power, and there is the horizontal point of view of society. In front of the kaleidoscope of reality, each person has a unique position that establishes their perspective, and captures a small part of the whole.

Reality differs from the object of historical research in that it is a living thing, it is animated by many forces, and constantly growing, fermenting and rapidly changing; and within a short period of time, a situation can arise that surprises and exceeds people’s expectations. The issues that yesterday brought up will soon be covered by today’s reality; Things that appear in a certain manner at the start, after a series of inexplicable changes, end up looking entirely different.

Reality is like a monster madly rushing ahead towards an unknown destination, and leaving everyone behind him. 这就使得人们的言说,都带有“明日黄花”的色彩,以及“盲人摸象”的性质。然而,事情的背后肯定有某些相对稳定的机理,需要把它们找出来,而不是仅仅停留在新闻事件浪花的表面。

Recently, Japan has ‘nationalized’ the Diaoyu islands, causing deep agitation throughout our society, in all areas and fields. In the period of the October holidays, this was the topic people discussed most. No matter what their differences were, everyone had something to say about it. But each time we face a crisis, it also reveals some of the ills of our own society.

Understanding events from the angle of the discourse held about them is a characteristic of my work. What makes me feel some anxiety in this matter is that the Chinese government is obviously speaking reason, the Diaoyu islands belong to China, unlike what Japan is claiming, there is not even a controversy. but the words chosen by our spokespeople, whether it’s the tone of their voice, or the vocabulary they use, have some distant echoes of class struggle.

According to the Japanese ambassador to the UN, during his speech at the General Assembly, the reason why the Diaoyu Islands are not under Chinese sovereignty is – they are not explicitly mentioned in the Shimonoseki Treaty, and therefore, not affected by the repeal of the Treaty. This is pure sophistry, and cannot be established. The Chinese representative seriously refuted the argument. But ah, as seen on television, when considering this refutation, the vocabulary was too limited, the proofs too few, and it left people feel both sympathetic and anxious.

But our national media, in order to taint the Japanese statememt, used misleading statements from the national representatives: “Modern Japan imposed the Treaty of Shimonoseky on China, and presumptuously claim that the Chinese Diaoyu island belong to Japan. Such a blatant challenge to the practice of international order at a United Nations meeting is a great slander to an organisation established on the basis of the post-WWII order and the post-colonial struggle.” This statement seems to imply that Japanese people are using the Shimonoseki treaty as a basis to prove that the Diaoyu islands don’t belong to China, and this is a stretch too far.

即使是发生争执期间,也要根据对方所说的话,实事求是地予以反驳,才更有力量。这种时刻你就会想到,中国仍然处于转型时期,包括话语转型。我们曾经经历过 一个比较长的封闭时期,强调的不是人与人理性地交流沟通,而是一定要压倒对方,因此造成了语言的扭曲畸形,用词的狭窄局促。


除了资讯不足,这背后仍然存在一个处境的问题。经过多年来人们的努力,在国内事务方面人们已经争得了一定的发言权,但是在国际事务方面基本上原地踏步。而 显然,即使人们积累了对于国内事务发言较多的经验,也不能等于在国际事务中拥有同样的能力。在对外发言时,我们的政府总是以全权代表者的身份发言,结果把 民众折叠在里面许多层,闷在里面发不出自己的声音。

而如果民间没有经过相关方面眼光的培养,没有在公共讨论中有一个学习的过程和得到提高,没有在互相切磋中养成自我约束和限制的习惯,于是就出现了各种各样 的表现,令人咋舌。至于,这次事件中出现的打砸抢烧的丑陋行为,是一个需要绳之以法的问题,不在本文的讨论范围。我本人会对于涉日游行中出现的五花八门的 标语,尤其感兴趣。

比如激愤。“宁愿华夏遍地坟,也要杀光日本人”,这一条为人们批评最多。“9·18”那天偶尔卷入游行队伍里的一位先生告诉我,他在日本大使馆附近遇见一 位举着这条标语的年轻人,看上去人很温和。但他们没有来得及交换意见,就被有关人员分开了。循着这条信息,我就想,这位老兄是否实际想过他所举标语牌的含 义,是否想过他的父母亲人孩子沉埋地下的情景。他们将会是谁杀死的呢?他本人是否会在现场尽力避免惨剧的发生?如果他一分钟都没有想过,那他就是没有真正 过脑子想过自己到底要什么,是扭曲了自己的意思,或根本没有找到自己的意思。

当然,也需要反过来想想,为什么人们如此激愤,在提到日本人时表现出一些固有的怨恨。在我们呼吁理性克制的同时,也要考虑某些深层的原因。应该说,战后日 本反思战争罪责方面,并不能令周边国家的人们满意。战争所遭受的损失和屈辱,主要由民间来承担了。因此,我们也不必要仅仅嘲笑这些不知道自己说什么的人 们,而是看看自己能否找到更为恰当的表达。

再比如跑题。许多游行队伍里出现了类似“毛主席,小日本又来欺负咱们了”的标语,当我在这次从游行队伍的照片和视频中见到一些被称之为“毛左群众”时,产 生了一种从未有过的同情。他们当中大多数属于底层民众,不掌握权力资源思想资源及任何资源。他们对当今社会也是有所批判的,只是话语不同。

一个人如果长期被剥夺,他感到自己不被倾听,不被理解,不被接受。没有人愿意注意到他,没有人想要知道他要什么,更没有人试图帮助他来完成自己想要的。他 很少能够尝试运用和体验自己的力量,而不只是接受别人暗示给他的虚无。一旦他偶然被邀请前来参与一桩公共事务,出现在亮起来的公共舞台之上,他只能运用自 己已有的储存和语言,这有什么奇怪吗?

不难想象,如果我们有更为宽松的环境,如果有民众发声的常设平台,而且他们的意见能够被接受,他们的生活得到改善,他们便不会通过钓鱼岛的问题来说自己的 事情了。孔子在编《诗三百首》的时候,考虑到民间流传的诗歌是了解民意的一个极好机会,那么在今天我们难得见到的民间公开的标语口号,也是了解民意和掌握 民情的极佳机会。所需要的是深入分析,而不是简单地抛弃和讥讽。


Originally published in the ‘Economic Observer’, 12 October 2012

Article Revisions:

Source : my1510.cn, 16 October 2012, 崔卫平 - Cui Weiping

About julien.leyre

French-Australian writer, educator, sinophile. Any question? Contact julien@marcopoloproject.org