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1  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: What can fix South Africa? on: November 24, 2015, 09:41:09 pm
My troll position on South African politics is that the REAL original inhabitants should rule it. That is the (now) Afrikaans-speaking coloureds of the Cape provinces and not the Bantu interlopers.
2  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Key to Defeating the Islamic State -Create a New Sunni State on: November 24, 2015, 09:39:58 pm
People, countries are not blocks of lego to be dismantled and reconstructed at will according to what seems most 'rational' at that time. We have over 100 years of history (at least) to back this up.

There are some pretty absurd suggestions in this thread, but perhaps the strangest is that the Lebanon would want more territory. Given that the Lebanon is constantly engaged in a sectarian tightrope walk as it is, why would it want to further complicated matters by adding new territory or people. Unless the 'it' referred to is Hezbollah which would probably like many more Shia Muslims in Lebanese territory, but the Christians, the Sunni and the Druze would probably disagree.
3  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Can Jeb Fix It? on: November 23, 2015, 09:50:43 pm
Like this guy, I assume?

4  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Will France go fascist? on: November 22, 2015, 03:28:02 pm
This threat is exaggerated. Le Pen might well get into the second round at the next election. But win? Nahhhh....
5  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: What can fix South Africa? on: November 22, 2015, 03:27:07 pm
Because of the nature of South Africa's electoral demography whoever will eventually defeat the ANC is far more likely to be a splinter group from the current ANC than the DA.
6  Presidential Elections - Analysis and Discussion / 2016 U.S. Presidential Election / Re: Team Hillary cracks the whip on comedians and their venue that made fun of her on: November 20, 2015, 08:00:42 pm
Torie, serious question, do you have Syphilis?
7  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Why doesn't support the West the formation of a Kurdish nation? on: November 17, 2015, 09:11:34 am
Diplomats love and want stability. And tbh right now, I can hardly blame them.
8  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Paris Attacks on: November 17, 2015, 09:11:01 am
As the news media isn't making this clear I guess I should.... It still isn't very clear how much the attacks of Paris were due to the inspiration of the organization that calls itself 'The Islamic State' and how much was due to the inspiration of the individuals involved.
9  General Politics / Economics / Re: Is there any problems that would arise with a Wealth Tax? on: November 16, 2015, 09:29:24 pm
Yes, it wouldn't raise enough money.
10  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Inevitable question: DO you like or hate the Star Wars prequel trilogy? on: November 15, 2015, 02:42:34 pm
They have many good ideas that were rather poorly executed, but overall are more a victim of people misremembering the quality of the original movies. As much as you can complain about Hayden Christensen's acting (which has more to do with having impossible-to-deliver dialogue than any actual problem with his delivery), do you remember Carrie Fisher's acting in the original trilogy? She was horrendous and was one of the main characters with tons of screen time and yet everyone gives her a pass for some reason.

This is an excellent point. Let's be fair, the prequels were never going to live up to expectations. And people get angry at Jar Jar for the same reason they get angry at Ewoks - it reminds them that this is a series of movies for young children.
11  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Day 41: Comoros on: November 13, 2015, 10:00:03 pm
Is Gully going to resume this series?

Sorry about that. I will eventually I've just been distracted and tired as of late and the next country on the list is.... the DRC, which I'm not up for right now.
12  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Idiocracy (2006) on: November 12, 2015, 07:36:28 am
It's total smart-arsed pseudointellectual garbage
13  Forum Community / Off-topic Board / Re: Inevitable question: DO you like or hate the Star Wars prequel trilogy? on: November 12, 2015, 07:35:50 am
They are an abomination unto the Lord.
14  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Canada General Discussion: Trudeau II on: November 12, 2015, 07:35:21 am
Why it's almost as if accurate data and ability to analyze the population is a key part of a modern society...
15  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: What's the most defining part of American history? on: November 12, 2015, 07:28:41 am
The Colonial Period, obviously.
16  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Ireland General Discussion on: November 08, 2015, 08:57:26 am
I'm going to make a prediction here:

The government will be re-elected (or at least FG and LAB will be the main part of the next government).
17  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Ouija Board Rape On America's Campuses - Liberal Spiritualism Gone Too Far. on: November 08, 2015, 08:55:34 am
This is a tremendously disturbing story isn't it? Not unlike (but even worse given, well, rape) all of that unpleasantness with 'recovered memories'. Why does this happen?

I think the answer here is 'social workers'. In the 1970s social workers working in mental health cottoned on to the truly insane double bind theory of schizophrenia and the refrigerator mother theory of autism. While I don't know enough of the history to declare anything with great confidence, I do know that these theories had a great advantage from a social workers pov - they gave more power to social workers and declared that they could save their patients while the patients' family and 'society' had failed.
18  General Politics / U.S. General Discussion / Re: Really old living political figures on: October 31, 2015, 11:56:47 am
Liam Cosgrave.
19  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Day 39: China, Republic of (Taiwan) on: October 31, 2015, 11:53:27 am
"the history of the whole of China since it was awkwardly established in 1911"
I highly doubt that it was awkwardly established considering the fact that it`s one of the oldest civilizations in the world
theoretically yes, but it`s not correct

'it' refers to the Republic not the Chinese state going back through antiquity.
20  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Day 41: Comoros on: October 22, 2015, 08:37:01 pm
What exactly makes Mayotte so well-off? French transfers? Its GDP per capita is above $10,000, which, relatively speaking, is actually quite a lot.

I assume its transfers. I can't imagine it being anything else.
21  General Politics / International General Discussion / Day 41: Comoros on: October 22, 2015, 08:29:27 pm

The Comoro Islands are an archipelago in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and Tanzania of four small islands and several much smaller islands which are about 2,300 square kilometers in length. The union of Comoros, one of the least stable states in the world, takes up three of the main islands and most of the much smaller ones to create its own country. The other island, Mayotte, is now a department of France having rejected, unlike the rest of the archipelago, to join an independent Comoros in a referendum in 1974. Given what has transpired since that time, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that Mayotte made a very wise move. And many Comorians seem to agree, given that there an estimated 60,000-100,000 Illegal Comorians on Mayotte (out of a population of 204,000 on Mayotte and 830,000 in the Union of the Comoros). Thousands try to cross the 70km between the three Comorian Islands and Mayotte each year.

Why are so many fleeing the Comoros? Well France, of course, is much richer and there are much greater opportunities for employment on Mayotte, the poorest of France's departments but significantly wealthier than the Comoros. The average wage on the Comoros is $3-4 a day and agriculture makes up 40% of the economy and 80% of the labour force. Despite this, the country is not self-sufficient in food. 24% of the Comoros' GDP comes from remittances. It is a cash crop economy, with Vanilla and ylang-ylang (a plant whose essence is used in perfumes) the many commodities. But in addition to the economic situation there is the country's extreme instability since independence in 1975. A brief summary is below. Upon independence power was given to the already somewhat autonomous government of the Comoros under Ahmed Abdallah and his Comorian Democratic Union, a party with a nationalist and moderately Islamist tilt. But within a month he was overthrown in a coup by a coalition of six political parties under Said Mohammed Jaffar and backed by a group of French mercenaries under Bob Denard, a die-hard anti-communist right-winger who converted to Islam and once plotted to kill Pierre Mendes-France over his 'betrayal' of Indochina and spend the 70s and 80s travelling across Africa fermenting coups on behalf of the French government, he will reappear again. Jaffar wanted compromise between France and the new state over the Mayotte issue.

But, for reasons I cannot find online, he was soon overthrown or overtaken as leader by Ali Soilih, a man who rivals Pol Pot for 'maddest Maoist leader of the 1970s'. In his two year period of power Soilih tried to create a cultural revolution on the islands. This meant arming youth gangs, modeled on Mao's Red Guards, and getting them to denounce and attacks their elders, especially conservative Muslims and clerics. Needless to say, he was an ultra-nationalist who rejected any connection with France and was noted for his intransigent Gallophobic rhetoric. He even, in a classic nationalist move, burnt the country's historical archives in protest against France. In return France withdraw support for this state and the country was very quickly bankrupt. Needless to say the economic situation deteriorated rapidly and the government was soon shooting fishermen who refused to hand over their catch to the state. In 1978 to end the chaos Bob Denard returned and with his band of mercenaries marched to the presidential palace, declared a new government and shot Soilih. Apparently they found him surrounded by his harem watching porn films. Ahmed Abdallah was invited back.

After looting the country for a while, the mercenaries (under pressure of the UN and nearby states) left Abdallah to his own devices. Abdallah created a new constitution (which centered power around the president i.e. himself) and was given power in an election, now calling the country a federal Islamic republic. Quickly after the election he banned political parties and arrested and round up the remaining members of supporters of the Soilih regime, many of whom 'disappeared' in the process. Despite this in 1981 Soilih loyalists attempted a coup which failed. Meanwhile Abdallah used the powers of offices to enrich himself. Meanwhile by the early 80s the mercenaries were back, this time with the support of South Africa who were using the islands to smuggle arms (against the global embargo) to monitor the situation in the rest of Southern Africa. In this process Denard made himself head of the elite armed forces, the presidential guard, while about 30-40 Europeans dominated Comoros armed forces structure. This caused such resentment that in 1985 it led to a mutiny which almost overthrew the government, but ended with the participants being sentenced to hard labour (eventually commuted due to international pressure). Denard, like Abdallah, used his power to enrich himself and build up economic connections with South Africa, involving various import-export and security companies. Meanwhile, Comoros' economy in general was massively unstable and, as ever, dependent on the prices of its commodities.

Abdallah's demise in 1989 came in bizarre circumstances. Soon after having won a rubber-stamp election to amend the constitution to make him de facto president for life (an event which caused widespread tensions across the islands which saw much violence and arrests), he was killed in his sleep. The motive for this seems to relate to Abdallah wanting to merge the presidential guard with the regular army and the negative reaction of the mercenaries to this. Two days after the assassination Denard and the Presidential Guard tried to seize power killing several policemen, arresting hundreds and confining journalists and, of course, installing their own puppet president. Eventually the situation came such an embarrassment to France and South Africa that they suspended aid to the country and tried to isolate Denard. Eventually Denard had no choice but to surrender and was eventually returned to France to save trial for Abdallah's assassination. Of course, he was found not guilty.

Eventually from this chaos Said Mohamed Djohar, a half-brother of Soilih but had served in Abdallah's Supreme Court, was made President. Djohar even won an election in 1990 to affirm his power (which the opposition of course thought was rigged) but afterwards his rule was predictably unstable with an attempt at impeachment in 1991 and a failed coup in 1992. Eventually though Bob Denard, having been cleared of murder in a French court, returned in 1995 to the Comoros for one last coup which succeeded in overthrowing Djohar but was strongly opposed by the French who threatened to invade the island. Despite setting up defenses to attack his countrymen, Denard decided to surrender before much fighting took place. However, following this chaos new elections were called and in 1996 Mohamed Taki Abdoulkarim, a man who had worked alongside Denard and had been Djohar's main political opponent, was elected president.

I've found information of what's happened since then difficult to parse. But here is the briefest summary. To add to the general chaos, in 1997 two of the three main islands of Comoros, Anjouan and Mohéli, declared independence from the main island, Gran Comore. Although never recognized anywhere, the level of government control over these islands has waxed and wane over time, especially Anjouan, which had its own government and cycle of coups in this time. In 1998 Mohamed Taki died and his successor was soon overthrown in a coup by Colonel Azali Assoumani. Assoumani kept onto power over the next years and even won election in 2002. Eventually Assoumani stepped down and 2006 saw Comoros' first ever peaceful transfer of power, to the Moderate Islamist Ahmed Abdallah Sambi. However on Anjouan the loser in the national election, Colonel Mohamed Bacar, declared himself the winner on the island and made himself president there. Eventually he was overthrown in an African Union sponsored invasion from the other islands. In 2011 Abdallah Sambi was succeeded by his Vice President, Ikililou Dhoinine, in an election.

Comorian people are of a mixture of Arab, Persian, East African and Malagasy descent. The country is a member of the Arab league and Arabic is an official language, although the dominant language is a form of Swahili, called Comorian. As a key point in the Arab-East Africa trading route, Swahili grew on the islands to become, in its Comorian form, the main language. This is shown in the map below which shows the areas in which a type of Swahili is spoken
22  General Politics / International General Discussion / Re: Day 39: China, Republic of (Taiwan) on: October 18, 2015, 08:47:20 pm
I wonder if Taiwan has any of the oddities present in a lot of other settler colonies...

Such as?
23  General Politics / International General Discussion / Day 40: Colombia on: October 18, 2015, 08:45:48 pm

So we come to one of those countries in whose name embodies something I disagree with. Countries can and should be named after landmarks, natural features, groups of people, even perhaps historical events if they are worthy of it. What countries should not be named after are individual people. Colombia, America, the Phillippines... nobody is worth that honour really. However, I suppose one of the things that politicians and relevant parties have to agree upon when forming a new country is the name, and as 'Colombia' was dreamed as an ideological project to unify South America or at least the part of it that had been the viceroyalty of New Granada under Spanish rule, and what could be more unifyingly Americano than something basking in the name of Cristóbal Colón, the founder of la raza.

Colombia is, it should be pointed out here, a deeply strange country geographically. Strange in the sense of 'it could be a postcolonial construct' strange. The country under its present boundaries is, in its populated regions, crisscrossed with mountains and there is no natural connection points between the various centres. The south east of the country is mostly the Amazon and has very few inhabitants. There is also the equally uninhabited los llanos and one of America's (the continent) real badland frontiers, mostly lived in by ranchers who can handle the regular flooding and the infertility. There is also the large coast, for Colombia is the only country in South America to border both the Atlantic and Pacific, which only connects to the rest over mountains of significant height. Colombia contains Savannahs, Tropical Deserts, Steepes, Mountain climate, and on the pacific coast in Chocó Department, some of the rainiest places on the planet; the town of Lloró getting about 500inches of year each year. In other words, a perfect geographical creation of empire. E Pluribus Unum.

In demographic terms Colombia is similar with about half of all Colombians being Mestizos, 37% White, the rest of African or 'pure Native' origin. Africans are primarily centered around the Pacific coast, Cali being a particularly centre with Chocó Department being over 80% black (also unsurprisingly it's the poorest department in Colombia). As in many Latin American states, in 19th Century the government promoted white migration from Europe to de-mestizo and de-blacken the population as it embraced scientific racism and positivism. There is also a significant diaspora of Arabs in the country, primarily based in Barranquilla. What can else be said about race in Latin America can also be said here.

The imperial construct from which Colombia was formed was, as mentioned, the Vice Royalty of New Grenada. It was one of the four vice royalties which made up the Spanish Empire in America, along with Peru, New Spain, and Rio de la Plata and was then divided into further Captaincy Generals (where did they get these names?) and provinces. From independence throughout the 19th Century Colombia's history was one of disintegration and the turning to ashes of the idea of Latin American Unity, a belief as quixotic as any other form of Pan-nationalism (Pan-Turkism anyone?). First of all came Gran Colombia in 1821 which could agree on a constitution or whether to adopt a federal or centralist constitution compounded the intense regionalism embedded in local attitudes and which local geography fostered. Personality clashes between the two dominant figures: Santander and Bolivar (whose modern reputation of being some kind of proto-leftist nationalist is *hilarious* ahistorical romanticism at this worst). It dissolved in 1830 with Quito (i.e. Ecuador) and Venezuela going in its own way after an attempted military takeover. Then came the Republic of New Grenada which attempted centralism with what was left (i.e. Most of modern Colombia) but exploded in all kinds of regionalist in fighting and disputes about the church and the abolition of slavery. An attempt at federalism, with the country now called "the Granadine Confederation", was tried in 1858 but exploded as liberals and conservatives both hated and civil war broke out in 1860. This was won by the Liberals who then tried their own version of federalism called "The United States of Colombia" starting in 1863. They celebrated by giving out church property to the rich and going on the gold standard. This was unpopular and more civil wars festered in various regions. By the 1880s the Conservatives were back in power and this time went from centralism and renaming the country again - This time: The Republic of Colombia. However, this time the name stuck. Meanwhile there were several civil wars. The most violent being the Thousand Days War (1899-1902) which started when Liberals tried to revolt against the Conservative regime. This ended in failure and perhaps as many as 100,000 dead. Politically it strengthened Conservative Rule but not without Panama secessing, thanks to the support of the United States and the industrial interests involved in the Panama Rule (Panama was also a strong area for the Liberals). I believe I have slowly underexaggerated the chaos and confusion of 19th Century Colombian politics.

This instability and general chaos has continued well into the present. Liberal-Conservative wars continued well into the 1950s, with La Violencia of that era causing about 300,000 deaths. It was only with the rise of Communist groups in the 1960s did Liberals and Conservatives stopped killing each other and realize that little separated them anymore. From which has risen the interminable wars involving groups like FARC and various ultra right-wing militia which blight the country today.

Below is a map of Gran Colombia in 1824, under its brief federalist constitution, as you can see the borders of the regions are nothing like the present states in the region.
24  General Politics / International General Discussion / Day 39: China, Republic of (Taiwan) on: October 17, 2015, 09:24:14 pm

AKA Hipster China - China Before it was cool

I suppose there are two ways of looking at a state which is not officially nation state nor, despite the best efforts of the PRC to convince people otherwise, a rebel province. One is to look at the state itself and what it claims to be, that is the Republic of China, the inheritor of the state and territory of 'China' and thus of its 2000 year history and more especially, the history of the whole of China since it was awkwardly established in 1911. The second is look at the territory, that is the Island of Taiwan, its history and its development, the fact that is in many ways a postcolonial state. The same could also be argued for the Republic of China; but that would be a very different sort of postcolonial state. I suppose either analysis would be considered 'political' and thus controversial in ROC/Taiwan itself. That tends to be the thing about states which define themselves by their political status and not being 'a nation'. Below I shall try to cover both views.

The Republic of China was from its inception an intellectual project, despite the climate of contemporary climate in China being particularly unfavourable to such a project. It was inspired by European romantic nationalism and had its own Mazzini-like figure, right down Mazzini's hilarious incompetence and inability to understand politics, in Sun Yat Sen. Its sense of the nation as a unifying force can be seen in one of the first flags, the first stripped flag with each colour representing a different people in China: Han, Hui, Mongol, Tibetan, and Manchu. Like European nationalism in practice it cannot be said to be a unifying force. The Revolution against the Qing Dynasty first led to generalized chaos, then a hilarious attempt to reform a new dynasty as an effective military dictatorship under Yuan Shikai, then warlordism and then emerging out of the rubble and generalized mayhew, Sun Yat Sen's party under the very unromantic and unintellectual figure of Chiang Kai-Shiek. Chiang's China was Han centered, authoritarian and a promoter of 'traditional values', whatever those are in the China context. He was a corrupt hypocrite who funded his campaigns against warlords and later the Communists on money from the opium trade, the very trade detested by nationalists and which he constantly promised to many of his followers and, more importantly, to the outside world to suppress. In the end, despite regular duplicitousness and the somewhat inconsistent support of both the United States and the Soviet Union, the regime, having had its economic core destroyed and almost conquered in the war against Japan, collapsed on mainland China and fled to Taiwan.

It remains there today despite almost once being the cause of global nuclear annihilation and now generally seen as a Cold War relic in an area where Communist China is the world's most capitalist state. Anyway the Republic survived on the island where Chiang Kai Shek ruled until his death in 1975, a big year for the death of 1930s relics, suppressing leftists, having the longest period ever of martial law imposed and crushing anyone who supported Taiwanese independence as potential communists while imposing the values of his Chinese mainland on the island, including the speaking of Mandarin hitherto rare. His son succeeded him but protests by the 1980s had led to a formation of democracy which was became divided very quickly on Pro-China/Pro-independence lines. Taiwan, now one of the richest countries in Asia, is independent in all but name but is recognized by very few, a smattering pacific islands, small Central American states, and Burkina Faso of all places. Independence though means a country called 'Taiwan' without recognition that it is part of China, never mind just being the rebel province it is at present. Needless to say, Beijing does not approve and so this issue is just likely to run and run if it does not on the off chance cause a nuclear holocaust, which it might one day.

Taiwan, on the other hand, is an island whose history in many ways is more similar to a small Asian version of Australia or some other European settler colony than anywhere on Asian mainland. That is to say, the bulk of the population (about 98%) descend from settlers from a large powerful state (in this case, China) who completely submerged an indigenous population of very different descent (in this case, Austronesian) reducing them to marginal land and peripheral status, much poorer and backward compared to the rest of the country. Like most European settler colonies, the period of settlement began in the Early Modern period when the island came bizarrely involved in power struggles both of Asia and of Europe. Up until the 1620s the islands inhabitants were entirely aboriginals. This may seem strange given its closeness to the mainland but the winds are unfavourable to eastward travel in this part of the South China Sea and the island was never really an attractive place to settle. Then in the 1620s both the Spanish and Dutch, then at war with each other, arrived to set up bases for trade in the region. After jousting in the region the Dutch became dominant on the island, subdued some local kingdoms and tried to turn it into a colony. During this period of rule the first Chinese settlers began to arrive for trading purposes. Then in the 1640s the Ming Dynasty collapsed in Northern China due to the Manchu invasion. This led to great struggle in the south of the country with Ming loyalists trying to maintain their power. In 1662 one of those loyalists, a pirate called Koxinga, fled the mainland and landed in Taiwan with 30,000 followers and tried to establish a headquarters for resistance for the Manchus. After a long siege he expelled the Dutch and proclaimed his own kingdom on the island, with the assistance of anti-Dutch aboriginals. So like three centuries later, Taiwan's political and demographic status was determined by people feeling political chaos in mainland China and trying to hold onto the old regime.

Unlike Chiang Kai-Shek, however, this effort to restore the Ming failed and by 1683 the island was under Manchu rule. But, despite later edicts prohibiting immigration to the island, was the beginning of the Sinicization of the island which would now happen apace. Most of the migrants were from Fujian province and so spoke Hokkien as their first language, which is now the basis for Taiwanese, the spoken language of about 70% of the population. A smaller number were from further west, and so spoke Hakka, a minority language in the country. Both languages or dialects if you will are now though being somewhat submerged by the Mandarinization which has taken place since 1949. The rest of Taiwan's history between 1683 and 1949 is gradually sinicification due to gradual migration interrupted by another period in which the island between the play thing of global powers, primarily Japan who annexed the island to its greater co-prosperity sphere in 1895 following the First Sino-Chinese war. Japanese rule on Taiwan was as brutal as it was anywhere else in Asia although its rule did see a dramatic increase in population and greater investment. Although the attempted Japanification of the island was not a success.

The Republic of China, of course, still hypothetically considers itself the government of all China and not just Taiwan. Not only that but it claims more or less the boundaries of the Qing Dynasty although 'five races under one union' theory has long been abandoned in both the PRC and the ROC. Below is a map of its current claims.

25  General Politics / International General Discussion / Day 38: China, People's Republic of (China) on: October 16, 2015, 08:42:33 pm

Sooo.... China then. It's a pretty big place, about 19% of the humanity and the largest country by size that doesn't contain significant parts of arctic, even if it does get pretty cold up north. When writing about China it is customary, even in supposedly 'sophisticated' commentary, to make all kinds of naff historical illusions after its great continuity throughout history, its antiquity, its supposedly 'Confucian' culture with its mandarins and emperors (which apparently still exists despite everything the last two hundred years has thrown at it), its isolationism, its indifference to religion and its 'difference' from the rest of the world. Orientalism still breathes. So perhaps here I can correct a few misconceptions. China is not the oldest still existing state in the world (that's either Ethiopia or Iran), although it is one of the few countries that still exist that was around in the time of Christ. Since that time China has disintegrated on many occasions. It was not a united state between 220AD and c.580AD, a 360 year period (longer than whole history of the USA up till now). Nor was it much united between 907AD and the Mongol Conquest, an almost equally long period of time. It was the Mongols that entered re-unifying China as a state. Among the literati Confucianism was a state ideology for over 2,000 years but it was frequently challenged in massive popular revolts like that of the Yellow Turbans or the Taipings, which contained elements of strong religious fanaticism. As for the Confucian revival today, it is hard to see it as anything other than a nominal attachment to series of ethics rather than anything really typifies the state or popular ideology (which was never that Confucian; let's not speak of 'Confucian values' plz). The Chinese government still pays homage to Marxism in its education system, this does not mean the state is full of Marxist values and is excellent example of how ideological education is overrated. The state did long have isolationist policies but that does not imply that China was some navel-gaving xenophobic monolith. The long presence of large Chinese minorities across South East Asia, mostly brought there by trade, is testament to this. In the 19th Century, while the country was going through some sort of Malthusian nightmare and the breakdown of authority, millions migrated. Manchuria and the north was sinicized by a migration demographically as large as the European migration to the Americas going on the same time. Only racist laws kept them out of the Antipodes and the West Coast of North America but were used as coolie labour across many European colonies even after the passing of acts like the Chinese Exclusion Act. There was plenty of them and they were cheap and willing to go.

China is an imperial state, always has been and still is. This is not a criticism just an observation. It houses under its territory several differing cultures, creeds and traditions and unifies them under one roof. But co-operation and assimilation point in only one direction, towards the Han Chinese majority (around 91%; the most numerous ethnic group on the planet). This has long been the case. Despite the efforts of the Qing Manchu emperors the Manchus eventually assimilated towards Han mores aided by the massive migration mentioned above. The entrance to the forbidden city still has signs and ensigna written in Manchu, put there in the 17th and 18th centuries, as well as Mandarin. But the former language is extinct (well, with a somewhat bizarre afterlife) while the descendants of the Manchus all speak the latter. There never was a Manchu nationalist movement. This makes it more like Russia and the United States as a state (a dominant culture in which other groups, no matter their provenance, end up assimilating to in order to integrate with the whole... and in which other groups willingly do so for the most part with the occasional exception) than a classic Eurasian empire like the Ottomans, in which peoples belonged to assigned groups and not to assimilate to a dominant one but rather rule as perceived as negotiating between groups rather than holding one group as standard (the closest state to that today is India). Today the boundaries of the Han people are expanding further in Xinjiang/East Turkestan/Uyghuristan (Delete according to taste) and Tibet - where only 10% of the population are Han (I'm referring to here the Autonomous Region not 'Greater Tibet'). Chinese nationality policy is still based on Soviet practice, of recognizing different ethnic groups - 56 in total, the smallest of which only has just over 2,000 people in China and giving them limited autonomy and benefits while keeping all control in the hands of the central authority. The Soviets gave a lot of lip service to minority autonomy while engaging in its own particular version of Russification, the Chinese are doing likewise. What the future holds for groups like the Tibetans or the Uyghurs is different to foretall, but resistance is likely. Massive violence breaks out in Xinjiang every year. Tibet, despite being better known outside of China, is more quiet, which isn't to say that it can't explode. These areas represent a tiny fraction of China's population but will be of most interest to see in what directions the Chinese state develops in regards to its minorities, especially those with separatist intentions.

All histories of China mention the division between north and south. The flatter, colder, more bureaucratic north versus the more mountainous, more mercantile, less uniform south. This shows up still today in the map below of Chinese dialects. Mandarin, the world's largest language by number of 1st language speakers, dominates the North, the South West and West where a type of Chinese is spoken. In the south though dialects, of various levels of mutual intelligibility, are more widespread. The most well known one is Cantonese (here represented as 'Yue'). As the figures to the left show these dialects (or rather dialect spectrums) have speakers which all together puts them in the hundreds of millions. The Chinese government of course promotes Mandarin as the national language and Mandarin only. There has caused some backlash to nothing to the extent that a 'Cantonese nationalism' has emerged defining Cantonese as a separate language (something which would be extremely controversial to do). Language based nationalism has not and never has threatened to tear China apart. On this point you might wish to compare to Europe which linguistic and religious differences have long been used to counter any attempt at greater Europeanization or to counter Europe's incredible fragmentedness (China is more than twice the size of Europe. One country twice the size of a union of 28). China's religious wars may have broken up the country in moments of its history but those rebels never tried to create their own separate states and destroy the concept of 'China'. In spite of my earlier scoffing, China's enduringness as a civilizational and cultural unity is certainly impressive and one of the key facts of East Asian if not world history. Why this is, I leave for now to the Sinologists.

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