End of the Dragon History: Rewriting 5,000 Years of China in an Age of Global Nationalism

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In his bestseller, Wolf Totem, Jiang Rong rewrites 5,000 years of Chinese history in the last 50,000 characters of his 500,000-character novel. Against the grain of Confucian historiography, all dynastic ups and downs are ascribed to the presence or absence of “wolf nature.” Thus the vicissitudes of regimes are interpreted by pendular swings between lupine and sheepish spirits in a global history of national developmentalism. The author concludes his grand narrative that the Chinese people are not so much “descendants of the dragon” as “disciples of the wolf” and that nomads are the ancestors of farmers. It has been pointed out that _Wolf Totem_ is a product of an age of value vacuum and cultural crisis, when humanism retreats and science advances, when the law of the market has become a new ideology in globalization. Indeed, Jiang Rong’s extremism echoes Stalin’s social Darwinist statement about “the jungle law of capitalism” in his 1931 speech to industrial managers: “You are backward, you are weak—therefore you are wrong; hence, you can be beaten and enslaved. You are mighty—therefore you are right; hence, we must be wary of you.” In the wolf’s worldview, one either hunts or is hunted. Eulogizing European imperialism and Japanese militarism, Jiang Rong’s radicalism reveals his fantasy of territorialization through terrorization, which is labeled by Chinese and Western critics alike as “fascism.” This paper analyzes and contextualizes Wolf Totem in the dominant discourse of new nationalism that searches for national pride and power in the twenty-first century. Society and Culture.


ConferenceTwelfth Global Studies Conference
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