Sun Liping (孙立平) is a professor of the Sociology Department of Tsinghua University. He was also the PhD surperviser of Xi Jinping, the current vice-president of the People’s Republic of China. Professor Sun’s main research area is modernization and transitional sociology. He wrote the following post on his sociology blog on Feb. 28. It is being widely read in the Chinese blogosphere, and has appeared in major news websites such as Netease and the Southern Net.
The entire post has been translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan. Here is the first section:
This is a post for discussion. My main thesis is that the largest threat to China is not social turmoil, but social decay. This idea is very preliminary, so this post is a work in progress. I welcome interested friends to participate in a constructive discussion.
1. Are we worried about the wrong issues? Many people are now concerned about social conflicts, confrontations, mass incidents, etc. The reason why there is such a concern is fear of major social turmoil. However, I think the biggest threat to Chinese society may not be social turmoil, but social decay.
2. Social turmoil means serious social conflicts that threaten the basic framework of the political system, whereas social decay refers to the necrosis of the cells that compose the body of a society. To illustrate the point with a medical metaphor, turmoil is to a society what an injury is to a healthy body, whereas social decay is like the failure (or death) of the cells and living issue of the body. Perhaps the concept of “social erosion” by Mr. Fei Xiaotong and “political decline” by Samuel Huntington could help us understand the phenomenon better, although they are somewhat different from the “social decay” concept I talk about here. “Political
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