Saying of the Week: Truth of the Universe

Saying of the Week: Truth of the Universe

The comes from the Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon, a glossary of terms created by Chinese netizens and encountered in online political discussions. These are the words of China’s online “resistance discourse,” used to mock and subvert the official language around censorship and political correctness.

宇宙真理 (yǔzhòu zhēnlǐ): truth of the universe

Zhenli

The Truth of the Universe Masturbation Team, from left to right: , Jiang Zemin, Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, and Hu Jintao. (Badiucao)

Tongue-and-cheek reference to China’s political system. The phrase “truth of the universe” first appeared in the PLA Daily in the May 22, 2013 article “Where Is Confidence in the Chinese Dream?” (中国梦的自信在哪里), written by the paper’s assistant chief editor, Sun Linping:

Faced with today’s complex and variable international environment, the task of formidable and complicated domestic reform and development, and the real trials and dangers confronting the Party, serious strengthening of our single-minded cooperation in building faith in the Chinese dream first requires holding fast to our belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics and sincere faith that “the doctrine in which we trust is none other than the truth of the universe.”

面对当今复杂多变的国际环境、艰巨复杂的国内改革发展任务、党所面临的严峻考验和危险,极大地增强同心共筑中国梦的自信,首要的是始终同心坚守中国特色社会主义信仰,笃信“我们信仰的主义,乃是宇宙的真理”。[Chinese]

“Truth of the universe” gained cultural currency as it stood in contrast to Fudan University professor Su Changhe’s declaration in the May 28 edition of the Guangming Daily, “Western Must Be Demoted from Universal Idea to Local Theory” (需将西方民主从普世知识降级为地方理论):

Western democracy is already showing signs of decay. This should put on guard those developing countries still searching for a path to building a political system… We must pull apart the language of Western democracy. To have a truly free spirit and an independent national character, we must first take the idea of democracy promoted by a minority of Western countries and demote it from universal to local.

西方民主已有退化迹象,应为那些仍然在摸索政治制度建设道路的发展中国家所警惕……要从西式民主话语体系中解套,真正具有自由之精神,独立之国格,首先需要将少数西方国家宣扬的民主知识从普世知识降级为地方知识。[Chinese]

Netizen “Chenli701” summed up the reasoning of the state press: “We have the truth of the universe. Isn’t everything else just local theory? (我们都有宇宙真理了,其他还不是地方理论). These two contradictory pieces of gave rise to the sardonic use of “truth of the universe” in online discussions of China’s political system.

草泥马-green

Want to learn more subversive netizen slang? Check out Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang. Available for $2.99 in the Kindle, Google Play, and iTunes stores. All proceeds from the sale of this eBook support China Digital Times.

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