Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans

Aaron Zack’s “Sovereignty and Grand Strategy: Some Observations on the Rise of China and Decline of the Americans” appears in Telos 181 (Winter 2017). Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

The rise and decline of great powers are not solely material in nature but also moral, political, and cultural. Many modern theorists emphasize the material factors in rise and decline, but older political thinkers focused on moral-political explanations. Carl Schmitt defines the essence of the political as the distinction between friend and enemy. A rising sovereign will effectively distinguish between friends and enemies and act in the interest of a political community. A decaying sovereign will gradually lose its capacity to both make a rational distinction between friends and enemies and act in the interest of the (fading) political community. True grand strategy therefore depends upon a robust sovereign—a decayed sovereign faces difficulty in implementing an effective or optimal grand strategy.

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Cosmopolitanism, Tianxia, and Walter Benjamin’s “The Task of the Translator”

David Pan’s “Cosmopolitanism, Tianxia, and Walter Benjamin’s ‘The Task of the Translator'” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

As a term, cosmopolitanism defies simple understanding. Already in its earliest formulation, attributed to the ancient Greek Cynic Diogenes, the merging of cosmos and polite to mean “citizen of the world” had a paradoxical meaning, imagining both local belonging as a citizen and lack of a specific place in the world. If the Cynics’ notion of cosmopolitanism arises out of a rejection of conventions in general rather than the embracing of a world system, they were left in an empty space between locality and universality. This tension between belonging and universality continues into the current discussion of cosmopolitanism as a term that spans political and cultural discussions. While the modern cosmopolitan political project seeks to lay out a common institutional framework for human society, the accompanying cultural project in fact works against such unity by seeking to promote the recognition and toleration of cultural differences.

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Cosmopolitan Translation and Cross-Cultural Paradigms: A Chinese Perspective

Yifeng Sun’s “Cosmopolitan Translation and Cross-Cultural Paradigms: A Chinese Perspective” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

This paper proposes to investigate the shifting cross-cultural paradigms in response to cosmopolitan thinking and consciousness as well as the nature of cultural translation in relation to cosmopolitanism. The perception of cosmopolitan translation, referring primarily to cultural translation situated fully within the cosmopolitan constellation, is closely linked to cognitive, social, and cultural change in a global and globalizing context. The rapid development of globalization raises questions about nationalism, cultural identity, and, above all, translation itself.

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From Shanghai Modern to Shanghai Postmodern: A Cosmopolitan View of China’s Modernization

Ning Wang’s “From Shanghai Modern to Shanghai Postmodern: A Cosmopolitan View of China’s Modernization” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

To discuss the issue of cosmopolitanism in the Chinese context is, as in the Western context, no longer new to China’s humanities intellectuals, for this issue once did attract Chinese intellectuals in the 1920s when nationalism dominated Chinese academia and intellectual circles. Furthermore, it indeed had some parallel elements in ancient Chinese philosophy. It is therefore quite natural that cosmopolitanism was not so attractive when China, according to Dr. Sun Yat-sen, was not qualified enough to talk about cosmopolitanism as it was still poor and backward at the time. In the current era of globalization, along with the increasingly important role played by China and its leaders, more and more scholars have been paying considerable attention to this issue with regard to global culture and world literature.

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Between Localism and Cosmopolitanism: A Look at Zhou Zuoren’s Early Construction of the Individual

Lisa Chu Shen’s “Between Localism and Cosmopolitanism: A Look at Zhou Zuoren’s Early Construction of the Individual” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

This essay examines the modern Chinese intellectual Zhou Zuoren’s imaginations of the modern individual along the lines of the nation, the locality, and the world in the tumultuous historical period of the early twentieth century. It is argued that his oscillations between these geographical categories constitute one of his most complex and intriguing intellectual struggles. They reflect an intellectual’s critical capacities to think and reflect as he responded to the vicissitudes of the times. The article looks at Zhou’s essays, both analytical and critical, which form the basis for the three stages into which his thoughts are divided, representing the gradual transitions from one set of tendencies to another—from nationalism to cosmopolitanism to (cosmopolitan) localism.

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Cosmopolitanism and Alternative Modernity in Twentieth-Century China

Sheldon Lu’s “Cosmopolitanism and Alternative Modernity in Twentieth-Century China” appears in Telos 180 (Fall 2017), a special issue on Cosmopolitanism and China. Read the full article at the Telos Online website, or purchase a print copy of the issue in our online store. Individual subscriptions to Telos are now available in both print and online formats.

My essay joins the revisionist project of rewriting modern Chinese intellectual history. The historiography of modern China usually foregrounds the theme of nationalism in the grand narrative of China’s arduous struggles for liberation, anti-imperialism, anti-colonialism, and anti-capitalism. Radical breaks from the Chinese tradition or from the outside world have occurred in the form of a series of earth-shaking revolutions throughout the twentieth century: the Republican Revolution that overthrows the Qing Dynasty in 1911; the Communist Revolution that leads to the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949; the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976); and so forth. Amidst the fiery rhetoric of revolution, the voice of a conciliatory, non-revolutionary, mild cosmopolitanism could be easily muffled. This essay attempts to re-examine the discourse and practice of cosmopolitanism in twentieth-century China.

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