Shuchen Xiang (assistant professor of philosophy at Peking University) has just published “Sinophobia, American Imperialism, Disorder Without Responsibility” in Sartre Studies International. In light of the recent anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States, this paper asks the philosophical community to reflect on the relationship between racism and (American) imperialism as well as how this Sinophobia is symptomatic of an agent/community acting under “bad faith” who evades the more difficult problem of personal growth. The paper can be found here and can be downloaded here.
This paper argues that Sinophobia and its relationship to American imperialism can be understood through Jean-Paul Sartre’s analysis of anti-Semitism, which is characterized by an evasive attitude. Under this attitude, the bivalent values of good and evil are pre-existing ontological properties such that the agent promotes the good insofar as she destroys evil. This evasive attitude can also be seen in the economy of the American empire. Revenue for the which exists through undermining the economies of non-pliant states, selling weapons and a disaster-capitalist industry that profits from the chaos that is created. The idea that the states to be imperialized are bivalent others both motivates and justifies this behavior whereby the agent evades self-critique and the need to cultivate her own value.
Scholars, as well as scientists and other public intellectuals, tend to write and speak on topics that meet or support their interests, preferences and motives.
If American imperialism is foundation for racism, what then do we make of British or Russian imperialism? The imperialism label is timeworn. Realistically, the term is useless now because it’s referrent is obsolete. Hate crimes and racism do not emerge from imperialistic animus. They are functions of other social and cultural bias. I would have thought this well-settled by now.
I remember a Russian historian who insisted, in all seriousness, that there was no racism in the Russian Empire. That was a conversation-killer.