Solidarity, exclusion and ego

6 minute read


团结? solidarity or unity?


The word solidarity has the following definition in Wikipedia.

Solidarity is an awareness of shared interests, objectives, standards, and sympathies creating a psychological sense of unity of groups or classes.

“团结”, as a very commonly used word in Chinese, is abused just like antibiotics. It is a verb or noun, and the official translation is using “unite/unity”, see here.

Here is another page on explaining “团结” in the domain of Chinese socialism. (I’d like to suggest non Chinese native speaker to read the translated article.) There are some interesting points, for examples:

  • What is 团结? – For a common goal, all “small” individuals come together, think in one place, work hard in one place, and gather into a mighty force to push a group, society, and country to break the wave.
  • “The great spirit of unity has created the unique character of the Chinese nation in unity and formed a big family of the Chinese nation that watches over and helps each other.”

Let’s think about the following questions.

  1. Who will benefit more from the unity? The ones speaking out the so-called unite in daily life, or the ones to behave united?
  2. What is the difference between unity and solidarity?

Remember the answers if they are clear to you.


Exclusion is very common in a mono-ethnic country (in the non-strict definition, because there is no strictly mono-ethnic country). To be fair enough, I seldom strongly blame someone who is showing his/her exclusion, because such conformity (if not a tyranny of the majority) is within the sense of most people. As I mentioned in a previous Chinese post, most people born in a place without dialects are thinking they are speaking standard Mandrian due to the agreement among the people nearby. (Interestingly, one of my friends speaking Hokkien don’t believe that I speak the same at home as when speaking with him.) The bad words on minority won’t earn the corresponding panelty, which is making the case worse. I am not a person keen on political correctness, but PC is exactly one way to avoid the tyranny of the majority. (Some more interesting discussion can be started from this point, because the tyranny of the majority is really another thing should be well noticed, but that will be another post.)

No doubt that most Chinese are exclusive. Then are they solid? Of course if you know, the answer is “no”. The following facts interestingly come together.

– The group of people are united. – The group of people are exclusive. – The group of people are not solid.

Here is something to illustrate the “no”. – Geographical discrimination is one of the most famous sub-cultures on Chinese-Simplified Internet, especially after the IP locations are explicitly shown in major forums. (A fun fact: the province is shown in Chinese passport, at least ordinary one) Related: Hukou system. 桌饺吧 – One golden tip for Chinese oversea is “not trusting your countryman” (with agreements among most people).

Here come the questions of this section.

  1. Which provinces are well-known for being exclusive? Any other special character of them?
  2. Which provinces are well-known for being infighting? Any other special character of them?


Egoism, yet another widely abused word in Chinese, is popular after the famous article about “exquisite egoist” (a.k.a 精致的利己主义者). My personal opinion is that, benefitting oneself is never a behavior of egoism when not harming others’ interests. Note that the previous argument doesn’t imply that “benefitting oneself with harming other’s interests” is of egoism (sophistry by contrapositive is another common and rediculous methods of quarrelling.) So the domain of egoists is wrongly extended to include a lot of innocent people. When some people see something not within his/her expectation, they just have bad words even when the behavior hurts nobody, and “egoist” is a common label.

From another perspective, it is crazy that many people are ignoring “ego”, maybe partially as the result of propagenda of “团结”? It’s not very clear on which is the cause/effect. “Personal value” is quite relate to explain the positive feedback: with the over-emphasis on the group, personal value is diluted. At the same time, people without some clear self value have to strengthen the sense of group identity to convince themselves who they are, which results in a kind of crispy and shallow solidarity.

Now back to the questions, belows are my personal answers. 1.1 Obviously, the former. If the latter ones are benefitting more, there is no more necessity to strongly promote 团结. 1.2 Passive or not. One interesting point is that, I was thinking that the official translation of “团结” should be solidarity instead of unity, because it is a more positive word (in this sense, more suitable to be a character in propaganda). Also, solidarity has no verb form because it is an awareness! So here is the paradox: Chinese people has a kind of spirit which is passive.

2.1 Beijing, Shanghai: rich 2.2 Jiangsu, Shandong: balanced economic development

For most people, they only care about the “ego” when they own some money, which is consistent with the previous stuffs about personal value. Thus, though I will never have positive comment on exclusive people, the appearence at least show that not all Chinese are the zombie-like, numb ones. On the other side, I feel depressed when seeing how numb the low rung (which is still the majority of Chinese) is when some (possibly smart) people want to civilise them. As a result, “放下助人情节,尊重个人命运” has been a nolens volens.

So, what is to be expressed by this post. I’d like to amplify the word 团结 by relating it with 3 different concepts. IMHO, most Chinese over-praise such a quality, without realising what exactly it is. I am not saying it is negative, but more likely to be not achievable: most people care about their own interest, which is nothing wrong. A better (ideally) scenario of the unity should happen when every individual benefits.