Redemption of the Tiger Mother

Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: The Audio Book Club discusses. – By Ann Hulbert, Hanna Rosin, and Nina Shen Rastogi – Slate Magazine.

First, i know very little of the subject i am about to write about. All my knowledge of the book came from the Slate podcast review of the book, and i only know Amy Chua via her interview with Colbert and Conversation with History (2004: the myths of globalization and 2007: the moment of empire).

The girls at Slate dissected the book very well and very comprehensively. Other than just talking about the book, they spent half of the podcast discussing the book’s literally genre and its relation and impact to the culture climate of parenting and American anxiety over the rise of China. Their view of the book was overall favorable.

I just want to add two points to their review: I couldn’t help but to notice the book’s redemptive quality. As if the book is Amy’s way to apologizes to her kids for her sometime overzealous methods, while also publicly telling them how proud she is of their accomplishment and maturity. This book will mend some wound and prepare her kids next level of gruesomer education. This book have injected a favorable view of her kids into the public consciousness, which will probably result in easier university entrance and employment opportunities, all according to the grand scheme of the tiger mother.

And about parenting in general: There is perhaps a middle road between tiger mother’s way and the “american” laissez faire way. Maybe kids can be subject to tiger mother’s training and retain 10-20% of personal project/fun time, depending on kids’ performance during the tiger mother’s. Call it the google way if you well.

ps. Amy looked hot in the Colbert interview.





Why is Taiwan so in love with Japan?

This is going to be a short and “speculative” post, meaning i am not going to do the research to back up my claims. its all going to be base on my impressions and general understanding. Why? Because its 9am and i havent slept.

So, what is Taiwan so in love with Japan? was one of many topics discussed last night. I personally  have heard this question asked quite a few times, and its almost without exceptions from a Japanese.

my speculative answers to the question below:

1. Its because Japan were better colonial rulers than the subsequent Chinese KMT*.
This claim is of course base on my impression. It is also possible that such impressive was fueled by propaganda from the anti-KMT movement.

2. Its because Taiwanese nationalist like to empathize their Japanese and dutch colonial history to build a Taiwanese national identity that is distinguished from the mainland Chinese. Every wonder why the name “Formosa” is used as much as it is? Because its a name given to Taiwan from their dutch colonial masters. The cable news channel launched  by senior member of the pro-independent nationalist DPP is of course named Formosa TV.

3. As the first Asian country to industrialize, Japan is able to start their culture development first. That means Japan compare to other Asian countries have a more developed fashion industries, pop culture industries, and have a domestic market that is in general more culturally sophisticated. When post-industrial Taiwan can afford to pay attention to culture and other sophistication they look to the United States and Europe then Japan as the only non-western alternative culture center.

*I distinguish the post-colonial KMT as Chinese and foreign because it was not democratically elected by people of Taiwan. Obviously time have changed, KMT in its current state is unquestionably Taiwanese, not Chinese.

Why is Taiwan so desperate to get into the United Nations?

I met a couple of politically opinionated people tonight and had intense political discussions. During our conversation about how Taiwanese culture were susceptible to patriarchialism, i made an interesting pitch. I asked, is Taiwanese desire to be recognized by the United Nations a manifestation of Taiwan’s patriarchal trait?

In Taiwan, family with father at its center is perhaps the strongest social institution. parents invest heavily in their children in return for obedience. Political, people respect authority (police, teachers and government) and looks to the government to solve their problems. Is Taiwan’s desperate desire to be accepted as a member of the United Nations an extension of that culture trait? Are the Taiwanese trying to be an accepted child to the international father figure?

It is somehow reveling that the pursuit for UN recognition is an agenda that is at the heart of the Taiwanese independent movement, which by there nature is contradictory. Why is it the that the triumph of independence rely on others to consent? That just defeats the purpose. The only way to reconcile independence and peer recognition is to see it as an international legal issue, but thats just silly its like saying international law worth something.

International law really don’t mean much, an UN membership does not provide better trade condition, nor will membership prevent foreign aggression (just ask Iraq, Serbia, and any states that has been victim of illegal military interventions). Whats the big deal? Why is Taiwan spending millions of taxpayers money in its doomed pursue of an UN membership that really yield no real benefit at all. Is Taiwan’s patriarchialism really manifested diplomatically?

Furthermore, is the pro-China radicalist’s desire to reunify/realign Taiwan with mainland China and a small advocate group’s push for Taiwan to become America’s 51st state also base on patriarchy mentality?

Is this experience unique to Taiwan? To Confucius society like Japan and Korea?

Base on my limited knowledge of those two society, Both Japan and Korea had in significant part of their history been satellite states, subordinate them self to the most powerful state in their sphere. Before the arrival of the European powers in 19 century, Japan and Korea were tireless in their effort to learn the latest trends and fashions in art, clothes, literature, religion, politics and philosophy from their Chinese parent state. And after the Europeans defeated the Chinese, Japan quickly switch its target of imitation and import anything that is Western (including colonialism) and tried very hard to be recognized by the new powers. Ian Buruma one of my favorite writer of culture wrote a very insightful report on Japan’s satellite mentality.

So, does this mean, this phenomenon is unique to cultures that had been expose to Confucianism? Or is this just a universal weak state strategy/mentality. When the Australians were given a chance to sever its symbolic subordinative relationship with the British Crown, more than 55% voted “no”to the 1999 Australian republic referendum.

I am not a train sociologist, but a quick google using relevant key words turn up with this:

From Gordon J. Schochet “Patriarchalism, Politics and Mass Attitudes in Stuart EnglandThe Historical Journal

“It is increasingly becoming a commonplace to assert that non-political activities engaged in during childhood play determinative roles in shaping individuals’ attitudes toward and perceptions of the political order. A large part of the early “political socialization”, as it is now called, takes place within the family. which in the words of one commentator, “incubates the political man”, whether or not there is a conscious attempt to inculcate political beliefs. As T. D. Weldom remarked, “Basic political creeds may not be imbibed… with mother’s milk: but children are none the less indoctrinated in practically every other day.” This socialization plus later experiences (including reading, conversations, and direct encounters with government) will help to implant notions of political legitimacy; that is, the grounds on which a political authority is held to be entitled to rule.”

Does this mean, my hunch is good?

But, i also find a note of caution from Gary G. Hamilton “Patriarchalism in imperial China and Western EuropeTheory and Society

“…Weber’s typology of domination – the cluster of patriarchalism, charisma, and law – does not fit Chinese history as it does European history.”