If you have no idea what the headline means, you are either over 50-years-old or not into the online social platforms – or both.
More simply, it is another version of the right versus the left – especially in terms of the social culture. It is that eternal conflict between those committed to maximum personal freedom versus those who see the need for an elitist authority to control the social mores and folkways of we the people.
The terms do have some history and nuances that may fine tune their meaning in the modern political cultures.
“Baizuo” is a Chinese term that literally means “white left.” Though from an ancient language, its use is rather new. As far as the record shows, it was coined in 2010 by a chap named Li Shuo. He used the terms as a pejorative for the hypocrisy of those on the social left in the western world – specifically the “woke tankies” – although he did not use the “woke tankie” terminology.
Biazuo was intended to push back against the left-wing white elite who advance the concepts of political correctness and identity politics. Shuo was calling out the American white liberals for their racial hypocrisy. The epitome of white progressive prejudice against Asians is seen in the ongoing controversy over Harvard’s admission policies.
Though Asians have a well-deserved reputation for academic excellence, the white progressive powers-that-be inside the ivy-covered walls of Harvard have been using arbitrary standards – actually mere prejudice – to reject Asian applicants en masse.
The more recent left-wing embrace – and exaggeration — of Asian victimization is nothing less than an attempt by the left to gain political hegemony over another group within their homogenized classification of “people of color.”
The “tankies” – woke and otherwise – are merely supporters of radical left policies, including Socialism Communism. The term “tankies” was originally applied to the pro-Soviet citizens who approved of Joseph Stalin’s use of tanks to crush the independence movement in Hungary in the 1950s.
“Woke” is a religious term – sort of. It represents an uncompromised belief in left-wing ideology and specious narratives – especially the social concepts of political correctness and identity politics. It suggests that a person has been ordained as an uncritical follower of progressive orthodoxy. In the view of the woke, a person has awakened from the “sin” of political objectivity and diversity of opinion.
There may be many terms to reflect the ever-present political polarities between government rooted in the power of self-rule – the power of the individual – and government as the paternalistic authority.
Call it baizuo versus tankies … Republican versus Democrat … right versus left … or conservative versus liberal … but they are all the same. It is the eternal battle between personal freedom and submissive servitude – the difference between a belief that rights and power rise from the people versus a belief that power and rights are granted from a government controlled by a permanent class of elite bureaucrats.
We are a deeply divided nation on that issue – and trending in the wrong direction. It is not the first time we have approached a pivot point – but perhaps the first time we will may not pull the Republic back from the alluring Siren calls of the autocrats.
So, there ‘tis.