Dr. Lin Yutang on Fenqing and their Patriotism

I wrote my own definition and analysis of Fenqing in this post — What is a Fenqing.

The quote below is from the preface of My Country and My People by Lin Yutang. I quote Lin Yutang because I am disgusted by the so-called patriotism of the self-righteous Fenqing (literally means ‘angry youth’, who are brain-washed and know nothing about such concepts as citizenship, the role of a party, and the legitimacy of the government). Stupid but fervent, they are pitiful as well. They never realized they are just being used and the very thing they proclaim to worship and die for is enslaving them. What’s more sad about them is that they are easily manipulated and highly disposable after finishing the “jobs”.

Fortunately, most of the Fenqing I know are very young, mostly below their twenties. I was once like them, but only to a much lesser degree in terms of ignorance and fervency, simply because I was an English major.

They will change, I believe, after they left the school and started to face the real life. Broader social contact, the competitive job market and the hardship of life will gradually show them the reality and teach them the value of real citizenship.

China is too big a country, and her national life has too many facets, for her not to be open to the most diverse and contradictory interpretations. And I shall always be able to assist with very convenient material anyone who wishes to hold opposite theses. But truth is truth and will overcome clever human opinions. It is given to man only at rare moments to perceive the truth, and it is these moments of perception that will survive, and not individual opinions. Therefore, the most formidable marshalling of evidence can often lead one to conclusions which are mere learned nonsense. For the presentation of such perceptions, one needs a simpler, which is really a subtler, style. For truth can never be proved; it can only be hinted at.

It is also inevitable that I should offend many writers about China, especially my own countrymen and great patriots. These great patriots have nothing to do with them, for their god is not my god, and their patriotism is not my patriotism. Perhaps I too love my own country, but I take care to conceal it before them, for one may wear the cloak of patriotism to tatters, and in these tatters be paraded through the city streets to death, in China or the rest of the world.

I am able to confess because, unlike these patriots, I am not ashamed of my country. And I can lay bare her troubles because I have not lost hope. China is bigger than her little patriots, and does not require their whitewashing. She will, as she always did, right herself again. Nor do I write for the patriots of the West. For I fear more their appreciative quotations from me than the misunderstandings of my countrymen.

I write only for the men of simple common sense, that simple common sense for which ancient China was so distinguished, but which is so rare today. My book can only be understood from this simple point of view. To these people who have not lost their sense of ultimate human values, to them alone I speak. For they alone will understand me.


  • You can read the Chinese translation of the quote by Lin Yutang here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *