By Tong Lam
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Extra resources for A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949
Chabuduo has become a symbol of the failure of Chinese culture. Even decades later, the rural reformer James Yen, whose rural reconstruction project and related surveys will be discussed later in this book, lamented that the frequent use of the expression “cha bu duo” was an indication of the Chinese people’s lack of appreciation for the importance of facts and exactitude. Like other Chinese Lam, A Passion for Facts 38 / 8/18/11 12:58 PM Page 38 The Rise of the Fact intellectuals, he contended that the Chinese people were as alive as they were dead, and that the nation would never recover from its illness unless its people could get rid of their chabuduo attitude.
52 Li’s personal experience resonated with those of other Chinese social scientists.
In short, if China needed to be reconstituted in order to survive in a social Darwinist world, the people themselves had to be remade first. For the initial generation of Chinese social scientists, many of whom were trained outside China, and especially in the United States, the remedying of China’s factual deficiencies and the remaking of the Chinese people would require all Chinese to embrace scientific and rational thinking. For them, the number four hundred million, rather than being a metaphor for the potential strength of the Chinese social body, was a symbol of China’s factual deficiencies and backwardness.
A Passion for Facts: Social Surveys and the Construction of the Chinese Nation-State, 1900-1949 by Tong Lam