Rediscovering the Dream of Internationalism in an Internet Era
Wang Huangsheng, Chief Curator of Guangdong Museum of Art
Internationalism is always a dream to Asian countries, especially for those nations who have unique cultural origins and backgrounds. Such a dream, can be an ideal, an annoying nightmare, or even a rainbow hunt. Throughout the 20th century, we have been carrying such a dream that is exciting but torturing, with expectation and a feeling of achievements, which on the other hand, leaves us in lost and in guilt. Entering the 21st century, we seem to have this possibility, that is, to recover and re-identify the dream of 揑nternationalism?with help of a new technologythe Internet and a background of cultural exchange system.
During Internet times, communication among people, especially transnational ones, are introduced to a platform that is base on new technologies and new systems. This platform has a same software system, a same language, a same carrier, whose interaction is so rapid and convenient that it seems to draw closer the physical and mental spaces among people. People can almost focus and ponder over one same question at the same time. By this means, the concept of 搕he Global Village?doesnt seem to mean a physical space anymore, and the psychological and cultural spaces are also narrowing and disappearing.
When science, technology, commerce, trade, transportation and travel make the world smaller and push international cultures into a macro and intimate contact, people seem to think that international and inter-cultural information and concepts will increase pro rata, especially the dialogues between different cultures and mutual understandings. A cultural phenomenon called 揑nternationalism?will come forth. However, the fact is not as the same as people imagine. The truth is such a cultural exchange occurs on two different levels, and has two levels of results.
The first level is: commercial, technological and popular cultures are very global and international, particularly cultures like pop music, movies, entertainment, advertisement, which infiltrate into each other and produce a great many hybrids that are highly commercialized, among which the Internet popularizes and globalizes rapidly through electronic science and technology. Global Internet features in a strong audio-visual effect as well as a common shared media, therefore it initiate and compulsively makes commercial and popular cultures widely taken by the society. Thus the so-called 揋lobalization?and 揑nternationalism?come into existence and are wildly spread.
On the other hand, globalization and internationalism of commercial, popular and electronic cultures do not bring integration to intellectual culture. Various intellectual cultures based on history and tradition still have misunderstandings and barriers. Cultural modalities categorized by nations and countries seek possibility and the real meaning to preserve their uniqueness in response to their historical choices and tactical demands. Intellectual culture represents the spirit and structure of a cultural modality. It also contains individual and national wisdom and thinking; moreover, it embodies a text culture that passed on along with history and the interpretation and expression of such a text culture.
In the global era of Internet technology, how do we interpret 揑nternationalism?and identify it in a new perspective? And how do we face and cope with this global trend of Internationalism? The question may be an interesting and significant issue.
First of all, when we say that Internationalism is a popular dream, it refers to the popularity and commerciality of the dream itself. We are fulfilled with the imagination of modernization and globalization in such a dream. The society also needs a popular and common dream like that, in order to make us feel satisfied with the enrichment of time and space in our daily life.
Nevertheless, the mirage that we see in the dream of Internationalism requests us to rediscover: what is the true Internationalism that we need, in particular in perspective of intellectual cultural level?
Internationalism should refer to an attitude of active participation into international cultural dialogues. Its mainly about to show our stands in aspects of international affairs, including historical and cultural issues; to conduct active exploration and resolution to problems that we are facing, and to ponder over the reality and put forth coping tactics. For sure, there are three necessary conditions for such dialogues to be carried on: first, contents of the dialogues must be something that has mutual concerns and understandings; second, the language used in these dialogues must be a language that can be comprehended by mutual or multiple parties, because comprehension requires an open and readable language; third, all parities who join the dialogues must be treated equalonly when the base is equal can the dialogues be equal. Therefore, Internationalism should be interpreted as a focus on the same issue and an issue that received same focus, which are both built on the same base of equal communication.
However, a focus on the same issue or an issue that received same focus does not necessarily mean same voices. Internationalism should be requested or understood as diversified expressions based on different intellectual cultural backgrounds but towards a same issue. Diversified expressions have the following connotations:
Firstly, diversified expressions can offer complementation. That means we need to view the same issue that concerns the whole world in different perspectives and on different interests so as to bring out complementary suggestions and solutions. It also includes the diversity of different ways to show opinions.
Secondly, different intellectual cultures have various spirits and wisdom. Mankind need to treat different cultures with respect and love, to feel the amazement and uniqueness of their spirits and wisdom in the eye of a stranger. Sometimes, cultural 搈isunderstanding?is the extent and supplement of spirits and wisdom.
Finally, in the open Internet Era, Internationalism should be understood as a cultural modality that is compose of several elementsthe trend of commercial and electronic culture to obtain homogeneity and complanation, and the conflict and harmony between the intrinsic natures of intellectual culture, that is, its heterogeneity and versatility. The cultural modality of Internationalism will give different expressions on the same international cultural issues in diversified ways, and will respect and listen to other voices as well.
Feb. 25, 2005 at the Guangdong Museum of Art