Aaron Barlow’s post on how our standardized testing is starting to suggest parallels to the civil service exams in Imperial China stuck a chord with me. So here is a post that is a tangent to his post, but it’s possible that the topic may be of as much interest to some others as it has been to me.
We typically think of political demagogues and the mass movements that they inspire as particularly modern and Western phenomena. But they have also been a fairly early product of Western imperialism in the non-Western world—with predictably terrible results.
I have no expertise in Chinese history, imperial or otherwise. But I have long been fascinated by a terrible conflict called the Taiping Rebellion and more specifically by the improbable figure who inspired it.
In the mid-19th century, as the Qing Dynasty’s power began to erode, and China’s economic political, economic, and social…
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