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REPLY by Thomas A. Metzger The tone of "Sinological Shadows" is one question discussed in the panel--"vituperative," according to Professor Edward Friedman, too "political," according to Professor Paul Cohen. Most of Friedman's charges are beneath comment, such as those linking •sinological Shadows" and Professor Myers' prescient writings on !oreign policy to McCarthyism, or his insinuation that Myers and I ~ve some connection to tenure decisions that in an allegedly unfair vay went against Marxist 'scholars. Similarly, Professor Herman Mast suggests that Myers and I dismiss all.Marxist scholarship out of ~nd. The cheapness and sloppiness of Friedman's charges ironically airror the movement with which he tries to associate us. It is ubarassing for the whole profession that at our panel in San francisco, with its audience of some two hundred or more, not one ~rson (except Myers and me) rose to protest these charges. To give one example of the way that Myers a~d I· separate politics and scholarship, I may point to a case in which we recommended for an important position a scholar whose views on the politics of Taiwan are diametrically opposed to ours, to put it mildly. Similarly, Hyers and I habitually refer with respect to various Chinese Marxist vritings on history, as any of our readers know. Indeed in my graduate class at National Taiwan Normal University in 1982-1983, my students and I spent much time studying the contributions of Mainland historiography on the Ming-Ch'ing period. To those who feel our article injected a political tone into the discussion of issues previously approached in a more scholarly way, I have to object that our political posture was adopted only in response to the blatantly political tone of much of the recent China scholarship, as illustrated by Fairbank's reference to Maoism, in the Cambridge History of China, as China's "new historical orthodoxy." Professor Cohen feels that such statements, however pregnant with political implications, are phrased as interpretations of the historical data and so differ from explicitly political arguments. To me, however, presenting a political judgment as an historical fact is not laudably to keep historical analysis free of advocacy but lamentably to hide advocacy under the cover of analysis, whether intentionally or not. To make political judgments explicitly is merely a step in the direction of intellectual honesty. Political judgments cannot be avoided in this field, but one should not delude gullible readers of The New York Times by giving them the inaccurate impression that one's political judgments are just logically derived from one's research. It is misleading for Professor Cohen to criticize Myers and me without noting the skillful way Fairbank has long straddled the worlds of historiography and political advocacy. 37 Yet the important thing is to minimize bias, not to avoid political judgments. In time, more people will realize that "Sinological Shadows" is remarkably free of bias. It is free of the already-exposed pro-Mao bias, and it is free of the soon-to-beexposed anti-R.O.C. bias. To be sure, some readers will be amused by this claim that our article's enthusiasm about the R.O.C. is based on objectivity, not bias. The question of bias regarding· the R.O.C., however, involves intricate and, I have to say, little-understood matters of intellectual history as it has developed on both sides of the Pacific, as well as problems in constructing a theory of political development allowing us to evaluate the governments of developing societies morally as well as statistically. (I do not think Marxism, modernizatic.; theory, or the assumption that all societies should immediately end all limits on political dissent solves this theoretical problem.) Some of these issues are discussed in the earlier, longer paper I wrote for this panel, in my "Wei-sheme Mei-kuo tui Chung-hua min-Kuo yu p'ien-chien• (Chung-yang jih-pao, May 14, 1983), and in my "Tsai-lun cheng-chih p'i-p'ing-te feng-ko• (Chung-kuo shih-pao, May 20, 21, 22, 23, 1983), which was part of a debate beginning in that paper in March. The distinction between bias and objectivity is...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1940-5065
Print ISSN
1521-5385
Pages
pp. 37-45
Launched on MUSE
2021-05-25
Open Access
No
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