Thursday, March 12, 2009

Four-character Phrase: 官尊民卑

I came across an interesting term in a Japanese blog:

官尊民卑 【かんそんみんぴ】 (n) respecting the authorities and denigrating ordinary citizens

Even though it was new to me, it was understandable because it had the same structure as

男尊女卑 【だんそんじょひ】 (n) male domination of women; male chauvinism; subjection of women

I looked for a clear definition to get a sense of the context, nuance, etc., and came across this sentence in Wikipedia:


My translation: "Just as a subordinate follows the orders of his/her superior within an organization, there is a theory that there is tendency in Japanese society toward authoritarianism in which the citizens are compelled to obey the Military and the Bureaucracy."

OK, so based on that, I think a close translation of 官尊民卑 is statism. Here's the Wikipedia entry for statism:

Statism (or Etatism) is a term that may refer to any of the following:
Government having a major role in the direction of the economy, both through state-owned enterprises and indirectly through the central planning of overall economy.[1]
The "concentration of economic controls and planning in the hands of a highly centralized government."[2] The Fascist concept of statism which holds that "basic concept that sovereignty is vested not in the people but in the national state, and that all individuals and associations exist only to enhance the power, the prestige, and the well-being of the state. The fascist concept of statism repudiates individualsm and exalts the nation as an organic body headed by the Supreme Leader and nurtured by unity, force, and discipline."

Sounds like 官尊民卑 to me!

NB: At first I thought "dirigism" might work, but that seems limited to economic planning. Here's Wiki:

"Dirigisme (from the French) (in English also "dirigism" although per the OED both spellings are used) is an economic term designating an economy where the government exerts strong directive influence. While the term has occasionally been applied to centrally planned economies, where the government effectively controls production and allocation of resources (in particular, to certain socialist economies where the national government owns the means of production), it originally had neither of these meanings when applied to France, and generally designates a mainly capitalist economy with strong economic participation by government. Most modern economies can be characterized as dirigiste to some degree – for instance, governmental action may be exercised through subsidizing research and developing new technologies, or through government procurement, especially military (i.e. a form of mixed economy)."

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