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Yan quickly saw the winning-at-all-costs ruthlessness of social Darwinism as a remedy for China. Writing in his work on Yan’s life, Benjamin Schwartz writes:|
"What interests [Yan] is not so much the Darwinian account of biological evolution qua science. It is precisely the stress on the values of struggle–assertive energy, the emphasis on the actualization of potentialities within a competitive situation. The image of ‘nature red in tooth and claw’ does not depress him. It exhilarates him. "
Yan nevertheless worried that it might be too late for China to adopt social Darwinism, and that his country would be overwhelmed by the nations that had. In a 1895 newspaper essay, “On Strength,” he wrote:
"Months and years slip by, and with rapacious neighbors all around, I fear that we will be too late, that we will follow Poland and India, providing an example of Darwin’s [elimination] before we have been able to implement Spencer’s methods. . . . Alas, our individual lives are not worth the worry, but what of our descendants, and the 400,000,000 of our race? "
The battle for reform
After defeat in the Sino-Japanese war, many Chinese intellectuals, such as Yan, began to advocate full-scale Westernization. Japan had already adopted social Darwinism in its pursuit of Western wealth and power, and the Chinese intelligentsia began to believe that China should follow suit. In 1898, the Guangxu emperor (1871–1908) appointed the minister Kang Youwei (1858–1927) to head a reform movement after Kang had requested permission to imitate Japan:
"As to the republican governments of the United States and France and the constitutional governments of Britain and Germany, these countries are far away and their customs are different from ours. Their changes occurred a long time ago and can no longer be traced. Consequently I beg Your Majesty. . . to take the Meiji Reform of Japan as the model for our reform. The time and place of Japan’s reform are not remote and her religion and customs are somewhat similar to ours. Her success is manifest; her example can easily be followed. "
The emperor agreed, and the minister initiated a flurry of Meiji-style reform. A bright young man named Liang Qichao worked with Kang as his protégé, and he became one of the most influential Chinese advocates for Westernization. However, Kang and Liang’s efforts were quickly aborted after an imperial coup under the Empress Dowager Cixi (1835–1908).
After the Empress Dowager cut short what later became known as the Hundred Days Reform, Kang and Liang escaped political persecution by fleeing to Japan. Once there, Kang continued to support the Qing dynasty and to justify an agenda for Chinese reform via cautious appeals to Confucianism. Liang, however, ultimately broke with Kang and–like Yan–began to espouse “a new view of world history strongly colored by social Darwinism: a struggle for survival among nations and races.” 
"If we wish to make our nation strong, we must investigate extensively the methods followed by other nations in becoming independent. We should select the superior points and appropriate them to make up for our own shortcomings. "
Liang increasingly came to see social Darwinism as the fuel of the West’s dynamism, one of the “superior points” that China would do well to “appropriate.” Writing from Japan, he exerted great influence on young Chinese. Together, Yan and Liang instilled in an entire generation of Chinese students a fervent desire for change. But this influence did not bring social Darwinism to China. Instead, it brought the 1911 Revolution, the New Cultural Movement (1915–1921), and the May Fourth Movement of 1919–perturbations that would spin China into over half a century of upheaval.
Accommodative versus transformative thought
Despite their attraction to social Darwinism and their sometimes radical calls for reform, Yan and Liang were not revolutionaries. Indeed, although Liang and–especially–Yan attacked various instances of Chinese backwardness, they continued to support the Qing Dynasty, advocating slow transition into a constitutional monarchy based on the British model. Once the 1911 Revolution succeeded, however, Liang grudgingly threw his support behind the new republican government, but Yan continued to support monarchy.
Questioning the West
The First World War was a shock to reformers who wanted to embrace the West. As the war dragged on, aging reformers such as Yan and Liang became increasingly disillusioned with not only transformative revolution, but Westernization and even the West. Yan wrote that the carnage of the war was a consequence of Western traits: “Such has been the effect on the human race of civilization and science! When I look back on our [Chinese] sacred wisdom and culture, I find that it foresaw this even at that early date. . .” 
Yan explained further:
"As I have grown older and have observed the seven years of republican government in China and the four years of bloody war in Europe–a war such as the world has never known–I have come to feel that [the West’s] progress . . . has lead only to selfishness, slaughter, corruption, and shamelessness. When I look back upon the ways of Confucius and Mencius, I find that they . . . have profoundly benefited the realm. This is not my opinion alone. Many thinking people in the West have gradually come to feel this way. "
Liang wrote that “recently many Western scholars have wanted to import Asian civilization as a corrective to their own,” and, indeed, the latter half of the 20th century saw the importation of philosophical, religious, and cultural curiosities from the East and into the West. In the meantime he stated his goal for China:
"I therefore hope that our dear young people will, first of all, have a sincere purpose of respecting and protecting our civilization; second, that they will apply Western methods to the study of our civilization and discover its true character; third, that they will put our own civilization in order and supplement it with others’ so that it will be transformed and become a new civilization; and fourth, that they will extend this new civilization to the outside world so that it can benefit the whole human race. "
Because of the devastation of the First World War, these two thinkers who had once promoted modernization and Westernization instead advocated a modernization without Westernization (or at least minimal Westernization). They seemed to believe that the course of the West was not sustainable and that the West could be supplanted by China if it modernized in a way that was compatible with its nature and culture. They seem to have realized that social Darwinism was a false promise, and that the forces it unleashed could destroy the West.
China and the West today
In the end, China did not follow Japan down the path of Westernization. A burgeoning Chinese nationalism grew up around anti-Japanese sentiment, and this enmity was extended to the West after Japan instead of China was awarded Germany’s Chinese concession at Versailles in 1919. Ultimately, communism on the Soviet model provided the Chinese with an alternative to both Chinese traditionalism and the West. China entered a period of socialist tyranny under Mao Zedong (1893–1976).
After Mao’s death, China began to abandon Maoism. It is still nominally communist, but since the 1980s, it has followed the example of Hong Kong and Taiwan and has increasingly returned to the teachings of Confucius and Mencius. Chinese now praise Yan and Liang for their wisdom and prescience. The post-Mao leadership of the People’s Republic of China–beginning with Deng Xiaoping–has espoused views nearly identical to those advocated by Liang over a century ago. 
At the same time, Westerners are now studying the warnings of Yan and Liang about the inherent instability of the West. As Western liberals such as Martin Jacques herald the coming Chinese domination, there may be a generation of European and American scholars who find themselves in a position similar to that of Yan and Liang: struggling to understand why their civilization has fallen behind that of a rival whose inferiority was once taken for granted.
Thus, while China has found its way back to the middle path, balancing its modernization and Westernization with pragmatism, caution, and Confucianism, the West is disintegrating in a chaos of heterogeneity and decadence. The warnings of Spengler have come true, and Patrick Buchanan forecasts the death of the West. Russia and parts of Eastern Europe are trying to save themselves from liberalism and democracy, but success is not guaranteed.
Thinkers in the Alt-Right are wrestling with the question of how to save our own white civilization. The old order is collapsing due to challenges from abroad and the immigrant invasion. Non-whites are chopping up the West the way the West once chopped up China. We are Yan Fu and Liang Qichao. We must forge a plan for the preservation of our race.