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Li Xuoyin – stand with dignity !

The ancient Chinese capital of Nangking has become synonymous with one of the most horrible acts of savagery in human history. In 1937 it was a place where the soldiers of the Japanese government committed acts of rape, murder and torture that were not in any way exceptions as to how such men acted before or since. The Japanese soldiers, in their Samurai tradition worshipped the honour cult and as men of courage served a coward emperor whose great ambition was to be a Marine Biologist. Those who served him used him as a living god so that they may act in his name with blood lust and imperial ambition that led to the death of millions. One of the many victims of the Japanese onslaught was Li Xouyin, a young woman who fought barehanded against the armed Imperial warriors from Japan.

In his romantic testament to Bushido, Inanzo Nitobe writes of honour, “implying a vivid consciousness of personal dignity and worth,”. It is likely that many of the Japanese soldiers had read variations of such words or at least a bastardised adaption that suited the Imperial State. It was as Li Xouyin fought three Japanese soldiers who were attempting to rape her, each of them armed with a rifle and bayonet. She resisted them with fists and spirit, surviving 37 bayonet stabs. The men furious at her personal dignity and worth. They could not defeat her, only kill, maim or rape her.

The eighteen year old was one of the many civilians abandoned by the government of China. Whether fascist nationalists, communists bandits who would go on to become the ultimate rulers of China or warlord militias, the civil populace was a tax base to be ruled and controlled. The Japanese empire with a sense of manifest destiny took it upon themselves to colonise as the Western co-architects of modern Japan had inspired it to do. Seven months pregnant with her military husband forced to abandon her, a group of Japanese soldiers appeared. The Japanese soldiers seized the males for execution, then came to rape the girls and women. Li Xouyin tried to kill herself by ramming her head into a wall, rather than allow the Japanese to take her. Instead of ending her life, she knocked herself out.

When she regained her senses, three Japanese soldiers appeared. Two of them rounding up the other women. The remaining soldier eyed her up and down as though she was produce for him to inspect before his consumption. Once he pounced on Li Xouyin, she fought back, the pair grappled for his bayonet. Locked in struggle the soldier began squealing for help. The other two soldiers rushed in and stabbed into her with their bayonets, while she continued to fight with their fellow warrior. She then over powered her foe and used him as a shield from the incoming bayonet thrusts. The two soldiers went for her face, slashing flesh and skin from her skull as she continued to fight on.

Spitting her blood into their eyes, Li Xouyin recalls, “I was furious. My only thought was to fight and kill them!” A soldier plunged his bayonet deep into her belly, she passed out. The soldiers continued to puncture her body with their bayonets after she fell, raping her with steel. Left for dead. Her body was soon discovered and taken to her father. She showed brief signs of life, rushed to hospital where news reached her husband who borrowed money and requested leave to be with her. Li Xouyin fought on.

She recalled wishing that she had learned Kung Fu as a girl so that she could have been better at fighting the Japanese soldiers. She would go on to become a grandmother and lived until 2004. Dying at 86 of respiratory failure. The fate of the three Japanese soldiers is unknown, though the chances of them surviving past 1945 is unlikely but possible.

Spirit and dignity are words that are either misunderstood or have lost value. Li Xouyin possessed and exhibited both. She fought three armed men, trained war fighters, soldiers of the Samurai cult and she had exhibited a spirit that their martial culture fetishised. She stood with a dignity that too few value or dare to contain. She fought, never yielding, never compromising. The men who served their government, their emperor god, acted as warriors. Waging war and conquering for their masters, this we are told is honourable and glorious. Beneath the tapestry of myth and stone walls with soldiers names etched on them lays the unmarked graves of the forgotten fallen of war, the props to others glory. The many other women and girls who unlike Li Xouyin, did not survive the wars.

Better to be a warrior in a garden, than a gardener in a war. Is so repeated the line about the virtues of being a warrior. To be prepared, to train, to wage war. Yet, we have seen farmers and common folk, gardeners even defeating warriors in the ‘garden’. Li Xouyin was just one recorded example in a history rife with unrecorded moments of courage and defiance. Seldom do monuments stand for those people of non-glory. Personal dignity and worth is not found in serving a master, only ones own conscience. The principles that transcend an obedience to a collectivist ideology or abstracts that demand servitude. Three paid warriors of the government versus one unarmed eighteen year old woman. Those odds truly sum up the world we live in, where might to take, plunder and kill is considered right and those who dare to defy are the outliers.

Li Xouyin fought with the righteous indignation that individuals exhibit when they stand up for themselves or make the decision to uphold principles. It can’t be swayed by threats of death and pain or bribed away. The soldiers exhibited the indignation of the collectivist bigot and those enamoured by authority that is granted by government or class. She was Chinese so in their minds inferior. They were soldiers, thus superior. They wanted her womanhood and life, it belonged to them. They believed it to be so, intoxicated by the religion of Statist Shintoism and the delusions of Samurai myths these men could do no wrong. Li Xouyin was an individual. And fought as one for herself, and for the universal principles that are washed away with the education of obedience and collectivist ideologies.

Shame is the soil of all virtue, of good manners and good morals,” Inanzo Nitobe attributes to Carlyle in his book on Bushido. It is unlikely that the Japanese murder rapists expressed any shame, courage in battle and killing-dying for empire was of great pride for many, to be expected even. Just as many who serve abstracts like the State tend to dismiss any complicity or responsibility for hardship, misery or even destruction in the case of wars they may have helped cause. So is shame even possible? Or is it now conflated with PTSD or Moral Injury, again the victims forfeit. Is dignity even available for those who are no more than mercenaries, servants of a thing they have no love or belief in. The three soldiers stabbed a young woman 37 times, and no doubt murder-raped countless others. To their friends and family they were honourable and good men. To the government, soldiers to be deployed and used as it saw fit. Li Xouyin on the other hand had what few ever will, dignity. They could have only killed her, never could they have defeated her.

June, 2024

Published inAll Articles and EssaysPhilosophy, Society and LibertyWar, History and Foreign Policy