Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Confucianism coming back

Here's an interesting story suggesting that Confucianism is making a comeback in China. The traditional philosophy that was so influential through most of Chinese history was officially suppressed during Mao's Cultural Revolution of 1966-76. But now schools based on Confucian teaching are opening and a best-selling book and TV show have simplified it for the "masses." The government likes it because Confucius stresses respect for authority, and parents like it because it stresses obedience and filial piety.

Most interesting statement: "The popularity of Confucianism is in part a sign that most ordinary Chinese citizens, except for party officials and some academics, no longer truly believe in a communist ideology." I wouldn't be surprised if most party officials don't really believe in communism any more, but they do believe in staying in power and increasing their power. Here's Li Baoku, a former vice minister of civil affairs: "The core content of communism is for everyone to get rich."

That's not your grandfather's communism. But if that's what it means to high officials these days, it's hard to credit the worry some have over China becoming an overly aggressive power the U.S. needs to spend a lot of time fretting about and defending against. Of course China will increase itsinfluence in Asia, as it has been doing. But that doesn't mean the U.S. has to get hyperactive in response.

1 comment:

Headguerilla said...

I'm inclined to think that public and private corruption is more of a problem than materialism. It was a joy for me to see the Chinese taller and fatter than I remembered them in 1992.

But for them to now constantly worry over who will steal their hard earned RMB is a constant fear. We rented a building and the manager stole from us the lovely "western" toilets we put it. Bike theft is ubiquitous.
Confucius will hopefully add a dimension of corporate ethics to social dealings. Beijing should like that - until that sword cuts that direction too.

(My Blog "Life in Inner Mongolia")