China and Confucianism

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© Photographer: Feng Yu | Agency: Dreamstime.com

“Within China, but often rejected by Chinese revolutionaries, are forces of tradition still alive today. These forces are not all inimical to the democratic spirit. Some are still greatly respected because they help progress; for example, there is the tradition of support for education; and there is the this-worldly attitude towards hard work, thrift, material success, and entrepreneurship. What does stand in the way of democracy, however, is the traditional authoritarianism of emperor and father sanctioned by state Confucianism, which has been translated to the bureaucractic machinery of the modern state and political party.Those in power regularly reject any criticism of this aspect of the tradition by appealing for respect for all the traditions that made China a great civilisation. It is therefore very easy to attack democrats who appear too eager for change by accusing them of unpatriotic, un-Chinese, acts against tradition. One of the great ironies of the Chinese Revolution is that cultural values that were at times severely condemned could, at different times, be defended because they are Chinese and therefore should only be judged by Chinese and not outside standards” Gungwu, 2014

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