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Old 2009-10-01, 05:53   Link #61
Irenicus
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lathdrinor View Post
The chief ideology of the Chinese elite, for most of its history, has not been Confucianism. Confucianism was a reactionary movement against the clannish militarism of China's warlord rulers (for it took a warlord to impose his will upon the peasant masses). The emperors of China were cold-blooded, fratricidal killers who instigated such murderous laws as "exterminating one's relatives up to the ninth generation" for daring to speak against the throne.
Wrong. China's Confucian literati was its elite. Its warlord rulers during its most troubled times are universally painted, by the literati elite, as barbarians and men of dubious moral characters who brought chaos and do bad things. Cue Confucian portrayals of Dong Zhou, Cao Cao (who was himself a literate poet), etc., and their amazing tenacity to ignore entire centuries of Chinese history that were just a little inconvenient, like the centuries between Han and Tang. *cough*

The landowning elite of China during its formative unifying years -- the Han dynasty -- were Confucian, and they were part and parcel of the Imperial hierarchy which adapted Confucianism to its own use. Western Han made Confucianism its own; Confucianism made Eastern Han its bitch. Confucian writers in Imperial service crafted elaborate justifications for Empire -- without attacking the ruthless mutual responsibility system that you decry. If anything, Confucianism is part of it. The society where kinship is everything and revenge for harms committed against kin is obligation demands that the State, if it wants to avoid such obligated "proper exchanges," kills, well, everyone. The rest is Qin totalitarianism (Legalism) that Han never abandoned though its Confucian advocates and propagandists repeatedly asserted it did.

Even during the years where other philosophies and religions dominated China, Confucianism was an absolute necessity and a powerful undercurrent because it is part and parcel the basic building blocks of the Chinese Imperial structure. It asks for obedience, for a "proper" relationships between ruler and subject. It asserts the primacy of Imperial power. When Tang rulers -- who led the golden age of Daoism and Buddhism -- wanted to restore the Imperial hierarchy and centralize power around themselves, they turned to Confucianists. Even the Khans of the Yuan made use of Confucians to run the basic lower level administrations of its Chinese domains despite its distrust of Confucians (precisely because Confucians were the leaders of traditional Chinese society). And of course the Song were famous for their neo-Confucianists, an admittedly different breed from early "Imperial" Confucians that were the heart of the Han empire.

The Emperor was China; Confucianism was China. Blaming the Empire then absolving Confucianists is pure hypocrisy. Absolving Confucius himself of this particular blame is, of course, fine. I doubt much of the man was left when compared to the myth later intellectuals crafted in his name. It's like Socrates and Plato -- who is Socrates, but an extension of whatever Plato wanted him to be? Or, heck, Jesus of Nazareth. A later Rome made its early victim the prophet of its choice, and Christianity as an associate of the Empire grew from there.

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Yes, China's rulers were ruthless, but the masses weren't necessarily that much better. Constant banditry plagued the countryside, where corruption - then as now - reigned. Rich families dined on pork and wine while poor families starved to death on the streets. Gambling, prostitution, greed, burglary, drunkenness - these were all widespread in old China (and still are, in many ways). In light of all this, Confucius, it must be remembered, was a critic who spoke against the immorality of his time.
No offense, but Confucius was a rather extreme traditionalist. All things he favored he claimed came from the past, the mythical ideal age of perfect Xia rulers. It's like people complaining about evil videogames of today.

And he lived in an age of total war. Of course it was brutal. It had nothing to do with Chinese people being immoral or stupid or whatever.

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I think it has more to do with the fact that Chinese people dislike instability and change. Indeed, one might say that Asian peoples in general are very conservative (or were).
Then explain to me what all those Millenarian movements were all about...?

Yellow Turbans, Taiping Rebellion, and so on and so forth. Radicals led repeated failed revolutions -- dubbed "peasant rebellions" -- fueled by millions of desperate Chinese peasantry.

And it's not like everybody else love instability. Nobody likes instability, except people that sees benefit from it or have nothing else to lose. We cried "Change!" in 2008 not because Change is Good, but because Change is Better than the shit the neoconservative regime was giving us and still tries to.
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Old 2009-10-01, 06:17   Link #62
Thingle
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Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
but the leaders can be chosen for the interest of the whole country.)
...or the interest of the ruling party. I'm sure the current CCP will not put into power someone who would introduce a multi-party democracy, no matter how much genius he offers in governing the country.
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Old 2009-10-01, 10:51   Link #63
Lathdrinor
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Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
Wrong. China's Confucian literati was its elite. Its warlord rulers during its most troubled times are universally painted, by the literati elite, as barbarians and men of dubious moral characters who brought chaos and do bad things. Cue Confucian portrayals of Dong Zhou, Cao Cao (who was himself a literate poet), etc., and their amazing tenacity to ignore entire centuries of Chinese history that were just a little inconvenient, like the centuries between Han and Tang. *cough*
Confucians wrote the history, so yes, they would portray themselves at the center. But this was not true. Daoism, Buddhism, and Legalism competed with Confucianism for state sponsorship, and during periods like the Tang, they clearly won out. Moreover, Confucians who claimed to be Confucians in name were not necessarily Confucians in practice. The emperors of China were seldom Confucians, and what was known as the "Confucian" gentry acted more like any other aristocracy than a group of philosopher-bureaucrats.

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The landowning elite of China during its formative unifying years -- the Han dynasty -- were Confucian, and they were part and parcel of the Imperial hierarchy which adapted Confucianism to its own use. Western Han made Confucianism its own; Confucianism made Eastern Han its bitch. Confucian writers in Imperial service crafted elaborate justifications for Empire -- without attacking the ruthless mutual responsibility system that you decry. If anything, Confucianism is part of it. The society where kinship is everything and revenge for harms committed against kin is obligation demands that the State, if it wants to avoid such obligated "proper exchanges," kills, well, everyone. The rest is Qin totalitarianism (Legalism) that Han never abandoned though its Confucian advocates and propagandists repeatedly asserted it did.
Kinship was everything in China even before Confucius came a long. Confucius certainly did not instigate that aspect of Chinese culture - it was in practice long before the Zhou and the Shang, even. Also, the Confucians did not challenge Legalism because, guess what, they couldn't. China's emperors were warlords before they were kings; without the military at your back you couldn't be emperor. Thus, Legalism was the means and ends of an imperial house. The Confucians could not touch them, but could only whittle away at their influence, which they did - at great costs to the empire's security.

Quote:
Even during the years where other philosophies and religions dominated China, Confucianism was an absolute necessity and a powerful undercurrent because it is part and parcel the basic building blocks of the Chinese Imperial structure. It asks for obedience, for a "proper" relationships between ruler and subject. It asserts the primacy of Imperial power. When Tang rulers -- who led the golden age of Daoism and Buddhism -- wanted to restore the Imperial hierarchy and centralize power around themselves, they turned to Confucianists. Even the Khans of the Yuan made use of Confucians to run the basic lower level administrations of its Chinese domains despite its distrust of Confucians (precisely because Confucians were the leaders of traditional Chinese society). And of course the Song were famous for their neo-Confucianists, an admittedly different breed from early "Imperial" Confucians that were the heart of the Han empire.
The imperial bureaucracy was never that Confucian. At least, they did not follow Confucius's doctrines beyond what served them. Yes, they were nominally Confucian and were named as such by the history that they wrote, but their deeds did not corroborate their declarations.

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The Emperor was China; Confucianism was China. Blaming the Empire then absolving Confucianists is pure hypocrisy. Absolving Confucius himself of this particular blame is, of course, fine. I doubt much of the man was left when compared to the myth later intellectuals crafted in his name. It's like Socrates and Plato -- who is Socrates, but an extension of whatever Plato wanted him to be? Or, heck, Jesus of Nazareth. A later Rome made its early victim the prophet of its choice, and Christianity as an associate of the Empire grew from there.

No offense, but Confucius was a rather extreme traditionalist. All things he favored he claimed came from the past, the mythical ideal age of perfect Xia rulers. It's like people complaining about evil videogames of today.

And he lived in an age of total war. Of course it was brutal. It had nothing to do with Chinese people being immoral or stupid or whatever.

Then explain to me what all those Millenarian movements were all about...?

Yellow Turbans, Taiping Rebellion, and so on and so forth. Radicals led repeated failed revolutions -- dubbed "peasant rebellions" -- fueled by millions of desperate Chinese peasantry.

And it's not like everybody else love instability. Nobody likes instability, except people that sees benefit from it or have nothing else to lose. We cried "Change!" in 2008 not because Change is Good, but because Change is Better than the shit the neoconservative regime was giving us and still tries to.
Absolving an ideology of the failure of a class of people (the bureaucratic gentry) to live up to it is completely fair. There are some problems that you can directly attribute to Confucianism, but they have to be drawn from the principles of the ideology itself, and not merely those who claimed to be its practitioner but in fact followed a different creed. Confucian traditionalism was indeed a roadblock, but there was no progressive movement in China until the 19th century, so what would be your alternative?

It's the same with Communism. A line has to be drawn between ideas and people. The Neo-Confucian gentry were societal leeches by the time they were overthrown; but that does not mean Confucianism advocated parasitism.
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Old 2009-10-02, 02:03   Link #64
Irenicus
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Originally Posted by Lathdrinor View Post
Confucians wrote the history, so yes, they would portray themselves at the center. But this was not true. Daoism, Buddhism, and Legalism competed with Confucianism for state sponsorship, and during periods like the Tang, they clearly won out. Moreover, Confucians who claimed to be Confucians in name were not necessarily Confucians in practice. The emperors of China were seldom Confucians, and what was known as the "Confucian" gentry acted more like any other aristocracy than a group of philosopher-bureaucrats.
But *they* were the Confucians of history. The "ideal" Confucians that you seek are rare, and in any case even they tend to come from, yes, that same Confucian gentry.

It's like saying Christianity is not to blame if some nutjob Christians launched the Crusade. Not okay. Yes, St. Augustine never even thought of the possibility of the Crusades; yes, early Roman Catholicism showed no particular interest in storming Jerusalem in God's Holy Name; yes, our "ideal" Christians are nice people who pray for salvation for all or whatever. But no, it was Christians who fought in the Crusades, and we say Christians did it, and it had everything to do with Christianity, even if they're not ideal Christians according to our modern worldview.

Likewise, so does Confucianism. It is a philosophy that lasts for thousands of years, is ever malleable (despite its constant affirmation of the traditional and "righteous"), and if somebody said he was a Confucian while serving in the Han dynasty, he was a Confucian. Some other guy from the 21st century can't just look back and say, no no no he wasn't a Confucian because it wasn't the right Confucianism as he knows it today.

And yes, before the Song Neo-Confucianism, the Confucians of the Han dynasty incorporated Legalism into their thoughts and practices. And their influences, good or bad, were extremely important to the entire project of empire. The Han empire was firmly a mixture of earlier Qin "Legalist" models (though it repeatedly claimed it wasn't) and the Confucian ideals. Later dynasties adopted some key features of the Han model, even the cosmopolitan Tang. Their bureaucracy certainly wasn't Buddhist or Daoist, and there were no Legalists left that I know of -- Legalism's influence in Chinese culture had by that time been incorporated into "Imperial" Confucianism.

The dominance of a military aristocracy in the Tang was new, a product of the centuries of warlord chaos, but the bureaucracy that served it wasn't. Confucianism and the Chinese Empire are deeply interrelated in many, many ways. The bureaucracy was part Legalism part Confucianism; the civil service examination was pure Confucianism at work; the model of filial piety between ruler and official, official and the people, etc., etc. was a very Confucian model.

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Kinship was everything in China even before Confucius came a long. Confucius certainly did not instigate that aspect of Chinese culture - it was in practice long before the Zhou and the Shang, even. Also, the Confucians did not challenge Legalism because, guess what, they couldn't. China's emperors were warlords before they were kings; without the military at your back you couldn't be emperor. Thus, Legalism was the means and ends of an imperial house. The Confucians could not touch them, but could only whittle away at their influence, which they did - at great costs to the empire's security.
Then why did Emperor Wu -- and even earlier emperors -- practically made Confucianism the state "religion"? He certainly wasn't going to let himself be whittled away. If anything, he was the one who purged the last remnants of the Zhou aristocracy and replaced their dominance with the dominance of the state, supported by Confucians.

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The imperial bureaucracy was never that Confucian. At least, they did not follow Confucius's doctrines beyond what served them. Yes, they were nominally Confucian and were named as such by the history that they wrote, but their deeds did not corroborate their declarations.
See above on my contention of what it means to be a Confucian. Absolving an ideology so completely from the deeds of the people who -- for most of history -- were the ones who maintained the ideology isn't fine. Of course we have to take in other influences, pragmatic or ideological, but the ideology that they professed were theirs ought to have something very much to do with it. When the Empress Dowager Cixi stopped the reforms dead in their tracts, it was done with the help of the neo-Confucians who dominated local Chinese lives, and even if you say that's not Confucianism fault -- I'll have to ask then, what else is at fault? Daoism?
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Old 2009-10-02, 05:06   Link #65
MitsubishiZero
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Originally Posted by Thingle View Post
...or the interest of the ruling party. I'm sure the current CCP will not put into power someone who would introduce a multi-party democracy, no matter how much genius he offers in governing the country.
Do we really need so much parties? We don't want political shows, we don't wants lies and broken promises, and we certainly don't want more political instability. I do not see any problem with the current one party system.
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Old 2009-10-02, 05:12   Link #66
Thingle
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Originally Posted by MitsubishiZero View Post
I do not see any problem with the current one party system.
Of course. You have been trained to obey the politburo's whims. They say something, you obey. You don't even have a right to speak out in public. I pity your people missing out on having a say on how things are done. You're not enjoying the full benefits of citizenship. Economic prosperity is shallow progress, dude. Wake up.


And uhhh, instability usually is the product of a party not given an opportunity to express its interests. By the looks of it, you have a handful. Watch out for the ethnics. May you emulate India's example.

Last edited by Thingle; 2009-10-02 at 05:38.
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Old 2009-10-02, 05:44   Link #67
MitsubishiZero
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Nope. As i said i was born in Hong Kong under British Colonial rule. I like the British, but I like China too. We enjoy rights to say what we want. It might be not really the case in mainland China but with internet, rules are no longer a barrier. We simply hop over it and show how corrupt some officials are etc. We have our own definition of "benefits of citizenship", we don't need your values, no matter how "right" you think they are.

Oh by the way are you Chinese? Or are you a Philippine???
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Old 2009-10-02, 05:47   Link #68
Thingle
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Nope. As i said i was born in Hong Kong under British Colonial rule. I like the British, but I like China too. We enjoy rights to say what we want. It might be not really the case in mainland China but with internet, rules are no longer a barrier. We simply hop over it and show how corrupt some officials are etc. We have our own definition of "benefits of citizenship", we don't need your values, no matter how "right" you think they are.

Oh by the way are you Chinese? Or are you a Philippine???
I thought you're a mainlander. But you still can't throw out officials through the ballot, yes? They are still installed by Beijing?
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Old 2009-10-02, 06:00   Link #69
MitsubishiZero
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yes and what fine man they are! We like it. Look at our Legco (similar to houses). We have useless legislators arguing meaningless topics and wasting our time and money. We didn't get more democracy because they rejected that bill "coz we need full democrazy NOW". We certainly don't want that to happen to our government. And, we did cast our votes for our Chief executive.


YOU HAVEN'T ANSWERED MY QUESTION >> ARE YOU A PHILIPPINE?
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Old 2009-10-02, 11:49   Link #70
Thingle
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We have useless legislators arguing meaningless topics and wasting our time and money.
When the CCP decides to do something stupid to your little city you'll wish for the legislators you so despise.

Remember. It's the same CCP that branded Confucianism as a remnant of the feudal past. You cannot expect them to be the benevolent autocrats you seem to fantasize about.
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Old 2009-10-02, 22:16   Link #71
MitsubishiZero
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1. I never fantasize they would be very democratic like USA or something.
2. Even if they decided to do something to our little city we can have our say in the party,
and 3. since you are not a Chinese you have no rights to attack our country, no matter it's the Communisty Party or not. It is of great insult to us Chinese if you continue to attack our Country for the sake of provoking our emotions. Stop it please.


Oh, and i am so happy they banned you.
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Old 2009-10-02, 22:19   Link #72
LeoXiao
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I still think the CCP needs to go though. Almost everything it has done has been bad, and even the economic reforms have such huge problems that in the long run it will not be worth it.

And yes, Thingle is definitely a Philippine, or a Chinese who hates China (it doesn't really matter either way).
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Old 2009-10-03, 00:33   Link #73
MitsubishiZero
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For that, we just have to wait and see how things unfold. Maybe we need a new (political) system after all, or maybe the current system might work out ok. Still, the vast amount of problems are being tackled one by one, and I think the foremost would the the corruption in the mainland. We have the ICAC which directly reports to our Chief Executive (head of state in other countries) so I believe we can be a model for China to follow. Set up a similar department and bust all those corrupt officials. Then the situation can start to improve.

He is sick, at least mentally. We don't need to care what he says.
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Old 2009-10-04, 22:53   Link #74
Lathdrinor
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Originally Posted by Irenicus View Post
But *they* were the Confucians of history. The "ideal" Confucians that you seek are rare, and in any case even they tend to come from, yes, that same Confucian gentry.

It's like saying Christianity is not to blame if some nutjob Christians launched the Crusade. Not okay. Yes, St. Augustine never even thought of the possibility of the Crusades; yes, early Roman Catholicism showed no particular interest in storming Jerusalem in God's Holy Name; yes, our "ideal" Christians are nice people who pray for salvation for all or whatever. But no, it was Christians who fought in the Crusades, and we say Christians did it, and it had everything to do with Christianity, even if they're not ideal Christians according to our modern worldview.
Honestly, it's not as easy as you think to blame Christianity for the Crusades, which was really a conflict between two different civilizations; to the extent that Christianity initiated the conflict, we can lay the blame there, but this requires looking at the principles of Christianity and how they encouraged the Crusaders. It is not sufficient to simply say that "Christians fought the Crusades, therefore Christianity must have been responsible."

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Likewise, so does Confucianism. It is a philosophy that lasts for thousands of years, is ever malleable (despite its constant affirmation of the traditional and "righteous"), and if somebody said he was a Confucian while serving in the Han dynasty, he was a Confucian. Some other guy from the 21st century can't just look back and say, no no no he wasn't a Confucian because it wasn't the right Confucianism as he knows it today.

And yes, before the Song Neo-Confucianism, the Confucians of the Han dynasty incorporated Legalism into their thoughts and practices. And their influences, good or bad, were extremely important to the entire project of empire. The Han empire was firmly a mixture of earlier Qin "Legalist" models (though it repeatedly claimed it wasn't) and the Confucian ideals. Later dynasties adopted some key features of the Han model, even the cosmopolitan Tang. Their bureaucracy certainly wasn't Buddhist or Daoist, and there were no Legalists left that I know of -- Legalism's influence in Chinese culture had by that time been incorporated into "Imperial" Confucianism.

The dominance of a military aristocracy in the Tang was new, a product of the centuries of warlord chaos, but the bureaucracy that served it wasn't. Confucianism and the Chinese Empire are deeply interrelated in many, many ways. The bureaucracy was part Legalism part Confucianism; the civil service examination was pure Confucianism at work; the model of filial piety between ruler and official, official and the people, etc., etc. was a very Confucian model.
This is all fine, but it does not answer my point, which is that Confucianism cannot be blamed for the un-Confucian misdeeds of its practitioners. An ideology can only be blamed if it affected the behavior of its disciples in a negative manner; otherwise, what's to say the disciples wouldn't have done it anyways, Confucianism or no Confucianism?

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Then why did Emperor Wu -- and even earlier emperors -- practically made Confucianism the state "religion"? He certainly wasn't going to let himself be whittled away. If anything, he was the one who purged the last remnants of the Zhou aristocracy and replaced their dominance with the dominance of the state, supported by Confucians.
Leaders support ideologies that they themselves do not follow all the time.

Quote:
See above on my contention of what it means to be a Confucian. Absolving an ideology so completely from the deeds of the people who -- for most of history -- were the ones who maintained the ideology isn't fine. Of course we have to take in other influences, pragmatic or ideological, but the ideology that they professed were theirs ought to have something very much to do with it. When the Empress Dowager Cixi stopped the reforms dead in their tracts, it was done with the help of the neo-Confucians who dominated local Chinese lives, and even if you say that's not Confucianism fault -- I'll have to ask then, what else is at fault? Daoism?
I am not absolving Confucianism of total responsibility; I am asking you to separate the elements of Chinese culture that were Confucian from the elements of Chinese culture that were not Confucian when you make statements about Confucianism's effects on China. In particular, I am looking for an argument in the form of "Confucianism promotes the principle of ..., and this principle was responsible for..."
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