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China's Recent Revival of Confucianism

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2010 10:12 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 39.2 
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Sincere Move or Tool of Propaganda?  



During China’s far-reaching history, Confucianism has gained and lost support from its country’s ruling powers.   Sometimes, its guiding message, aimed at fostering harmony within humanity, was embraced as the ultimate answer to society’s abundance of problems and discontent.   In the face of modernity, it was pegged as a restraint on political progress and destined to lead the country to certain failure if its teachings were not abandoned.   Therefore, it would not be inaccurate to describe the ethical system’s relationship with its country of origin as one characterized by bipolar affinity.   Depending on the circumstances, Confucianism has been in and out of political favor.   Today, the centuries-old Chinese philosophy is finding itself welcomed back into government doctrine, despite the fact it was shunned only several decades ago during the Cultural Revolution.   With the threat of China losing national identity due to the invasive effects of Western influences, is today’s revival of Confucianism simply a political move to substantiate the current government’s legitimacy?   So, why does China’s current government view Confucianism in a positive light?   What circumstances have led to the ethical system’s acceptance in the past?   Has its promise of leading followers into a harmonious society proved to be merely a propaganda tool that dupes subjects into supporting a hierarchical social structure?   If Confucianism were successfully applied to China’s governing practices, what effects would be noticeable in China’s foreign policy and human rights conduct?  

To answer these questions, one must first understand the origin of Confucianism and the circumstances of that time.   The primary contributor to the ideals of Confucianism was Confucius himself; his actual Chinese name was Kong Qiu.   He lived from 551 to 479 B.C.E. in a time when China was undergoing a state of chaos (Lopez Jr. 1999, 89).   Factions were...

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