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    Chinese communism on its way out?



    China's leaders rediscover Confucianism

    Daniel A. Bell International Herald Tribune

    Published: September 14, 2006

    BEIJING Marxism no longer serves as Chinese society's guiding ideology. But that doesn't mean the end of ideology. Western experts hope liberal democracy will fill the void, but they will have "joined Karl Marx," as the Chinese used to say, before that happens.

    In China, the moral vacuum is being filled by Christian sects, Falun Gong and extreme forms of nationalism. But the government considers that such alternatives threaten the hard-won peace and stability that underpins China's development, so it has encouraged the revival of Confucianism.

    Like most ideologies, however, Confucianism can be a double-edged sword.

    "Confucius said, 'Harmony is something to be cherished,'" President Hu Jintao noted in February 2005. A few months later, he instructed China's party cadres to build a "harmonious society." Echoing Confucian themes, Hu said China should promote such values as honesty and unity, as well as forge a closer relationship between the people and the government.

    The teaching curriculum for secondary schools now includes teaching of the Confucian classics, and several experimental schools have been set up that focus largely on the classics. Abroad, the government has been promoting Confucianism via branches of the Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and culture center similar to France's Alliance Française and Germany's Goethe Institute.

    For the government, the promotion of Confucian values has several advantages. Domestically, the affirmation of harmony is meant to reflect the ruling party's concern for all classes. Threatened by rural discontent - according to official figures, there were 87,000 illegal disturbances last year - the government realizes that it needs to do more for those bearing the brunt of China's development. Internationally, the call for peace and harmony is meant to disarm fears about China's rapid rise.

    How does Confucianism resonate in society at large? At some level, especially regarding family ethics, Confucian values still inform ways of life. Filial piety, for example, is still widely endorsed and practiced: Adult children have a legal obligation to care for their elderly parents.

    Many intellectuals have turned to Confucianism to make sense of such social practices and to think of ways of dealing with China's current moral and political predicament. But their interpretations of Confucianism often diverge from official ones.

    Perhaps the most influential contemporary Confucian thinker is Jiang Qing, author of "Political Confucianism," in which he argues that for contemporary China, political Confucianism is more appropriate than Western-style liberal democracy.

    Jiang could not develop the institutional implications in that book. In a Taiwanese publication, however, he puts forward an interesting proposal for a legislature that includes representatives of Confucian elites, of elites entrusted with the task of cultural continuity, and of the people. In an article widely distributed on the Web, he argues for the establishment of Confucianism as a state religion (as with state religions in Britain and Sweden, other religions would not be prohibited).

    Intellectuals have also been applying Confucianism to foreign policy. Confucians favor rule by moral example and oppose the use of force to promote morality. Hence, Confucian intellectuals were severely critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But here, too, interpretations of Confucianism may diverge from official ones. The idea that Taiwan should be reintegrated into the mainland by being threatened with invasion and bloodshed is far removed from Confucian ideals.

    Perhaps the biggest challenge to the government is the Confucian emphasis on meritocracy. The Confucian view is that political leaders should be the most talented and public-spirited members of the community, and the process of choosing such leaders should be meritocratic, meaning that there should be equal opportunity for the best to rise the top.

    Historically, Confucian meritocracy was implemented by means of examinations, and there have been proposals to revive and update Confucian examinations for contemporary China. Again, there is an obvious challenge to the government: Objectively measured performance on an exam, rather than party loyalty, would determine who occupies what government post.

    If Confucianism shapes China's future, it won't look like Western-style liberal democracy, but neither will it look like the status quo.

    Daniel A. Bell is a professor of political philosophy and ethics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and author of "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context."

    BEIJING Marxism no longer serves as Chinese society's guiding ideology. But that doesn't mean the end of ideology. Western experts hope liberal democracy will fill the void, but they will have "joined Karl Marx," as the Chinese used to say, before that happens.

    In China, the moral vacuum is being filled by Christian sects, Falun Gong and extreme forms of nationalism. But the government considers that such alternatives threaten the hard-won peace and stability that underpins China's development, so it has encouraged the revival of Confucianism.

    Like most ideologies, however, Confucianism can be a double-edged sword.

    "Confucius said, 'Harmony is something to be cherished,'" President Hu Jintao noted in February 2005. A few months later, he instructed China's party cadres to build a "harmonious society." Echoing Confucian themes, Hu said China should promote such values as honesty and unity, as well as forge a closer relationship between the people and the government.

    The teaching curriculum for secondary schools now includes teaching of the Confucian classics, and several experimental schools have been set up that focus largely on the classics. Abroad, the government has been promoting Confucianism via branches of the Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and culture center similar to France's Alliance Française and Germany's Goethe Institute.

    For the government, the promotion of Confucian values has several advantages. Domestically, the affirmation of harmony is meant to reflect the ruling party's concern for all classes. Threatened by rural discontent - according to official figures, there were 87,000 illegal disturbances last year - the government realizes that it needs to do more for those bearing the brunt of China's development. Internationally, the call for peace and harmony is meant to disarm fears about China's rapid rise.

    How does Confucianism resonate in society at large? At some level, especially regarding family ethics, Confucian values still inform ways of life. Filial piety, for example, is still widely endorsed and practiced: Adult children have a legal obligation to care for their elderly parents.

    Many intellectuals have turned to Confucianism to make sense of such social practices and to think of ways of dealing with China's current moral and political predicament. But their interpretations of Confucianism often diverge from official ones.

    Perhaps the most influential contemporary Confucian thinker is Jiang Qing, author of "Political Confucianism," in which he argues that for contemporary China, political Confucianism is more appropriate than Western-style liberal democracy.

    Jiang could not develop the institutional implications in that book. In a Taiwanese publication, however, he puts forward an interesting proposal for a legislature that includes representatives of Confucian elites, of elites entrusted with the task of cultural continuity, and of the people. In an article widely distributed on the Web, he argues for the establishment of Confucianism as a state religion (as with state religions in Britain and Sweden, other religions would not be prohibited).

    Intellectuals have also been applying Confucianism to foreign policy. Confucians favor rule by moral example and oppose the use of force to promote morality. Hence, Confucian intellectuals were severely critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But here, too, interpretations of Confucianism may diverge from official ones. The idea that Taiwan should be reintegrated into the mainland by being threatened with invasion and bloodshed is far removed from Confucian ideals.

    Perhaps the biggest challenge to the government is the Confucian emphasis on meritocracy. The Confucian view is that political leaders should be the most talented and public-spirited members of the community, and the process of choosing such leaders should be meritocratic, meaning that there should be equal opportunity for the best to rise the top.

    Historically, Confucian meritocracy was implemented by means of examinations, and there have been proposals to revive and update Confucian examinations for contemporary China. Again, there is an obvious challenge to the government: Objectively measured performance on an exam, rather than party loyalty, would determine who occupies what government post.

    If Confucianism shapes China's future, it won't look like Western-style liberal democracy, but neither will it look like the status quo.

    Daniel A. Bell is a professor of political philosophy and ethics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and author of "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context."

    BEIJING Marxism no longer serves as Chinese society's guiding ideology. But that doesn't mean the end of ideology. Western experts hope liberal democracy will fill the void, but they will have "joined Karl Marx," as the Chinese used to say, before that happens.

    In China, the moral vacuum is being filled by Christian sects, Falun Gong and extreme forms of nationalism. But the government considers that such alternatives threaten the hard-won peace and stability that underpins China's development, so it has encouraged the revival of Confucianism.

    Like most ideologies, however, Confucianism can be a double-edged sword.

    "Confucius said, 'Harmony is something to be cherished,'" President Hu Jintao noted in February 2005. A few months later, he instructed China's party cadres to build a "harmonious society." Echoing Confucian themes, Hu said China should promote such values as honesty and unity, as well as forge a closer relationship between the people and the government.

    The teaching curriculum for secondary schools now includes teaching of the Confucian classics, and several experimental schools have been set up that focus largely on the classics. Abroad, the government has been promoting Confucianism via branches of the Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and culture center similar to France's Alliance Française and Germany's Goethe Institute.

    For the government, the promotion of Confucian values has several advantages. Domestically, the affirmation of harmony is meant to reflect the ruling party's concern for all classes. Threatened by rural discontent - according to official figures, there were 87,000 illegal disturbances last year - the government realizes that it needs to do more for those bearing the brunt of China's development. Internationally, the call for peace and harmony is meant to disarm fears about China's rapid rise.

    How does Confucianism resonate in society at large? At some level, especially regarding family ethics, Confucian values still inform ways of life. Filial piety, for example, is still widely endorsed and practiced: Adult children have a legal obligation to care for their elderly parents.

    Many intellectuals have turned to Confucianism to make sense of such social practices and to think of ways of dealing with China's current moral and political predicament. But their interpretations of Confucianism often diverge from official ones.

    Perhaps the most influential contemporary Confucian thinker is Jiang Qing, author of "Political Confucianism," in which he argues that for contemporary China, political Confucianism is more appropriate than Western-style liberal democracy.

    Jiang could not develop the institutional implications in that book. In a Taiwanese publication, however, he puts forward an interesting proposal for a legislature that includes representatives of Confucian elites, of elites entrusted with the task of cultural continuity, and of the people. In an article widely distributed on the Web, he argues for the establishment of Confucianism as a state religion (as with state religions in Britain and Sweden, other religions would not be prohibited).

    Intellectuals have also been applying Confucianism to foreign policy. Confucians favor rule by moral example and oppose the use of force to promote morality. Hence, Confucian intellectuals were severely critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But here, too, interpretations of Confucianism may diverge from official ones. The idea that Taiwan should be reintegrated into the mainland by being threatened with invasion and bloodshed is far removed from Confucian ideals.

    Perhaps the biggest challenge to the government is the Confucian emphasis on meritocracy. The Confucian view is that political leaders should be the most talented and public-spirited members of the community, and the process of choosing such leaders should be meritocratic, meaning that there should be equal opportunity for the best to rise the top.

    Historically, Confucian meritocracy was implemented by means of examinations, and there have been proposals to revive and update Confucian examinations for contemporary China. Again, there is an obvious challenge to the government: Objectively measured performance on an exam, rather than party loyalty, would determine who occupies what government post.

    If Confucianism shapes China's future, it won't look like Western-style liberal democracy, but neither will it look like the status quo.

    Daniel A. Bell is a professor of political philosophy and ethics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and author of "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context."

    BEIJING Marxism no longer serves as Chinese society's guiding ideology. But that doesn't mean the end of ideology. Western experts hope liberal democracy will fill the void, but they will have "joined Karl Marx," as the Chinese used to say, before that happens.

    In China, the moral vacuum is being filled by Christian sects, Falun Gong and extreme forms of nationalism. But the government considers that such alternatives threaten the hard-won peace and stability that underpins China's development, so it has encouraged the revival of Confucianism.

    Like most ideologies, however, Confucianism can be a double-edged sword.

    "Confucius said, 'Harmony is something to be cherished,'" President Hu Jintao noted in February 2005. A few months later, he instructed China's party cadres to build a "harmonious society." Echoing Confucian themes, Hu said China should promote such values as honesty and unity, as well as forge a closer relationship between the people and the government.

    The teaching curriculum for secondary schools now includes teaching of the Confucian classics, and several experimental schools have been set up that focus largely on the classics. Abroad, the government has been promoting Confucianism via branches of the Confucius Institute, a Chinese language and culture center similar to France's Alliance Française and Germany's Goethe Institute.

    For the government, the promotion of Confucian values has several advantages. Domestically, the affirmation of harmony is meant to reflect the ruling party's concern for all classes. Threatened by rural discontent - according to official figures, there were 87,000 illegal disturbances last year - the government realizes that it needs to do more for those bearing the brunt of China's development. Internationally, the call for peace and harmony is meant to disarm fears about China's rapid rise.

    How does Confucianism resonate in society at large? At some level, especially regarding family ethics, Confucian values still inform ways of life. Filial piety, for example, is still widely endorsed and practiced: Adult children have a legal obligation to care for their elderly parents.

    Many intellectuals have turned to Confucianism to make sense of such social practices and to think of ways of dealing with China's current moral and political predicament. But their interpretations of Confucianism often diverge from official ones.

    Perhaps the most influential contemporary Confucian thinker is Jiang Qing, author of "Political Confucianism," in which he argues that for contemporary China, political Confucianism is more appropriate than Western-style liberal democracy.

    Jiang could not develop the institutional implications in that book. In a Taiwanese publication, however, he puts forward an interesting proposal for a legislature that includes representatives of Confucian elites, of elites entrusted with the task of cultural continuity, and of the people. In an article widely distributed on the Web, he argues for the establishment of Confucianism as a state religion (as with state religions in Britain and Sweden, other religions would not be prohibited).

    Intellectuals have also been applying Confucianism to foreign policy. Confucians favor rule by moral example and oppose the use of force to promote morality. Hence, Confucian intellectuals were severely critical of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq. But here, too, interpretations of Confucianism may diverge from official ones. The idea that Taiwan should be reintegrated into the mainland by being threatened with invasion and bloodshed is far removed from Confucian ideals.

    Perhaps the biggest challenge to the government is the Confucian emphasis on meritocracy. The Confucian view is that political leaders should be the most talented and public-spirited members of the community, and the process of choosing such leaders should be meritocratic, meaning that there should be equal opportunity for the best to rise the top.

    Historically, Confucian meritocracy was implemented by means of examinations, and there have been proposals to revive and update Confucian examinations for contemporary China. Again, there is an obvious challenge to the government: Objectively measured performance on an exam, rather than party loyalty, would determine who occupies what government post.

    If Confucianism shapes China's future, it won't look like Western-style liberal democracy, but neither will it look like the status quo.

    Daniel A. Bell is a professor of political philosophy and ethics at Tsinghua University, Beijing, and author of "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Context."


    Copyright © 2006 the International Herald Tribune All rights reserved IHT
    http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/...ion/edbell.php
    Most extraordinary.

    This is most extraordinary.

    The last bastion of power to the people i.e. Communism is readying itself to fall flat on its face!

    The efforts of the Great Helmsman Mao Tse Tung and his Peasants are all in vain.

    It proves Communism is a bogus ideology.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Marxism is alive and well in western Europe and on the campuses of western universities. It is in no danger of dying out. What a shame.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Ray
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    Come on.

    You are paranoid.


    "Some have learnt many Tricks of sly Evasion, Instead of Truth they use Equivocation, And eke it out with mental Reservation, Which is to good Men an Abomination."

    I don't have to attend every argument I'm invited to.

    HAKUNA MATATA

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    ray,

    chinese communism was shot in the face by deng xiaoping a while back.

    as for the article, i disagree with daniel bell's contention that confucianism is necessarily antiethical to democracy. it smacks of huntingdon's thesis. we see in the case of taiwan and south korea where confucianism were also held up for public spectacle, and somehow democracies are evolved in both states!

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray View Post
    Come on.

    You are paranoid.
    Sir, I invite you to visit our college campuses. The hatred for capitalism and the longing for communism is astonishing.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    HKHolic Senior Contributor leib10's Avatar
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    Just goes to show you how naive our college students can be. A bunch of malcontents who think they're so intellectual and so knowledgable about current and past affairs.
    "The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world. So wake up, Mr. Freeman. Wake up and smell the ashes." G-Man

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    Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    You know, not every college student is a damn marxist.

    So, I would chalk this trend up as another indicator that Mr. Huntingnton may have been right in his argument about Clash of Civilizations.
    China is not only throwing off communism, it is also throwing off a Western tradition in favor of a traditional Chinese tradition. It's not unexpected, but it reeks of "Chinese nationalism" and evident that the US and China are going to have a head-on collision this century. Confucianism and liberal democracy are NOT compatible, IMO.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

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    joey2
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    same stuff here in some colleges too.. without knowing politics truly they gets in it and result illiterate politicians = bad for country.
    backed up by some union , i'm not saying communism is bad cuz i'm not here to judge though communism sounds good on paper still i think its quite prevalent.

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    gvchamp,

    So, I would chalk this trend up as another indicator that Mr. Huntingnton may have been right in his argument about Clash of Civilizations.
    China is not only throwing off communism, it is also throwing off a Western tradition in favor of a traditional Chinese tradition. It's not unexpected, but it reeks of "Chinese nationalism" and evident that the US and China are going to have a head-on collision this century. Confucianism and liberal democracy are NOT compatible, IMO
    did you read what i wrote? mr huntingdon's thesis has been disproved so many times, it's getting to be a running joke in academia. the "confucianism" that the CCP espouses is SO DIFFERENT from confucianism, either "old-skool" (pre-song dynasty) or "new-skool" (neo-confucianism, especially the developments of the ming dynasty) that if you transplanted confucian scholars from any of the old eras to look at the stuff these days, they would barely make head to tail of it.

    and in any case, look at the success of the gov't policy. take a vacation, go to shanghai, beijing, hong kong; heck, go inland, to the places that the media generally doesn't have a spotlight on. then tell me if you see "confucianism" beating out capitalist desires and the desire to have your voice heard.

    as for confucianism and liberal democracy being not compatible, tell that to the taiwanese and the south koreans you're mixing together two very different things. liberal democracy is a political system. confucianism is NOT- it doesn't even count as a religion.

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    Contributor GVChamp's Avatar
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    did you read what i wrote? mr huntingdon's thesis has been disproved so many times, it's getting to be a running joke in academia
    I don't personally accept Huntington's thesis. I think the next major war is going to be fought along the lines Bobbit describes in "The Shield of Achilles." Go Entrepenurial State.

    the "confucianism" that the CCP espouses is SO DIFFERENT from confucianism, either "old-skool" (pre-song dynasty) or "new-skool" (neo-confucianism, especially the developments of the ming dynasty) that if you transplanted confucian scholars from any of the old eras to look at the stuff these days, they would barely make head to tail of it.
    It's not so much the Confucianism itself that is concerning. It's resurgent nationalism that LED to a rebirth of some Confucian thought, and the fact that it could, just might, undermine attempts to bring the market and democracy to the country. It doesn't keep me up at night, but here's a quote from the article:
    Perhaps the most influential contemporary Confucian thinker is Jiang Qing, author of "Political Confucianism," in which he argues that for contemporary China, political Confucianism is more appropriate than Western-style liberal democracy.
    That, and filal piety is something that I don't particularly embrace.

    and in any case, look at the success of the gov't policy. take a vacation, go to shanghai, beijing, hong kong; heck, go inland, to the places that the media generally doesn't have a spotlight on. then tell me if you see "confucianism" beating out capitalist desires and the desire to have your voice heard.
    As far as I know, the capitalist impulse isn't very strong in the mainland? I believe that rural China is getting annoyed at the government services provided, and violations of land rights.
    I'd assume confucian beliefs are actually stronger in the cities, where a Renaissance should theoretically be focused.

    as for confucianism and liberal democracy being not compatible, tell that to the taiwanese and the south koreans you're mixing together two very different things. liberal democracy is a political system. confucianism is NOT- it doesn't even count as a religion.
    True, but political systems can be rejected by people that consider the political system to be funadmentally flawed...and Confucian hiearchy has historically, along with most other philosophies, been associated with a less-than-open political system.
    I'm not saying a synthesis can't occur. But they typically occur after a long, long period of conflict.
    "The great questions of the day will not be settled by means of speeches and majority decisions but by iron and blood"-Otto Von Bismarck

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    HKHolic Senior Contributor leib10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    You know, not every college student is a damn marxist.
    A disproportionately high number of them are.
    "The right man in the wrong place can make all the difference in the world. So wake up, Mr. Freeman. Wake up and smell the ashes." G-Man

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    gvchamp,

    It's not so much the Confucianism itself that is concerning. It's resurgent nationalism that LED to a rebirth of some Confucian thought, and the fact that it could, just might, undermine attempts to bring the market and democracy to the country. It doesn't keep me up at night, but here's a quote from the article:
    that is based, again, on the premise that confucianism, free-market/democracy are mutually incompatible. considering the level of trade that was going on in china back when confucianism WAS the main doctrine in play, i think that disproves the former. and the CCP's lynchpin for the last 25 odd years has been to promote free-market ideology, especially after 1992. it's damn, damn hard to put the free-market genie back in the bottle once it's been unleashed.

    as for democracy, again, the problem is not confucianism, as you yourself said (but unfortunately as the article mentions). the more troubling aspect here is extreme nationalism, which has a tendency to evolve into forms of government that support either totalitarian or authoritarian points of view (the latter being the stage china is in right now, and which the CCP would, in its heart of hearts, prefer to keep it at).

    As far as I know, the capitalist impulse isn't very strong in the mainland? I believe that rural China is getting annoyed at the government services provided, and violations of land rights.
    I'd assume confucian beliefs are actually stronger in the cities, where a Renaissance should theoretically be focused.
    hahahahahaha @ the first line. no, man, really, go to china or taiwan sometime. then you'll get your taste of chinese capitalist impulse, probably as soon as you get into the city (taipei, beijing, doesn't matter; both will do the whole "one-dolla! one-dolla!" bit). economies generally do not grow at almost double-digit growth rates without a pretty strong impulse.

    as for rural china, actually, it's been neglected by the government for years, and abused by an UNTRAMMELED free-market (there's your capitalist impulse). what we see are unscrupulous capitalists whom illegally dump toxins/chemicals into rivers, engage in illegal logging, illegal sweatshops, illegal "outsourcing" (where they found haagen-dazs ice cream being made in restrooms in unauthorized underground factories). no wonder people are pissed.

    as for cities, they certainly would not be the wellspring of this neo-neo-confucianism. the people in the cities are the most metropolitan, and have been exposed to the most "western" ideas (read: brand-name capitalism, internet, and yes, even democratic ideas).

    rural china is where you see old confucian ideas at their strongest. where it is a lot more likely you will see adults taking care (and living with) their parents.

    True, but political systems can be rejected by people that consider the political system to be funadmentally flawed...and Confucian hiearchy has historically, along with most other philosophies, been associated with a less-than-open political system.
    I'm not saying a synthesis can't occur. But they typically occur after a long, long period of conflict.
    well, this is all assuming that the CCP is 100% successful in instituting their brand of confucianism into the populace. it won't be. even in its heyday, it could never 100% instill communism into the populace.

    the extent to which confucianism is dead as a political motivator can be seen by the simple fact that the CCP even has to "re-discover" confucianism. the ideas of the may fourth movement/bai hua movement so badly wounded confucianism as a political philosophy that it has never recovered, and will very probably never recover. the most famous chinese writers of the 20th century all took potshots, or rather artillery shells, at confucianism; as long as the words "lu xun" and his "ah-q" (google them if you need to; besides, that story, and lu xun's writings, are great regardless) remain in vernacular, confucianism is dead and buried.

    even more than communism.

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    im no Communist, but i hope it doesnt go out.

    I am for communism in some aspects of life but mostly against it.

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    Official Thread Jacker Senior Contributor gunnut's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GVChamp View Post
    You know, not every college student is a damn marxist.
    Of course I don't mean every single college student. But you can't deny that most are left leaning and some are staunchly communist.
    "Only Nixon can go to China." -- Old Vulcan proverb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gunnut View Post
    Of course I don't mean every single college student. But you can't deny that most are left leaning and some are staunchly communist.
    They tend to grow out of it.. as soon as they start earning decent money and paying taxes... lol
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