The Reinvention Of Confucianism In Northeast Asian

Societies Essay, Research Paper

Subject: International Relations of Northeast Asia



Essay Title: & # 8216 ; Confucianism in North-East Asia & # 8217 ;


Word Length: 3132

The followers is an scrutiny of Confucianism is Northeast Asiatic provinces. In peculiar the essay will concentrate on China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan in an scrutiny of how each of these provinces has separately adapted and reinvented Confucian ideals and impressions to function the specific fortunes of each province. The essay will follow the reinvention and subsequent development of what can be termed & # 8216 ; neo-Confucianism & # 8217 ; as an assistance or hinderance in the economic development of each province. There are clear forms that emerge in the scrutiny of Confucianism in Northeast Asia chiefly refering the usage of Confucianism as a convenient label, peculiarly by Western bookmans to depict and explicate the economic success and dynamism of East Asiatic economic systems without paying mention to the peculiar fortunes under which industrialisation took topographic point. Second, how within the provinces themselves, Confucianism has been reinvented clip and clip once more in different and alone signifiers to function the map of giving legitimacy to the government in power and apologize it actions in power every bit good as the agencies with which power is preserved. At the same clip, Confucianism has offered many advantages to Northeast Asian states & # 8211 ; in an altered form- in prosecuting industrialisation and capitalist modernisation in the station World War II period. In analyzing this phenomenon it is of import to pay peculiar attending to the deep separation between Confucian political orientation or societal doctrine and how it was used in pattern every bit good as the grade of influence Confucianism had in the development of those provinces.

It is possibly best to get down the scrutiny with a wide lineation of what Confucianism as a societal doctrine is, its political significance and why it has been taken up as an political orientation.

As an ethical system Confucianism is concerned with right dealingss between higher-ups and inferiors and emphasiss common duties, such as right illustration on the portion of the former and trueness on the portion of the latter. Individualism is subordinated to harmony within a group ; the household was traditionally the paramount societal group. It has a strong accent on order, stableness, hierarchy and filial piousness. It is male-centric and elitist in nature. A clear societal hierarchy emerged in Imperial Chinese society with the Emperor and his immediate household at the top. Under him were the & # 8217 ; scholar aristocracy & # 8217 ; , who became the administrative elite. Below was the warrior caste, followed by the land & # 8211 ; proprietors ( whose boies made up the warrior caste ) , so followed by the peasantry and eventually, at the underside were the merchandisers. Over clip, the societal doctrine of Confucianism merged into a sort of civic-religion that has existed in East Asiatic societies to the present clip.

In authorities, Confucianism supports & # 8220 ; enlightened autocratic regulation & # 8221 ; by a centralised bureaucratism, non popular democracy. In traditional Confucian societies, authorities was supposed to be the modesty of an educated bureaucratism, viz. the & # 8217 ; scholar aristocracy & # 8217 ; . In Confucian doctrine, a cardinal dogma is the & # 8216 ; authorization of Eden & # 8217 ; given to the emperor or leader which can be lost but non in tandem with bing societal order. As such Confucianism in it original signifier can ne’er truly be radical.

Having outlined the basic dogmas of Confucianism, how was it adapted applied to Northeast Asia in a modern-day sense? We can analyze this by following the & # 8216 ; re-invention of Confucianism & # 8217 ; within each of the above mentioned Northeast Asiatic provinces separately. At the same clip we can analyze what the societal doctrine of Confucianism can and has offered these provinces in helping and bettering the industrialisation and modernisation procedures. It is appropriate to get down with China as Confucianism is an autochthonal merchandise of the state.

Confucianism in China is besides the most complex and contradictory of the Confucian provinces both in footings of its economic development and the altering function that Confucianism has played in China. At the same clip China is possibly the best illustration of how Confucianism has been reinvented and used to function the terminals of its reigning leaders. As Chan points out ; there has been a & # 8220 ; periodic demand on the service of Confucianism in Chinese history & # 8221 ; .2 This can be seen in the regulating patterns from the Qing dynasty to Mao Zedong, and soon with Deng Xiaoping. Here we will get down with the contradictions of Communist regulation in China. Lucian W. Pye in his scrutiny of Confucianism in East Asiatic societies gives us the cultural dimensions of Chinese society, based on Confucianism which gives China its specific arrested development with its leaders and how they & # 8220 ; reign & # 8221 ; instead than efficaciously regulation or govern. China more so than any other of the Asian provinces has been unable to efficaciously accommodate Confucianism to go useful in accomplishing modernisation and industrialisation. The chief grounds for this are foremost China & # 8217 ; s quandary with power which historically can merely be expressed in moralistic footings and secondly seeing dealingss ever in hierarchal footings and imputing about limitless possible to those at the top.3 Power as ritual or position with the leader being the centre of all and an terminal unto himself, incarnating the whole collective has meant that China has had serious jobs in traveling toward modernisation. With the coming of Communism in 1949, Confucianism was apparently rejected every bit valueless as a societal doctrine in favor of Mao-Zedong idea. However in world it may be said that Mao himself became the New Emperor, having the authorization of Eden. Surely his societal policies of the & # 8220 ; Great Leap Forward & # 8221 ; and the & # 8220 ; Cultural Revolution & # 8221 ; bespeak this. Mao sought what Lifton described as & # 8220 ; radical immortality & # 8221 ; . The Chinese people accepted the leader & # 8217 ; s vision of a bright tomorrow unquestioningly. The Chinese have a alone inclination or psychological coterie which Pye calls the & # 8220 ; pleasance of suspending incredulity & # 8221 ; .4 Lifton notes with respect to the & # 8220 ; immortalization of [ Mao ‘s ] words & # 8221 ; how & # 8220 ; the leaders words have become vehicles for promoting him, during his life-time, to a topographic point above the province itself or its institutional beginning of pureness and power, in this instance the party & # 8221 ; .4 Thus the hyperbole of the & # 8220 ; great adult male as leader & # 8221 ; and who is an elaboration of the & # 8220 ; Confucian theoretical account of the male parent as the ultimate authorization in the household & # 8221 ; demonstrates how political orientation is divorced from world in China and in peculiar, in its Confucian tradition.

Under communism Mao was basically the Emperor, the ruddy ground forces could be seen as the warrior caste with the administrative bureaucratism of the CCP as the bookman aristocracy and eventually below them the provincials. This demonstrates how deep & # 8211 ; rooted traditional Chinese societal hierarchy is. The communist revolution and the & # 8220 ; socialist province & # 8221 ; that ensued really much resemble imperial China in world. This may be attribute to what Pye sees as a close psychological fright of societal confusion or upset in Chinese society which makes them hunger a leader who unifies the state by his really presence.5 In China the supplication of Confucianism has been inherently negative an smothering toward any motion for modernisation. This is mostly based on China & # 8217 ; s inability to accommodate Confucianism to function as a useful instead than symbolic and conservative force every bit good as its inclination to concentrate on political orientation and symbolism without existent content.

The same can be seen in modern-day China under the leading of Deng Xiaoping. His plan of opening up China under the motto of & # 8220 ; it is glorious to be rich & # 8221 ; has one time once more seen the supplication of Confucianism inefficaciously simply as a legitimizing agent. Deng has invoked Confucianism within the context of promoting people to & # 8220 ; leap into the sea & # 8221 ; to go rich and set a Confucian illustration to others. In this sense Confucian familial traditions can be effectual in accomplishing those terminals ; for illustration using household nest eggs or recognition from relations every bit good as infinite otherwise available for household life in other words the & # 8216 ; household theoretical account & # 8217 ; applied to larger economic chases. However ; how are these chases reconciled with the official party political orientation of Marxism-Leninism?

Recent developments in China such as the re-emergence of multiple agencies of ownership and production, the stock exchanges and other capitalist developments can non be justified in footings of official party political orientation. Therefore, harmonizing to Chan, the & # 8220 ; political and economic policies being pursued in Deng & # 8217 ; s China necessitated another principle for its legitimization & # 8230 ; it would look that Confucianism has been one time once more called upon to carry through this need.7 In add-on other & # 8220 ; Confucian States & # 8221 ; are pointed to as illustrations of economic success without any respect given to the world of what their development entailed.

There is a farther sarcasm in this naming up or re-inventing of Confucianism to function the intent of the authorities. A recent book published by He Quinglian, entitled & # 8220 ; China & # 8217 ; s Pitfall & # 8221 ; examines how Deng Xiaoping & # 8217 ; s urban reforms has basically led to profiting a limited figure of people, who thanks to their place ( normally within the party ) , have plundered the public good & # 8211 ; the nest eggs of the multitudes and the environment. Through what she has called the & # 8220 ; marketization of power & # 8221 ; there has been an addition in the figure and heists and sordid agencies to accomplish wealth every bit good an addition in corruptness. In her position this procedure has led to an forsaking of duty and political cronyism. In her words. & # 8220 ; the championing of money as a value has ne’er earlier reached the point of keeping all moral regulations in disdain & # 8221 ; and the & # 8220 ; economic good religion [ of China ] has been compromised & # 8221 ; .8 This added with the household orientated consumerism, the creative activity of a & # 8216 ; neuveaux rich & # 8217 ; , increased accent on & # 8217 ; sign value & # 8217 ; , schools for the nobility and environmental debasement has straight distorted Confucianism if non undermined it wholly with regard to traditional moral criterions which are at the bosom of the philosophy.9

In China it seems that Confucianism is ever called upon to make a & # 8216 ; fig foliage legitimacy & # 8217 ; to whatever agenda the authorities is forcing, no affair how contradictory. China, more specifically, does non look to be able to name upon the good facets of Confucianism to assistance in it development. In China what we see is decidedly non an flowering of Confucian traditions but instead a convenient usage to give legitimacy to any docket. As such China can non be regarded as a Confucian province while at the same clip non being able to get away the booby traps of Confucian hierarchal agreements which breed inequality.

Japan on the other manus can be seen as a province that has used and altered Confucianism as a societal doctrine while at the same clip being able to accommodate some of the contradictions which their Chinese opposite numbers have non been able to get the better of. Japan has non merely been able to efficaciously re-invent Confucianism to help it in some manner in going an economic example in the part and the universe, but it has besides been able to unite what can be called & # 8220 ; merchandiser Confucianism & # 8221 ; with the best of Western patterns. This besides has to be understood within the context of the peculiar fortunes, following World War II, which p

ushed Japan by necessity to economic Reconstruction and advanced modernisation.

In Japan, unlike in China, Merchant values became elevated and Confucianized instead than denigrated. As Pye points out, the Nipponeses turned to Confucianism with a wholly different principle: & # 8220 ; the Nipponese therefore turned to Confucian regulations of moral subject and ethical jussive moods into guidelines for aggressive action, both for the samurai warrior in doing war and the chonin merchandiser in doing money & # 8221 ; . 10 As such the Nipponese linked Confucian values to accomplishing stuff success. The other benefit imported from Confucianism and adapted specifically by the Japanese is its ability to harmonise power and trueness with aggressive fight. This was the indispensable dogma that has aided Japan from an economic development point of position. The blending of feudal system and Confucianism produced a more purposeful, end -directed construct of power in Japan than in the bureaucratic & # 8220 ; virtuocracy & # 8221 ; of either imperial or Maoist China.11 Essentially the Nipponeses have been able to maximise trueness and competitory competency which aided its economic development.

The Japanese actively sought to happen the best patterns universe broad and utilize and better them, they besides saw this usage of Confucianism a means non merely to face the West but to crush it on its ain ground.12 In Japan, Confucianism was evoked to asseverate Nipponese high quality and Nationalism. It has been successful in this respect and it is small admiration that Western Scholars and faculty members have attributed the economic success of Japan and other Newly Industrialized Countries ( NICs ) to some built-in quality based on Confucian values, lest they may be forced to acknowledge that they were beaten at their ain game. The economic success of Japan and the & # 8216 ; mini-dragons & # 8217 ; can be more accurately attributed to the station World War II context. The function Japan played in the American containment scheme is cardinal. Japan & # 8217 ; s & # 8216 ; Peace Constitution & # 8217 ; with the celebrated Article 9 abdicating war meant that external security was no longer a concern for Japan as the United States took on the function. The American assistance and domestic markets were opened and extended to Japan. The coming of the Korean war besides facilitated this procedure as did the demands originating from the Vietnam war a decennary later.12

Surely Confucian values, unique to Japan, have been moved from the & # 8216 ; household theoretical account & # 8217 ; to the industrial sector and values such as worker trueness, and the dependence on higher-ups in Nipponese society, but at the same clip one must non ignore the specific fortunes and timing of the Nipponese entry into industrialisation.

However at the same clip the function of the Nipponese Zaibatsu or immense industrial pudding stones and the nature of the Nipponese Industrial landscape with corporatised brotherhoods, worker trueness all suggest an implicit in & # 8216 ; Neo-Confucian & # 8217 ; value system within the states economic and concern dealingss. It could be said that the Zaibatsu have been given a sort of economic & # 8216 ; authorization of Eden & # 8217 ; such is their domination of the economic landscape. Japan, as such, can be seen as the most Confucian society in the modern sense.

Korea and Taiwan can be examined in tandem for the similarities in their economic development are many. They are besides considered the little Confucian provinces who were really much shaped by non merely their larger neighbors of Japan and China severally ; but besides by US presence in the part during the cold war.

There are alone versions of Confucian traditions present in each of the provinces. Korea has developed into a bold & # 8220 ; hazard taking civilization & # 8221 ; with a strong component of & # 8220 ; societal solidarity & # 8221 ; . Korea has combined the sense of purpose of the Nipponese theoretical account with the elitist sense of virtuousness of the Chinese seen in their Yangban category or Chaebol ( immense pudding stones ) . There are strong elements of & # 8220 ; virtuocracy & # 8221 ; which has created an insecurity that in bend produced a people who were self starters.18

However the context in which these economic systems flourished is a more of import factor in analyzing the success. Within the cold war and post-cold war contexts both provinces received tremendous sums of US assistance while playing functions in the scheme of containment. The US to a greater extent shaped the economic landscapes of both economic systems through originating land reform and export-led economic growing. There were monolithic extracts of US economic assistance that opened markets for Taiwan makers. In Korea the successful version of Nipponese methods. That is, the province guaranteed inexpensive credits to the industrial pudding stones if they would prosecute state-determined lines of growing and development. The same could be said of Taiwan. These factors combined with Authoritarian manners of authorities by Chiang Kai-shek in Taiwan and Park Chung-hee in Korea suggests that instead than imputing the success to the benefits of Confucianism, it was a typical state-directed or bid capitalist economy which ab initio introduced from the exterior by US force per unit areas and aid.19

At the same clip Confucianism was invoke by both Chiang Kai-shek and Park Chung-hee as a & # 8216 ; fig foliage for legitimacy & # 8217 ; as the legitimacy of their regulation was a debatable factor in the procedure of societal, political and economic development. Once once more we see the usage of traditional Confucian values called upon by leaders at their convenience in order to asseverate some legitimacy.

Therefore there seem to be two schools of idea with regard to the thought that Confucianism either assistance or impedes economic development of Northeast Asiatic economic systems. The first is the place taken by American based bookmans such as Rodercick MaFarquhar and Tu Wei-ming which suggest that Confucianism has been helpful in Advancing these states economically and as such there is an & # 8220 ; Asian model & # 8221 ; which is an alternate to the West. MaFarquhar points out that & # 8220 ; if Western individuality was appropriate for the pioneering period of industrialisation, possibly post-Confucian Bolshevism is better suited for the age of mass industrialization.14 Tu Wei-ming points to the manner Confucianism can be used to get the better of & # 8220 ; the lacks of capitalist economy in the West & # 8221 ; such as societal division. However Dirlik points out that such accounts chiefly come from the West and largely from the United States such that the most recent re-invention may in fact be and & # 8216 ; American Confucianism & # 8217 ; .15

The other school of though neglects Confucianism as an account for the rapid industrialisation and economic success of East Asiatic Economies stating that establishment builders reinvented Confucianism, raising it to win worker truenesss at a low cost. The world was the outgrowth of & # 8217 ; strong centralist province governments & # 8217 ; or dictatorship in a post-war context. This system of strong province regulative systems was effectual in conveying about a state-induced capitalist economy. As Petras explains the & # 8220 ; the community cooperation and export fight were attributed to Confucianism [ retrospectively ] & # 8230 ; .the important fact is that this societal order came together in a peculiar historical moment- station radical Asia- was forgotten.16 A complete neglect of the influence of Confucian civilization is likely no more appropriate in explicating the success of East Asiatic economic success than imputing it entirely to Confucianism.

A more appropriate account is what Dirlik footings the & # 8220 ; circumstantial map of Confucian values & # 8221 ; , that is, & # 8220 ; Confucianism as a factor that can be a positive force for development when the right set of structural conditions and economic policies are besides present.17 This place fundamentally explains the function of Confucianism and what it has offered Asiatic societies in circumstantial footings such that while Confucianism may non hold been contributing to the outgrowth of capitalist economy, it may play a positive function one time capitalist economy has been introduced from the exterior. This is clearly the instance when observing China & # 8217 ; s failure or Confucianism as a hinderance to development every bit good as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan who capitalist economy was introduced from the exterior. Taiwan has besides developed a useful signifier of Confucianism in the Nipponese line and prospered economically unlike the mainland.

From the above scrutiny it can therefore be said that Confucianism does hold a useful every bit good as a power map. It can be used to heighten the effectivity of capitalist provinces once it has been introduced externally such as Japan has but more frequently it has been re-invented clip and clip once more by leaders of assorted East Asiatic provinces to supply or give legitimacy to whatever agenda they are prosecuting. At the same clip Confucian & # 8220 ; virtuocracy & # 8221 ; and a focal point on the symbolic and position elements of the societal doctrine can be a hinderance for development as has been the instance with China.

Confucianism does hold a positive function to play in the development of East Asian provinces provided is carefully adapted and changed to function a useful intent instead than being an terminal unto itself and smothering societal patterned advance and mobility. More accurately, one must analyze the peculiar context in which Confucianism is called upon to find how effectual it is as a societal policy or political orientation. The key in analyzing this is to find the spread between the political orientation of Confucianism as called upon by a peculiar leader, and the world of its application and usage by society. In China the spread is great and has therefore meant Confucianism has been a hinderance to modernisation. In Japan, the spread is non great and Confucianism serves a constructive function within Nipponese societal and economic dealingss. In Korea and Taiwan the spread is non so great but the context in which each economic system developed and is ensured agencies that Confucianism still plays a useful map in each society.

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4. Clemens W. C. , China: Alternate Futures, ( Communist and Post-communist Surveies 32, 1999 ) .

5. Deyo F. C. , The Political Economy of the New Asian Industrialism, ( Cornell University Press, 1994 ) .

6. Dirlik A. , Confucius in the Borderlands: Global Capitalism and the Reinvention of Confucianism, ( Boundary, 2:22:3, 1995, pp 229-273 )

7. Godement F. , The New Asia Renaissance: From Colonialism to the Post Cold War, ( Routledge London & As ; New York, 1997 ) .

8. Lifton R. J. , Revolutionary Immortality: Mao Tse-Tung and The Chinese Cultural Revolution, ( Pelican Publishing, 1970 ) .

9. Mackerras C. , Knight N ( explosive detection systems ) , Marxism In Asia, ( Croom Helm, London & A ; Sydney, 1985 ) .

10. Mendle Wolf, Japan & # 8217 ; s Asia Policy: Regional, Security, Global Interests, ( Routledge, London, New York, 1995 )

11. Petras J. , The Americanization of Asia: The Rise and Fall of a Civilization, ( Journal of Contemporary Asia, vol.28, No.2, 1998 )

12. Pye L. W. , Asiatic Power and Politicss: The Cultural Dimensions of Authority, ( Harvard University Press, 1985 ) .

13. Yahuda M. , The International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 1945-1995, ( Routledge, 1998 )

14. Zhao B. , Consumerism, Confucianism, Communism: Making Sense of China Today, ( New Left Review No. 69, April-May, 1997 ) .3

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