Confucianism and its Influence on China Culture and Politics and on the World at the Whole
Terminological designation of Confucianism as the School of educated people in itself indicates that the ideological system is rich by heritage of many thinkers. Confucianism is a set of teachings and doctrines that have arisen as a result of the transition to a new system of thought, the center of which was not the spirit world, but people. Therefore it is legitimately to say that Confucianism is the offspring and the embodiment of all spiritual experience of an earlier national civilization.
Confucianism is the doctrine touching ethical and political issues that emerged in ancient period of history of China and has a huge impact on the process of change and development of spiritual culture, political and social system in China for over two thousand years. Foundations were laid in Confucianism in 6 B.C. by Confucius, later they were developed by his followers Mencius, Xun Zi, etc. From the very inception Confucianism, expressing the interests of the class in power (aristocracy by inheritance), was an active participant in the social and political struggle. It called for the reinforcement of the social fabric and the existing forms of government by strong maintenance of the traditions of ancient times, idealized by Confucianism, and certain principles of human relations in the family and society. Confucianism was considered a universal law of justice, legitimate and justified the availability of the exploiters and the exploited, in its terminology – people of mental and physical labor, and the first rule, and the second obey them and maintain them with their work. In ancient China, there were different directions, the struggle was waged between them, which was a reflection of the hot social and political struggle between different social forces of the time. In this regard, there are conflicting interpretations of the Confucian thinkers of main problems of Confucianism (the concept of “heaven” and its essence, the human nature, the relationship with the ethical principles of the law and so on).
In Confucianism there are main questions of morality, ethics, and government. The basic principle of Confucian ethics is the term of ren (“humanity”) as the supreme law of human relations in society and the family. Ren is reached by moral self-respect based on whether (“etiquette”) – rules of behavior based on respect for elders and the situation, honoring parents, devotion sovereign, courtesy, etc. In accordance with Confucianism, jen can be comprehend only by selected people, so called. chun tzu (“noble men”), that is, members of the upper strata of society, as commoners – xiao ren (literally – “small potatoes”) are not able to comprehend jen. This juxtaposition of the “noble” commoners and claim the seniority of the first over the second, is often found in Confucius and its followers – a keen expression of social orientation, the Confucianism class character.
Confucianism has paid great attention to the so-called humane management, based on the idea of deification of a ruler that was available before Confucianism, but they are developed and justified. The Emperor was declared “son of heaven” (tyantszy), who ruled at the behest of the sky and do His will. Recognized the power of the regent Confucianism sacred bestowed from above, heaven. Considering that the “to manage – means to correct”, Confucianism attached great importance to the teaching of Zheng min (the “rectification of names”), which called for all in the community to put in place, firmly and accurately determine the responsibilities of each, which was expressed by Confucius’ words: “The Emperor should be sovereign, subject – a subject, the father – the father, son – a son” (Yao). Confucianism called the rulers to rule the people not on the basis of laws and penalties, but by virtue, an example of high moral behavior through the common law, not to put heavy taxes and duties on people. One of the most prominent followers of Confucius – Mencius (4-3 cc. B.C.) In their statements even admit the idea that people have the right to overthrow the cruel ruler of an uprising. This idea is ultimately determined by the complexity of the social and political conditions, the presence of strong survivals of primitive community of intense class struggle and strife between the China’s kingdoms. In such circumstances, in Confucianism, directed on strengthening the existing social system, sometimes tolerated individual regents criticism was allowed, with contrasting them “wise” and “virtuous” rulers remote times (ie, tribal chiefs) – Yao, Shun, Wen Wang and others. In this connection is preaching of Confucianism social utopia of a society da tong (“Great Unity”), the “golden age” in the history of China, during which allegedly had no wars and strife, there were human equality and genuine concern for people (Chan).
Further Confucianism was subsequently expanded, borrowing many of the peculiarities of another ancient Chinese ideologies, particularly Legalism, which is an evident necessity in creating a centralized Han Empire, which was required to manage a flexible and branched administrative apparatus. There was a possibility that it will be headed by Confucians, who owned a science-based management of paternalism, traditions and mastered legist management practices based on the laws and punishments. Reformed Confucianism Han, one of the main representatives of which was Tung Chung-shu (2. BC. E.), which combined with the natural philosophy of Confucian ethics and cosmological views of Taoism and the natural philosophers’ teaching (yin-yang-jia), has strengthened its position in the society centralized despotism. In 136 B.C. under Emperor Wu it was declared the official doctrine and then remained the dominant ideology for over two thousand years (before the bourgeois Xinhai Revolution of 1911), supporting the existence of a feudal-absolutist despotic power. Confucianism strengthened religious, mystical and reactionary features. In the foreground position of the sky as predetermining divine power, the person on the will of heaven, the divine origin of the sovereign power – the “son of heaven” sovereign citizen of loyalty, of the rule of the “son of heaven” above all nations of the universe. Thus, Confucianism as the dominant ideology, was preaching the cult of the emperor over the centuries as a performer of “will of heaven”, imposed a fanatical devotion among the people to the “son of heaven”. Confucianism as an ethical, political, and religious teching, doctrine, a system that touches all spheres of social life, and for centuries defined the standards of ethics, moral behavior, social traditions, family life and family traditions, and, scientific and philosophical thought, preventing their further development and developing certain patterns in the minds of the people, especially among the representatives of intelligentsia. Confucianism further was strengthened by the bitter fight with Buddhism in the 7-8 centuries. Large role in this belonged to the famous writer and philosopher Han Yuyu (768-824), harshly criticized Buddhism and Confucianism in defense (Eber).
New stage of development of Confucianism refers to the Sung (960-1279) and is associated with Zhu Xi (1130-1200) – a famous scholar, historian, linguist and philosopher who is the creator of renewed Confucianism. Neo-Confucianism took over and kept the main principles of earlier Confucianism, its reactionary position on the inviolability of the order in the society, the natural feature of the division of people into classes – higher class and lower class, noble and ignoble, the primacy of the universe ruler – “heaven’ son”. It can be said that Neo-Confucianism serviced the higher ruling class and officially was recognized by the ruling ideology (orthodox), which until modern times shackled and hampered the process of the socio-political and philosophical thoughts development, hindered the progress of technology and science, contributed to China’s isolation from European culture and science and its advanced scientific thought, which was one of the factors behind the relative retardation of China in modern times. The same sinificance as in China, neo-Confucianism had in Japan, Korea and Vietnam (De Bary).
Bourgeois reformer Kang Yu-wei and in future – followers of him, in the late 19th – early 20th centuries made an attempt (that was unsuccessful), to make Confucianism more up-to-date, which increasingly came into conflict with the changing in the process of capitalist relations in the country development, the conditions of social existence. During the movement “May 4” 1919, when along with the socio-political struggle demands were made of occupation the place of the old outdated culture by a new, democratic and more advanced, Confucianism has been hit hard. Nevertheless, after that it had the same significance in the social processes in China. When it was the period of rule of Chiang Kai-shek Kuomintang (1927-49), the ideology based on Confucianism serviced to the Kuomintang reaction. Even when the PRC was established, the Confucianism continues to make some effect on certain stratum, contributing to the spread of the cult of personality and the revival of Sinocentrism and nationalism (Chaibong).
Is Confucianism a religion? In concrete terms the Chinese Empire Confucianism played the role of the main religion, fulfilled the functions of the official state ideology. Advanced by it to the forefront and carefully cultivated social ethics, with its focus on the moral improvement of the individual within the corporation and within strictly defined hallowed antiquity authority rule was essentially the equivalent of the blind and painted mysticism, sometimes ecstasy of faith, which is in the base of other religions. This change was a logical, natural, it is in China, where the rational principle in ancient times to push aside emotion and mystery, the supreme deity was considered a strict and focused on virtue, and where in the sky as a great prophet spoke not religious teacher, prone to visions and revelations (whether Jesus, Moses, Mohammed or Buddha), and the sage and moralist Confucius (Yu).
Not being a religion in the full sense, Confucianism became more than just a religion. Confucianism – it is also a policy and administrative system, and supreme control of economic and social processes – in short, the basis of the Chinese way of life, the organizing principle of the Chinese society, the quintessence of Chinese civilization. In a sense we can say that it is due to Confucianism, with all its ancient cult of conservatism and the Chinese state and society do not only existed for over two thousand years in almost unchanged form, but also has become a huge force of conservative inertia that the revolutionary XX century put an end to Confucianism as the official ideology and actively debunk this doctrine, it is far from winning the right to consider themselves all back to Confucianism, and eating its juices conservative traditions.
Undertaken by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) for decades trying to destroy Confucianism, now replaced by the desire of the ruling party in China to use the Confucian ideas in the ideological and propaganda purposes, making them popular slogans. Today there are also active efforts to create a positive image of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the world through the organization of so-called “Confucius Institute” in universities in different countries. But the selective adoption of Confucian ideas, above all, to justify nationalism, can seriously affect the freedom of religion. Use of Confucianism as a political tool will have negative consequences for the faithful of the “new religions” such as Christianity, and religious trends that are identified with political separatism, such as Uighur Islam and Tibetan Buddhism. Government intervention and control in the life of religious communities has led to the fact that their basic doctrinal principles are often violated and followers of Confucianism also faced with the same phenomenon. Priority for the government is still holding power and maintain social stability, and it would be wise to use in this context, some Confucian ideas (Doh Chull Shin).
In recent years, Confucianism increasingly returned to the life of the Chinese society. After decades of trying to destroy the Confucian ideology and its institutions, even the Communist party-state is trying to use the Confucian idea of a political propaganda. Among the Chinese is also growing interest in the use of Confucian ideas for solving social problems.
In modern China, Confucianism became powerful political ideologeme, speaking of “Confucian cultural region”, the Chinese associate a single civilizational unit China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam and other countries. There was even a special type of “Confucian businessmen” (Zhu Shan) that seek to do business on the basis of the traditional rules of Confucian morality and fund a number of Confucian schools and educational institutions in southern China and Hong Kong (Jensen)).
Especially social and intellectual relations, standards of behavior, which was influenced by Confucianism and now are existing in China, can be summarized to the following main characteristics.
First, the emphasis on duty, obligation, not on human rights. There is the whole range of inter-related with each other traditions that provide the activities of all members of the community, the community as part of routine tasks and share in this regard just as much responsibility and reward.
Secondly, the emphasis on management by human factors or virtue, rather than the law, which allows to increase the harmony and unity within the community, at the same time emphasizes the role of ritual and etiquette, there is a tendency to provide competition, competition between individuals within the established rules of etiquette and ceremonies that allows to save social cohesion.
Third, a strong emphasis on strict, even rigid adversarial principles of education that provide a lifetime of high quality in all and allow representatives of the bureaucracy to be always the winners in any intellectual contest.
Fourth, a strong sense of connection between past and present, which helps the understanding of historical time and long-term commitment needed to achieve success in the institutional and similar fields. This strongly contrasts with the apparent in the Western tradition emphasis on short-term effects associated with the monetary relations between people.
Fifth, the more important in the hierarchy of values is belonging to a human society, the community, than the possession of the ownership or property. Therefore, the economic power is in the hands of people who follow the moral code, but at the same time good understanding economic reality.
Sixth, a significant number of logical and rationalistic elements in Chinese thought is balanced by intuitive and emotional moments.
Seventh, a strong awareness of the fact that reality has changing nature, and characterizing its polar opposites are rather on the interaction than conflict.
Eighth, an excellent understanding of the role of trade, technology, and science and awareness of the problems that exist between innovation, due to the development of the economy and the state of the environment. In this regard, a great interest has been shown not to a “breakthrough” in the field of science, and to the possibility of “fusion” of different technologies that better meets the interests of the society, the community.
Ninth, a strong instinct to institutional pragmatism and innovation in response to emerging issues. This is reflected in the authority and responsibility of officials to govern society in a manner unthinkable for non-Confucian communities.
Tenth, a deep concern about the “spiritual pollution”, associated with Westernization and individualism. The desire to avoid this evil, which is identified with the crime, as it can weaken and damage the community by the community (Hall & Ames).
According to proponents of this trend, being the quintessence of traditional Chinese culture, Confucianism can play the role of the driving force of China’s modernization, renovation, become a spiritual force in Chinese society. However, Confucianism – is not a closed system. To serve the cause of modernization, it must accept certain elements of Western culture. Speaking of these elements many usually are referring to the “science” and “democracy”. Their “assimilation” is the content of the modernization of Confucianism, without which it is not able to play its historic role in the modern world.
The Chinese believe that in traditional Chinese culture, there is a “rich content” that can be borrowed.
It is no exaggeration to say that Confucianism is the spiritual component of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the process connections of Chinese Marxism with Confucianism is going on (Doh Chull Shin).
Some of the fundamental principles of Confucianism (jen, he, de, etc.) are important not only for China but also for the world community as a whole, because they play an integrative role in the development of the global society. Modern China offers a way to build foreign relations, which is based on the socio-political collectivism, peace, friendship and harmony among nations. This can lead to the solution of urgent problems and overcome global challenges facing the world today.
At present, when on the planet different conflicts and crises continuously aggravated, in the teachings of Confucianism not only China has a need, but the whole world. Such a consensus reached by scientists from 22 countries and regions gathered in the hometown of the ancient Chinese sage Confucius, Qufu (prov. Shandong, eastern China) to participate in the World Congress of Confucianism in 2008.
In modern society, Confucianism should not only serve as the spiritual guidance of the Chinese nation, but also to play a decent role in promoting peace in the world, raising the moral qualities of humanity, diversity and common prosperity of the world culture and equality of world religious directions (Bell & Chaibong).
Confucianism has become increasingly popular in the world, becoming one of the important symbols of Oriental culture in the treasury of world history and culture. As on the way to a new international order there are more economic challenges, more and more louder is the call for a harmonious world community based on thousands of years of proven value. Confucian ideology is already having a significant impact on the global market functioning.
Outside China, Confucianism has a particular impact on the country called the Asia-Pacific area: Japan, Korea, Vietnam and Singapore. As an alternative to western individualism, China proposes the way of development of foreign relations, based on the socio-political collectivism, which implies peace, friendship and harmony among nations. It is this mutually beneficial and mutually enriching cooperation can lead to the solution of priorities and global challenges facing by the world community. Confucian ideology has a positive impact on the future development of the entire world society.