Contesting Confucius – Henry Zhao

From New Left Review:

The government’s attitude towards the ‘native philosophy fever’ has been ambiguous. Though its founders were all iconoclasts, the Communist Party has ‘opened up’ since the early 1980s. China has discovered that globalization and international competition work in its favour. In fact, the ccp is now extremely sensitive to hints of economic protectionism and political isolationism on the rise in the United States, Europe and Russia. That is why it is not eager to see China ‘turning inwards’ itself. On the other hand, the government considers nationalist sentiment among the masses to be a unifying force which legitimizes its rule. Since the authorities are sitting on the fence, the ‘fever’ has been, until now, a more or less spontaneous movement among the masses and intellectuals, stoked by a newly found national pride among the populace, but only half-heartedly encouraged by the government. In Chengdu, the city where I have resettled, people gather in tea-houses on Sunday mornings to hear lectures on traditional philosophy, though I doubt they would want to hear ideological admonitions. But the ‘fever’ itself is, beyond doubt, ideological in its agenda, an attempt to fill the vacuum of values in modern-day China. [Full Text]

May 13, 2007 5:17 AM
Posted By:
Categories: Politics