Jiang Qing and Fundamentalism

booksA couple of years ago, we had some discussion on this blog of the idea of Confucian “fundamentalism,” sparked by comments of Peng Guoxiang, in response to criticism from some Confucians of plans for a large church in Qufu, near the ancestral home of the Kong family (Confucius’s family). (See also the discussion of Ralph Weber’s later post, as well.) At that time, some commentators on the blog said that they felt “fundamentalism” was inapt. Prompted by having to write a review of Jiang Qing’s A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future (Princeton, 2013), I would like to revisit this general question, being more specific both about what “fundamentalism” means and about the target of my analysis: not the broad group of signers of earlier petitions, but specifically Jiang Qing as he represents himself in this new book.

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Malik on Confucianism and Communism

Friend of the blog Patrick O’Donnell suggested that Warp, Weft, and Way readers might enjoy this posting by Kenan Malik on the intertwining of Confucianism and Communism in the last hundren years in China. Malik writes that:

What had been a surreptitious nod towards Confucian ideology in Maoist China, became after Mao an open embrace, as China opened itself up to competition and the market, and hence also potentially to greater social dislocation and disorder. The quicker has been the pace of economic reform over the past three decades, the greater has been the desire of the Chinese government to proclaim its commitment to Confucianism…. Alongside the government’s new-found admiration for Kongzi, there has emerged a new cadre of Confucian academics. Many work independently of the state, and many have found themselves at times in conflict with the state.  Nevertheless, the academic renovation of Confucianism and the state’s embrace of Kongzi have become closely intertwined.

Malik ends with some discussion of Jiang Qing, whom he calls “perhaps the most important of the new generation of Confucian philosophers.” I have just finished writing a review of Jiang Qing’s new book in English, A Confucian Constitutional Order, and plan on publishing an excerpt or two here soon. In the meantime, any comments on Malik’s ideas or on Jiang Qing would be welcome.

Weber, The Politics of Confucian Political Philosophy

In this guest post, Ralph Weber of the University of Zurich shares with us his English translation of an opinion piece just published in Germany (as “Politik, Konfuzianismus und konfuzianische politische Philosophie in der VR China heute.” In: Widerspruch – Münchner Zeitschrift für Philosophie, Nr. 56, 2013.) Please direct comments to Dr. Weber.

The Politics of ‘Confucian Political Philosophy’

Ralph Weber, University of Zurich


In the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Confucius, the Master, is “standing tall” again, as a People’s Daily headline put it (13 January 2011), referring to a ten meter bronze statue which since January was standing right next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing, before it was dislocated to a less prominent spot in April 2011 for reasons as yet unknown.[1] Not to be mistaken, the statue was not the latest version of the Goddess of Democracy, which students had erected in June 1989 as a symbol of protest and reform. The Confucius statue was not erected against the Chinese government; it had been put there with official endorsement – something that only decades ago would have been unthinkable – and surely it was also dislocated again with official endorsement. The short but prominent appearance of the Confucius statue at one of the most symbolic places in all of China showcases the wavering attitude of the Chinese government on what to do with Confucianism and perhaps reveals once more how split the government is in terms of doctrine and ideology.

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New Books on the Revival of Confucianism

Some intriguing new books have been published in a new series featuring essays by many of the leading voices calling for a revival of Confucianism—people like Jiang Qing, Kang Xiaoguang, Chen Ming, and so on. See below for some information  on the volumes in the series that have been published in 2012. (For some further information, see this website.)

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Billioud on the "Confucian Revival"

Several of us have written a bit on the blog about manifestations of the “Confucian revival” underway in China. I want to call readers’ attention to an excellent recent article by Sébastien Billioud of the University of Paris, published in Oriens Extremus 49 (2010), called “Carrying the Confucian Torch to the Masses: The Challenge of Structuring the Confucian Revival in the People’s Republic of China” Here is an except from the first paragraph: Continue reading

Must Ruists practice what they philosophize about?

For my first post here, I’d like to invite opinions on a contemporary issue. I’ve been coming across a common critique of contemporary Ruism and I’m curious what people think about it. As a preface, let me say that I’m close to giving up on various permutations of “Confucian” and “Confucianism,” so I hope you’ll all bear with my use of “Ruism” and “Ruist” instead.

The critique, which is generally directed against New Ruists, particularly Mou Zongsan, is something like this: the essence of Ruism is a social practice which aims not at developing theories, but realizing the Way in society. Making it into an object of academic study, so that it becomes an isolated practice of theorizing, is a mistake. The 20th century turn of making Ruism into a kind of philosophy and carrying out philosophical research in philosophy departments is emblematic of this mistake. Since Mou Zongsan is often considered the arch-theorist of New Ruism, he tends to get the brunt of this criticism. Continue reading