Sungmoon Kim’s new book, Confucian Democracy in East Asia: Theory and Practice has just been published by Cambridge University Press. According to my blurb on the back of the book:
Confucianism is neither ready-made for democracy nor inalterably opposed to it. As Sungmoon Kim shows in this important book, however, a Confucianism worth defending in the complex, multicultural East Asia of today both can and must incorporate a robust form of democracy. Kim deploys a wealth of careful arguments that draw from classical Confucianism, a wide range of Western political theorists, and the distinctive political culture of modern Korea. The result is a rich and provocative work that successfully bridges theory and practice. Anyone interested in the future possibilities for democracy and for Confucianism – whether conjoined or not – will have to take this book seriously.
Cambridge is offering a 20% discount to readers of this blog, though Amazon has the book discounted as well, and may be less expensive (depending on shipping options). In any event, congratulations, Sungmoon!
“Conceptions of Democracy on Taiwan and the Chinese Mainland”
Professor David Lorenzo, College of International Affairs, Chengchi National University, Taiwan and author of Concepts of Chinese Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013).
Tuesday, February 4, 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Eilts Room, Department of International Relations | 154 Bay State Road, 2nd Floor
Boston University Center for the Study of Asia (BUCSA)
China Policy is an impressive commercial website that has been sending me teasers…and the most recent one contains a bit I thought I’d share: a fascinating essay by a contemporary Chinese political theorist critiquing the idea that China ought to pursue a form of “new authoritarianism” that will lead ultimately to democracy. Instead, says Rong Jian, it may well lead to fascism. I think this link will take you to the page with the essay.
Meritocratic Ruists make two basic claims: first, that meritocracy is more historically faithful to Ruist tradition, and second, that it makes for a more effective government. In particular, it can avoid the problems of democracy, among which the ignorance and short-sightedness of voters are prominent. The claim goes that since voters generally understand the issues poorly and are unwilling to sacrifice their immediate interests for future gains, democracies make bad decisions. Without getting into whether these criticisms are accurate for the moment, I’m curious what people think of this line of argument against democracy. If it were true that democracy inevitably has such problems and there were good reason to think meritocracy would do better, would you support meritocracy?
Continue reading →
Please see this site for more information, and a call for papers, concerning a conference to be held this summer in Japan on Human Development in Asia.
The essay “Reassessing Chinese Society’s ‘Rigid Stability’: Stability Preservation Through Pressure, Its Predicament and the Way Out,” by Chinese scholar Yu Jiangrong, introduced and translated at the China Story website, is well-worth a read.
This post proposes a book project, for anyone who wants it.
Two kinds of serious conversation
By “serious” conversations I mean conversations that work toward knowledge (at least for one party), or good decision (at least by one party), or designing something complex.
The serious conversations glimpsed in the Analects are mainly between a master and student. The Mencius is more concerned with how an adept should counsel a king. 1A7 looks like a handbook for that.
These two kinds of conversation get their shape and point from inequalities: unequal wisdom and unequal power. Between master and student, one side has the wisdom and the power. Between counselor and king, one side has the wisdom and the other has the power. The point of both conversations, as understood by all parties, is to transmit some wisdom from the wiser party to the other — within constraints imposed by the powerful party, such as limited time.
One could do a study of these two forms of conversation in Confucian literature: the varieties of each and the guidance on how to do them well. That’s not my main proposal here.
Is it fair to say that when early Confucianism thought about serious conversation, these two are the main kinds it thought about?
The Western tradition saliently values another kind of conversation, aiming more at discovering or creating than transmitting. Continue reading →
Jiang Qing and Daniel Bell’s op-ed in the New York Times attracted a great deal of interest. Bell published another op-ed in the Christian Science Monitor a couple of days ago on the broader subject of meritocracy. This can illustrate how he differs from Jiang. I’m assuming he didn’t choose the headline (“What America’s flawed democracy could learn from China’s one-party rule”). The comments are also quite interesting.
Jiang Qing and Daniel Bell have written an Op-Ed piece in today’s New York Times that may be of interest.
I’ve been giving some thought to this topic quite a bit, most recently spurred on by a response to an article by Daniel Bell that I’m writing for a Chinese journal. I won’t go into Bell’s argument in any detail, but I find significantly greater restrictions on speech accepted and even advocated by classical Ruists than in liberalism. On certain topics (criticizing the ruler/government) certain people (Ruists, or maybe the elite more generally) should speak out, though even here historically Ruists have generally accepted that they might be punished for doing so. On other topics, particularly those that might threaten social harmony and stability, they seem quite willing to ban certain kinds of expression. Continue reading →