Saturday, August 13, 2011

Reading Notes, Yi Zhongtian's Limiting Government Power

Confucianism: One of three dominant religions through Chinese culture. The other two are Buddhism and Taoism. Confucianism is formed in the hundreds of years after death of Confucius. Therefore, it is, in many places, different from the original suggestions of Confucius (551-479 BC) himself. Otherwise, it is also known as Ru.

Yi Zhongtian argued, in the court of Chinese dynasties, Confucianism had been the mainstream ideology of officials conduct and state organizations. As the emperor represents the supreme power, one of duty for Confucianism which had been practiced by most intellectuals was to limit and contain that power. However, it had been a loosing battle, as the gravity of control continuously slid from ministers to the emperor through the thousands of years of history.

It is a very interesting read, and very nicely written. Yi, a scholar made known by his interpretation of ancient novel 'Three Kingdoms', certain has solid research to back up popularity performances.

As a by-product of the reading, it is also interesting to find many practice of the communism regime had deep root in the 5000 years of Chinese culture and philosophy studies.

Hanfei (280-233 BC) said, the best strategy is to confine people's mind, the middle approach is to silence people's words, the lowest method is to restrict people's conduct. Making sure people does think out of box is exactly what the Central Propaganda Ministry's functionality. Alas, with the spreading of Internet and technologies such as Google and micro-blog, this had been a mission impossible. Internet censorship and projects like the Great FireWall was the lower alternative to silence people's words. It is only matter of time when they will have to go the lowest approach, to physically constraint people.

Dong Zhongshu (179 - 104 BC) argued, the way it work is: People should sacrifice for their emperor; while the emperor should sacrifice for the ultimate-rule. In other words, the emperor can demand blind loyalty from people; while the emperor also are ready to commit himself on the route to the final happiness. This is exactly what the communism had been using to convince Chinese that they should never question the direction of the Party, because ultimately the Party will fight for their interests.

Chinese intellectuals see the deal as they submit the people (including themselves) to the emperor, while on the other hand, curtail the emperor's power by interpreting the 'Ultimate-rule'. Unfortunately, the chain often failed in the second link. When the emperor asks for loyalty, intellectuals often have no other choice to but to obey, including not to provide interpretations of the 'Ultimate-goal' that is not compatible with the emperor's mind. The dilemma continues to today.

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