Libmonster ID: SE-321
Author(s) of the publication: V. G. BUROV


Doctor of Philosophy

China Keywords: Confucianismtradition and modernizationmodern Chinese ideology

The spiritual and ideological life of Chinese society has undergone and continues to undergo major changes in recent decades. The country is undergoing a gradual process of reviving the cult of Confucius and related ethical norms.

The strategic course of the Chinese leadership is to build socialism with Chinese characteristics. Naturally, therefore, over the past thirty-odd years, the main focus has been on the development of the economy. However, along with the obvious achievements in the modernization process, serious problems have emerged, including in the social and spiritual spheres.

This forced the Chinese leadership to look for ways to solve them. It cannot be said that this was not done before, almost 20 years ago a formula was put forward about two civilizations - material (i.e., economic) and spiritual, and even special offices were created in the center and in the field dealing with the spiritual component of socialism. However, as life has shown, this was clearly not enough.

Therefore, there was a need to turn to national spiritual traditions, to Confucianism as a fairly coherent system of ethical principles of relations between people, society and nature, as well as interstate relations, which has developed over the centuries.


For many centuries, China had an imperial system, which was then replaced by an authoritarian republican regime. When the Communists came to power, the ruling stratum changed, but authoritarianism remained.

In traditional China, ideas were cultivated that proceeded from the unconditional priority of the collective over the individual and denied the latter's right to autonomous existence. The consciousness of the masses was of a social-collectivist nature. A member of Chinese society is used to feeling like a grain of sand in the ocean of everyday storms, so he simply could not imagine himself outside of home, family, team, community.

We should also take into account the enormous impact of Confucianism stereotypes on the minds of millions of Chinese. This teaching played a huge role in shaping the Chinese way of life, from social institutions to family relationships. The cult of the Confucian tradition, founded in the Han era (III century BC-II century AD) and renewed during the Song Dynasty (XI-XII centuries), became the alpha and omega of all Chinese culture, the main basic element of cultural and, accordingly, political and philosophical heritage.

The principles of Confucian ethical and political doctrine played a decisive role in shaping the worldview of every member of Chinese society - not only the intellectual, but also the ordinary peasant. Every Chinese, willingly or unwittingly,-

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he measured his actions and thoughts according to the precepts of Confucianism. Therefore, we can say that every Chinese was and still is, in a certain sense, a Confucian.

The principles of the ethical and political doctrine of Confucianism, in short, consisted of various kinds of cults.

This is the cult of the father and the elders in the family, the cult of the family and clan, the cult of officials-scientists, which ultimately turns into the cult of the emperor's power coming from Heaven, the cult of elders in general by age and social status, adherence to conservatism and traditions.

For many centuries, Chinese society has been a paternalistic society, which easily explains the authoritarian nature of power in China. The Emperor, being the viceroy of Heaven, acted as the Father of his subjects, so disobedience to his regulations was not allowed and was severely punished. Confucianism could not but influence the formation of the worldview of the first leaders of the Communist Party of China, because they all received an ordinary Chinese upbringing.

Confucianism permeated the entire system of political relations of Chinese society, including the relations of the emperor and his court, the emperor and his subjects.

Under the influence of Confucianism, the foreign policy doctrine of the Chinese state was also built. When solving all domestic and foreign policy issues, Confucian ideas of unconditional subordination of all members of society to the highest interests of the state, which, as a rule, were expressed by the emperor, were explicitly or implicitly present. This is exactly what the hierarchy of Confucian values demanded.

From the point of view of modern ideas about political democracy, such an order of things seems to infringe on the rights of an individual.

However, in the context of the development of society in China in antiquity and the Middle Ages, such an order made it possible to make adequate political decisions at the right time. It should not be assumed that such decisions were made exclusively and solely by the emperor, and not only ministers, but also Confucian officials who served at the court participated in its decision-making. This tradition was established under Confucius, who carried out assignments as a representative of individual kingdoms. Let's add to this that the officials themselves were Confucian-educated people, because in order to become an official, you had to get the appropriate education.

According to many researchers, the features of social and intellectual relations, norms of behavior that were formed under the influence of Confucianism and now exist in China, in an idealized form, can be reduced to the following main characteristics.

First of all, the emphasis is on duty, duties, and not on human rights. At the same time, there is a whole complex of interrelated traditions that ensure the activity of all members of the community, the community within the framework of certain duties and share both responsibility and reward in this regard.

In governance, preference is given not to laws, but to the human factor, or "virtue", which is believed to increase harmony and cohesion within society.

Chinese people are characterized by a strong sense of connection between the past and the present, which, in their opinion, helps to have a deep understanding of historical time and the long-term tasks necessary to achieve success. This approach is contrasted with the emphasis in the Western tradition on the short-term effect associated with monetary relations between people.

Belonging to a human community or community is more important in the hierarchy of values than owning property or possessions. Therefore, economic power should be in the hands of people who follow moral standards, but at the same time have a good understanding of the economy.

There is widespread concern about the" spiritual contamination " associated with Westernization and individualism, and the desire to avoid this evil, which can harm the human community.

At the same time, it should be borne in mind that Confucianism is not a religion in the generally accepted sense of the word. Suffice it to say that hardly every Chinese city has a Confucius temple, or rather, most of them do not - there is only one such temple in Beijing, and there is also one in Shanghai and Guangzhou, and on their very outskirts. In addition, it does not have a special caste of priests.

This is an ethical and political teaching that defines the behavior and standards of thinking of Chinese people. Therefore, there is no need to build temples for it. Their absence does not indicate a lack of respect for the teachings of Confucius and for himself. For the main thing is not in

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Rather, it's about measuring your actions and thoughts against it. To live as Confucius taught-this and nothing else is true to his commandments. Until the beginning of the 20th century, he retained the status of a holy sage, the spiritual leader of the nation.


In the first decades of the twentieth century, during the so-called "new culture movement", many of its representatives sharply criticized Confucianism, seeing it as a brake on the renewal of Chinese society.

At the same time, this position was held by both liberals and Marxists. For example, the prominent Westerner Hu Shi argued that there is nothing in traditional Chinese teachings, including Confucianism, that can be used to create a modern culture of the country. And one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, Li Dazhao, wrote the following: "Confucian ideas do not represent an eternal, unchangeable truth. Confucius and his followers are the thinkers of a certain era, and in no case can they be teachers for all times." In his opinion, Confucianism has ceased to correspond to modern Chinese life.

In those years, many representatives of the Chinese intelligentsia accused Confucianism of suppressing the individual, of turning a person into a slave to useless traditional conventions. Moreover, some of them called Confucian morality "cannibalistic".

After the Communists came to power, for three decades there was a negative attitude towards Confucianism in China, during the so-called "cultural revolution" it was declared "feudal trash". The situation changed dramatically only after the country's transition to a" policy of reform and openness " in 1979.

This was due to the spread of the ideas of "modern new Confucianism"in the circles of the Chinese intelligentsia.

In 1958, four scientists living outside of mainland China - Mou Zongsan, Xu Fuguang, Zhang Junmai, and Tang Junyi-issued a joint statement that can be translated literally as " Manifesto-warning to the world community about Chinese culture." Chinese historiography dates this year to the emergence of"modern new Confucianism." In fact, the aforementioned document re-raised the issues that had already been discussed earlier - the crisis of Chinese culture and ways to overcome it.

Representatives of the" modern new Confucianism " saw the source of overcoming the crisis in the revival of national spiritual values. They have repeatedly stressed that when studying Chinese culture, it is necessary to show respect for it. This will allow you to see the special spirituality inherent in Chinese cultural and philosophical traditions, coming from Confucius and his follower Meng-tzu.

Unlike many of their predecessors, they saw the presence in Chinese civilization of all those elements that are present in the Western one, although expressed in a different form. They did not, for example, oppose democracy and science to Chinese culture.

The Manifesto stated :" We recognize that in the cultural history of China, there was no democratic system and science that existed in Europe in Modern times, as well as various technologies, as a result of which genuine modern industrialization could not be carried out in China. However, we cannot admit that there were no elements of democratic ideas in Chinese cultural ideology, nor can we deny that the internal demands of political development require a certain amount of political freedom.

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vali of establishing a democratic system. Nor can we admit that Chinese culture was anti-scientific in nature and was aimed at neglecting science and technology " (emphasis added by us - V. B.).1

In support of their point of view, the authors of the Manifesto referred to the characteristic requirement of Confucianism for the ethical justification of political actions and activities.

In the 1980s, proponents of" modern new Confucianism " also appeared among scholars in the People's Republic of China. Gradually, the attitude of official circles towards cultural heritage began to change. If before that Confucianism was rejected as an integral element of Chinese culture, moreover, it was declared a brake on China's social development, now the role of cultural traditions in building a socialist society is beginning to be emphasized.

Moreover, we can say that the 80s and the first half of the 90s were marked by the widespread views of representatives of the "modern new Confucianism". It was a kind of ideological boom. This trend continues today.

According to the proponents of this trend, Confucianism, being the quintessence of traditional Chinese culture, can play the role of a driving force for China's modernization and become a spiritual stimulus for the renewal of Chinese society.

Modern "renovationists" believe that Confucianism should not be considered as an ordinary philosophical teaching or scientific theory. It is nothing more than a storehouse of universal truths that are true in all circumstances and in all social systems. Acting as a moral philosophy, Confucian teaching educates people in the spirit of high moral ideals, makes them morally perfect, aware of their social purpose, their professional and family duty.

According to Chinese scholars, traditional Chinese culture has a "rich content" that can be borrowed.

In particular, they highlight the spirit of perseverance, willingness to fight hard to achieve goals. In China, everyday life, with its worries and difficulties, has always come first. As Confucius used to say, "A noble person perseveres without getting tired," he also wrote the words " If you don't know life, how can you know death?" In other words, Confucian philosophy called for self-reliance, not to believe in prejudice. It fostered the desire to wage a resolute, unyielding struggle against all the dangers that threaten nature and society. Confucianism has always placed the highest priority on practice, action, and not on abstract speculation.

It is emphasized that for Chinese thinkers, respect for the spiritual life of a person, his inner world, and moral self-improvement was important. Mencius said that " spiritual perfection is beautiful." Therefore, all kinds of "base inclinations" were condemned, for example, money-grabbing, thirst for enrichment, etc.

Chinese "renovators" note that from time immemorial, Chinese society has been characterized by patriotism ("Prosperity and death of the Celestial Empire depend on people"), the desire for truth, truth ("After learning the truth in the morning, you can die in peace in the evening"), the spirit of unity and mutual assistance, respect for the old and care for children. And the humane approach of Confucianism to human relations means that this principle is also applicable to the management of society and the settlement of international problems.

According to Chinese scientists, it is impossible to contrast traditional culture and modernization. Figuratively speaking, traditional culture is not dead, but living water.

The culture gradually undergoes changes, as a result of which its individual elements are updated. Traditional culture is based on the connection of times-past, present and future. To view development as anti-traditionalism is incorrect, since any modernization begins with a traditional culture; otherwise, it is as if water has no source and a tree has no root. One of the Chinese scientists spoke about the danger of such an approach, and the famous English philosopher and sociologist K. K. warned at one time. Popper, according to whom the destruction of traditions entails the disappearance of the very civilization to which they belong.

Confucianism is not a closed system. To serve the cause of modernization, it must embrace certain elements of Western culture, which in China usually means " science "and"democracy." Their "assimilation" is the content of the modernization of Confucianism itself, without which it cannot play its historical role in the modern world.


Over the past 20-plus years, Chinese and international conferences on various aspects of Confucian teaching have been regularly held in various cities of China, and, as a rule, the discussion focuses on issues related to the modern sound of Confucianism, in other words, whether its principles retain their vitality, whether it is possible to use the postulates of Confucius today. In fact, the theme "Modernization and Confucianism"is the leitmotif of all discussions.

In 1989, under the unofficial patronage of the country's leadership, the 1st national-scale international conference on the contemporary role of Confucian teaching was held in connection with the 2540th anniversary of the birth of its founder.

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Since then, such conferences have been held every five years, and in 2009, the 5th such conference was held in September.

The conference is organized by the company established in 1989. International Confucian Association. These conferences are usually attended by several hundred scientists from different countries of the world, including Russia. The conference participants are usually met by one of the country's leaders. (As a member of the Association's Executive Committee, I was able to attend two such meetings with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.)

Gradually, awareness of the important role of Confucianism as a spiritual component of modernizing Chinese society begins to penetrate the minds of the political elite, the party leadership, and those responsible for making decisions on ideological issues at both local, regional, and central levels.

The descendants of Confucius enjoy universal veneration and respect in China, they receive special support from the government, some of them are elected to the United front advisory bodies, and there are special memorial complexes associated with the life and work of Confucius and his descendants. First of all, this concerns the homeland of Confucius-the city of Qufu in the prov. Shandong, where he was born and where his grave is located. Second place-Quzhou city in prov. Zhejiang, where the descendants of Confucius moved to escape foreigners in the twelfth century. Both Qufu and Quzhou honor the memory of Confucius.

And this is not just evidence of historical memory. Using the example of Confucius ' heritage, local leaders seek to influence the minds and consciousness of their citizens, introducing them to national spiritual values.

In 2006, 2008, and 2010, I participated in celebrations held by the Quzhou City Party Committee and government to celebrate the birth of Confucius.

On September 28, 2010 - the birthday of Confucius-the ceremony was held solemnly in his temple. The ceremony itself, which was attended by over 800 people, was opened by the Deputy mayor of the city. Then, on behalf of the teachers of one of the best secondary schools in the city, flowers and gifts were laid at the bust of Confucius. The deputy mayor laid flowers and a gift of wine at the bust and recited the poem "Adoration of Confucius". After that, 36 students dressed in traditional costumes (red and yellow) read excerpts from the famous Confucian canon Lunyu (Conversations and Reflections), containing the sayings of Confucius himself. At the end of the ceremony, all participants (including the author of this article) sang the" Song of Great Unity " (datong), which is an excerpt from the famous classic book by Li ji. The music for this song was composed by Kun Xiangkai, the 75th descendant of Confucius, who was standing next to the deputy mayor in the center of the temple during the ceremony.

The passage about the "Great Unity" deserves to be quoted in its entirety:

When the Great Tao was realized, the Celestial Empire belonged to all. Wise and capable people were chosen to govern the Middle Kingdom. Trust and friendliness reigned between the people. Therefore, people considered not only their parents to be close to them, and they did not treat their children alone in a fatherly way. The elderly were able to live out their lives in peace, adults found use for their abilities, and minors were able to grow up in peace. All the lonely, widows, orphans, childless, crippled, and sick were cared for; men did their duty, women had their independence; wealth was not wasted, nor was it accumulated by individuals; people's abilities were fully utilized and did not serve the benefit of individuals. Then there was no treachery, lies, intrigues, there were no robberies, thefts, troubles, and people did not lock their doors when they left home. It was a society of great unity.

As this passage makes clear, the highest principle of Datong society is "The celestial empire belongs to all." Equal participation in the distribution of the social product, the participation of all citizens in government, the establishment of relations of benevolence and mutual assistance between members of society, the provision of opportunities for each person to develop their abilities, the care of the elderly and the sick, the provision of equal rights for women - these were the main parameters of the society of "great unity", which".

This is the humanistic ideal of the social order drawn from the treasury of ancient Chinese sages.


In recent years, the top Chinese leadership has also turned to the theoretical legacy of Confucius. In October 2006, at the Plenum of the CPC Central Committee, "social harmony" was defined as

Tao (Chinese - path) - in Confucianism - the path of a perfect ruler, moral perfection, a set of moral and ethical norms (approx. ed.).

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They deserve to be honored

They deserve contempt

love for the motherland

damage to the Motherland

serving the people

treason to the people

striving for science




mutual aid and unity




compliance with laws

violation of laws


life for your own pleasure

"the essential property of socialism with Chinese characteristics". Explaining this position, Chinese theorists and analysts emphasize that the national culture should be the culture of a harmonious socialist society.

In this regard, it is pointed out that Chinese traditional culture refers to the "culture of harmony", "culture of peace and tranquility", that it is inherent in the unity of nature and man, it respects the principles of simple human relationships, it speaks about the internal self-improvement of a person, the need for a "golden mean" and "pacification", the need for extremes and violence.

The appeal of the Chinese leadership to the ideas of social harmony is not accidental: in the context of ongoing reforms in China, the welfare of the population as a whole has increased, but, at the same time, serious problems have appeared - property stratification, a gap in the level of development between different regions, a significant number of unemployed, etc., therefore, there is a need to harmonize social relations.

The revival of the cult of Confucius and the promotion of the principles of Confucian teaching are not accidental. According to Chinese scientists, there is no developed ethical theory in Marxism, its founders and their followers were primarily interested in socio-economic problems related to the elimination of capitalist society and the construction of socialism. Therefore, Chinese leaders can't help but appeal to their traditional cultural heritage.

Since in Confucianism there is no belief in the afterlife, in supernatural forces, in it the human mind is in the first place, Confucius called for the appreciation of knowledge, scholarship, scientists, scribes, and the promotion of his teachings is designed to ensure the development of creative abilities of a person, education, and science.

And Confucius ' emphasis on humane relations between people, including between rulers and subjects, on the peaceful settlement of differences between people, in modern Chinese society can help to ensure its stability, maintain peace in the family and work collectives.

This approach is echoed by one of the main goals of the PRC's foreign policy - the joint construction of a"harmonious world community based on lasting peace and co-prosperity"*.

During Premier Wen Jiabao's visit to Western Europe in 2006, he was accompanied by a well - known Chinese scholar, Professor Zhang Liwen, who gave lectures on the Confucian principle of he xie-harmony. This concept is now declared one of the central concepts of the ethical and political doctrine of Confucianism. According to its latest interpretation, it means tolerance, tolerance, peacefulness. Hence the propaganda of the slogan of friendly relations of people to each other in China itself and the propaganda abroad of the thesis about the peaceful nature of China's development, which does not threaten any other state.

It is no coincidence that the statements of Chinese leaders refer to the teachings of Confucian thinkers. For example, in July 2003, Chinese President Hu Jintao quoted Meng-tzu as saying: "If (someone) he grieves with the sorrows of the people, and the people mourn with their sorrows." In the same Confucian spirit, the formula "eight honored and eight despised", which he announced on March 4, 2006, is also sustained (see Table).


In June 2010 I happened to witness a celebration dedicated to the opening of Culture Street in Beijing (in Shanghai, such a street has existed for several years). During the festival, traditional Chinese dances were performed in bright national costumes. It was attended by members of the city leadership, including the head of the propaganda department of the city party committee.

And it is no coincidence that the Confucius Temple is located on this street, where there was a special exhibition dedicated to the ancient sage and Confucianism.

Returning to the celebrations in Quzhou, I want to tell you about the following. On the same day, I visited one of the city's high schools.

On the way, we had to pass several blocks enclosed by a wall. And on this wall, about 500 m long, I saw a large number of drawings depicting Confucius at various periods of his life with his corresponding sayings.

At the school itself, I was first struck by the new library building with state-of-the-art equipment. At the entrance, a saying written on the wall caught your eye: "The biggest problem is the lack of questions. Putting forward questions is more important than solving them." This statement can be understood as a call to creative search and independent thinking.

The school administration introduced me to the learning process and presented me with a number of textbooks for studying at the highest level of secondary school. "A book for reading-

* For more information, see: Mishina S. I. Speak softly... / / Asia and Africa Today, 2011, No. 3 (ed. ed.).

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research in language " impresses with the variety of topics, the breadth of coverage of the material, and the non-standard position of the compilers.

Naturally, its pages are mostly filled with excerpts from the works of Chinese thinkers and writers of various eras - from antiquity to the present day, including one poem by Mao Zedong. Among the contemporary Chinese writers, the" Book " includes only those who promote the best human qualities in their works and call for harmonious relations between people.

Among foreign cultural figures are W. Shakespeare ("Romeo and Juliet"), J. Galsworthy, G. Hesse, G. Belle, D. Lawrence, Autenry, G. Thoreau, E. Koehler, J. Ivashkevich; poets-R. Bernet, G. Longfellow, W. Whitman; philosophers - F. Bacon, B. Pascal, B. Russell; from scientists-Ch. Darwin ("The Origin of Species"), the creator of environmental ethics O. Leopold, the American historian of science J. R. R. Tolkien. Sarton. It also includes an excerpt from Anne Frank's diary, a story about Willy Brandt's visit to the monument to the dead Jews in Warsaw in 1970. There is also Karl Marx in it: his "Reflections of a Young man when choosing a profession" and"Confession".

Among the Russian and Soviet writers in the "Book for Reading by language"we find A. Pushkin ("In the depths of Siberian ores"), A. Akhmatova ("Native Land") and M. Sholokhov ("The Fate of Man").

This tutorial is not a story about a particular writer, poet, philosopher, or scientist, but rather the most representative excerpts from his works. Thus, students are directly introduced to the achievements of world culture and science, which undoubtedly expands their horizons and teaches them to think independently.3

Related to our "Social Science" textbook called "Ideas and Politics" consists of three issues - "Economic life", "Political life" and "Cultural life".

They use a large number of diagrams and tables to explain in a clear, popular form such complex things as money, pricing and consumption; production, labor and management, income and distribution; the market economy; the Chinese political system, democracy and political participation of citizens in public life, "building a socialist political civilization" (there is such a concept in the modern Chinese political lexicon), the modern world community; the influence of culture on society and on the lives of ordinary people, continuity and innovation in culture, Chinese culture and national spirit, etc. 4

Naturally, among the textbooks were "Selected passages from Lunyu". They are grouped into four sections: politics, self-improvement, study and education, and philosophy.

Each passage, in addition to being translated into a modern language, is provided with a commentary, the name of which alone speaks for itself. Thus, the section "Politics" contains, in particular, comments: "Chinese civilization is a moral civilization", "Features of the Chinese intelligentsia", "Political style of Confucius", section "Self-improvement" - "The great importance of human qualities of Confucius", "Optimistic life philosophy of Confucians", "Early Confucians' view on communication between people", "Education of respect for the native language in the whole society". In the section "Study and education", attention is drawn to "The beauty of the qualities of a wise person", in "Philosophy" - "The content of the teaching of the golden mean", "Sources of value orientations of Confucius" 5.

* * *

It is no exaggeration to say that Confucianism is becoming a spiritual component of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the process of combining Chinese Marxism with Confucianism is underway.

Time will tell how successful this attempt will be to tap into a deep-rooted tradition to promote modernization and overcome the associated ills of growth in the social and spiritual spheres.

1 Dandai xin rujia (Modern New Confucianism). Beijing, 1989, p. 15.

2 Cit. by: Lin Yangmei. On the theory of a socialist harmonious society // Voprosy filosofii, 2007, N5.

3 Yuwen (Language Reading Book). Jiangsu Jiaoyu chubanshe. Nanjing, 2008.

4 Sixiang zhengzhi (Ideology. Policy). Renmin jiaonai chubanshe, Beijing, 2007.

5 "Lunyu" by xuandu lunyu (Selected passages from Lunyu). Yuwen chubanshe, Beijing, 2007.


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