Monday, December 28, 2009

Confucian democracy: A contradiction in Terms? Resumed by: Yutsa Z. Ula

G.K.Chesterton quotes “Tradition means giving votes to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestor. It is the democracy of the dead”.
Roberto Unger has identified three principal sources of change in Politic world:
1.       The rise of mass politic
2.       The emergence of world history
3.       Enlarged economic rationality
There are resources within Confucianism for the development of distinctly Asian form of democracy, but it shall not be merely touted a democracy with “Asian Characteristic”.
The Confucian stress upon the priority of morality over penal law is a bedrock value in any viable form of communitarian democracy. Confucius, the Confucianism founder, is on the side of minimalist government and a self-ordering community. He is committed to the fundamental importance of proximate, self invested relationship. He sees a thriving, self-governing community, achieved through mediating institutions such as family and neighbourhood, as the optimum guarantee of a personal liberty and the best opportunity for full participation in a shared vision community.
In traditional China, as in other Asian societies, there are a harmonious blending of Confucianism, Daoism and Buddhism into a rich tradition that does not finally subvert any of its constitutive strands. Confucian philosophy is a doctrine of personal cultivation and articulation elaborated within the context of the extended family.
Family is the model of social organization.  The centrality of this familial model has significant consequences for the shape of Confucian democracy, since it determines an interpretation of citizen of public individual that readily contrast with the liberal democratic tradition.
In Confucian societies, one never leaves the family. On the other hand western thought is about the democratic citizen in adulthood should takes leave of his family for public life.
The most difficult of the issues relevant to the erection of a Confucian democracy, the issue of pluralism. In traditional Chinese individual he claims himself as not only a Confucian, but also a Daoist and Buddhist. Beside, most westerners equate philosophic or religious allegiances  with consciously entertained doctrine and beliefs.
Chinese philosophical idea is different with the western style idea. The difference is associated with the Chinese refusal to entertain ideas and actions as disjunctively related. The mutually entailing relations among ideas, dispositions, and actions in Chinese tradition contrasts dramatically with the positing of thinking, acting, and feeling as distinct functions among by the dominant ideologies of the western tradition.
A simple basic question of the ancient Chinese thinker is about “how” (way-seekers) rather than “what”(truth-seekers) question as the ancient Greeks thinkers did. It is often remarked that the breakdown of moral and political order at the very period in which reflective thinking began in China caused the Chinese to be concerned with the social harmony. It is said that they were pre-eminently concerned with the continuing a moral path that world guarantee of sufficient degree of social ability. In Chinese thinking, there is no separation between idea and action. Idea is considered as part of action.
The implication of this contrast between Truth-Seekers and Way-seekers is that it is easier to promote cognitive pluralism in a society that distinguishes idea from moral action. Freedom to think as we please is one of the advantages, but there is a downside of this effort  to dichotomize theory and practice.
The Chinese have a synthesis that combined from Confucian, Daoist and Buddhism as well become a harmony. The harmony of these tradition is a function of unspoken consensus. 8 percent minority populations of China are balkanized and isolated from the Han majority. Thus, with respect to minorities, at least the fact of pluralism has not been confronted ain any significant manner.
In Confucianism the privileges and duties entailed within familial living are seamless and extend beyond the family to become the basis for proper government. In Chinese religious experience, we must look to ritually  constituted community as the primary locus for spiritual cultivation.
In Confucian, rituals are the specific content of both Tian (heaven) and Dao (the way) as these ideas are relevant to the human community. The “democracy of the dead”, the Confucian model of democracy directs at ancestors and  cultural heroes.
It is possible to combine Chinese and Westerners thought of democracy. Confucian democracy from the Chinese thinker combined with the liberal model of democracy from the westerners. Three principal concepts inderlying a model of Confucian democracy are the individual, the community and human rights.


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