Confucianism And Democracy Essay

Powerful Essays
Thomas Champagne

Confucianism and democracy are two very complex concepts and the relation between them is a subject many scholars have discussed. In this essay, it will be shown what kind of relationship is more appropriate between these two ideas. It will be divided in two parts: the first part will take a look at the compatibility question of Confucianism and democracy and I will attempt to show how these two ideas are not contradictory and how Confucianism actually helps strengthen the concept of democracy. In the second part, I will discuss how such a relationship can work in practice by addressing the different institutional proposals of a democracy with Confucian characteristics to try and figure out which proposal is the most appropriate and why.

At first glance, the idea of Confucianism and democracy seem very contradictory. After all, isn’t the whole principle of Confucianism the rule of the elite while democracy is the rule of the people? The incompatibility between these two concepts seems obvious, but many scholars have weighed into this debate saying the opposite and I will argue how they are not only compatible, but also how Confucianism helps to resolve a lot of problems with democracy.
Firstly, one must understand that even though the Confucian idea of the rule by the wise does pose a problem to the concept of equality in theory, there are many concepts of the Confucian thought that are in fact compatible with democracy. For example, the principle of people under the Confucian thought (minben) that underlines the importance of the people is very compatible with central democratic ideas like voting. Confucian philosopher Mencius even wrote that “The people are the most important; the nation is next; t...

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...ering the recent changes in China’s politics. Many are wondering what the future holds for Chinese politics and the idea of a democracy with Confucian characteristics is something many have been looking at since Confucianism holds an important place in Chinese traditions. We have witnessed on many occasions the failure of trying to implement a democratic system in a country that either wasn’t “ready” for democracy or a country where the political culture wasn’t compatible with the democracy models we are used to. This idea is very relevant when you talk about China since it’s easy to see how democracy might not fit right with the Chinese political culture. In such a case, the best solution would be a democracy with Confucian characteristics. So we can see here how the relationship between Confucianism and democracy is something worth reflecting on in current times.
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