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Author Topic: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square  (Read 1264 times)

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Offline WyldRangerTopic starter

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Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« on: January 14, 2011, 01:49:30 PM »
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110113/ap_on_re_as/as_china_confucius_comeback
Quote
BEIJING – There's a new face keeping Chairman Mao company on Tiananmen Square.
A mammoth sculpture of the ancient philosopher Confucius was unveiled this week off one side of the vast plaza. It's a jarring juxtaposition for a square the ruling Communist Party treats as politically hallowed ground: a mausoleum holding revolutionary leader Mao Zedong's body sits in the middle and his giant portrait hangs at one end.
Placing the statue at China's political heart is the authoritarian government's most visible endorsement yet of the 2,500-year-old sage and, selectively, his teachings.
Confucius is enjoying a revival, in books and films, on TV and in classrooms. His message of harmonious social order and deference to authority is unthreatening to the party, while his emphasis on ethics resonates among Chinese coping with fast-paced social change on the back of torrid economic growth.
The government is increasingly marshaling his popularity to bolster national identity. "The rise of a big country requires a cultural foundation, and Chinese culture upholds the spirit of harmony," said Wu Weishan, the sculptor, who has made more than 200 statues of the philosopher. "The essential thoughts of Confucius are love, kindness, wisdom and generosity. And peace and prosperity are what the people are striving for."
The 31-foot (9.5-meter) bronze sculpture depicts a robed Confucius with a serious expression and sits on the east side of the square, facing in the direction of Mao's portrait and amid the bustle of Beijing. Chinese tourists busily snapped photos and agreed that Confucius' teachings bear a message for modern China, where "money worship" and consumerism feel like national preoccupations.
[Related: Chinese stealth fighter makes first test flight]
"Confucianism has been governing the lives and ethics of Chinese for thousands of years," said 25-year-old engineer Cui Xiaozhan, on a business trip from the eastern city of Qingdao. "We should study it. But everyone is too busy and tired."
Confucius laid down a code of ethics that was adopted as a quasi-religious national philosophy of governance and personal behavior. His teachings emphasized duty to family, respect for learning, virtuous behavior and obedience of individuals to the state.
At the center of Chinese civilization for nearly two millennia, Confucianism suffered under Mao, who spent much of his rule destroying traditional culture. "Criticizing Confucius" — as a symbol of the old society believed to be holding China back — was one of Mao's campaigns.
"Now the party leaders have resurrected Confucius and practically put Mao and Confucius side by side. Mao must be turning in his grave," said Minxin Pei, a China expert at Claremont McKenna College.
But Mao has been dead for 35 years. His political heirs have repudiated his radical policies, embraced capitalism and reinterpreted him as a founding-father figure who spearheaded the revolution that ultimately led to China's fantastic current rise.
When student protesters erected a Statue of Liberty-like "Goddess of Democracy" on the square in 1989, tanks toppled it in the violent crushing of the Tiananmen democracy movement.
Later, Chinese leaders largely turned to nationalism to fill the void after the collapse of the Communist bloc in Europe. Over the past decade, interest in Confucius has grown among parents, educators, government officials and intellectuals.
Books about his teachings are best-sellers. A movie about Confucius last year featured Chow Yun-fat, a veteran actor known for starring in stylish gangster thrillers.
The flip side of economic development is "increased individualism and increased sense of competition and anxiety," said Daniel A. Bell, a philosophy professor at Tsinghua University and author of "China's New Confucianism." "There's a need for ethics and morals and promoting social responsibility."
For the government, there's appeal in a philosophy that preaches harmony at a time when a yawning rich-poor gap and anger at corruption have fueled instability and when unbridled nationalism has boiled over into raucous protests in recent years.
Top leaders "certainly realize the absence of a value system," said Cheng Li, an expert on Chinese politics at the Brookings Institution. "It's a desperate search for ideology, for a new value system."
[Related: U.S. puts pressure on China over economic issues]
So far, the government hasn't made any overt proclamations pushing Confucianism, though one of its favorite recent slogans is "harmonious society." It has backed the creation of hundreds of Confucius Institutes to spread Chinese language and culture abroad. A proposal to amend the law on protecting the rights of the elderly would make clearer that children have the duty to visit and care for their aged parents.
What's next? "You will see some top leaders more explicitly talking about reinforcing, promoting ... Confucian values," Li said. "It's such a big basket you can select whatever you want. They will ask people to behave appropriately, not too aggressive, not use violence and don't pursue revolution."
___
Associated Press researcher Yu Bing contributed to this report.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2011, 02:47:02 PM »
I think - this is a good thing.  Let's hope that the visitors to the Square show some curiosity about the new statue that's greater than 'who's the old geezer over there?'

Offline DarklingAlice

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2011, 08:31:12 PM »
I think that this is a very good thing. There is much that is admirable in Confucian thought and any government would do well to adopt his principles.

Quote
The Duke Âi asked, saying, "What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people?" Confucius replied, "Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit."
-Lun Yu II.19
If you have not yet had a chance to enjoy the writings of Confucius, I highly recommend immersing yourself in them:
http://wengu.tartarie.com/wg/wengu.php?l=Lunyu

My sole concern is that his philosophy is very male focused (as are most ancient philosophies). It is possible that strict adherence to it could engender misogyny.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2011, 08:48:39 PM »
I don't see this as bad since this man represents a philosophy its not in its nature religious, and can be adopted to modern though of gender equality likely to be the case if China supports this.

Offline itsbeenfun2000

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2011, 10:56:29 PM »
I see this as a fantastic idea. A great philosopher that shaped the Chinese culture deserves a place of honor

Offline Syndrome

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2011, 08:11:04 PM »
Hello everyone, I am Han Chinese, and I am new to the forum, it's a pleasure to know you all.

In my opinion Confucius and his so-called philosophy has been used for thousands of years to control and brainwash the Chinese people. It is one of the very reasons why China lagged behind the West since 1400s. It oppresses any kind of innovation and creative effort. I am against it.

But at least Confucianism is a faith. And Chinese now has no faith at all, as communism has been proven wrong. Maybe the politicians want to reestablish Confucianism as a faith to replace communism. In that case it's good thing. Because any faith is better than communism (and Islam).

Just my opinion.

Offline mystictiger

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2011, 02:38:39 AM »
Call me pedantic, but why is this post here? It's hardly contraversial.

Had the Chinese put up a statue of say...  Bruce Lee, then it'd be contentious.

Offline WyldRangerTopic starter

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2011, 10:38:49 AM »
The reason I posted this here is two-fold. One it belongs better here than in any other section with it's connection to Relgion and Poltics. Two, the fact that no other Relgious, or for that matter ideological outlook other than the communist ideology has been allowed this type of momument is controverisial enough as it is. At least if you look at it from the Chinese point of view. Obviously it wouldn't be controversial here, but then again we have freedom of religion in the U.S.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #8 on: January 19, 2011, 10:53:59 AM »
I'm a little curious about Syndrome's comments regarding Confucianism being used to brainwash and stifle innovation and creative effort.  Like many Westerners, I'm a bit ignorant of how the Chinese government spins things.  For example, the little I know about Confucianism includes that the purpose of existence is to reach one's highest potential as a human being - which would seem contrary to 'oppressing' innovation.  Of course, I'm very familiar with religion being used to imply things that the original philosophers would have found horrifying, so I don't discount that this is possible with China as well.

Online Callie Del Noire

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #9 on: January 19, 2011, 11:06:28 AM »
There are very few things the Chinese government that doesn't fit to one criteria. Keeping the men in power in power. They are pragmatic and very very practical. Democracy isn't something you'll be seeing anytime soon, but if they think sharing the 'wealth' that capitalism brings will keep them in place, they will.

I am curious as to what they are going to do about the growing disparity between genders. It's going to continue to grow. (As I said to one of my friends when I saw an article on it, 'In 20 to 30 years there won't be an ugly woman in mainland China'. Crude but true.)

I think that the government will find ways to spin Confucious to help stay in place. There is no doubt in my mind that this was well thought out.

Offline Sure

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #10 on: January 19, 2011, 12:36:02 PM »
Confucianism has several issues, including but not limited to:
1.) It's indictment against 'superstition' has been interpreted as supporting atheism (as far back as the Three Kingdoms period one warlord killed and tortured Daoists because of it).
2.) Confucius never gave any space to rebel. Ever. Period. Full stop. Rebels are always wrong, no matter how bad the leader is. Mencius does give framework to rebel, but they're promoting Confucius not Mencius aren't they?
3.) Similarly, parents are to be obeyed. Always. Forever. Full stop. It doesn't matter if they mistreat you or even are going to kill you, you are supposed to obey and accept it.
4.) Extreme politeness and etiquette to the point of ridiculousness, with no room to question the rituals or reasons for the etiquette.
5.) Misogyny, women are inferior. (For example, the five bonds in common order of importance are: Ruler to Ruled, Father to Son, Husband to Wife, Elder Brother to Younger Brother, Friend to Friend. Note both that a woman is put in the inferior position and is considered less important than Father/Son and Ruler/Ruled relationships). Further, they are supposed to be at home, caring for the home, have less Human rights, virtue, and so on. Polygamy is also permitted, if you consider that misogynistic (as some do).
6.) Veneration of ancestors and practical worship of the past (the whole gotterdammerung sort of thinking) can definitely lead to backwards looking views. The old ways are often presumed to be best.
7.) Social mobility except through pre-ascribed routes is considered bad. Peasant farmers shouldn't want to stop being peasant farmers. The fulfillment of their life, as Oniya mentioned, would merely be to be the best peasant farmer they can. Now, theoretically there is room for meritocracy, but what they are looking for are gentlemen such as described below:
8.) Gentlemen at the center of everything, which suffers from a lot of the same elitism of Plato and the like. The Gentleman is the most important member of society, the most learned, wise, educated, and so on, and comes from the right social class. He is society's moral and social guide. They are supposed to be a scholar-saint-sage, and this suffers from all the problems of an aretaic morality.
9.) Down-Up responsibility means that people have obligations to their superiors, often in excess of what rulers have to their people in turn. Often times people only have obligations to their superiors with little in return necessarily (on the presumption the superior will be good and therefore return their loyalty regardless).
10.) Legitimacy comes from a version of the Divine Right to Rule (the Mandate of Heaven), the people and their consent have nothing to do with it.
11.) Denunciation of businessmen (the lowest 'acceptable' class in China were merchants) and the veneration of farming. Also, support for class division with nobles at the top.
12.) It endorses the old authoritarian view of rule (the state/ruler's power is unlimited except as how it chooses to limit it) rather than the modern liberal view (by which I mean 'a modern view that came from 19th century liberals') that a government only has power in the areas it is defined to have powers.

Keep in mind that the demands of the early 20th centuries anti-Confucianists were as follows (in other words, Confucianism was at least used to support the opposite of all these things):
+Acceptance of vernacular language
+Individualism rather than family structures reigning supreme
+Egalitarianism (including women)
+Renunciation that Chinese values are and China is superior to every nation everywhere
+Allowing Critical examination of Confucian texts
+Democracy
+An end to the obsession with the past
+Investments in, and acknowledgment of, Western science

Now, Confucius is not all bad. But like Plato you have to realize that his view is not perfect and does not fit perfectly into modern society. It's been used to justify some ugly things, like every ideology has as well. In any case, I have to say that it appears to me the Chinese government specifically picked a philosopher who stressed obedience because, well, they're a government. And I expect them to spin it like no tomorrow.

Offline Syndrome

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2011, 10:36:34 PM »
I'm a little curious about Syndrome's comments regarding Confucianism being used to brainwash and stifle innovation and creative effort.  Like many Westerners, I'm a bit ignorant of how the Chinese government spins things.  For example, the little I know about Confucianism includes that the purpose of existence is to reach one's highest potential as a human being - which would seem contrary to 'oppressing' innovation.  Of course, I'm very familiar with religion being used to imply things that the original philosophers would have found horrifying, so I don't discount that this is possible with China as well.
Confucianism's most important teaching is obedience to authorities, which ultimately means the Emperor and the old traditional ways. Any attempt to innovate or create new ways is regarded as disrespect for the Emperor and the Ancient Greats and the old ways, and discouraged by the society. Under Confucianism, the old traditional ways is like the sacred cow.

The Emperors promote Confucianism because it is most suitable as the ideology (of many Chinese ideologies and schools of philosophies, for example, Legalism, Taoism, Mohism, among others) to brainwash and control citizens.

As for reaching one's highest potential, what it actually means is that one should fulfill the society's expectations of being obedient to the highest extent.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2011, 12:55:25 AM »
Confucianism's most important teaching is obedience to authorities, which ultimately means the Emperor and the old traditional ways. Any attempt to innovate or create new ways is regarded as disrespect for the Emperor and the Ancient Greats and the old ways, and discouraged by the society. Under Confucianism, the old traditional ways is like the sacred cow.

The Emperors promote Confucianism because it is most suitable as the ideology (of many Chinese ideologies and schools of philosophies, for example, Legalism, Taoism, Mohism, among others) to brainwash and control citizens.

As for reaching one's highest potential, what it actually means is that one should fulfill the society's expectations of being obedient to the highest extent.

So it's this?     'We are Borg. Resistance is futile'

 

Offline Syndrome

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2011, 01:22:04 AM »
So it's this?     'We are Borg. Resistance is futile'
LOL. Yep, something like that.

Offline AtlasEros

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2011, 09:55:41 PM »
'who's the old geezer over there?'
lol.


Yeah, this is interesting news.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2011, 10:00:24 PM »
I've seen the younger set react that way to statues over here in the States.   I don't imagine that's something that varies much across cultures.

Offline AtlasEros

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2011, 10:13:11 PM »
I've seen the younger set react that way to statues over here in the States.   I don't imagine that's something that varies much across cultures.
I get what you are saying, it just sounded funny.

Offline Sure

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #17 on: January 23, 2011, 12:51:11 AM »
I've seen the younger set react that way to statues over here in the States.   I don't imagine that's something that varies much across cultures.

With Confucius it's probably worse. I mean, we know more or less exactly how every major figure in American history looked because portrait painting was a very robust tradition by 1776. Not so much in Confucian times. We really have no clue how he actually looked.

Offline YeungHongda

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #18 on: January 23, 2011, 02:11:18 AM »
Personally, I believe a Sun Yat-sen, Deng Xiaoping or even a Lu Xun (famous Chinese revolutionary writer in the early 20th century who took part in the May 4th Movement) statue would be more appropriate, since they are leaders that have contributed to the rise of modern, republicanist China.

But you can't argue with the fact that Confucius is perhaps the most the important and influential person in Chinese history. Since he has paved almost the entire political, military, diplomatic, economic and cultural course of Chinese history, from the Zhou Dynasty all the way up to the modern PRC era. However, there were few challenges to his philosophy and ideal system, especially during the 19th and early-mid 20th century when Confucian ideology was blamed by radicals, republicans, revolutionary writers (namely Lu Xun) and communists (Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution and his wife Jiang Qing's "Criticize Confucius and Lin Biao anyone?") for the apparent backwardsness of China in comparison to the West, the Russians and the modernizing and industrializing Japanese.

Offline Dissonance

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #19 on: January 26, 2011, 03:20:35 AM »
I doubt this is really that 'controversial' enough to be up here, honestly speaking - as mystictiger above has already mentioned above. Ultimately, I don't think there are many disagreements, or controversy about the teachings of Confucius, even if there might be some chauvinist ideals here and there, assuming there is any (I didn't read in detail any of his teachings), enough to propel much unhappiness about his statue being set in the Square.

Then again, maybe it's a way to show a direction the Chinese government may take in future in consideration of the Confucian ideals.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #20 on: January 26, 2011, 07:40:31 AM »
Politics is generally tossed in here because of the potential of getting heated, especially when there are aspects that part of the readership isn't aware of.  For example, my initial reaction, due to having a minimal exposure to the more repressive spin put on Confucius's teachings, was that this was a very positive thing.  After reading what Syndrome posted about how 'highest potential' is really interpreted, I'm not so sure.

Offline Xenophile

Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #21 on: January 26, 2011, 10:44:15 AM »
Hm. I can't shake off the nagging suspicion that Confucius' teachings of respecting your elders and authority might have something to do with the placement in Tienanmen Square, considering the government-critical demonstrations it's so infamous for.

Offline WyldRangerTopic starter

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Re: Confucious statue in Tiananmen Square
« Reply #22 on: January 26, 2011, 11:13:10 PM »
Politics is generally tossed in here because of the potential of getting heated, especially when there are aspects that part of the readership isn't aware of.  For example, my initial reaction, due to having a minimal exposure to the more repressive spin put on Confucius's teachings, was that this was a very positive thing.  After reading what Syndrome posted about how 'highest potential' is really interpreted, I'm not so sure.

That is one of the reasons I posted this here, because I know that I have limited knowledge of Confucious and Chinese history (knows a tad bit more about Japanese history than Chinese), so I thought it good just to get people's opinions and perhaps learn something...which I think I have also done.