Confucianism and democracy

China and democracy - confucius

Cultural theorists see a direct relationship between religious-cultural traditions and their influence on a particular federal constitution. These traditions are thus considered important because they are not vulnerable to short-term changes, unlike political or societal institutions: to modify century-old traditions and cultures takes extremely long-term processes.

The principal representative of the case that Confucianism and democracy cannot be unified with one another is Samuel P. Huntington, who even establishes a connection between western Christianity and modern democracy. Huntington opines that classical Confucianism is antidemocratic, especially because it gives precedence to the group above the individual, its family-oriented, patriarchal traditions, and its absence of a legal framework that stands above the state.

Then again, Francis Fukuyama accentuates the aspects of Confucianism that support democracy, emphasizing the value it sets on education, which in modernization theory is viewed as supportive of democracy. Without schooling, the people cannot be informed in democratic debates and hence cannot take part in them. Education brings about a turn from economic thinking to political thinking and the associated desire to participate in political decision-making. Furthermore, he emphasizes Confucianism's tolerance.

According to Fukuyama, Confucianism has coexisted in the past with various religions, such as Christianity and especially Buddhism. Confucianism surpasses Christianity in that respect. In his work about the connection between Christianity and democracy, Huntington loses sight of the fact that in Christianity too, man's law is not the highest authority.

Rather, the final authority here is not a court but a matter of conscience before God. Secondly, he forgets that the Enlightenment in Europe, in whose wake modern democratic theory developed, was an antireligious movement. Furthermore, Fukuyama points out that Confucianism was less a political teaching than a moral doctrine that regulated social interactions among family, work, upbringing, and other elements of daily life.

In the meantime, two other countries that Huntington apportions to the Confucian cultural group-Taiwan and the Republic of South Korea-have successfully made the transformation from an autocratic to a democratic state and, despite intrasystem flaws, are on their way to a successful consolidation. A relationship between Confucianism and democracy's failure to appear in China cannot in this instance be established.

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