Confucianism, the philosophical system based on the teaching of Confucius (551-479 BC), dominated Chinese sociopolitical life for most of Chinese history and largely influenced the cultures of Korea, Japan, and Indochina. The Confucian school functioned as a recruiting ground for government positions, which were filled by those scoring highest on examinations in the Confucian classics. It also blended with popular and imported religions and became the vehicle for articulating Chinese mores to the peasants.
The school’s doctrines supported political authority using the theory of the mandate of Heaven. It sought to help the rulers maintain domestic order, preserve tradition, and uphold a constant standard of living for the taxpaying peasants. It trained its adherents in benevolence, traditional rituals, filial piety, loyalty, respect for superiors and for the aged, and principled flexibility in advising rulers.
“Whilst thy father and mother live, do not wander afar. If you must travel, hold a set course.”
The Chinese social culture has since adoption of Confucianism been very family related. In order to understand the thoughts better, imagine your self at that time.
People were farmers and the ordinary way of life was to cultivate, which means work hard, and to “produce” as many children as possible, preferable of male sex. The parents were responsible for their children for as long as they could work, and thereafter the roles were overturned as the children had from there on to provide for the family.
This shows how important the family relation was at that time (stressed by Confucius in his philosophy) and still is in China. Let me repeat myself, the strongest link in the chain of the family was and is mutual “take care of” your beloved ones, because no one else would.
This system has deep roots in the Chinese culture and it would be easy to think that it’s not going to change in a very long time, but nonetheless I claim that a few years would suffice and I’m even convinced that it will very soon. There are several reasons to that and my essay is intended to prove them.
China has one astonishing major problem: its population growth.
The answer to the question “Why do the Chinese bear so many children ?”, was partially given above; they need children as a guarantee for the future and more children mean more workers in the households and on the land.
Some nationwide campaigns were launched in the last decades whose aim was to restrict the number of children to one per couple through various incentives and threatened penalties. This worked quite well in the urban areas, but in the country sides the one-child policy reportedly had an unexpected and terrible result: the number of female infanticides increased, due to the fact that male children were more desirable as they worked harder.
Experience from today’s “modern” societies shows that once wealth is established in a country, the population growth decreases. As an example can be mentioned Europe: during the time before industrialization, and before the state had a crucial social role, the growth rate was extremely high. Now when child labor is prohibited and when there is a common wealth, the population growth rate is in some cases even negative.
China is undoubtedly looking into the light of having a better economy, following the traditional path of a country moving from being agricultural to highly industrialized.
If China will follow this evolution, people’s mentality will change, just as it has changed in all the countries where there has been a radical economical evolution. Once the state will be able, through pensions and transfers, to take care of people who cannot work, family relations will no longer be indispensable.
I am not saying that family bonds will be less important but the relation child-parent will be solely based on love and attachment, not love, attachment and need.
Being more effective, using fertilizers and modern machines will also reduce the need for having such a big share of the population working in the agricultural sector. More and more people will move to the industrial centers, and moving means in some way breaking family relations and rebelling to the ancient thoughts that built a whole way of life for countless generations.
The government is becoming more and more important in the life of the Chinese people and unconsciously substituting the role of religion. The state is responsible for the elder, not the children like Confucianism states.
This is very crucial, because if it doesn’t happen the population will continue to grow seemingly endlessly. China has both a population growth problem and a matter of ineffectiveness in farming, which hinder the country from becoming a real economical superpower.
The communist government in China has in some way noticed that better wealth and efficiency would prevent the population from expand any more than it already has. Therefore it has started under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping a set of social reforms. The chart1 below shows how the expenditures of Chinese pensions have increased during the last 10 years.
Combining Development and Confucianism
Confucian philosophy is certainly deep rooted, but within only a few generations (and it has already started) people will start trusting the government, become more efficient which will be followed by a decrease on labor demand. Hence population growth will stop and the nation will enjoy common wealth.
It a human priori to choose wealth before religion. Although development and religion are nor mutually exclusive. Religion and religious ideas should not be used in its literary sense, but they have to be adapted for the time they are read in. important is to interpret this scripts in a way that makes them “up-to-date”.
The development of nations in Europe and other part of the modern world has in no way been different from the evolution now occurring in China. Let us compare them from different aspects.
A few hundred years ago the church played a major role in European societies. Now it does not, but people still believe in God and religion.
Family, at that time in Europe, was the only resource to rely on when a member got old, sick or for some other reason could not work. Today we know that the state, with its social institutions, will take care. This fact does not hinder us from loving our family and relatives.
Drawing parallels from the development of “modern” nation to countries like China, one can easily understand and predict the future. Learning from history.
A child or a youth in Europe, who leaves his or her family today is not even comparable with the same scenario a century ago. When a child leaves he can easily “keep in touch” with his family through modern technology- a phone call To view the rest of this essay you must be a screwschool member click here to become a member.