Pioneer of the Chinese Revolution: Zhang Binglin and Confucianism

By Shimada Kenji; Joshua A. Fogel | Go to book overview

world is the obligation of men in the world. The Chinese are a portion of the people of the world. The destruction of Chinese superstition is, in a fact, the destruction of superstition among the people of the world. We are the Chinese people. . . .

How do we go about carrying out the Confucian revolution? Some people have proposed well-chosen expressions to abuse and attack him, but this would be an inefficacious way to proceed. When you consider the depth to which the Confucian poison has penetrated, if we don't employ the means of paring down to the bones to destroy the pox, then the joy of revival shall never be ours.

To my mind, the words and deeds of his lifetime can be classified in their entirety. His words can be sorted in the format of the Donglai Zuoshi boyi (The extended meaning of the Zuozhuan by [Lü] Donglai [or Zujian, 1137-81]) with stinging criticism added. His deeds could either refer to his daily activities, or be coupled with his words to censure him in such a way that he would have no room for maneuver. Unfortunately, my talents are limited, and I shall not be able to carry out this great task. However, if there is a man of good will whose mind is set upon saving the world, then I shall make all possible efforts to follow such a talented man even if I am unworthy.

The New Culture and Anti-Confucian movements of the May Fourth period are doubtless lineal descendants of this late Qing revolutionary group. Their call to categorize the words and deeds of Confucius with searing criticisms attached was successfully realized in the anti-Lin Biao, anti-Confucius campaign of the early 1970's. In the period prior to the 1911 Revolution, the anarchists were extremely busy introducing and spreading new scientific and scholarly ideas and, of course, deeply involved in their political activities; but, we do not see as much energy poured into attacks on Confucian morality or Confucius himself. The image of Confucius as a reactionary was still just beginning to be formed.


Conclusion

Let me summarize the points made in this essay as follows.

I. The issue of a Confucian religion arose in the late Qing as part of the reform and self-strengthening movements, but it was

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