Political Opposition in Post-Confucian Society

Political Opposition in Post-Confucian Society

Political Opposition in Post-Confucian Society

Political Opposition in Post-Confucian Society


"Moody presents the thesis that post-Confucian' societies are influence by the legacy of a strong state ruling over a weak social structure. Ruling and opposition elites thus tend towar factionalism based on personal ties, and also to moralistic' rather than interest-based criticism, which often leads to extreme and irresponsible' political behavior. Moody applies this thesis to all the post-Confucian states of East Asia in uneven chapters on Taiwan, South Korea, South Vietnam, China, North Korea, Vietnam as a whole, and Japan. . . . Moody's witty and cynical style . . . and an elegant thesis make this work suitable for advanced undergraduates and graduate students as well."


Japan, Korea, and Vietnam constitute with China the Confucian culture area. Ethnically and linguistically, these countries are all quite distinct from each other, and differences in popular culture persist. All, however, took over in their own ways Chinese higher culture, and their traditional political institutions tended to be based on those of China.


In ancient times China was (probably) organized on a feudal pattern similar in some ways to that of medieval Europe. The Chou dynasty was established around 1100 BC. It was ruled by a king who granted hereditary fiefdoms to his warrior followers, who in turn parceled out land to their own retainers. There was a sharp distinction between the hereditary warrior aristocracy and ordinary people. All land was technically the property of the king and was directly controlled by the local nobility.

Within a few centuries the Chou kings lost most of what power they may have had. Confucian scholars kept alive the idea that the world (or, in effect, what later became China) should live at peace under the rule of a true Son of Heaven; and the Chou kingship had sufficient prestige that it was not abolished until the generation prior to the reunification of China under the Ch'in. But the reality was diversity and war.

Around 500 BC China entered into the period called the Warring States, a time of great social change. Iron implements brought about increased agricultural productivity and increased destructive efficency in war. Land passed for all practical purposes into private ownership. The old aristocratic code of conduct came to be held in contempt by the low-born parvenues . . .

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