China Under Communism Confucian Values Considered Vestiges Essay

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China

Under Communism, Confucian values, considered vestiges of the old feudal system, were supposed to have been completely swept away. Judging from what you have read from the readings, do you believe Confucianism completely disappeared after 1949?

Confucianism is the philosophical and ethical system of belief based upon the teachings of the Chinese philosopher Confucius. The core belief of Confucianism was humanism which is the belief that human beings can change, adapt, and grow. No one's identity or personality is concrete and anyone can learn from their mistakes and change. People are asked to make decisions using reason, logic, and critical thinking. When the Communists took control of China in the, Confucianism was abandoned officially because those in charge did not want people thinking for themselves. Instead, the people were to listen to the word of the government and to accept their demands without question. Although under Chairman Mao and the Communist regime, Confucianism was officially disbanded as the primary political and philosophical structure of the country, the people had never completely altered their individual beliefs. It is human nature to think and to question, hopefully. They may have thought and questioned in silence, but the people were never completely capable of becoming wholly indoctrinated in the views of the government.

Instead of Confucianism, the people were ordered to accept Communism and the Three Principles of the People. These three principles are: Minzu (nationalism, specifically a nation untied under the same purpose), Minquan (democracy but in actuality referred to the concept that the government was working for the people whether they thought so or not), and Minsheng (the People's welfare or socialized welfare). Supposedly the principles were ensuring that the new government provided for the people, but this was not really so. Each of the principles concentrated in turning a person with individual goals into one who would be focused on actions which would be for the good of all the people within the nation, in whatever capacity the government said. Those who did not follow the word of Chairman Mao and the Communist party would be punished. In Red Azalea, Anchee Min says, "To obey Mao's teaching is a crime" (14). Punishing those who dissent is an efficient way of getting cooperation, but can have consequences as well. This served to ensure obedience from the majority of the population, but also could not help but engender in some the understanding that this system was unfair and that the people were not really being represented. For the members of the population in this group, the old ways of Confucianism became more appealing.

People who were part of the intellectual community in China had an especially difficult time in adapting to the new Communist regime which did not allow for much individuality and strictly prohibited unique or critical thinking. In order to survive and indeed to thrive in this community, everyone had to give up their personal freedoms and become a part of the unquestioning masses so desired by Chairman Mao and his numerous cohorts in the Chinese Communist Party. There was a "struggle between the two schools in order to maintain the balance between state interests and the participation of elite scholars in the imperial enterprise" (Elliott 124). This is often the way of things in an unyielding and strict governmental structure. The tighter the vice grip on the minds and imaginations of the community, the more the likelihood that the people will struggle against the yoke of injustice until they are finally able to find relief.

To disobey the Communist party, even silently and within a person's own home was one of the most dangerous things a person could do. Whenever something becomes against the will of the government, there will be factions of people who determine that this is simply the best course of action. Communist China was no exception. There were many people who realized that the society in which they lived was inequitable and the people were not being treated fairly. Some of them spoke up and were punished, including capital punishment. Other people saw the inequality and stayed silent. Shen Fu in Six Records of a Floating Life discusses individual inability to stand up to the will of the government (x). It is one thing to see that something is wrong and another thing altogether to be brave enough to stand up to something that one believes to be wrong. For all those who vocalized their dissent there were dozens more like Fu who were willing to think disobedient thoughts and remember Confucianism as a far better system of organization.

When Chairman Mao, the leader of the Communist Party in China, took control of the country, he forbade the continuation of the philosophical or ethical practice of Confucianism. Instead, he demanded that the people accept the Three Principles of the People which were rules designed to prevent the people of China from rebelling against the Communist Party and its leader Chairman Mao. These principles claimed to be in place to ensure the protection and the will of the people. Realistically, they did not such thing. The three principles replaced Confucianism which was a belief in the individual, in ethics, and in the ability to self-determine conduct. In its place, a system was instilled which demanded rigid cooperation and indoctrination into the beliefs of the new regime. Those who disagreed with the government could not do so without severe ramifications. Still, some people could not stop themselves from acknowledging that the new system was unfair and inferior to the old one. For those who did possess those feelings, they could silently embrace Confucianism and the archaic ideas that the philosophy represented.

2. Write an essay in the first person in which you reveal your innermost feelings for the other woman. Be certain that your narrative demonstrates the ways in which the norms of your society affect your emotions and actions.

My name is Anchee Min and I was born under the Communist rule in China. I was born a woman in a place where women have no power and are always subservient to men. In the history of China, members of the female gender, like me, have had a history of ostracism and oppression. We women have traditionally been placed in positions of marginalization, where we are secondary to the males in power and expected to be completely subservient to men in every way. Traditionally, we have had such little value that we could be killed in order to increase the amount of males in the population percentages. This has been the way of Chinese society for more than a millennium. Confucian philosophy became the policy of the Chinese government at some time during the Han dynasty, which was approximately 200 BCE. This philosophy plan dictated that women of Chinese citizenship would be in positions below men in every aspect of society. Thus, the very government which controlled our country extolled the diminished importance of women and the perpetration of customs which served to further minimize our impact and purpose.

I remember the first time that I felt at all powerful. My teacher had been accused of espionage against our Chinese government and they expected me to testify against her. For the first time in my life I was asked to support my party, my government over any emotional attachments I might have had. This would be a common theme in the rest of my life in China under Mao and the Communists. Under the Communist regime, I was granted the ability to work under Commander Yan. When I first met her, she told me and the others in my groups, "My name is Yan Sheng. Yen, as in discipline; Sheng, as in victory" (Min 53). Telling us her name and identifying herself in this way gave us the unshakable understanding that we were dealing with a woman of the party who would accept nothing but the best from us. Therefore, I can say that she brought out the best in me. Yan has some feminine understanding and despite what she states about her loyalty to the party and to China, she tries to protect the women in her troop, including Little Green who is caught having sex with a man. Yan had affection for a man and it made me jealous. There is no sexuality for women in China; especially sexuality that is just between two women. Still, I could not help but think about her and I felt evil and vile for doing so.

Women in Ancient China were equated with wickedness and evil. It was very hard to trust them and thus it was inappropriate to give them too much power. Even in the Communist period, women were still not completely trusted even if they gave themselves to the military. In China, a woman is nothing. Women in China were expected to be entirely chaste but the men of China were allowed to have as many sexual partners as they wished. Women were…[continue]

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