Chinese Philosophy and Communism

September 10, 2022 by Essay Writer

China has been a nation for upwards of 3,500 years and with that comes many long-standing philosophies. The ideas presented by each philosophy not only shaped life long ago but in more modern times as well. Three of the philosophies deeply embedded in Chinese life and culture are Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism.

Each of these philosophies had a great impact on China becoming a Communist state, rather than a Capitalist nation. Confucianism presented ideas of willful submission in various relationships which allows for Communism to come to and stay in power. Daoism presents the idea of a simple life, one that would be lived in a Communist state. Finally, the strictness of Legalism is very reflective of the actuality of Communism. The founder of Confucianism, Confucius, outlined five relationships in his teachings. These five relationships were ruler to subject, father to son, husband to wife, older brother to younger brother, and friend to friend. Each person in these relationships had a specific role that they were to fill without question. The Analects of Confucius state, Filial piety and brotherly respect are the root of humanity [ren], (Document 1).

Very clearly, the obedience and respect for each relationship are one of the foundational ideas of Confucianism. The idea of submission and respect for those above you aids the rise and continuity of Communism in China. With each person knowing their place, Communism would be able to flourish. Every person would have respect and be respected, creating a well-functioning society. Confucianism really supports the idea of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels that in a utopian society, the government would eventually be able to fade away, made possible by the Confucianist social structures. In addition, the philosophies presented with Daoism also support the rise of a Communist nation. Daoism also supports the Communist idea of government fading away and having people eventually just live among themselves. Daoism strongly teaches the idea of following what comes naturally and what you feel is right. Daoist also encourages leaders to govern less harshly. This idea is supported by the writings in The Savings of Lao Tzu, …practice non-interference in order to win the empire (Document 8). Here the importance of a ruler who does not meddle in the lives of his people is clearly spelled out, supporting the utopian ideology of Marx and Engels.

Daoism also teaches the importance of living a simple life, which also supports a Communist nation. Within Communism, the idea is that everyone works for the greater good and takes only what he or she needs. The ideas of Daoism explained in The Daodejing, would help to keep this system from being exploited, Embrace simplicity, do not think of yourself. Make few of your desires, (Document 7). Not only is living simply strongly supported by utopian Communist ideology, but it is also evident in the actuality of Communist societies as well. As shown by Communist nations such as Russia, the people wind up in a life of living quite simply (not always by choice, however). The actuality of Communism is also demonstrated in the final of the three philosophies, Legalism. Legalism was created by rulers, therefore, it is much more focused on keeping the power of the leader. Han Fei believed that the best way to rule was with clear rules, rewarding those who follow them and punishing those who didn’t. His writings reflect this belief, … To govern the state by law is to praise the right and blame the wrong, (Document 5). Blaming and punishing those seen to be in the wrong has seemed to be a foundation of actual Communist societies. The people of Communist nations have unfortunately been quite often harshly punished for supposed wrongdoings (often against the state), an idea that has clear roots from Legalism.

Legalism also promotes a system in which leaders trust no one and rule without the voices of the people. Han Fei Tzu illustrates this by saying, … the intelligence of the people is not to be relied upon any more than the mind of a baby (Document 4). This, once again, is also reflected in the Communist societies of many nations including China. The trend is that the leader trusts no one, often becoming massively paranoid and making extreme decisions as a result. China is a country deeply seated in its ideas and precedents. When looking at the three main, thriving philosophies that survived through many years of Chinese history, it makes perfect sense that the country became Communist rather than Capitalist. The philosophies of Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism each have some of the key ideas of Communism and together they really do cover many of the Communist ideals including a reduced government and simple life, as well as actualities such as harsh punishment and leadership. The three philosophies really set the tone for Communism in China, meaning it was only a matter of time before it came to fruition.

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