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Political Thought and Political Change in China POSC 353/453

Posted on April 4, 2013

Preliminary Plan for POSC 353/453
Professor Schroeder, Fall 2013

“No state is forever strong or forever weak,” said Han Feizi, China’s great legalist philosopher. “If those who uphold the law are strong, the state will be strong; if they are weak, the state will be weak.” Han believed that as a country’s conditions changed, the law and institutions must change to meet these new circumstances. China today faces new circumstances that have caused numerous monumental problems impacting the lives of China’s people. Countless “mass incidents” over these problems have served to compound them. All this has prompted serious debate among intellectuals, leaders, and average citizens regarding the potential for political reform. What might that reform look like? Is political change possible in a country ruled by a single political party, plagued by corruption, operated by networks of patrons and clients, and bereft of legal remedies?

This seminar provides a fuller understanding of China’s potential for political change — and the direction it might take — by examining Chinese political thought from Confucius, Mencius and Han Feizi through Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. These and other political philosophies have influenced China’s political culture, which will give shape to what any change might look like.

Complete by End of Course

George Orwell: 1984.
Aldous Huxley: Brave New World
Donald Munro: The Concept of Man in Early China
Fung Yu-lan: A Short History of Chinese Philosophy

Other readings listed below



The Hundred Schools of Thought

1. Confucianism — the moral order


Bai Tongdong: China: The Political Philosophy of the Middle Kingdom, 2012 (Portions)
Yan Xuetong: Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, 2011 (Portions)
Arthur Wright, ed.: Confucianism and Chinese Civilization, 1964 (Portions)
Fung Yu-Lan: A Short History of Chinese Philosophy (portions read throughout)
Basic Writings of Confucius, Mencius and Xunzi.

2. Mohism — Utilitarian ethic emphasizing impartial concern for all

Reading Mozi: The Ten Mohist Doctrines

3. Legalism — based on laws

Han Feizi
Reading:Bai (Portions)
Basic writings of Han Feizi

4. Taoism —

Dao Dejing
Reading Bai (portions)
D. C. Lau: Tao Te Ching (portions)

5. School of Yin & Yang — yin, yang and the five elements

Reading The I-ching

6. Logicians — School of Names

7. Agriculturalists — utopian communalism and equality

Development of Political Culture

Reading: Sun Tzu: The Art of War
Lucian Pye: The Mandarin and the Cadre: China’s Political Cultures
Lucian Pye: Asian Power and Politics: The Cultural Dimensions of Authority

Persistence of Tradition

The Wu Wei — The Action of Non-action
1069 Wang Anshi
Reading: Wang Anshi: The Ten Thousand Word Memorial
1861-95 The Tongzhi Restoration
The Self-Strengthening Movement
1898 One Hundred Days’ Reform
1905 Sun Yatsen’s Three People’s Principles
Reading Mary Clabaugh Wright: The Last Stand of Chinese Conservatism, 1962 (Portions)
Immanuel Hsu: The Rise of Modern China, 2000 (portions)
Barrington Moore: Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy, Chapter IV

Two Paths of Politics

1919 May Fourth Movement & Intellectual Awakening
Reading: Immanuel Hsu: The Rise of Modern China (portions)

Marx, Lenin and the Battle for China

Mao Zedong Thought
Reading: Mao Zedong: “Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan.”
“The Struggle in the Chingkang Mountains.”
“On Correcting Mistake Ideas in the Party.”
“On New Democracy.”
“On Coalition Government.”

Politics in Command

Mao Zedong Thought
Reading: Mao Zedong: “On the Ten Great Relationships.”
Nick Knight: Rethinking Mao: Explorations in Mao Zedong’s Thought. 2007 (portions).
Stuart Schram: The Thought of Mao Tse-tung.

Black and White Cats

Deng Xiaoping Theory
Jiang Zemin’s Three Represents

China’s Great Debate

Mao Zedong, George Orwell and Aldous Huxley
Democracy, liberalism, or the Status Quo
Reading: Fred Dallmayr and Zhao Tingyang, eds. Contemporary Chinese Political Thought: Debates and Perspectives, 2012
Bruce Gilley and Larry diamond, eds.: Political Change in China: Comparisons with Taiwan 2008 (portions).
Yu Keping: Democracy is a Good Thing: Essays on Politics, Society, and Culture in Contemporary China, 2009.
Chu Yun-Han, Larry Diamond, Andrew Nathan, and Doh Chull Shin, eds: How East Asians View Democracy, 2008 (portions)

Protest and Power

Reading: Kevin J. O’Brien, ed.: Popular Protest in China (2008)
Elizabeth Perry: Challenging the Mandate of Heaven,
(2002) Issues on democracy and liberalism

Page last modified: January 30, 2015