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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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*Well, it troubles my sleep.

Don't know if this was posted before but this from the Washington Post. 
En Lin Wei must be apoplectic.

<Confucius Making a Comeback In Money-Driven Modern China*

By Maureen Fan
Washington Post Foreign Service
Tuesday, July 24, 2007; A01

ZHENGZHOU, China -- At first, the Web site director and his 
schoolteacher wife sent their 5-year-old son to a Confucian school in 
this central Chinese city simply because it was two minutes from home. 
But the more they learned about the school, the more they liked what 
they saw.

Children as young as 3 were memorizing and reciting ancient Chinese 
classics, notably the works of Confucius, the philosopher best 
remembered for promoting filial piety in the 6th century B.C. 
Even if students didn't understand all the words, they grasped the 
concepts of treating their elders with respect and their classmates with 

"Nowadays society is very superficial," said the Web administrator, Guan 
Tao, explaining why he continued to enroll his son at the school. "As a 
Chinese, you must know something about your own culture and literature."

Confucianism is enjoying a resurgence in this country, as more and more 
Chinese like Guan seek ways to adapt to a culture in which corruption 
has spread and materialism has become a driving value. For many Chinese, 
a system of ethical teachings that stresses the importance of avoiding 
conflict and respecting hierarchy makes perfect sense, even if it was 
first in vogue centuries ago.

State-supported commemorations of Confucius have become more common, and 
the number of people studying his works has increased. A new 
best-selling book and TV program based on the sage's teachings have made 
Confucianism easy for the masses to digest.

"With the fast economic growth, many people have become selfish and have 
no morality," said Ren Xiaolin, founder of the Zhengzhou Young Pioneers 
school, which Guan's son attends. "This has created a need for 
Confucianism. . . . The change is overwhelming and many Chinese can't 
get used to it. It's created a clash of values."

Because Confucianism has only recently regained its popularity -- it was 
seen as an obstacle to modernization during the anti-intellectual 
Cultural Revolution of 1966-76 -- many Chinese today are hard-pressed to 
fully describe the philosophy. It has become a grab bag of ideas that 
people are tailoring to their own needs as they search for a new belief 

For the government, Confucianism is a way to encourage order and bring 
more legitimacy to its rule -- the philosophy's emphasis on respect for 
authority, for example, is appealing to Communist Party leaders. 
Although they are loath to slow economic growth, those leaders have 
nonetheless promoted a return to traditional values as an alternative to 
the Chinese preoccupation with financial gain.

For parents, Confucianism is a way to raise obedient children who won't 
forget their own culture. In an age of conspicuous consumption, the 
philosophy is also appealing to a growing middle class whose members 
often say they can finally afford to consider spiritual matters.

"Now we have the chance and the financial ability to send our son to 
school to study Chinese traditional classics," said Guan, who never had 
the opportunity to study Confucianism himself. "This is something that 
represents the country."

In the town of Qufu, in Shandong province 
where Confucius was born in 551 B.C., the observance of his birthday 
becomes more elaborate each year. State television began live broadcasts 
of the Sept. 28 celebration in 2004; the event is being hosted this year 
by provincial officials, a testament to its perceived importance.

Officials seeking promotions in one county of Henan province 
are evaluated by friends, relatives, co-workers and members of the 
public on how well they care for their parents. Traditional values of 
filial piety and family responsibility "are the foundation of a 
successful career," Liu Sen, head of Changyuan County's Communist Party 
committee, told the state-run China Daily 
in April.

In Beijing 
the Education Ministry has approved more courses in traditional 
Confucian culture. The government also supports 145 nonprofit Confucius 
Institutes in more than 52 countries and regions, aimed at promoting 
Chinese language and culture. People's University added a new major in 
2005: the study of ancient Chinese civilization.

The popularity of Confucianism is in part a sign that most ordinary 
Chinese citizens, except for party officials and some academics, no 
longer truly believe in a communist ideology.

has made great economic achievements in the past 30 years, and this has 
brought back a confidence that we lost. With this confidence comes a 
return to being proud of Chinese culture," said Kang Xiaogang, a 
professor at People's University and one of China's top proponents of 
Confucian education. "Another important reason for the growing 
popularity of Confucianism is that the effectiveness of Marxist ideology 
has decreased. That's why the government needs to look for new ideologies."

President Hu Jintao 
has not officially endorsed Confucianism as a new ideology but has 
embraced some of its ideas, evoking Confucius's name in 2005 and -- 
along with Premier Wen Jiabao 
-- calling for a new "harmonious society" aimed at calming social unrest.

Kang said he thinks Confucianism should be made China's national 
religion; other scholars insist that it's impossible to simply turn a 
philosophy into a religion.

Already, a debate has begun over whether Confucianism can really solve 
problems that China's fast-paced modernization and current education 
system have failed to address.

Last year, a charismatic Beijing Normal University professor was plucked 
from obscurity to host a state television program that explained "The 
Analects of Confucius," a collection of teachings attributed to the 
philosopher, in everyday language. Professor Yu Dan then wrote a $3 book 
based on her lectures, which sold 4 million copies, more than double the 
sales of the previous bestseller, "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."

But Yu Dan's book has been criticized by scholars for providing an 
incomplete, even distorted view of the philosopher's teachings. Yu 
herself acknowledges that she did not present all of Confucius's ideas, 
because she feels not all are relevant to modern China. For example, 
Confucius advocated a patriarchal system that assumed men were superior 
to women.

In an upcoming issue of Du Shu, China's leading intellectual periodical, 
Tsinghua University philosophy professor Daniel Bell 
argues that Yu's book depoliticizes Confucius, who in fact was a radical 
social critic with low opinions of his rulers. It is not surprising that 
Chinese leaders would play down Confucian values of social or political 
criticism, Bell said.

Educators say their colleagues sometimes use a selective application of 
Confucian values that are fashionable at the moment.

"People think they can find happiness in money," said Zhao Zeyuan, 
principal of another campus of the Young Pioneers school, on the grounds 
of the city's recently restored Wen Miao temple. "We try to teach the 
original Confucianism here, and it asks people to discipline themselves 
and treat others well, so that society can be harmonious. The 
Confucianism interpreted by some Chinese scholars is not exactly the 
same as the original Confucianism."

Even government officials are describing communist ideology in novel 
ways, arguing that it is compatible with Confucianism despite the 
party's effort over more than a decade to destroy the philosophy.

"Our ideology has never changed. Our final goal is to realize 
communism," said Li Baoku, a former vice minister of civil affairs and 
president of the China Aging Development Foundation, which has been 
promoting filial piety through television programs, books and DVDs.

"The core content of communism is for everyone to get rich, for everyone 
to have ultimate or unlimited resources, for our morals to be elevated 
to the highest level. But to realize that, we have to take steps," Li 
said. "It's not going to happen overnight."

Last year, a bestseller called "Wolf Totem," written by a dissident, was 
debated among intellectuals and business leaders. One of its central 
points, some said, was that Confucianism had taught China's Han Chinese 
majority to behave like obedient sheep, accepting any leadership, as 
opposed to the more independent, predatory and successful Mongolian 
wolves in the book.

On a recent afternoon, in a classroom at the Wen Miao temple, Wang 
Zhenyu, a computer engineer turned Chinese herbalist, arrived to pick up 
his son. As the father removed his shoes to enter the classroom, his son 
quickly brought him a pair of slippers. "Here, Dad, you better wear 
these," said Wang Cihang, 11.

"I don't want my son to be like all those poor kids who have to take 
exams all the time," said Wang Zhenyu, 41. "My son is more polite after 
attending this school, and I don't have to push him to study. My older 
daughter is studying in the U.K. No matter what jobs they find, they 
should have a happy life and know how to be good people."

Ren, the founder of the Young Pioneers school, said he feels it's only a 
matter of time before everyone is on the same page.

"Confucianism, as far as I understand, calls for universal harmony in 
the world with a single culture. In a world with universal harmony, all 
different religions in the world will share a common view, and all 
different interpretations about the universe will reach a consensus."

/Researcher Jin Ling contributed to this report.>/