Similarities Between Democracy And Confucianism

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The compatibility between democracy and Confucianism has long been a controversial topic since the first introduction of this idea from the west to China in the late nineteenth century. In my opinion, the definitions applied on democracy give great variation upon the results of the discussion of the controversy. According to Oxford Dictionary, exclusive means ‘excluding or not admitting other things’. As for democracy, I would like to define it as ‘a mode of decision making about collectively binding rules and policies over which the people exercise control’ (Beetham, 1992) and democracy and Confucianism are not mutually exclusive upon this definition because Confucianism would accept the instrumental value of democracy. In the following…show more content…
For democracy, one of its principle is the principle of majority decision. The final decision made from a democratic process usually goes through some compromises among some extremely different opinions. The outcome is usually ‘not extreme but compromise and eclectic’ (Xu, 2004) which can be accepted by Confucianism. It is because in Confucianism, one important idea is ‘Zhong Yong’, which is usually translated as ‘the Doctrine of Mean’. Doctrine of Mean has multiple and complicated meanings, but in terms of decision-making, it means taking a middle place between two opposing views. (Xu, 2004) As a result, what Doctrine of Mean looking for is the decision made from a democratic process because that decision needs to be comprehensive and not extreme in order to be accepted by the majority of the people. Doctrine of Mean also emphasizes on paying attention and care to the minorities, promoting harmony peacefully and acknowledging diversity at the same time. (Xu, 2004) People can have different opinions and do not necessarily echo one another’s opinions in a harmonious society. That is the principle of ‘harmony but not monotony’. We can see that Confucianism is indeed relatively ‘tolerant’ to other ideologies when compared with other ethics systems such as Islam or Christianity. (Fukuyama, 1995) The coexistence among Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism in China for such a long time is a obvious example proving the…show more content…
However, when treating democracy as a mode of decision making over which the people exercise control on rules and policies, we can find similarities on the ideological aspect of democracy and Confucianism. Moreover, the instrumental value of democracy is very important and realistic way for Confucianism to promote its own ideas. As a result, democracy and Confucianism are not mutually
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