Friday, October 16, 2015

How Confucianism Blends With Communism in China and Leads to a Contempt for Property Rights

It is difficult to convert China from a pirating nation to one that is respectful of intellectual property rights ... owning property in a socialist society is a sin. Thus, stealing an object that is owned by someone else is less corrupt than owning it outright yourself.”
     --- Peter Yu, Professor of Property Law, Communications and Policy, Wuhan, China

From Professor Peter Yu:
Every year, the United States was estimated to have suffered from billions of dollars of trade losses due to piracy and counterfeiting in China. While the Chinese undeniably have taken a free ride on the creative efforts of Western authors and inventors, greed alone does not explain the massive piracy and counterfeiting problems in the country. 
Instead, one needs to develop a better understanding of the Confucian beliefs ingrained in the Chinese culture, the country‟s socialist economic system, the leader‟s skepticism toward Western institutions, the xenophobic and nationalist sentiments of the Chinese populace, the government‟s censorship and information control policy, and the significantly different Chinese legal culture and judicial system. 
Confucianism and Cultural Practices 
For more than two thousand years, Confucianism had heavily influenced the Chinese, who considered the past not only as a reflection of contemporary society, but also as the embodiment of cultural and social values. By encountering the past, one could understand the “Way of Heaven,” obtain guidance to future behavior, and find out the ultimate meaning of human existence. 
Because intellectual property rights allow a significant few to monopolize important materials about the past, they prevent the vast majority from understanding their life, culture, and society and are therefore contradictory to traditional Chinese moral standards. 
Unlike today‟s Westerners, the Chinese in the imperial past did not consider copying or imitation a moral offense. Rather, they considered it “a noble art,” a “time-honored learning process” through which people manifested respect for their ancestors. 
At a very young age, Chinese children were taught to memorize and copy the classics and histories. As they grew up, they became by training compilers, as compared to composers, and the classics and histories generally constituted their universal language. 
Although the practice of unacknowledged quotation is likely to be considered plagiarism today, such a practice was an acceptable, legitimate, or even necessary, component of the creative process in the imperial past. Indeed, early Chinese writers saw themselves more as preservers of historical record and cultural heritage than as creators. Even Confucius proudly acknowledged in the Analects that he had “transmitted what was taught to [him] without making up anything of [his] own.” 
Finally, under the Confucian vision of civilization, the family constituted the basic unit of human community, and the world was an outgrowth of that basic unit. Because the Chinese emphasized familial values and collective rights, they did not develop a concept of individual rights. Nor did they regard creativity as individual property. Instead, they considered creativity as a collective benefit to their community and the posterity. 
If that was not enough, the Confucianists had a strong disdain for commerce and greatly despised the creation of works for sheer profit. It is therefore no surprise that merchants (shang) were considered the lowest among the four social classes in a traditional Chinese society, behind scholar-official (shih), farmer (nung), and artisan (kung). 
Socialist Economic System 
While the Communist government did not emphasize Confucianism until very recently, its view on the function of creative works was similar to that of the Confucianists. 
Under the socialist economic system, property belonged to the State and the people, rather than private owners. 
Authors thus created literary and artistic works for the welfare of the State, rather than for the purpose of generating economic benefits for themselves. Indeed, as Susan Tiefenbrun pointed out, “owning property [in a socialist society was] tantamount to a sin. Thus, stealing an object that [wa]s owned by someone else [wa]s less corrupt than owning it outright yourself.”

Confucianism has a natural affinity with Communism.

Confucianism is a religious system that has historically established a way of life for the Chinese people. As such it is foundational to Chinese culture.

Communism is a Politico-Economic system.

Once introduced as a system, Communism quite naturally grows out of Confucianism.

One could say that Confucianism is a catalytic for Communism.

It is important to understand how religious ideas form the foundations of Cultures.

Cultures reap both good and bad rewards from their foundational ideas.

If a culture is imbued with ideas which are causing it to stay stagnate while the rest of the world progresses, it is not sufficient to simply introduce new ideas into the culture in order to effect change.

Instead, one must understand exactly how the existing ideas are woven into the Culture. You have to know how the knots are tied, in order to untie them.

Hence Critical Analysis of Religions and Cultures is necessary to progress in our world.

And that is as true of Islam, and it's culture, as it is true of Confucianism and Chinese Culture ...

... or America with it's embedded Judeo-Christian culture and ascendent neo-Pagan/Pantheist culture.

It may not be polite to talk religion and politics at the dinner table, but if this world wants to serve a bountiful feast for all of humanity, it will be necessary.

1 comment:

Always On Watch said...

This helps to explain why all the private-property-loving Chinese whom I personally know are Christians.