Resources within Chinese Tradition for Democratic Thinkers to Utilize

In: Comparative Political Theory
Michael Nylan Department of History, University of California Berkeley, Berkeley, California, US

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This paper centers largely on one aspect of Ci Jiwei’s text: that he has largely adopted an outmoded view of imperial China (the May Fourth caricature of the imperial past), and thereby deprives himself of any opportunity to resort to any aspect of “tradition” as a possible resource when rethinking the terms of Chinese legitimacy. Recent work in rethinking “tradition” draws heavily upon many resources, including the Five Classics and the masterworks of the early empires in China, but also upon a range of theoretical treatises describing the strange trajectories of impunity and capitalism, thoughts on rival medical traditions in classical Greece and classical China, and legal definitions proposed for intergenerational equity. This essay seeks to outline some resources within Chinese tradition that proponents of greater democracy in today’s prc might find useful when considering Chinese political thinking.

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