Synopses & Reviews
"China's New Confucianism is a lively, informed, and very insightful look at modern China. Daniel A. Bell has an established reputation as an academic analyst. With this book he has accomplished something rarer and more impressive: combining his scholarship in an effortless way with keen observations of daily life, from the sports field to the karaoke bar to the classroom. He is the first to say that no one book, nor even a lifetime's experience, equips an observer to 'understand' China fully. But his book will give almost any reader a better understanding of the energy and contradictions of this country."--James Fallows, correspondent for Atlantic Monthly
"As the first Western scholar to become full-time faculty in political philosophy at one of China's most prestigious universities, Daniel Bell has a unique, insightful, and rich perspective on the Confucian values in contemporary Chinese politics and people's daily lives. The groundbreaking yet effective arguments in this book will elicit much discussion. I enthusiastically support and endorse this book without reservation."--Chen Lai, Peking University
"Daniel Bell is a Westerner who lives in China, speaks Chinese, and teaches in a Chinese university. He writes about his adopted country with exactly the right mix of appreciation and critical distance. His accounts of academic and domestic life, sex and sport, equality and hierarchy, and Marx and Confucius are, all of them, wonderfully illuminating."--Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study
"Daniel Bell has written a broadly accessible book that shows another side of the complex reality that is contemporary China. China's New Confucianism is a book that anyone with a deep interest in China can sink their teeth into, learn from, be challenged by, and thoroughly enjoy."--Stephen C. Angle, Wesleyan University
"Daniel Bell is without peer among contemporary political and social philosophers working on traditional and contemporary China. Full of insight, his new book will stimulate significant discussion. Blending theoretical sophistication, broad command of the best literature, keen observation of contemporary events, and candid personal anecdote, it deserves a great deal of attention, not only in Western countries, but throughout East Asia as well."--Philip J. Ivanhoe, City University of Hong Kong
What is it like to be a Westerner teaching political philosophy in an officially Marxist state? Why do Chinese sex workers sing karaoke with their customers? And why do some Communist Party cadres get promoted if they care for their elderly parents? In this entertaining and illuminating book, one of the few Westerners to teach at a Chinese university draws on his personal experiences to paint an unexpected portrait of a society undergoing faster and more sweeping changes than anywhere else on earth. With a storyteller's eye for detail, Daniel Bell observes the rituals, routines, and tensions of daily life in China. China's New Confucianism makes the case that as the nation retreats from communism, it is embracing a new Confucianism that offers a compelling alternative to Western liberalism.
Bell provides an insider's account of Chinese culture and, along the way, debunks a variety of stereotypes. He presents the startling argument that Confucian social hierarchy can actually contribute to economic equality in China. He covers such diverse social topics as sex, sports, and the treatment of domestic workers. He considers the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, wondering whether Chinese overcompetitiveness might be tempered by Confucian civility. And he looks at education in China, showing the ways Confucianism impacts his role as a political theorist and teacher.
By examining the challenges that arise as China adapts ancient values to contemporary society, China's New Confucianism enriches the dialogue of possibilities available to this rapidly evolving nation.
About the Author
Daniel A. Bell is professor of political philosophy at Tsinghua University in Beijing. His books include "Beyond Liberal Democracy: Political Thinking for an East Asian Contex"t and "East Meets West: Human Rights and Democracy in East Asia" (both Princeton). He writes on China-related affairs for "Dissent" and the "Guardian"'s Comment Is Free blog.
Table of Contents
Part One: Politics 1
Chapter 1: From Communism to Confucianism: Changing Discourses on China's Political Future 3
Chapter 2: War, Peace, and China's Soft Power 19
Chapter 3: Hierarchical Rituals for Egalitarian Societies 38
Part Two: Society 57
Chapter 4: Sex, Singing, and Civility: The Costs and Benefi ts of the Karaoke Trade 59
Chapter 5: How Should Employers Treat Domestic Workers? 75
Chapter 6: The Politics of Sports: From the 2006 World Cup to the 2008 Olympics 91
Part Three: Education 105
Chapter 7: A Critique of Critical Thinking 107
Chapter 8: Teaching Political Theory in Beijing 128
Chapter 9: On Being Confucian: Why Confucians Needn't Be Old, Serious, and Conservative 148
Chapter 1: Depoliticizing the Analects 163
Chapter 2: Jiang Qing's Po liti cal Confucianism 175