IV) China’s harmony renaissance, can world ignore it?
Democracy grew out of the 17th century Enlightenment movement as a resolution of the conflicts between the ruler and the ruled. But, the movement as a tradition had inspired many national revolutions. The notable ones for this discussion were the French revolution, American independence war, and the Chinese 1911 revolution extending to the 1949 revolution led by Mao Zedong. However, three hundred years is very short for human history. Throughout Chinese history, every 300 years or so peasants would rise up to overthrow the emperor. However, the ancient philosophies of harmony and moderation were always able to restore stability, prosperity, and a loosely united empire. Even after foreign Mongolian and Manchu invasions, stability was restored with the invaders being converted by Chinese culture. The resilience of the Chinese nation lies in its deep-rooted harmony philosophies coupled with prosperity at the beginning of each successful dynasty. This typically goes on in every 300 years or so for two millennium. Then China, after two hundred years of Western and Japanese humiliation and invasion, had lost its direction for a while. Today, with relative prosperity returning, demands for harmony as a way to resolve conflicts in a complex modern society are returning in force. This is how China has rediscovered itself from the roots of its ancient culture. This may prove to be like the European renaissance after the Dark Ages in rediscovering the ancient Greek culture.
Democracy as a movement for the most part is universally accepted in the world today. One needs only to look at how many new countries or changing countries are calling themselves democracies. However, the US has its own definition. This mostly means that countries agreeing with the US are democracies. Democracy as a system of government needs to take hold and grow in the fertile soil of developing countries and countries evolving from their old cultures. This ideal of anti-corruption and anti-dictatorship is changing traditional order by reform. Harmony advises renunciation of force. In time, democracy will grow and produce its fruits in the global modern environment. In the 1980’s, the Soviet planned economy dissolved due mostly to its own non-competitiveness with the Western market economy. In cold war rhetoric, it was called “US capitalism triumphs over communism”. Communism thus had a bad name. But, the bad connotation mainly comes from the cold war mentality that “communism means enslavement”. It is not the intent of the present paper on harmony to take sides. It is important to point out for those who did not grew up during the cold war era that the US media divided the world into the free world and the communist world. Today so-called Communist countries can be very capitalistic and materially very successful. The dividing line is very blurred today.
Due to the rapid expansion of economic and industrial activities in China during the last twenty some years, China has developed from an egalitarian society to a society of unbalanced wealth distribution and from a self-sufficient society to one that depends heavily on energy and outside material resources like all developed nations. The Scientific Development Concept was thus conceived by the Chinese leaders to provide a blueprint for a long-term sustainable development. In time, this blueprint has expanded to include old and new conflict resolution in China’s grand modernization. Harmony being China’s dominant philosophy for 2500 years, it is no surprise, despite the onslaught of Western culture for the last two hundred years, that China rediscovered its ancient heritage. This is not unlike the return of harmony philosophy to the golden Han dynasty after the Spring and Autumn Warring States period. There were thousands of battles 4fought between feudal states at the time, but finally peace and stability was restored through the institution of Confucius’ teaching.
In the fertile soil of the Chinese harmony garden after Chinese leaders called for Harmony Society development, ideas of harmony spread like spring bamboo shoots after the rain. Creative ideas of Harmony Society from government officials, intellectuals, think tanks, academicians, and the general public are currently sweeping through the country. We may once again witness a major new harmony movement excelling the ancient teachings of ancient harmony that has guided China for the last 2500 years. A true period of “let a hundred flowers bloom and a hundred schools contend” may be in the making, surpassing the Spring and Autumn period debates in scope and magnitude. If this social harmony movement takes hold, the Chinese culture may take a leap into the future World of Harmony.
Today’s China is in disharmony. The current modernizing and opening and reform have created a degree of regional prosperity. But, with the impact of materialism and lower moral values there are conflicts due to disparity of wealth and privilege and to difference of the new and the old. In the traumatic changes that are required for modernizing, there is extreme thinking in China that forgets the old teachings. Today there are Chinese who feel lost and passively admit cultural inadequacy, under the incessant criticism by U.S. media. Fortunately, the current government, to deal with the multitude of contradictions, came up with the Concept of Scientific Development for modernization.This Concept of Scientific development is widely discussed and covered by the media. However, the major stroke of luck is that this scientific development concept brought China back in touch with the forefathers’ teaching of harmony. Harmony as a way of life is deeply founded in Chinese family unity and is the essence of Chinese ancient teaching. On the current path, China will transition through the current adjustment and reach a modern society with Chinese characteristics. This may very well be a socialistic society with harmony. Its development remains to be seen. In the process, China’s harmony development can only bring harmony to the rest of the world. The ultimate patience of harmony will work its way by resonance. The often-used phrase “Socialist Society with Chinese Characteristics” is ultimately the Socialist Society with Chinese Harmony.