This prologue discusses Classical Confucian political thought—its conception of government, of the relationship between ruler and ruled, of the methods of ruling, and of the obligations of individuals toward the political community. Recent attempts to rethink Confucianism have centered on recasting core Confucian ethical values into a more democratic political vision. The tendency to favor a set of core Confucian moral values can be understood as a reaction to the critique of Confucianism by modernization enthusiasts, both Chinese and Western. Chinese communists attacked Confucianism for its patriarchal conception of the family, its hierarchical leanings, and its promotion of hypocrisy on the part of the ruler toward the masses. To counter these charges, it was felt necessary to elicit the best in Confucianism, and build upon it a modern politics.
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