Exchange: challenges to traditional society

A baseline discussion: what is traditional society?

What is valued in the Chinese traditional society?

Two paragraphs from John K. Fairbanks, Cambridge History of China Vol. 10, p. 2 on difference between West and China’s world view.

I like Fairbanks’ clear effort to distinguish the different world views of the Western imperialist’s and China’s ruling elite.

Britain, France and USA: valued

  1. nation state
  2. rule of law
  3. benefits of individual rights
  4. Christianity
  5. scientific technology
  6. use of warfare in the service of progress


Chinese ruling class: valued

  1. classical Confucian teachings
  2. universal supremacy of the Son of Heaven (the emperor)
  3. Emperor maintained his rule by being a virtuous ruler (an example to others)
  4. importance of harmonious social order
  5. importance of hierarchy and status
  6. importance of classical learning
  7. tolerated only change within tradition
  8. importance of  the extended family (over the rights of the individual)
  9. responsibility (duty) viewed as more important than rights
  10. civil administrators should control the military and “use merchants (?)”
  11. Principles of moral conduct were valued much higher than individual passions, material profit or even the letter of the law.

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