We in the West see history through “Western” glasses. And this is natural enough I guess, because we have all been educated that way. But there is much to be learned by looking at the history of other civilisations. And there could be particular benefit in looking at historical thought in ancient China.
China is a rising power. No one disputes that. Right now, that power is primarily economic and while the US uses its military muscle to reach its objectives, the Chinese are following a different path.
There is also much confusion about China, with many people still believing it to be “Communist”. As someone who has lived in China and travelled there many times, I can assure you this is not the case. In fact, I would venture to say that the West is more “communist”, in the sense that socialism is a variant on communism.
No, China is definitely not communist, but a hybrid of one-party-state rule and capitalism on steroids. Sure, there is the crony capitalism as practiced by the Communist Party elite, but there is also a surge in individual enterprise, which is what drives China’s economic growth.
What I find even more interesting is some of the major contributions to philosophical thought that predate modern China’s experiment with communism.
Many westerners are familiar with Confucius, the philosopher-bureaucrat who had a massive impact on early China. In fact, in latter day China, where many people flounder around looking for some philosophical/idealogical guidance other than communism, Confucius is experience something of a “come back”.
But there is another much more interesting ancient Chinese philosopher - Lao Tzu. In fact, he could be the world’s first libertarian intellectual, something that Murray Rothbard, founder of modern libertarianism, clearly recognised in his article quoted below.
Now, if the Chinese were to “rediscover” Lao Tzu and “rehabilitate” his thought, just imagine what an impact that could have on this world.
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