“Mao Doesn’t Sell” – The Chinese Government’s Return to Confucianism

confucius_avatar_at_the_shanghai_art_museum

Fascinating article in the WSJ about the Chinese government’s attempt to return to Confucianism. “Mao doesn’t sell,” says one official. But what’s left?

In the last year, the party has publicly ordered its officials nationwide to attend lectures on Confucius and other classical Chinese thinkers, while tightening restrictions on Western influence in art, academia and religion. … The goal isn’t just to encourage “national self-confidence” but to aid “personality development,” encourage altruism and instill “Chinese national moral thinking,” the ministry says in an emailed response to questions.

We’re right in the middle of our look at Confucius on the History of Literature podcast. And as the article reminds us, it’s clear that the issues raised by Confucius 2,500 years ago aren’t going away anytime soon.

Still, I have my doubts. What does it mean for a central government to use art to instill a way of thinking? What does that do for the art itself? What does it mean for our understanding of it?

Quick links:

Episode 8 – The Shi Jing (Chinese Classical Poetry)

Jacke Wilson takes a look at the 305 ancient Chinese poems known as the Shi Jing (also known as the Classic of Poetry or Book of Songs).

Play

 

 

 

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