Sample History Essay Paper on Confucianism in China Today

TO: The President Of The Unites States Of America

FROM: Advisor To A New President

DATE: December 13, 2016

SUBLECT:Traditional China A Warlike Nation With A History Of Conquest

The traditional China was a warlike nation with a record of conquest. Succeeding Chinese dynasties utilized the military in keeping the empire divided into small sufficient groups that no one of them were not able to pose a threat to the throne. This was in line with the political and administrative efforts, and was also backed by the developing significance of local authority from 900 to 1795. Additionally, wars did not unite the empire except at the highest political level and joining this imperial forum was strictly controlled. Moreover, the Chinese dynasts developed their empires by breaking regional powers and adapting local ones. The empire was not a standardized state firmly joined by communal social and cultural ties. Furthermore, the differences in China no longer disclaim the political assertions of its grand dynasties than differences in any other evoked institution, but they stress the significance of military force in establishing dynastic territories. No “China” could exist without war. Additionally, “China” could only be created by prolonged, victorious military and political campaigns extended over decades (Lorge 177).

Each dynasty was characterized by the progression of these conquests, and shaped by the basis established by the dynastic initiator, his family and his administrators, both civil and military. All the dynasties, Liao, Sog, Jin, Yuan, Ming, and Qing, were dissimilar at central and operational levels, while also participating in some measure of the tradition of Chinese imperial philosophy that transformed over time. Additionally, the political and institutional structures later impacted the growth of the Chinese society without making full breaks at each change of dynasty. A lot was reserved and the limited access of imperial power at the local level shielded the majority of people from the challenges of dynastic fortune (Lorge 178).

The essential resemblances of imperial power creation and maintenance under apparent disparities were useful. The initial step before trying to conquer an empire was forming a well-organized, united political organization. The political organization was normally similar to a military one, and the great attention civil-military relationships belonged more to considerations of formed governments. The main political concern for all emperors was loyalty. Additionally, efficiency came second, whereas incompetence and disloyalty were not accepted. Military and administrative efficiencies were very essential in forming an empire compared to maintaining one. Moreover, in cases where administrative skills were rationally prevalent, skilled generals were usually not enough even among the steppe people (Lorge 178).

Competent generals were the highly difficult individuals in imperial China. All emperors emanated from a group of capable military leaders, and all founding emperors were supposed to gather a small group of good commanders around them for the succession of a dynasty. Generals were the arbiters of dynastic fortune in a manner that civil officials existed not because the only crises that threatened dynastic survival were military ones. Competent generals had to be located but also controlled, respected, and not permitted to become very conceited. Their emperors murdered the majority of good generals once a dynasty became stable and others were even killed without threatening the throne. A recognized general was regarded a political hazard. Additionally, if a former successful general were sent out on a mistaken campaign and failed, the official or emperor who conceived the plan could be blamed. Alternatively, a successful general would be murdered to prevent him from acquiring his political due or to permit an emperor or statesman to exploit the glory. Serving as a general in the imperial China was a difficult and insecure job, even if the dangers and uncertainties of the battleground could be fruitfully negotiated (Lorge 178).

Concerning the civil part of the dynastic, working in the central government was highly dangerous over the last several years of imperial Chinese history. One case of absolute political murder occurred during the three centuries of the Song dynasty, but during the Yuan, Ming, and Qing period, an intense rise in hostility at court was witnessed including in the presence of the Emperor. Leaders were flogged before the emperor and in some cases tormented. Moreover, slayings, detention, and banishment to far borders were common. With a greater part of the society not armed and trained in war, the imperial army was in charge of internal security and external protection once the first dynasty was formed (Lorge 179).

The process formed the oratorical structure of the army’s responsibilities. Practically, the imperial army also engaged in campaigns of invasion whose sole objective was military success for the empire. The allegedly powerless and civil-focused Song dynasty sent an effective team to defeat the West River area in the beginning of 1070s, as the initial step in an effort to extinguish the Tanguts. Despite the fact that the Song Court  had a good reason for attempting to destroy the Tanguts and therefore the West River campaign could sensibly become part of the rubric of border protection, the movement was evidently expansionistic and moderated the painful military feelings the court was tending for a long period (Lorge 179). Unluckily, it was hard for any army to execute its responsibilities: conquest, security, and defense without significant time for reorientation and reorganization between the responsibilities. Certain Mongol Yuan forces did not shift out of the conquest mode even when in garrison, restricting their security responsibilities only to tasks severe to government authority. This was effective for the imperial government but placed the local order under the control of local elites.

Generally, the imperial Chinese armies were able to carry out many functions effectively with guidance and adequate time for preparation. Additionally, the local Chinese society was as well highly militarized compared to what the imperial government believed it ought to be. The substantial gap between the imperial army’s regulating duties and its competency to execute them made individuals and groups to learn defending themselves. Additionally, Bandits were a persistent challenge, and in North Carolina, based on the duration, raids by steppe bands posed a consistent danger.

Warlike arts for personal protection and as part of community paramilitaries were prevalent in several regions. Though often forbidden, weapons existed and were owned by normal subjects. Furthermore, particular occupations enhanced their own security armies to guard the transportation or storage of their products, or the operation of their services. In periods of disasters, the state was ready to prepare the forces for its own security, such as the Tea Merchant’s Army in the Southern Song. Therefore, the Chinese society was not greatly armed, but rather the firearms and martial skills existed regardless of government efforts to restrict the channels of aggresion to the imperial army or authorized forces. The link between the channels and approaches of combat and society in China between 900 and 1795 was multifaceted. There is no sense that transformations in military technology abruptly or even gradually transformed the society, or that variations in society altered the military (Lorge 179).

Nevertheless, this does not imply that the military was secluded from the society. Even during the Qing dynasty, when a fraction of the army was openly detached from the entire Chinese society by its culture, a great part of the imperial army was still Chinese, obtained from the normal farming population as Chinese armies had always been.

China never used to be a peculiarly non-military society in any way, although the language of the elites vigorously wanted to restrain the significance of the military. This was partially because they rationally believed that the society needed not to be governed by force and partly because their positions were determined by their control of force. Local elite precisely managed significant channels of aggresion and could depend on imperial armies to suppress revolts attempting to abolish the prevailing social order. Essentially, the military and society in China were very firmly knit that trying to split them was not logical or heuristically viable.

In the 19th century attacks and uprisings, the first of several Sino-Western conflicts was the first Opium War fought from 1839 to 1842. The war was beyond a competition for the opium trade in China; it was a rivalry amid China as the symbolic of earliest Eastern evolution and Britain as an antecedent of the modern West. The subsequent Opium War, named the Arrow War, which occurred from 1856 to 1860, eroded China against Great Britain and France. The internal revolts were repressed but the external pressures persisted. Following a brief period of “cooperation” in the 1860s, foreign powers regenerated their attacks on China, responding to widespread antiforeigner violence. Additionally, China was involved in several battles: the Tianjin Genocide with France in 1870, the Ili disaster with Russia in 1879, the Sino-French battle from 1884 to 1885, and the Sino-Japanese battle from 1894 to 1895. During the last two events, the terrain was lost, and compensations had to be paid to the victor in the Sino-Japanese War.

Do You Think Hierarchy Kept The Chinese From Raising Their Social Status That Is, From Becoming Members Of The Elite)?

No, the Chinese society was distinct in the ancient world in the level at which it was molded by the activities of the state. This process was evident in the political power and great social prestige of Chinese state officials. For over 2000 years, the officials, bureaucrats operating as emperor in the capital and provinces, exemplified the cultural and social elite of Chinese civilization. The class was based on early Chinese rulers finding administrators loyal to the central state instead of their families or areas. Philosophers like Confucius had supported choosing the officials based on merit and personal morality instead of birth or wealth. Additionally, by Han dynasty establishing its authority in China around 200 B.C.E., the leaders needed every province to send men of potential to the capital where they were examined and selected for official positions according to their performance (Eurasian Social Hierarchies).

With time, the system of choosing administrators developed into the world’s first professional civil service. During 124 B.C.E., emperor Wu Di formed a grand academy whereby probable officials received training as scholars and were absorbed in the Chinese classical texts concerned with history, literature, art, and mathematics, stressing on Confucian teachings. Towards the end of the Han dynasty, about 3000 students were registered who were required to undertake several written examinations to choose officials of different grades. Additionally, private schools in the provinces channeled more aspiring candidates into the examination system, which continued until the early twentieth century. The system tended to favor individuals whose families were rich and able to offer the years of education needed to pass even the lower-level exams. Closeness to headquarters and domestic links to the grand court assisted in acquiring a position in the highest of Chinese elites. However, village communities or local landowners could cater for the education of bright young men from commoner families, assisting them to join the lucky circle of officialdom. For instance, a pig farmer managed to become the emperor’s adviser. Therefore, the examination system offered a modest measure of social mobility in a hierarchical society (Eurasian Social Hierarchies).

In the dynasties that followed, the system developed to be clearer and was a lasting and identification feature of the Chinese civilization. Moreover, individuals who managed to join the bureaucracy entered a kingdom of higher honor and greater status. Senior officials moved in carriages and were decorated with robes, ribbons, seals, and headdresses suitable to their rank. Lower officials who functioned in the provinces instead of the capital were recognized by their refined speech, cultural complexity and their urban behaviors, including their political power. Their educational level made them the carriers and creators of the Chinese culture.

Although merchants were considered greedy, materialistic, and unproductive people who made illegal profit from selling other people’s work, they often became wealthy. They attempted to attain a more honored elite status by buying landed estates or educating their children for the civil service examinations. Additionally, the majority of them had backdoor relationship with state officials and property owners who considered them useful and were not opposed to gaining from business links with merchants regardless of their unpleasant repute (Eurasian Social Hierarchies).

In the history of China’s civilization, many of its citizens were peasants staying in small households signifying two or three generations. Some had sufficient land to aid their families and sell something on the local market. Moreover, several others could barely survive. The nature, the state and property owners worked together in ensuring that the life of many peasants was very susceptible. A great peasant uprising called the Yellow Turban Rebellion emerged due to the yellow scarves the peasants wore among their heads. The movement established leaders, organizations, and a uniting ideology in a common form of Daoism. It was after complete equality, social harmony, and common ownership of property, which improved the life of peasants (Eurasian Social Hierarchies).

Non-Confucian Schools Of Thought In The Post-Han Period In China

In the early 20th century, prior to and following the decline of the Qing, Confucianism was severely condemned by the New Culture Movement. The foundation of the movement was that almost everything concerning China’s traditional culture was preventing it from being a modern nation-state. In the poster of science and democracy, the reformers believed that nothing could be retained in Confucianism. Additionally, some scholars thought that Confucianism could also be reformed, particularly by discussing with Buddhism and Western philosophy (Adler 6).

The New Culture Movement, also called the May 4 Movement, condemned Confucianism for its age and gender-centered hierarchies, which were harsh in the course of Ming and Qing dynasties. Communist thinkers as well supported the anti-Confucian style, and therefore during the period of the Communist victory in 1949, Confucianism in mainland China was almost dead (Adler 7).

When the Communists came to power, their anti-Confucian language increased. Besides their professed opposition to social hierarchies, they perceived Confucianism as a “feudal ideology”- even though the Chinese-socio-political system had not been feudal since the Zhou dynasty. The Marxist theory of history states that Feudalism is an unavoidable stage before capitalism, which would be compulsorily replaced by socialism. Moreover, China was yet to enter the capitalist stage, but the Maoist program of radical social reform tried to jump into the socialist stage. For instance, they rearranged the society into rural communes and other work units, which substituted the extended family as the basic social unit. Confucian ethics had been founded on the family and therefore remnants of the Confucian thought were eliminated since they posed a threat to New China (Adler 8).

The strictest subjugation happened in the “Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution” of 1966-1976 (Adler 8). This was prompted by Mao Zedong to eliminate the party of likely opposition to Mao. There was closure of schools and universities and young individuals were requested to join the revolting bands of “Red Guards” who eradicated temples and other cultural artifacts of traditional China, stressed, and aggressively penalized anyone suspected of sympathizing with the Western or traditional Chinese culture. This was part of Mao’s theory of “continuing revolution” intended for retaining the ideological purity of the party and the nation (Adler 8).

Another characteristic of the Cultural Revolution was the enactment of mass rallies in the newly cleared Tiananmen Square, which was the biggest public open square in the world meant for accommodating these rallies. Millions of Red Guards and others waved their “little red books” of quotations from Chairman Mao at the rallies, several of them collapsing in their love and admiration of the chairperson. Mao was handled similarly to the creator of a new faith. Generally, the ten years of the Cultural Revolution were frightening, which almost every Chinese currently intensely regret (Adler 9).

After the death of Mao in 1976, his principal henchman who backed the Cultural Revolution known as the Gang of Four, including Jiang Qing, Mao’s wife, was suddenly detained and confined. Jiang Qing later ended her life there. In 1979, governance of the party and state fell to Deng Xiaoping, who started a procedure of liberalization and opening to the West. This comprised the steady restoration of temples and monasteries, and allowed scholars to learn Confucianism again not as a feudal ideology but as a genuine philosophical system that was part of the traditional Chinese culture. The untying of restrictions on thought and scholarship was a slow process that is still in process. In 1982, a new constitution was implemented that recognized the liberty of religious belief, although it put restrictions on religious practice. Only few religions have lawful standing: Daoism, Buddhism, Islam, Protestant Christianity, and Catholicism. Confucianism is still not formally considered as a religion (Adler 9).

Works Cited

Adler, Joseph A. “Confucianism in China Today.” 22 August 2011. Accessed 13 December 2016.

Eurasian Social Hierarchies. 500 B.C.E – 500 C.E. file:///C:/Users/edu/Desktop/chinese%204.pdf Accessed 13 December 2016.

Lorge, Peter. War, Politics and Society in Early Modern China, 900–1795. Routledge, 2006.