My presentation would discuss the future of liberalism and the preservation of Confucian values in East Asian societies and politics. The discussion involves an interdisciplinary analysis of contemporary East Asian politics that draws on classical political philosophy and history, with implications also in the field of global affairs. The presentation argues that whereas Western political life is based on misunderstanding and forsaking its classical past, as Wittfogel and von Hayek had already shown, with very little originating from ancient Greece besides the terminology of political institutions, East Asian societies are steeped in their own classical tradition. And it is not China that may represent Daniel Bell’s ‘hybrid regime’, but the other ‘Confucian’ societies of East Asia. These societies may offer the key to the future of politics, also for the West, by conflating meritocracy and the Rule of Law, which are aspects that can be found across Confucius’, Mencius’ and Plato’s philosophies.
Contrary to Bell, I argue that Confucian principles in China are abused as a tool of legitimation of total power, thus actually jeopardizing Confucian teachings. Contrary to Tongdong Bai, I argue that Plato’s and Aristotle’s political philosophies are much closer to Confucianism than is generally thought. Drawing on Burckhardt, Strauss, Wittfogel and von Hayek, the discussion argues that Western beliefs about the irreconcilable nature of Asian and European philosophies and politics rest precisely on the West’s abandonment of classical political philosophy, which was funnelled into the present through the distortions of the French Revolution.
Mario Maritan, Mahidol University International College, Thailand
About the Presenter(s)
Dr Mario Maritan is a Lecturer in International Relations at Mahidol University International College, Thailand. His multi-disciplinary research focuses on nationalism, the current spread of populism, and the decline of political liberalism.
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See this presentation on the full schedule – Sunday Schedule