From this funny little book on “good governance” by a guy who is the president and chairman of his own thinktank and one of his senior advisers. “Confucian scholars” put a curious spin on indigeneity.
For America, democracy is an end in itself. In the post-ideological pragmatism proposed by Chinese thinkers such as Eric X. Li or Zhang Weiwei, democracy is only a means to the end of good governance. ‘If it helps deliver results, great. If not, who needs it?’ is their view.
Counterintuitive as it may appear to the Western mindset, China in many ways is more open to fundamental political reform than the US. Since the US system is based upon the notion that the state itself is constrained by a body of pre-existing law that is sovereign, any thought of rewriting the Constitution is nearly anathema.
In China, however, some intellectuals point out that the remnants of Communist Party theory posit that the current system is the ‘primary stage of socialism’, meaning that it is a transitional phase to a higher and more superior form of socialism. The economic foundation will change with broader prosperity, and thus the legal and political superstructure must also change.
That has led some contemporary Confucian scholars in China to argue that Marxism cannot be the philosophy of the higher stage of development not least since it’s a foreign ideology, and that any new form of government must be based on indigenous sources of legitimacy from within the Chinese experience – meritocratic knowledge of the governing class, the ethical obligation of ruler to the ruled, and tradition.