Book Review of 'A Confucian Constitutional Order: How China's Ancient Past Can Shape its Political Future' by Jiang Qing, edited by Daniel Bell and Ruiping Fan (Princeton University Press)
The China Quarterly, 2013
3 Pages Posted: 21 Aug 2013
Date Written: July 26, 2013
In the late 18th century, as the French Revolution burned through the heart of Europe, toppling established political and social orders, the English philosopher Edmund Burke set pen to paper. Earlier a critic of unrestrained royal power, he now mounted a full-blown defense of monarchy, elite rule, state religion and English historical traditions in the face of French Enlightenment values of secularism and popular democracy: “We fear God, we look up with awe to kings; with affection to parliaments; with duty to magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with respect to nobility.” Unsurprisingly, Burke’s thought is the wellspring for several strands of American right-wing thought.
Despite the book’s title, Jiang Qing is a staunch Burkean conservative – just a Chinese one. Such political views happen to come across clothed in the language of Confucianism. But Jiang would be almost equally at home with an interesting array of American Tea Partiers, English monarchical revivalists, Saudi fundamentalists and pre-Vatican II Catholic conservatives.
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