From Culture to Cultural Nationalism: A Study of New Confucianism of the 1980s and 1990s

  • Tze-ki HonEmail author
Part of the China Academic Library book series (CHINALIBR)


Having been a prime target of attack and denunciation for more than half a century, Confucianism enjoyed a robust revival in China in the 1980s and 1990s. By all accounts, this resurgence of Confucianism was spectacular. Rather than a relic of feudalism and a stumbling block to Chinese modernity as the May Fourth cultural iconoclasts once described, Confucianism was seen as an indispensible cultural force that would deliver China into global capitalism. Rather than a sociopolitical system that exploited women, peasants, and the poor as the Red Guards of the Cultural Revolution once despised, Confucianism was considered the wellspring of cultural authenticity that would anchor China’s rise in the twenty-first century. A result of this spectacular revival is that Confucianism has become, once again, an important social and cultural force in China after 30 years of absence. This rapid return gives rise to speculations that a transformation “from Communism to Confucianism” is underway. In this chapter, I will analyze the New Confucian research project headed by Fang Keli 方克立. Funded by the Chinese government as part of the seventh (1986–96) and the eighth (1991–95) five year plans for philosophy and the social sciences, Fang’s research project defined the scale and scope of New Confucianism. It also directly linked New Confucianism to Confucian capitalism, thereby inserting the research into the debate of building “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” More importantly, it helped to start a discourse of state-capitalism that focused on modernity rather than revolution.


Cultural Revolution State Capitalism Confucian Ethic Chinese Characteristic Confucian Learning 
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Copyright information

© Foreign Language Teaching and Research Publishing Co., Ltd and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.History DepartmentState University of New YorkGeneseoUSA

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