FOREIGN CULTURES 63

9.26.2005

Recall late imperial China had a bureaucratic empire (small number of officials ruling a large, fractious society). Question: how did rulers retain stability? Within localities there were basically no government officials (lowest rank was the county officials); rise of local clans Still, government required that sub-county individuals grouped themselves such that it was easy for the larger government to exert control Note: goals of the state were “pre-modern”; i.e. no one assumed that the government would run schools, build infrastructure, etc. Relatively modest goals of the government Two main goals: Maintain order Collect taxes baojia system: system for (1) maintaining order 10 families were clumped into groups – some individual was their representative. 10 family groups reported to another representative, and so on. None of these representatives were officials of the government. Mutual reporting system (punishment not only for breaking the law, but also for failing to report breaking the law) Mutual responsibility Individuals were responsible not only for their own actions, but also for the actions of their neighbors. lijia system: system for (2); groupings of 110 families. Similar mutual responsibility. Other devices too (morality lectures by officials, etc.) Many things on the local level did not get reported very well (religious activity, etc.) System existed in one form or another over the course of 10 centuries (prof. Whyte) Background on Imperial Government Confucian thought (Confucius: 551-479 BC) prof. Whyte: Confucianism is not a religion – more of a moral philosophy and sociology combined. Confucianism spells out a specific type of government and social structure Calls for a highly hierarchical society with role relations Idea that if you can get people to understand their roles and the rules of the society, everything will be stable (the role relationships, behaviors, and attitudes are paramount) Best society is when everyone knows the rules and abides closely by them Implications Must be a moral orthodoxy, a set of principles, that everyone follows Fear of chaos (contrast with US were everyone can choose their own ideas)

FOREIGN CULTURES 63

9.26.2005

Role of government becomes one of indoctrination (lecturing, praise, moral instruction) – moral guidance of the population Need for the government to make use of coercion is minimized, since misbehavior would be met by social pressure, or would not occur at all because of indoctrination No true concept of good and evil; will proper instruction, anyone can be made to behave properly. Rival doctrine of legalism Set up external rules – don’t bother with peoples’ internal state Laws and sanctions/rewards over moral teaching and social pressure Holds that moral teaching is a waste of time Question: was Mao more of a legalist or Confucian? (looking at his speeches and actions) Society on the local level in late imperial China Mao wanted to destroy the “feudalism” that was in place Late 19th – early 20th century village organization; was it feudalism, or something else? prof. Whyte: Chinese system was very different from Western feudalism 90% of population engaged in farming – not just subsistence farming; crops grown for sale for centuries; well-developed pre-industrial agricultural system. Private family ownership of land; relatively free-market system of buying/renting land Different systems of rent: pay portion of the crop, pay a fixed amount Rent often a substantial amount (e.g. 50% of crop given to landlord) Extensive system of contracts Some families were wealthy enough to live off of rents/interest from lending money; some were able to hire labor. Some were much poorer – wealth inequality. No limits on land purchasing – wealthy families could buy up extra land. Not an aristocratic society; not a caste system; relatively large amount of mobility, but much inequality Is this western-style feudalism? in feudalism, you are born into a caste; not so here in feudalism, the local lord owns land, distributes it; not so here in feudalism, serfs are bound to the land, not so here hard to classify – not feudalism, not full capitalism

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