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Confucius and Good Government

A small review about how Confucius felt about government

Confucius was basically a politician of his day, but one that attracted a large following of disciples, people that learned from him. He traveled from court to court offering his services, and despite the assistance that he gave, he never actually held any high position or office, but we can still today see his governmental strategies, as will be briefly described.

It appears that Confucius wanted a type of harmony with the governing body, most likely an individual, and those governed. The ending of the Zhou Dynasty in China was marred by warring factions within the empire, harsh rule by the power wielding elites, and to some extent, political chaos. Confucius, or rather Kong Fuzi (his given name), lived during the time and sought for an understandable and capable way of ruling.

An emperor would rule, and his rule would be established through benevolence and virtue. Even though laws could be instituted and punishments for breaking each said law would be enforced, the only true way for people to follow what was good was to see that their leader was good. In other words, Confucius taught that rulers should lead by example, and this was the only way a truly great empire could be created at last.

Not only would the Emperor need to be virtuous, but every post in the bureaucracy, military, and any other that an emperor could promote too and from would be based on virtue and righteousness. This would enable the class being ruled to see that all of their leaders were benevolent and upright, and they would want to return the favor for their emperor or statesmen.

But he also was a strong advocate that the state was the most important thing of all. A military could fall, the people could be without food, but as long as the people still had confidence in their ruler, then the state would be secure for the ruler.

Confucius said “when a prince’s personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his personal conduct is not correct, he may issue orders, but they will not be followed.” By saying this, Confucius has put before the ruling class the entire responsibility of their empire/territory/land/etc. by teaching the lesson of good morality equals good governance.

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