We are now in a global social environment in which hopes for a world of democracies at peace with each other have faded dramatically. This is in no small measure a direct consequence of American efforts to promote democracy in Iraq by force and violence—an abysmal failure that not only cost the Iraqi people and ourselves tremendous losses in lives and treasure, but which contributed to the growth of extremist movements in the Middle East, particularly ISIS, and which helped unleash a wave of nationalisms around the planet as confidence in an American-led “globalization” faltered. As the Great Recession, and increasing awareness of the growing gulf between the 1% and everyone else, further discredited the process of globalization—the process of the world becoming a single place—the whole role of the United States in the world came into question. People even began to ask if the American dream still had meaning.

As someone who has studied these matters for decades, I expect that the pendulum of global opinion will swing again just as it did many times in Latin America over the course of the twentieth century provided that we concentrate on defending and cultivating social democracy here at home while continuing to offer our nonviolent support and solidarity to democrats abroad.

There were three great waves of democratic openings in Latin America during the twentieth century and two great reverse waves of democratic breakdowns and military coups d’état. After each regressive wave, rhetoric about the inevitable and growing strength of nationalism and the alleged incompatibility of Latin American culture with democracy was widespread. And after each progressive wave, rhetoric about the inevitable and growing progress of modernity, or globalization, and the deep-seated desire for democracy among all peoples was similarly widespread. After each regressive wave Americans became overly pessimistic and after each progressive wave Americans became overly optimistic both about the prospects for democratic progress in other countries and about our ability to help.

Determining American policy after the heady experience of the end of the Cold War—in other words with an exaggerated sense of the ability of the United States to contribute to democratic progress in other countries, and with an exaggerated sense of the capacity of democratic progress to resolve international conflicts—the Bush administration overemphasized the importance of support for democratic self-government in its policy toward Iraq and pursued that objective incompetently, beginning with violent means that could have been expected to prove as counterproductive as they did.i

Beyond their concern that Iraq might be developing weapons of mass destruction, Bush administration officials decided to invade Iraq as part of a broader effort to attack what they presented as the roots of terrorism in prevailing political and social conditions in the Middle East. “A liberated Iraq can show the power of freedom to transform that vital region, by bringing hope and progress into the lives of millions,” George W. Bush declared on the eve of the invasion. A transformed Middle East would not be a source of threats to the United States any more than, say, postwar Germany or Japan. “America’s interests in security, and America’s belief in liberty, both lead in the same direction,” Bush asserted: “to a free and peaceful Iraq.”ii There were additional reasons for the invasion of Iraq, but this was the combination that most forcefully cut away at the traditional American moral arguments for nonintervention.iii

As might have been expected, given America’s experience with coercive democracy promotion in Latin America during the first third of the twentieth century, American interventions in the Middle East have intensified anti-American sentiment and contributed to its growth.iv Even the Obama administration’s drone strikes—preferable as they were to having large numbers of American soldiers on the ground—probably generated far more terrorists than they killed while establishing a terrible precedent and making us guilty of terrorism of our own toward the many innocents fearful of our drones or wrongly killed by them.v We have not yet sunk back into the depravity of torturing our prisoners of war, as the Bush administration did, but it is not clear how long that will remain true.vi Meanwhile, the American people remain generally uninformed about the genuine allies we have in the Muslim world such as the more than a hundred and twenty Islamic scholars who crafted and signed an open letter to Baghdadi, the leader of the so-called “Islamic State,” which concludes “But as can be seen from everything mentioned, you have misinterpreted Islam into a religion of harshness, brutality, torture and murder. As elucidated, this is a great wrong and an offence to Islam, to Muslims and to the entire world.”vii Instead of recognizing the truth of this statement, far too many Americans seem ready to blame the Arab world for not successfully adopting the democracy we proffered at gunpoint, and are inclined to scapegoat the more than a billion Muslims on the planet not only for the violent extremism of a handful but for America’s seemingly diminished place in the world.

If we—the American people—are to provide for our common defense in the best possible way, we will need much more than mere military strength. We will need to look back at our history and see where we have succeeded and where we have failed and seek to learn from both. I have spent my scholarly career doing just this. If I hope for one basic point to be remembered from my scholarly work, it is that in its relations with the rest of the world America has been largely dependent for the successes it has enjoyed on the continuing influence of a moral order over which it has exercised no control. It has been the strength and skill and luck of local allies around the world—sharing some common understandings with Americans about how to advance the values of this moral order—that has been decisive for the fortunes of American policy. A moment’s reflection should suffice to make this clear: our national safety in the aftermath of WWII was largely determined by our successes in building alliances with fellow democrats, especially in Germany and Japan, so that we did not see a repeat of the aftermath of WWI and yet another world war. The Cold War threatened the peace of the world, and our own safety, and it was the aspirations for democracy and national independence of the peoples of the former Soviet empire that brought an end to the Cold War. When the United States has aligned itself with the cause of global civility—the cause of the global common good—it has done the best job possible of providing for the common defense of Americans as well.

At the heart of the common understandings we have shared with a growing number of fellow democrats around the world since the American Revolution has been the still unfolding change in moral sensibility characteristic of the modern world—a change in moral sensibility that welcomes a greater inclusiveness toward the mass of the population, and others previously marginalized, and that involves a greater sense of participation in the life of the society by those previously excluded. This modern moral order has placed emphasis on, and offered a wide variety of understandings of, such constituents of the global common good as the cultivation of nationality, democratic self-government, liberal capitalism, social justice, and peaceful religious pluralism.  The United States has partially embodied and imperfectly sought to advance these constituents of the common good since the founding of the republic.  Despite frequent contradictions within and among American strategies for pursuing these objectives, the United States has sought to pursue all of them simultaneously. But its emphases have shifted, over time and across contexts, in part in response to the different emphases and understandings of these objectives held by other peoples. American civil accomplishments in these endeavors have shaped the ways the United States has been viewed by other peoples. So have American failures. The United States’ brutalities—its violations of the modern moral order—have given rise to opposition both at home and abroad. Yet the influence of the modern moral order on international relations has yet to receive much in the way of systematic study. This is unfortunate because, as the great German jurist and student of British civility, Hermann Kantorowicz, once observed, “what divides and unites the nations—however the votaries of Realpolitik may laugh at the idea—are not material interests, but feelings and opinions.”viii These feelings and opinions, in turn, are profoundly shaped by our human sense of right and wrong.

The American Revolution was intended to be liberating and global by the founding fathers. It proved more so than they had intended. I do not want to minimize America’s original sin of slavery and its oppression of the native peoples. And I do not want to exaggerate the influence of the American Revolution on the modern moral order, but nor do I wish to underestimate it. One window that I can offer is to be found in an essay contest that the Abb Raynal organized in France in 1780 on the following set of questions: “Was the discovery of the Americas injurious or useful to the human species? If good came of it, what are the ways to conserve and increase it? If it produced evils, what are the ways to remedy them?”ix A powerful answer was that the American Revolution was the culmination of the impact of the discovery of the New World on European thought:

Those who will know how to take advantage of this great example shall never forget what they owe to America, where the standard of liberty was laid out for the entire universe; and when one asks them what the discovery of this continent produced, they will respond that it was very cruel in the beginning and that during several centuries, it compensated great evils with only weak advantages, but having softened, humanized, and enlightened the nations by happy experiences which one could not do elsewhere, [America] showed to all the true path to liberty, that civil liberty, preferable to savage liberty has grown deep roots in North America, and has extended its branches to Europe, and, little by little, will cover all parts of the world.x

As far away as China and Japan, there were Confucian scholars who were favorably impressed with the American Revolution—with the moral and political as well as the economic and technological accomplishments of the United States. In the middle of the nineteenth century, Xu Jiyu, who would later become the first president of Beijing University, stressed the exemplary character of George Washington’s patriotism: “He refused to receive pecuniary recompense. He labored to rear an elective system of government. Patriotism like this is to be commended under the whole heaven. Truly it reminds us of one of our own three great ancient dynasties!”xi A “country of peace and concord” is the literal meaning of ōwa koku, the characters selected to render “republic” in Japanese. And in Japan as well as in China, Washington initially appeared as something of a Confucian sage.xii

One of the most important contributions the United States ever made to the cause of social justice in another country was its support for the postwar land reform in Japan. Rather than seek revenge on those who had attacked us in WWII, we sought to make allies of the Japanese people as against the militarist Japanese government that had betrayed them as well as the people of the United States. My article on the subject. The ‘Soft Peace Boys’: Presurrender Planning and Japanese Land Reform”—is available online for free download.xiii

American assistance to other peoples in their pursuit of political liberty has often come through what I have called “civil interventions”—nonviolent efforts to decisively affect regime maintenance or regime change in another country that are informed by a commitment to democratic solidarity. In a book on the subject, I examined successful American civil interventions in Cuba in 1944, Brazil in 1945, Venezuela in 1946, Ecuador in 1947, and Costa Rica in 1948, as well as a civil intervention that ultimately proved counterproductive in Argentina in 1945-1946. Like all other successes in human affairs, the victories here, if they were to be sustained, had to be fought for continually and, unfortunately, only in Costa Rica did democracy survive intact from the 1940s to the present. My book—Democracy and U.S. Policy in Latin America during the Truman Years—is available for purchase online.xiv

In the past year, I have completed a manuscript on the fight against Cherokee Removal in the 1830s—the fight against the American version of “ethnic cleansing” that came to be known as the Trail of Tears and Death. The fight against removal was a turning point both in American relations with American Indian nations, and in American politics and culture. And in some ways it was a very closely fought contest. The final vote on the “Removal Bill” in the House of Representatives in 1830 was 102 to 97. The heroes, villains, and arguments of that fight deserve to be remembered and their lasting influence better understood. The principles and aspirations of the path not taken—the path that a successful resistance to removal represented—still constitute a goal that beckons in our ongoing relations with the native peoples of America. These principles and aspirations are—to a considerable extent—those of the framers of our Constitution: principles and aspirations that were betrayed by the Supreme Court when the issue reached it in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia in 1831.xv We must recognize that we have no right to rule over the American Indian nations as if they were our subjects. Rather we must reestablish a treaty making process with the native peoples and guide our conduct by our word as we have given it in these treaties.

Aware of both the good and the harm that America has done in the world since the American Revolution—and of the present recession in democratic hopes globally—it is essential that the United States seek to do better in the future with knowledge drawn from the past, confidence drawn from the progress that the world has made, and recognition of both the need and the prospects for greater progress in the future.

The recovery of the German and the Japanese peoples’ attachment to the modern moral order in the aftermath of the Second World War, the deepening of that attachment, and the consequent growth of civility in those societies, helped draw the peoples of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union to the modern moral order. It was the successful struggle of these peoples to free themselves from the oppression of the Soviet regime—far more than anything else—that brought about the end of the Cold War. Seeing Western civil accomplishments and idealistic rhetoric as overwhelming the alternative vision of modernity that the Soviet regime had sought to embody and advance is not a totally inaccurate perspective, but it is an inadequate one. It underemphasizes the role of the local actors who were most directly involved and whose actions were most consequential to the course of events. The same point applies to any effort to credit the United States—and especially the American occupations—for the successes of postwar Germany and Japan. The United States played a major, and on balance a strongly positive role, but it was the strength and skill and luck of local allies—sharing some common understandings with Americans about how to advance the values of the modern moral order—that determined the outcome.xvi

It could be argued that the much greater American generosity of the postwar period, with its Marshall Plan and more social democratic economic policies, perhaps helps account for the better outcomes in postwar Europe and Japan in comparison with post Cold War Russia. In our international relations, we were more civil and compassionate when we were poorer but more equal—in the late 1940s—than we were when we were wealthier but less equal—in the late 1980s and early 1990s—and we have become less civil and compassionate since then as more and more of our wealth has gone to the 1%. Contrary to mythology, it was not Ronald Reagan standing tall and saying “tear down this wall,” that brought an end to the Cold War.xvii In fact, the mythology of an essential, sufficient, and decisive American “leadership” has proved enormously destructive—an illusion that contributed to disaster in Iraq. And an illusion that contributes to a contemporary sullen and bullying attitude toward others—an attitude that we should seek to lord it over them rather than seek to serve them because we as a nation somehow allegedly deserve more than we have received.

The rise of nationalist movements around the world is related—in part—to the abuses and excesses of liberal capitalism, particularly where it has degenerated into crony capitalism. International trade agreements that failed to take account of worker’s rights and environmental standards have contributed to the growth of these nationalist movements. Unfortunately, many of these “new nationalisms” are antidemocratic—such as the National Front in France—and are openly being supported by Russia as part of a new imperialist project. Sunk in racism and corruption, and vulnerable to Russian manipulation, they are incapable of advancing either worker’s rights or environmental justice. The extent and significance of Russian meddling in the American election in 2016 is an open question that is being investigated. A deeper problem, even if it could somehow be shown that Trump himself did not actively collaborate with the Russians, is the sense of solidarity that the Trump administration clearly feels for these “new nationalisms.” To the extent that the presidency of the United States makes a difference in global politics, its weight is now often being thrown on the wrong side of the scales, particularly in Europe.

In terms of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I believe that the Jewish people have a right to national self-determination through the state of Israel, but I also believe that the Palestinian people have a right to a state of their own. Moreover, I believe that the Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank have been established in violation of international law.xviii The time has passed when they could be considered as a mere bargaining chip to be surrendered in negotiations, and partially accommodated by land swaps under United Nations Resolution 242, and it is clear that they are part of a misguided and unlawful policy. The United States, in the interest of peace, should offer to help pay for the resettlement of their inhabitants in Israel proper as part of a comprehensive agreement, an agreement that would also formally include a Palestinian relinquishment of any claim on a “right of return” to Israel proper. Such an agreement would mean both sides accepting loss and vulnerability in return for peace. This is the nature of what is normally required to pursue peace in this world.

The fantasy that freedom from vulnerability can be achieved by military means led to a war in Iraq that made us more, rather than less, vulnerable. War against North Korea would make the war in Iraq look mild by comparison. It would make us—and everyone else in the world—much worse off while costing unimaginable sums in lives and treasure. Any who doubt this should read Mark Bowden’s essay on “How to Deal With North Korea.”xix It is essential to realize that it is war that is being talked about or “tweeted” about so blithely. The idea that “effective” sanctions can bring North Korea to terms is yet another fantasy. It is the same fantasy that—when tried against militarist Japan in the early 1940s—led to Pearl Harbor.

China isn’t about to go to war with North Korea on our behalf and China knows perfectly well that war might result from “effective” sanctions. Even if China would stand a better chance of winning such a war than we would—not least because we wouldn’t arm and support North Korean insurgents as China might well do if we were stupid enough to invade—what would victory in such a war look like for China? It is unimaginable that China would see a reunification of Korea on South Korean terms as being worth such a Chinese sacrifice.

Our accepting our vulnerability is a lousy choice, but it is a better choice than war would be. The odds are overwhelming that coercive measures would prove counterproductive in the extreme. What we should be doing is cultivating our capacity for undertaking covert action in North Korea while seeking to encourage an eventual peaceful regime change through nonviolent means. This has little prospect of succeeding, at least in the short term, but offers some hope in the long term. War with North Korea offers nothing good.

The single greatest challenge that the United States will face in the twenty-first century—aside from global warmingxx—will be our relationship with China. Here a long-term perspective, and an ability to care for China’s well-being and not merely our own, is of vital importance. It is all too easy to lose oneself in legitimate, if relatively minor, concerns over cyberwarfare and an increasing Chinese military presence in the South China Sea, and miss the big picture. As an illustration of the kind of thinking that should inform American policy toward other countries, I will present the big picture of our relations with China in some detail. In this picture, it is clear how and why China has come to share civil aspirations for the future that are compatible with our own. Building on these compatible civil aspirations—and cultivating the global moral order on which these aspirations rest—is the best path toward advancing the common good of the world. Such global civility is also the best path for providing for our own common defense as Americans. Civility is the path that has led us to successes in the past, above all to our successes in Germany and Japan after WWII. It would be misleading to claim these successes as primarily “ours.” They are primarily successes of the German and the Japanese peoples and a triumph of the modern moral order. But we helped and in so doing helped make the United States, as well as the whole world, a safer place. That is the approach that should guide us going forward.

An Example: Understanding the Intellectual and Moral Context of Our China Policy

In 1601 the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci became the first Western missionary invited to live in Beijing. It was through the efforts of Ricci and his associates that the Chinese and Western civilizations first began to be seriously known to each other, to share their self-perceptions. China’s self-perception at this juncture lies at the heart of this story.xxi This self-perception emphasized the antiquity of China and the continuous importance to it of what the Chinese refer to as rujia, the scholarly tradition, or what the West calls Confucianism. It sustained an image of China’s past that was adopted and modified by the West—admired in the seventeenth century and transformed over the course of the eighteenth century from a largely favorable impression of China and what might be called Chinese “traditionality” into a hostile vision of China and a Chinese “immobility” that had to be modernized or transformed by an allegedly “dynamic” West. This image of an unacceptable Chinese or East Asian “immobility” was then projected back upon East Asia by the Western imperial powers in the nineteenth century and reabsorbed with momentous consequences for world history.

Sometimes the imperial projection of this “immobility” was done with force and violence, sometimes by diplomatic undertakings, sometimes through the written words of academics and journalists. The resulting image of their own past and present, the way they seemed to appear to others as if in some nightmarish distorting mirror, contributed to a wide variety of radical iconoclasms throughout East Asia as the Chinese, the Japanese, and the Koreans sought to respond to the Western onslaught, sometimes with violence of their own. These iconoclasms reached the peak of their frenzy in the twentieth century in the Cultural Revolution with its call to smash the “four olds,” to smash what People’s Liberation Army Marshal Lin Biao famously described as the “old ideas, old culture, old customs, and old habits of the exploiting classes.”xxii Now we are in a process of watching the image of China’s past be modified once again by a civilization whose self-confidence is reemerging. We may, as the contemporary philosopher Tu Weiming suggests, be on the verge of a Chinese cultural renaissance in which a New Confucianism—deeply influenced by its contact with Western philosophy—offers insights with global resonance. If so it will raise the question, as Tu Weiming’s work already does, of whether the West can again become a learning as well as a teaching civilization.xxiii

As late as 1735, a general history of China compiled by the French Jesuit Jean-Baptiste Du Halde could still sing China’s praises. In this history—which was soon translated into other languages—we see the clearest formulation of the image of Chinese traditionality: “China has this Advantage over all other Nations, that for 4000 Years, and upwards, it has been governed, almost without Interruption, by its own Native Princes, and with little Deviation either in Attire, Morals, Laws, Customs, or Manners, from the wise Institutions of its first Legislators.”xxiv

This mythic view of Chinese traditionality was both largely impervious to contrary evidence and rooted in a real phenomenon. The relatively recent transition from Ming to Qing was known to Du Halde, as were other dynastic changes, but they were seen through a filter of contrast with the greater and more frequent violence in European history, and through a filter of a Chinese self-perception that emphasized continuity and what came to be known in the West as Sinicization. The Manchus who had conquered China in 1644, and established the Qing, adopted the Confucian bureaucracy and the examination system and became Sinicized. Montesquieu, who was able to interview a genuine Chinese visitor to Europe, in addition to reading the missionary literature, captured the phenomena succinctly in 1748: “As either the vanquisher or the vanquished must change, in China it has always had to be the vanquisher; for, as the mores of the vanquishers are not their manners, nor their manners their laws, nor their laws their religion, it has been easier for the vanquishers to bend slowly to the vanquished people than for the vanquished people to bend to the vanquishers.”xxv But Montesquieu did not look favorably on this alleged combination of mores, manners, laws, and religion. He saw it as a foundation for tyranny. “The ruler’s authority there is completely unlimited, he combines ecclesiastical power with secular power, for the Emperor is the head of the school of literati. Thus the goods and lives of his subjects are always at the sovereign’s disposition, exposed to all the caprices and untamed whims of a tyrant.”xxvi

Europe’s sense of the value of what it was increasingly imagining as its own dynamism and progress, and the value a thinker like Montesquieu placed on liberty, shifted its attitude toward Chinese traditionality over the course of the eighteenth century. Perhaps the strongest of the new hostile voices was that of the German philosopher Johann Gottfried Herder in 1787. It is in Herder’s writing that Chinese “traditionality” first fully emerges as “immobility.” It is here that one can most clearly see the change in European attitudes toward tradition in changing attitudes toward China:

Is it to be wondered, that a nation of this kind should have invented little in the sciences according to the European standard? or that it has remained for some thousands of years at the same point? Even their books of law and morality continually pace round the same circle, and carefully and precisely say the same things of childish duties, in a hundred different ways, with systematic hypocrisy. In it music and astronomy, poetry and tactics, painting and architecture, are as they were centuries ago, the children of its eternal laws, and unalterably childish institutions. The empire is an embalmed mummy, wrapped in silk, painted with hieroglyphics: its internal circulation is that of a dormouse in its winter sleep.xxvii

Like the mythic view of Chinese traditionality, from which it derived, this mythic view of Chinese immobility was largely impervious to contrary evidence. Note that it was fully articulated a half-century before overseas Western imperialism really got going in East Asia; before, and not after, Lord George Macartney’s famous 1793 mission to China. In this mission, on behalf of the British government, Macartney sought to persuade China to end its restrictions on the limited international trade that was allowed through Guangzhou, to open new ports for international commerce, to allow a British diplomat to remain in Beijing, and to establish fair, that is to say low, tariffs. The rebuff that the Qianlong emperor sent to King George III was direct and to the point: “We have never valued ingenious articles, nor do we have the slightest need of your country’s manufactures. Therefore, O king, as regards your request to send someone to remain at the capital, while it is not in harmony with the regulations of the Celestial Empire we also feel very much that it is of no advantage to your country.”xxviii

Faced with a lack of Chinese interest in their manufactures, and strong British consumer demand for Chinese silks, porcelains and teas, British traders increasingly turned to selling opium. And the Americans followed suit. Each chest that was sold, as the historian Jonathan Spence relates, contained between 130 and 160 pounds of opium, and by the outbreak of the Opium War in 1839, the trade amounted to more than 40,000 chests a year. The Chinese government’s blockading of some 350 foreigners in their warehouses to enforce compliance with China’s anti-opium laws, and the destruction of some 20,000 chests of opium, led to demands in Great Britain for the protection of British citizens, and for compensation, and before long led to war. The British dictated a peace in 1842—the Treaty of Nanjing—that included, among other measures, the opening of five new port cities in which British merchants would be free to conduct mercantile transactions with whomever they pleased, and with guaranteed low tariffs. And Hong Kong was to be possessed in perpetuity by the British crown. Following this incivility, the United States soon signed a treaty in 1844—the Treaty of Wanghia—granting it the same rights the British had extorted, including the right to what became known as “extraterritoriality” whereby American nationals accused of crimes in China were to be tried only by Americans under American and not Chinese law.xxix

The doctrine of Chinese immobility and backwardness was a difficult doctrine for China to swallow. For many of those who did seek a measure of change in response to the Western, and later the Japanese, challenge, the initial effort was to seek what was called “self-strengthening” with the assistance of Western technology. After defeat in the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the ti yong formula became widespread drawing on the Chinese words for “essence” and “practical use.”xxx The idea was somehow to selectively adopt Western methods without adopting Western culture. But where one ended and the other began was problematic. After rebuking the visiting Japanese Foreign Minister, Soejima Taneomi, for his Western clothing in 1873, the Chinese statesman Li Hongzhang, received this reply: “If, Your Excellency, the dress of foreigners is not beautiful, it is quite useful, especially on board our men-of-war which are also of foreign style. With our ancient costume our men could not have thought of working in the rigging or at the guns. But since we have changed our dress, we get along very well, so well in fact, that in the ironclad and the corvette which we have brought with us to China there is not a single foreigner.”xxxi

As iconoclasm deepened among the Qing elite, and as the prestige of Western science and learning increased its ascendancy, the Confucian examination system was abolished in 1905. In 1911, the Qing were overthrown and a republic soon proclaimed. In contrast with Japan, China lacked the prestige of the imperial court as a source of continuity to facilitate change, and as a potential obstacle to militarism, and lacked the bridge between old and new that Japanese Confucians succeeded in building.xxxii Sun Yat-sen’s National People’s Party (the Guomindang) won a plurality in the parliamentary elections of December 1912, but Yuan Shikai, the leader of the Beiyang army, and a would-be “strong man,” soon shut down the new parliament with the words: “Parliament was an unworkable body. 800 men! 200 were good, 200 were passive, 400 were useless. What had they done? They had not even agreed on procedure.”xxxiii In 1915, Yuan went so far as to attempt to have himself declared emperor only to face mass protests and die humiliated the following year. When he failed, as the historian Lin Yü-sheng has observed, “no one was again strong enough to rule the country single-handedly. China succumbed to warlordism and internecine wars. Since there was no longer a Mandate of Heaven to justify political power, and new political ideologies were beyond their reach, the warlords could only thrash about without meaningful goals or aspirations.”xxxiv

Feeling vulnerable in these circumstances, especially to increasing encroachment on the part of imperial powers threatening to carve China up like a ripe melon, Chinese intellectuals looked to the Versailles Conference and the League of Nations for support only to see Japan’s wartime seizure of Germany’s position in Shandong internationally accepted. The wave of student protests against the Chinese government’s failure to effectively oppose this development, on May 4, 1919, helped give its name to a broader cultural movement. The radical iconoclasm of this movement, as Lin notes, provided the environment in which Mao Zedong came of age. Chen Duxiu, one of the leaders of the May Fourth Movement and, in the early 1920s, one of the founders of the Chinese Communist Party, exercised a particularly strong influence on Mao. Here is Chen’s assessment from 1915:

All our traditional ethics, law, scholarship, rites and customs are survivals of feudalism. When compared with the achievements of the white race, there is a difference of a thousand years in thought, although we live in the same period. Revering only the history of the twenty-four dynasties and making no plans for progress and improvement, our people will be turned out of this twentieth century world, and be lodged in the dark ditches fit only for slaves, cattle, and horses. What more need be said? I really do not know what sort of institutions and culture are adequate for our survival in the present world if in such circumstances conservatism is still advocated. I would much rather see the past culture of our nation disappear than see our nation die out now because of its unfitness for living in the modern world…. Whatever cannot skillfully change itself and progress along with the world will find itself eliminated by natural selection because of failure to adapt to the environment.xxxv

Increasingly cut off from any appreciation of the strengths and accomplishments of China’s scholarly tradition, Chinese intellectuals became ever more intoxicated with the Western doctrine of Chinese immobility. Here is Fu Sinian, a prominent Chinese intellectual, in 1944:

If we drag a four-thousand-year-old garbage can on our backs how can we still have the energy to be a modern nation capable of resisting the enemy and working hard?… Today, there are some people who think that the kind of re-evaluation that took place during May Fourth harmed the nation’s self-confidence … but with sheltered exaggerations, how can there be confidence in the future?… With self-confidence commissioned from the stone age or the period of the ‘Beijing Man,’ how can we hope to have a shred of self-confidence left a hundred years from now?xxxvi

It is easy to see, in this context, the strength of Marxism-Leninism’s ideological appeal in mid-twentieth century China. As Tu Weiming notes, its anti-feudalism met the requirements of the cultural iconoclasts while its anti-imperialism met the requirements of the political nationalists.xxxvii There were still a few Confucian humanists in this period, such as Liang Shuming, but they were marginalized and faced opposition from both the Guomindang and the Communists, as these movements sought to mobilize the people with the power of the state. Here is Liang, arguing against such a course, in 1929:

The Chinese people may well be compared to beancurd, and the strength of officials likened to an iron hook. One may take the iron hook and with the best of intentions come to help the beancurd. But no help at all is better [than this kind of help], for once helped the beancurd will certainly be damaged. Today ‘reconstruction’ [chien-she] is a fashionable term in party and government circles. They do not know that the common people fear this word more than anything else. Does this mean that we should not have reconstruction? Naturally not. When [the people themselves] have cultivated the habit and ability of self-government, the great way of government will be opened, and then reconstruction will come naturally. All that is needed will be there.xxxviii

Consider the contrast between Liang and Mao. Here is Mao, in 1957, boasting of not engaging in the kinds of atrocities that Joseph Stalin had engaged in, and that had recently been revealed to the world after Nikita Khrushchev’s secret speech to the 20th Party Congress was smuggled out to the West. Note that this is Mao before he launched the Great Leap Forward in which tens of millions died or the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution in which hundreds of millions were terrorized.

We didn’t do this sort of thing, having seen his [Stalin’s] example. Have there been any people unjustly killed? Yes, at the time of the great [campaign] to eliminate counterrevolutionaries [sufan], 1950, 1951, 1952, in those years of the great sufan, there were. [When] killing local bullies and evil gentry [tuhao lieshen] in [the campaign against] the five types of counterrevolutionaries, there were. But basically there were no errors; that group of people should have been killed. In all, how many were killed? Seven hundred thousand were killed, [and] after that time probably over 70,000 more have been killed. But less than 80,000. Since last year, basically we have not killed people; only a small number of individuals have been killed…. It is true that 700,000 people were killed; [but] if they had not been killed, the people would not have been able to raise their heads. The people demanded [yaoqui] the killing in order to liberate the productive forces. They [those killed] were fetters on the productive forces.xxxix

Dangerously drunk with a simplistic conception of the ultimate value of “productivity” as against “immobility,” the extent of Mao’s hard-hearted self-righteousness cannot be exaggerated. At a superficial level of Chinese nationalism, Mao and the Chinese Communist Party he presided over have some accomplishments to their credit such as the military unification of the country and fighting the Americans to a standstill in Korea, a source of considerable national pride after a century of humiliation at the hands of the imperial powers. But at a deeper level, Mao was a monster unique in Chinese history because of the way he inverted and sought to uproot and destroy the scholarly tradition. In a brilliant essay on the subject, titled: “Destructive Will and Ideological Holocaust: Maoism as a Source of Social Suffering in China,” Tu Weiming draws the contrast between Mao’s “negative will”—his determination to destroy systematically and thoroughly, if only as a precondition for reconstruction—and the cultural tradition of the Chinese intelligentsia with its ethos of harmony, reconciliation, negotiation, sharing, and consensus.xl

While Confucian teaching takes, as a point of departure, the bonding affection between parent and child for moral development, Maoists purposefully drove a wedge into the sacred relationships (i.e. parent-child, husband-wife, siblings, and friends) as a litmus test for loyalty to the socialist cause. The bellicose nature of Maoist thinking lies in its determination to bear the unbearable in such a way that sympathy, defined in Confucian terms as “the inability to bear the suffering of others,” was condemned as weakness of the will. The inversion of Confucian values would simultaneously defeat individualism and undermine the moral resources available to make despair meaningful. Once basic human feelings, such as loving and caring for the closest kin, were strongly criticized as petty bourgeois sentimentalism and publicly denounced as incongruous with the revolutionary spirit, they lost their legitimacy in the court of appeal of the newly constituted discourse community.xli

Mao’s demonic power, his capacity to be an inversion of a Confucian sage-king, rested on the combination, in his own hands, of political leadership, ideological legitimacy and moral authority. Traditionally, as Tu Weiming explains, it was the Confucian elite that sought to make the emperor act sagely. That bound him in an elaborate ritual system to ensure a routinized and harmonized form of life. And that, by distinguishing between the personality of the emperor and his position, constituted a de facto loyal opposition. Indeed, as Tu notes, this Confucian elite by combining the roles of cultural creators, transmitters and interpreters with those of policy implementers, evaluators and initiators, was often in control of ideological legitimacy and exercised moral authority. Mao’s position was even more terrifying than what Montesquieu had mistakenly imagined was true of Chinese emperors. Mao could seek to silence even the smallest minority on the grounds that any criticisms of him or of the party were attacks on the well-being of the people.xlii And he was able to use this position to seek to force everyone, including the party bureaucracy, into compliance with his visions as part of the Cultural Revolution. To again quote Tu:

The grammar of action, defined in terms of conflict, confrontation, contradiction, and contention – a reflection of Mao’s insistence on the primacy of class struggle in social development – was, during the period of the Cultural Revolution, omnipresent in thought, literature, art, music, film, and drama. The effects of moral inversion on the social level were so extensive that kindness was mistaken for weakness, sympathy for sentimentalism, and civility for hypocrisy. The psychology of suspicion, linguistic violence, verbal aggressiveness, insensitivity in interpersonal communication, and an inability to be decent or polite in social relations would take years to overcome in ordinary practical living. A new intellectual vision, a new world view, indeed a new way of learning to be human is required to heal the wounds in the value system. “De-Maoification” is not only a political process but a social transformation and a cultural rejuvenation.xliii

China’s partial embrace of openness—a partial embrace that that began in earnest with Deng Xiaoping’s reforms in the late 1970s—seems to have been impelled by a search for wealth and power rather than by a Confucian search for a new way of learning to be human in the aftermath of Maoism. Nevertheless, I suspect that moral revulsion at the Cultural Revolution increased the attractiveness of the United States in important ways that facilitated openness. The search for wealth and power is simply more apparent. As Deng Xiaoping told an aide during his 1979 visit to America, it was clear that “all states that went along with the US subsequently became rich and strong.”xliv If moral considerations were less important to China’s opening than to Japan’s the century before, the fact remains that this opening increased the space for the beginnings of a Confucian revival, one whose influence is now perceptible even among the Communist elite.xlv

Speaking before the United Nations in September 2005, the Chinese leader Hu Jintao conveyed a sense of China’s approach to the world as resting in part on a Confucian-based Chinese civility:

Diversity of civilizations is a basic feature of humanity and an important driving force behind human progress. In the course of human history, all civilizations have, in their own way, made a positive contribution to the overall human progress. It is their differences that allow them to learn from one another and grow stronger together…. We should enhance intercivilization dialogue and exchanges, allowing cultures to complement one another through competition and comparison, and to develop together by seeking common ground while putting aside differences. We should do away with misgivings and estrangement existing between civilizations and make humanity more harmonious and our world more colorful. We should endeavor to preserve the diversity of civilizations in the spirit of equality and openness, make international relations more democratic and jointly build towards a harmonious world where all civilizations coexist and accommodate each other.xlvi

Xi Jinping, China’s incoming president in 2013, building on this rhetorical foundation, went so far as to claim: “All countries in the world are closely linked and share converging interests.” Indeed, he declared that “Mankind has only one earth, and it is home to all countries. Common development, which is the very foundation of sustainable development, serves the long-term and fundamental interests of all the people in the world. As members of the same global village, we should foster a sense of community of common destiny, follow the trend of the times, keep to the right direction, stick together in time of difficulty and ensure that development in Asia and the rest of the world reaches new highs.”xlvii

The rediscovery and reinvention of Confucianism is not only and perhaps not even primarily an elite phenomena. It may be best seen, as the historian Sébastien Billioud has suggested, as part of an extraordinary expansion of popular horizons in China in the aftermath of an intense narrowing that reached its most constrictive and life-choking phase in the Cultural Revolution:

At the popular level, China is currently undergoing an exceptional moment of rediscovery and reinvention of a traditional culture that was repressed for a long time. This rediscovery fits into the larger framework of the extremely rapid evolution of ways of thinking within a society that has only recently—a point often forgotten—emerged from totalitarianism. It is also powerful evidence of the progressive enlargement of experience and cultural references at both personal and collective levels during the past thirty years. Here, I am evoking a movement that extends beyond classical culture; China’s fascination with the West (which was particularly strong during the 1980s) and the current rapid growth of Christianity, as well as a transformation of certain modes of sociability via the Internet, are other illustrations of this tendency.xlviii

The political scientist Yan Xuetong’s work, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, provides an interesting window onto efforts to renew Confucianism within the Chinese elite. Drawing especially on the Chinese philosopher Xunzi, Yan argues that three types of leadership were discerned in ancient China: humane authority, hegemony, and tyranny. “Humane authority won the hearts and minds of the people at home and abroad. Tyranny—based on military force—inevitably created enemies. Hegemonic powers lay in between: they did not cheat the people at home or cheat allies abroad. But they were frequently indifferent to moral concerns and often used violence against non-allies.” The lesson, Yan seems to suggest, is that a China capable of building an exemplary society devoted to social justice at home, and committed to mutually beneficial economic relations internationally, a China that refrains from meddling in the internal affairs of other nations, will be well positioned in its competition with the United States: “China’s quest to enhance its world leadership status and America’s effort to maintain its present position is a zero-sum game. It is the battle for people’s hearts and minds that will determine who eventually prevails. And, as China’s ancient philosophers predicted, the country that displays more humane authority will win.”xlix

At the heart of Yan Xuetong’s analysis is a conception of political power as ultimately depending on morality.l He is convinced that world leadership “will automatically come to those who do sufficient good for people and depart from those who commit evil.”li Only when the international community believes that China is a more responsible state than the United States, he argues, will China be able to replace the United States as the world’s leading state.lii He offers a number of examples of what he sees as a renewed morality serving as the basis for growing political power such as the Meiji Restoration in Japan.liii “The religious authority of the Vatican,” he maintains, “is rather like what Xunzi says about humane authority. The territory of the Vatican is even smaller than that of Singapore and its economic might is not as great as Singapore’s. Moreover, it has no army. Nevertheless, the Vatican’s authority in world affairs is far beyond Singapore’s. This example can help us understand why Xunzi thinks morality is the foundation for attaining leadership under heaven.”liv

Criticizing Yan Xuetong, the historian Yang Qianru stresses the great gap between the soft power and hard power of the United States and that of China. She maintains that China’s problem—both now and far into the future—is to guarantee its own survival, development, and security, not to lead the world:

As to whether we can become the leading world state, I think that Laozi has the right and apposite answer: “I have seen that it is not possible to acquire all under heaven by striving. All under heaven is a spiritual vessel and cannot be run or grasped. To try and run it ends in failure; to try to grasp it leads to losing it.” This is proved by history: when, before World War II, the fascist states of Germany and Japan wanted to gain world hegemony, they precipitated a world war, with the result that they were ultimately defeated…. Borrowing Laozi’s broad view and his systematic thought, we should seek the harmony and balance of the whole as the starting point, actively join in the existing international organization, and work to raise our international status and influence.lv

A widespread belief in the United States that the policies of all other nations are determined by the pursuit of power and profit has helped obscure China’s civil aspirations.lvi So has an American tendency to view China simply as an authoritarian country, without any real appreciation of the opening it has experienced. This is unfortunate as knowledge of the civility of each country in the world can help strengthen the civility of others to the benefit of all.lvii Even if some aspects of the competition between China and America are zero-sum, the cultivation of “brilliant virtue” in the world is a task that Chinese and American progressives can undertake together. The foundation of international civility, beyond the simple fact of our shared humanity and emerging common culture, is mutual recognition that the common good of each is part of the common good of all. The growth of such civility, whether rooted in Chinese or American traditions—or in the traditions of other countries—is something to be welcomed and sought. It is the progress of the modern moral order.lviii

Providing for the Common Defense”

Steve Schwartzberg

16 July 2017

i On the failure of American efforts at coercive democracy promotion in Latin America during the first third of the twentieth century, see Alan McPherson, The Invaded: How Latin Americans and Their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014). The apparent success of such violent means in the American military intervention in Panama in 1989-1990 was an additional contributing factor to the outlook that led to American military intervention in Iraq in 2003. However, it must be stressed that in Panama the United States had a vital local ally in Guillermo Endara, who enjoyed widespread legitimacy as the victor of a presidential election recently stolen by the dictator Manuel Noriega. On the invasion of Panama, see Robert A. Pastor, Exiting the Whirlpool: U.S. Foreign Policy Toward Latin America and the Caribbean second edition (Boulder: Westview Press, 2001), pp. 93-98. See also Stephen Kinzer, Overthrow: America’s Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006), pp. 239-259.

ii George W. Bush, address to the American Enterprise Institute, 26 February 2003, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2003/feb/27/usa.iraq2 (accessed 18 December 2016).

iii The contemporary observer Thomas Friedman referred to the vision of transforming the Middle East as the “right reason,” the brutal character of Saddam Hussein’s regime as the “moral reason,” and the alleged presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq as the “stated reason.” This was in contrast to what he called the “real reason”; a reason that he embraced but which appears particularly foolish and wrongheaded, especially in retrospect: “The ‘real reason’ for this war, which was never stated, was that after 9/11 America needed to hit someone in the Arab-Muslim world. Afghanistan wasn’t enough. Because a terrorism bubble had built up over there—a bubble that posed a real threat to the open societies of the West and needed to be punctured. This terrorism bubble said that plowing airplanes into the World Trade Center was O.K., having Muslim preachers say it was O.K. was O.K., having state-run newspapers call people who did such things ‘martyrs’ was O.K. and allowing Muslim charities to raise money for such ‘martyrs’ was O.K. Not only was all this seen as O.K., there was a feeling among radical Muslims that suicide bombing would level the balance of power between the Arab world and the West, because we had gone soft and their activists were ready to die. The only way to puncture that bubble was for American soldiers, men and women, to go into the heart of the Arab-Muslim world, house to house, and make clear that we are ready to kill, and to die, to prevent our open society from being undermined by this terrorism bubble. Smashing Saudi Arabia or Syria would have been fine. But we hit Saddam for one simple reason: because we could, and because he deserved it and because he was right in the heart of that world.” Thomas Friedman, “Because We Could,” The New York Times, 4 June 2003, http://www.nytimes.com/2003/06/04/opinion/because-we-could.html (accessed 24 August 2015).

iv See Alan McPherson, The Invaded: How Latin Americans and Their Allies Fought and Ended U.S. Occupations (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

v See Conor Friedersdorf, “This Yemeni Man Loves America, Hates al-Qaeda, and Says Drone Strikes Make Them Stronger,” The Atlantic, 24 April 2013, http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/04/this-yemeni-man-loves-america-hates-al-qaeda-and-says-drone-strikes-make-them-stronger/275248/ (accessed 18 December 2016). See also Farea al-Muslimi’s testimony before a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEetY2svxUE (accessed 18 December 2016). See also Conor Friedersdorf, “How America’s Drone War in Yemen Strengthens Al-Qaeda, The Atlantic, 28 September 2015, http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/09/drone-war-yemen-al-qaeda/407599/ (accessed 18 December 2016).

vi United States Senate, 113th Congress, 2nd Session, S. Report 133-288, Report of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Committee Study of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program, 9 December 2014, https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-113srpt288/pdf/CRPT-113srpt288.pdf (accessed 18 December 2018).

vii Open Letter to Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al Badri, alias “Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi,” 19 September 2014, http://www.lettertobaghdadi.com/ (accessed 18 December 2016).

viii Hermann Kantorowicz, The Spirit of British Policy and the Myth of the Encirclement of Germany translator W. H. Johnston (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1931), p. 23.

ix Quoted in Daniel R. Brunstetter, Tensions of Modernity: Las Casas and His Legacy in the French Enlightenment (New York: Routledge 2012), p. 149. The Abbé Raynal, it might be noted, was one of the early European opponents of slavery: “God is my father and not my master. I am his child and not his slave. How then could I grant to the power of human authority what I deny to the omnipotence of the Deity.” Peter Jimack, A History of the Two Indies: A Translated Selection of Writings from Raynal’s Histoire philosophique et politique des établissements des Européens dans les Deux Indes (Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing, 2006), p. 158.

x Quoted in Brunstetter, Tensions of Modernity, pp. 154-155

xi Quoted in Akira Iriye, Across the Pacific: An Inner History of American-East Asia Relations revised edition (Chicago: Imprint Publications, 1992), p. 38.

xii Marius Jansen, The Making of Modern Japan (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2000), p. 265. See also, Watanabe Hiroshi, “‘They Are Almost the Same as the Ancient Three Dynasties’: The West as Seen Through Confucian Eyes in Nineteenth-Century Japan,” in Tu Weiming, ed., Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity, pp. 119-151.

xiii “The ‘Soft Peace Boys’: Presurrender Planning and Japanese Land Reform”


xiv Democracy and U.S. Policy in Latin America during the Truman Years


xv In 1789, George Washington persuaded the Senate of the United States to adopt the practice of ratifying treaties with the Indian nations with the argument: “It doubtless is important that all treaties and compacts formed by the United States with other nations, whether civilized or not, should be made with caution and executed with fidelity.” Under the Constitution, treaties were part of the “supreme law of the land” and the Supreme Court had original jurisdiction in all cases arising under treaties. Had the court upheld the Constitution in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, there would have been an injunction against Georgia for its violation of the Cherokees’ treaty rights.

xvi “It would be difficult to find another cross-cultural moment more intense, unpredictable, ambiguous, confusing and electric than this one. The Americans arrived anticipating, many of them, a traumatic confrontation with fanatical emperor worshippers. They were accosted instead by women who called ‘yoo hoo’ to the first troops landing on the beaches in full battle gear, and men who bowed and asked what it was that the conquerors wished. They found themselves seduced (far more than they realized) by polite manners as well as by elegant presents and entertainments. Most of all, they encountered a populace sick of war, contemptuous of the militarists who had led them to disaster, and all but overwhelmed by the difficulties of their present circumstances in a ruined land. More than anything else, it turned out, the losers wanted both to forget the past and transcend it.” John W. Dower, Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of World War II (New York: W.W. Norton, 1999), pp. 23-24.

xvii Ronald Reagan, quoted in Peter Robinson, “‘Tear Down This Wall’: How Top Advisers Opposed Reagan’s Challenge to Gorbachev—But Lost,” Prologue, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Summer 2007) text available online at https://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2007/summer/berlin.html (accessed 18 December 2016). For a helpful study, see Robert D. English, Russia and the Idea of the West: Gorbachev, Intellectuals & the End of the Cold War (New York: Columbia University Press, 2000).

xviii See http://mycorrectviews.tumblr.com/post/108547704511/why-i-support-the-occupation-an-urgent-appeal

xix https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2017/07/the-worst-problem-on-earth/528717/?utm_source=fbia

xxi For a wonderful window onto the subject, see Ray Huang, 1587, a Year of No Significance: The Ming Dynasty in Decline (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981).

xxii Quoted in Roderick MacFarquhar and Michael Schoenhals, Mao’s Last Revolution (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2006), p. 108.

xxiii Tu Weiming, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity: Essays on the Confucian Discourse in Cultural China (New Delhi: Center for Studies in Civilization, 2010), pp. 37, 101.

xxiv Jean-Baptiste Du Halde, The General History of China [1735] tr. by R. Brookes in four volumes (London: John Watts, 1736-1741), Vol. 2, p. 1.

xxv Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws translated and edited by Anne M. Cohler, Basia Carolyn Miller, and Harold Samuel Stone (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 1989), p. 319.

xxvi Quoted in Jonathan Spence, The Chan’s Great Continent: China in Western Minds (New York: W. W. Norton, 1998), p. 90.

xxvii Johann Gottfried Herder, Outlines of a Philosophy of the History of Man [1784-1791] reprint of the translation by T. Churchill of 1800 (New York: Bergman Publishers, 1966), p. 296.

xxviii Quoted in Jonathan Spence, The Search for Modern China third edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2013), p. 121.

xxix Spence, The Search for Modern China, pp. 127-130, 143-163.

xxx Spence, The Search for Modern China, p. 217.

xxxi Quoted in Donald Keene, Emperor of Japan: Meiji and his World, 1852-1912 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 225.

xxxii See Watanabe Hiroshi, “‘They Are Almost the Same as the Ancient Three Dynasties’: The West as Seen Through Confucian Eyes in Nineteenth-Century Japan,” in Tu Weiming, ed., Confucian Traditions in East Asian Modernity, pp. 119-151

xxxiii Quoted in Spence, The Search for Modern China, p. 269.

xxxiv Lin Yü-sheng, The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness: Radical Antitraditionalism in the May Fourth Era (Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1979), p. 19.

xxxv Quoted in Lin, The Crisis of Chinese Consciousness, p. 66.

xxxvi Quoted in Vera Schwarcz, The Chinese Enlightenment: Intellectuals and the Legacy of the May Fourth Movement of 1919 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1986), p. 288.

xxxvii Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, p. 25.

xxxviii Quoted in Guy S. Alitto, The Last Confucian: Liang Shu-ming and the Chinese Dilemma of Modernity (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1979), p. 169. See also Thierry Meynard, The Religious Philosophy of Liang Shuming: The Hidden Buddhist (Leiden: Brill, 2011).

xxxix Mao Zedong, “On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People,” 27 February 1957, in Roderick MacFarquhar, Timothy Cheek, and Eugene Wu, eds., The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao: From the Hundred Flowers to the Great Leap Forward (Cambridge, MA: The Council on East Asian Studies, Harvard University, 1989), p. 142.

xl Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, p. 145.

xli Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, p. 147.

xlii This paragraph is a close paraphrase of Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, pp. 134, 143, 151-153.

xliii Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, p. 156.

xliv Quoted in Wu Baiyi, “An analysis of Chinese images of the United States and the EU,” in Robert S. Ross, Øystein Tunsjø and Zhang Tuosheng, eds., US-China-EU Relations: Managing the New World Order (London: Routledge, 2010), p. 164. See also Ezra F. Vogel, Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2011).

xlv “Today, debates between liberals and socialists cover a wide spectrum of the critical issues confronting China. Intellectual discussions are no longer mere exercises to test the limits of democracy. They are also attempts to influence political decisions. The political leadership considers seriously the academic experts’ recommendations for new policies and objections to old ones. Indeed, provincial and central government officials commonly seek ideas from scholars. Never before in the history of the PRC has the academic community been so prominent in shaping the character and direction of the Chinese political economy.” Tu, The Global Significance of Concrete Humanity, p. 173.

xlvi Hu Jintao, “Build Towards a Harmonious World of Lasting Peace and Common Prosperity” (translation), statement at the United Nations Summit, 15 September 2005, http://www.un.org/webcast/summit2005/statements15/china050915eng.pdf. (accessed 5 February 2013).

xlvii “Full text of Xi Jinping’s speech at opening ceremony of Boao Forum” (translation), People’s Daily Online, 8 April 2013, http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90785/8198366.html (accessed 21 January 2014).”

xlviii Sébastien Billioud, “Confucianism, ‘Cultural Tradition,’ and Official Discourse in China” in William A. Callahan and Elena Barabantseva, editors, China Orders the World: Normative Soft Power and Foreign Policy (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2011), p. 216. See also Sébastien Billioud and Joël Thoraval, The Sage and the People: The Confucian Revival in China (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

xlix Yan Xuetong, “How China Can Defeat America,” The New York Times, 21 November 2011, http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/opinion/how-china-can-defeat-america.html?_r=0 (accessed 14 July 2015).

l Yan Xuetong, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2011), p. 115.

li Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, p. 76.

lii Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, p. 65.

liii Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, p. 79. He also mentions the formation of the American constitution and, mistakenly, the Bolshevik Revolution, as other examples of renewed morality serving as the foundation for growing political power.

liv Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, p. 87.

lv Yang Qianru, “An examination of the Research Theory of Pre-Qin Interstate Political Philosophy,” in Yan, Ancient Chinese Thought, Modern Chinese Power, pp. 153-54.

lvi I am indebted here to Hermann Kantorowicz and his observations on the “Bismarxism” that plagued pre-WWI Germany—“the conviction that all Policy, or all Policy with the exception of that of one’s own Party or Nation, must be explained as based only on the striving for Power and Profit, and that all contrary assumptions are dreams of political innocence. This Bismarxism has wrought incalculable harm. It has worked against the humanitarian and idealistic tendencies in the German people itself, formerly so strong (for with us the facts must accord with the theory); and, secondly, it has led to a dangerous misapprehension of the policy of other people, and especially of that people in whom these tendencies have remained exceptionally strong—the English.” Hermann Kantorowicz, The Spirit of British Policy and the Myth of the Encirclement of Germany translator W. H. Johnston (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1931), pp. 44-45.

lvii On civility, see Edward Shils, The Virtue of Civility: Selected Essays on Liberalism, Tradition, and Civil Society (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1997).

lviii On the modern moral order, see Charles Taylor, A Secular Age (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007).