Intersections of Anarchism and Confucianism

By Derrick Broze

In this essay we will explore potential connections between anarchist thought and the Confucian worldview. Confucianism is a school of thought described as a philosophy, a humanist religion, a doctrine, a tradition, or a system of governance, based on the teachings of Chinese philosopher and politician Confucius (alternatively known as Kongfuzi or K’ung-fu-tz). Confucianism emphasizes the importance of the family unit, methods for creating harmony in social relationships, government morality, justice, and kindness. Confucius is also said to have espoused a version of the Golden Rule, “Do not do unto others what you do not want done to yourself”.

Confucianism developed between the 6th to the 2nd century BC, in the period known as the Hundred Schools of Thoughts. After experiencing periods of popularity in China Confucianism was eventually suppressed by the Legalist movement and Qin dynasty. Following the collapse of the Qin dynasty Confucianism gained official support from the new government. The teachings of Confucius have continued to evolve and are sometimes known as Neo-Confucianism or New Confucianism.

As explored in the previous chapter, Taoism has typically been associated with anarchism rather than the often rigid Confucianism. With the history of Confucianism we see a pattern emerge as it has in nearly every religious or spiritual teaching: the original teaching is relatively liberty-minded or even anti-authoritarian while later manifestations are supportive of the State or used by the state to encourage obedience.


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