East Asian Politics Research Proposal

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East Asian Politics

When compared to the Western paradigm, East Asian politics is particularly complex as a result of its dichotomous relationship between the tradition of law and the conception of ritual. Historically, this region of the world attached great importance to religion as informing its legal and especially its penal system. Today, there appears to be some conflict among the various elements that still inform the East Asian tradition of law, its religious paradigms, and the region's relationship with the West. When viewed in very general terms, a basic dichotomy can be distinguished between the Confucian paradigm and what has become known as the rule of law.

Patrick Glenn distinguishes between the two by the terms "Li" (Confucianism) and "Fa" (the rule of law). According to Glenn (313), the concept of Li as espoused by Confucius operates on the basis of a "fundamentally positive view of human nature." Human beings are assumed to be basically virtuous and good, basically promoting good rather than evil for all human beings. As such, leadership entails the success of persuasion and example rather than negative reinforcement such as punishment. At its basis, Confucianism holds that human beings are sufficiently good at their basis to understand the benefit of following a good rather than evil example of being and doing. Hence, it is not necessary to implement punishment when a good system of example and persuasion is in place.

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Furthermore, the principal of Li entails a relational paradigm of being (Glenn 313). In other words, human fulfillment occurs as a result of relationships. These relationships might occur on the platform of family, professionalism, or politics. Being based upon relationships, the principal of Li seeks the good for all involved in these relationships. Hence, it is assumed that human beings seek to promote the good in their relationships. Seeking the good for the self necessarily then means seeking the good for the other.

Research Proposal on East Asian Politics Assignment

Like many other idealist philosophies, Confucianism remains only a part the actual situation, even in ancient history. The truth is that the rule of law and the idealism and humanism entailed in the teachings of Confucius remain somewhat incompatible. History appears to substantiate this, even as does the current situation, with ritual and the rule of law existing inside an uncomfortable truce.

According to Glenn (309), the historical ideal in terms of the Confucian ideal was that no ruler, particularly in China, had the absolute right of rule. Instead, this rule was regulated by a type of democracy, then determined by the Li principle. No ruler could have the absolute authority without regulation imposed by appointed magistrates exercising administrative and judicial functions (Glenn 310).

In addition, magistrates were to adhere to specific codes implemented, which could count as the rule of law at the time. To ensure that the codes were implemented consistently, Glenn notes that a defined system of appeals was in place, which entailed that a system of punishment was in place for magistrates who did not follow the correct procedure of appeals for matters that were open to interpretation.

The rule of law and Confucianism has been a dichotomy in China and other East Asian countries for centuries. Specifically, Glenn (310) notes that China's size is the main factor in its influence over other East Asian countries in terms of influence, law and ritual. Indeed, law and ritual appear to be inseparable in the East Asian paradigm.

Glenn (310) notes that, in its current form, the East Asian legal tradition appears both similar to the west and to be inspired by ancient religious tradition -- mostly as integrated in the Confucian tradition. For the author, this is precisely what sets it apart from all other legal traditions in the world. No other legal system is so profoundly informed by religious tradition, nor is any religious paradigm so influenced by the legal system as that of East Asia and its adherence to Confucianism. This is an issue that many authors have addressed when considering the rule of law paradigm in China and other East Asian countries.

One such author is Zhuo Xinping. Xinping's main distinction is between the concepts of democracy and the rule of law. The author notes that there are complex processes involved in the culture and process of law in all countries, and particularly in East Asia. This has been even further complicated by globalization. East Asia, having primarily been influenced by either the Confucian philosophy or despotic rule, has now also come into contact with the basically Western ideal of democracy.

According to Xinping, religion has played an important role not only in East Asian law, but also in Western legislation. In terms of the Jewish and Christian ideal for example, human legislation was originally based upon the covenant between God and humanity. Later in history, this became the social contract ideal. In the same way, Eastern traditions such as the Code of Hammurabi in ancient Babylon, the Manu Code in ancient India, and the Sharia tradition in Islam could be seen as parallel to the Western development.

Being most influential in East Asia, China's legal and religious tradition should then be considered as most prominent in setting the stage for the tradition of law and ritual. According to Xinping, the Chinese Communist Party is prominent in creating the rule of law in the country. When the People's Republic of China was founded, four constitutions were implemented. These constitutions marked the beginnings of the power of law over religious ideals rather than the other way around. The first constitution for example provides for religious freedom. Concomitantly, the law held that persons over the age of 18 also had the right to vote, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, sex, profession, religious belief, and so on. In essence, this constitution held that no person was to be discriminated against on the basis of how they looked or where they came from. This adheres closely to the principle of democracy in the West. The second constitution was issued by the fourth National People's Congress during 1975. This constitution did not include freedom of religion, as the Cultural Revolution was in effect at the time and viewed as a danger to social stability. It was also believed that this revolution made the public particularly vulnerable to religious indoctrination. In 1978, the third constitution was approved to include certain principles related to religion. These included the freedom to practice any religion, as well as to propagate atheism. The fourth constitution was issued in 1982, was revised four times, and included the basic rights as well as duties of the country's citizens. In terms of religion, this meant that all citizens have the right not only to vote, but also to practice religion in any way they saw fit.

Regardless of these developments, the dichotomy between the East and the West, as well as between democracy and the rule of law, remained. The conflict between these dichotomies, according to the author, s what encouraged wider views on a more uniform paradigm of international law and globalization, to operate on the basis of what the author terms universal values.

The viability of this universality concept is also addressed by the author. Is it indeed viable that there should be a universally agreed upon law just because globalization has enabled worldwide contact among all the countries? Is it not better for each country to have its own laws and rituals according to its own particular development?

Xinping notes that human history necessarily entails differentiation, not only in the development of each respective nation, but also in terms of the legislations and rituals developing as a result. Concomitantly with ancient Christian and Jewish tradition, ancient China entailed the rule of the sovereign under the authority of king or emperor, even before the birth of Confucianism. By the same argument, one might note that Confucianism is not viable in terms of its imposition upon even more ancient systems. On the other hand, this tradition might be seen as a natural development according to the needs of society at the time. In the same way, the separation of church and state occurred in the Western paradigm when this was required by the development of society. Confucianism might be seen as developing in response to the needs of the human paradigm in Asia at the time of development.

In the same way, various developments occurred in Asia as recently as the twentieth century, as noted by Xinping. During the 1980s for example, China's laws have developed to such an extent that religious affairs have received more attention. Several laws were then enacted to ensure the freedom of religion in the country and indeed in the region.

In actual practice, however, the fact remains that China and the rest of Eastern Asia entails two basic paradigms in terms of ritual and law: Confucianism and the rule of law, even while its Constitution more closely simulates the democracy paradigm of the west.

Perhaps this is one of the reasons why China… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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