When Marx met Confucius

The television series titled “When Marx Met Confucius” has been created by the propaganda department in Hunan province to promote Xi Jinping Thought on Culture. The show aims to merge the principles of Marxism with Chinese traditional culture and emphasizes the importance of loyalty to the Communist Party. It presents a fusion of pride in Chinese tradition and the party’s ideology.

The series introduces the concept of “two combines,” which involves adapting Marxist theory to suit China’s specific reality and sinicizing Marxism by integrating it with traditional Chinese culture. This ideological integration heralds a significant shift for the Communist Party, which had previously considered tradition as its adversary. During the Cultural Revolution, Mao Zedong’s Red Guards demolished Confucian temples and texts, contradicting Confucianism’s emphasis on filial piety. However, following Mao’s death, the party gradually embraced Confucianism, simplifying and appropriating some of its teachings that stressed deference to authority.

“When Marx Met Confucius” features a dialogue between Marx and Confucius, exploring their respective ideas and their compatibility. The television series downplays the differences between the two ideologies and highlights their shared pursuit of the greatest good for all of humanity. Holographic figures such as Vladimir Lenin and Mao are also employed to illustrate how their philosophies align with Xi Jinping Thought on Culture.

The show seeks to attribute the historical challenges faced by China to foreign influences and Western ideas. It blames the 19th-century bullying of China by foreign powers for creating a “long-term cultural inferiority complex.” The program argues that Chinese intellectuals, at the time, undermined the country’s traditions by claiming they rendered China weak. Furthermore, it associates the early reform era of the 1980s with a perilous period of “historical nihilism,” during which Western ideas purportedly misled Chinese people into criticizing their own society and government.

The series commends Xi Jinping for restoring China’s confidence and advocating for the common good on a global scale. It portrays China as a “responsible great power” and contrasts its supposed responsible conduct with alleged negative actions by Western nations. The show claims that the United States exports cluster bombs while Japan discharges nuclear wastewater into the ocean, in contrast to China’s asserted responsible behavior. Marx, depicted in the series, is shown praising China for revitalizing socialism and fulfilling his vision.

The show’s final episode explores Taiwan, a self-governed island that China claims sovereignty over. It presents a student questioning whether China should continue advocating for peace if Western countries bully or hinder its national unification efforts. Confucius responds by asserting that goodness should be met with goodness, but if dignity and interests are violated, the pursuit of justice is necessary. A host intervenes, stating that while China seeks peace, it will employ military force to pursue national unification if its dignity and interests are compromised, conveying this message with imagery of fighter jets and warships.

Source: The Economist