Is liberal democracy appropriate for East Asia? In this provocative book, Daniel Bell argues for morally legitimate alternatives to Western-style liberal democracy in the region. Beyond Liberal Democracy, which continues the author's influential earlier work, is divided into three parts that correspond to the three main hallmarks of liberal democracy--human rights, democracy, and capitalism. These features have been modified substantially during their transmission to East Asian societies that have been shaped by nonliberal practices and values. Bell points to the dangers (...) of implementing Western-style models and proposes alternative justifications and practices that may be more appropriate for East Asian societies. If human rights, democracy, and capitalism are to take root and produce beneficial outcomes in East Asia, Bell argues, they must be adjusted to contemporary East Asian political and economic realities and to the values of nonliberal East Asian political traditions such as Confucianism and Legalism. Local knowledge is therefore essential for realistic and morally informed contributions to debates on political reform in the region, as well as for mutual learning and enrichment of political theories. Beyond Liberal Democracy is indispensable reading for students and scholars of political theory, Asian studies, and human rights, as well as anyone concerned about China's political and economic future and how Western governments and organizations should engage with China. (shrink)
Many have criticized liberalism for being too individualistic, but few have offered an alternative that goes beyond a vague affirmation of the need for community. In this entertaining book, written in dialogue form, Daniel Bell fills this gap, presenting and defending a distinctively communitarian theory against the objections of a liberal critic. Drawing on the works of such thinkers as Charles Taylor, Michael Sandel, and Alasdair MacIntyre, Bell attacks liberalism's individualistic view of the person by pointing to our social embeddedness. (...) He develops Michael Walzer's idea that political thinking involves the interpretation of shared meanings emerging from the political life of a community, and intelligently rebuts criticism that this approach damages his case by being conservative and relativistic. Communitarianism and Its Critics is a provocative defense of a distinctly communitarian theory which will stimulate interest and debate among scholars and students of political theory as well as those approaching the subject for the first time. (shrink)
Is liberal democracy a universal ideal? Proponents of "Asian values" argue that it is a distinctive product of the Western experience and that Western powers shouldn't try to push human rights and democracy onto Asian states. Liberal democrats in the West typically counter by questioning the motives of Asian critics, arguing that Asian leaders are merely trying to rationalize human-rights violations and authoritarian rule. In this book--written as a dialogue between an American democrat named Demo and three East Asian critics--Daniel (...) A. Bell attempts to chart a middle ground between the extremes of the international debate on human rights and democracy.Bell criticizes the use of "Asian values" to justify oppression, but also draws on East Asian cultural traditions and contributions by contemporary intellectuals in East Asia to identify some powerful challenges to Western-style liberal democracy. In the first part of the book, Bell makes use of colorful stories and examples to show that there is a need to take into account East Asian perspectives on human rights and democracy. The second part--a fictitious dialogue between Demo and Asian senior statesman Lee Kuan Yew--examines the pros and cons of implementing Western-style democracy in Singapore. The third part of the book is an argument for an as-yet-unrealized Confucian political institution that justifiably differs from Western-style liberal democracy.This is a thought-provoking defense of distinctively East Asian challenges to Western-style liberal democracy that will stimulate interest and debate among students of political theory, Asian studies, and international human rights. (shrink)
For much of the twentieth century, Confucianism was condemned by Westerners and East Asians alike as antithetical to modernity. Internationally renowned philosophers, historians, and social scientists argue otherwise in Confucian Political Ethics. They show how classical Confucian theory--with its emphasis on family ties, self-improvement, education, and the social good--is highly relevant to the most pressing dilemmas confronting us today. Drawing upon in-depth, cross-cultural dialogues, the contributors delve into the relationship of Confucian political ethics to contemporary social issues, exploring Confucian perspectives (...) on civil society, government, territorial boundaries and boundaries of the human body and body politic, and ethical pluralism. They examine how Confucianism, often dismissed as backwardly patriarchal, can in fact find common ground with a range of contemporary feminist values and need not hinder gender equality. And they show how Confucian theories about war and peace were formulated in a context not so different from today's international system, and how they can help us achieve a more peaceful global community. This thought-provoking volume affirms the enduring relevance of Confucian moral and political thinking, and will stimulate important debate among policymakers, researchers, and students of politics, philosophy, applied ethics, and East Asian studies. The contributors are Daniel A. Bell, Joseph Chan, Sin Yee Chan, Chenyang Li, Richard Madsen, Ni Lexiong, Peter Nosco, Michael Nylan, Henry Rosemont, Jr., and Lee H. Yearley. (shrink)
In this article we focus on three key precepts shared by Confucianism and the African ethic of Ubuntu: the central value of community, the desirability of ethical partiality, and the idea that we tend to become morally better as we grow older. For each of these broad similarities, there are key differences underlying them, and we discuss those as well as speculate about the reasons for them. Our aim is not to take sides, but we do suggest ways that Ubuntu (...) and Confucianism might have something to learn from each other and perhaps come closer. We hope that our preliminary reflections can inspire further debate and thinking on a theme – dialogues between long-standing and large-scale non-Western traditions – that is bound to increase in importance as non-Western societies play a greater role in the global system and as the search continues for a 'global ethic'. (shrink)
Interviews Professor Wang, a political philosopher at Beijing University about the political reforms in China. Explanation on a democratic political system with Chinese characteristics; Confucian tradition of respect for a ruling intellectual elite; Relevance of Confucian scholar Huang Zongxi's proposal for reform.
In this addition to the Church and Postmodern Culture series, theologian Daniel Bell compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity, showing how Christianity provides resources for faithfully navigating the postmodern global economy.Bell approaches capitalism and Christianity as alternative visions of humanity, God, and the good life. Considering faith and economics in terms of how desire is shaped, he casts the conflic as one between different disciplines desire. He engages the work of two important postmodern philosophers, Deleuze and Foucault, to illuminate the (...) nature of the postmodern world that the church currently inhabits. Bell then considers how the global economy deforms desire in a manner that distorts human relations with God and one another. In contrast, he presents Christianity and the tradition of the works of mercy as a way beyond capitalism and socialism, beyond philanthropy and welfare. Christianity heals desire, renewing human relations and enabling communion with God. (shrink)
Communitarian thinkers have argued that liberalism devalues community in modern societies. This essay assesses the three main strands of the contemporary debate betweeen communitarianism and liberalism: the communitarian critique of the liberal universalism, the communitarian critique of liberal individualism, and the communitarian critique of liberal politics. In each case, it is argued that the debate has moved from fairly abstract philosophical controversies to more concrete engagement with political disputes in Western as well as East Asian societies.
Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family, and Religion by Henry Rosemont Jr. is an important challenge to the dominant individualistic ethos of our age. It is not merely a critique of the idea of the rights-claiming, free and autonomous individual: Rosemont also puts forward a strong defense of an alternative idea of the relational person as role-bearing, interrelated, and necessarily responsible to other persons. I am generally sympathetic to Rosemont's view, but I think he (...) goes too far in his defense of the role-bearing person.The book has three parts. Chapters... (shrink)
Let me first thank the critics for their insightful contributions to the debate. I hesitate to call the three professors “critics” since the areas of agreement may outweigh the areas of disagreement. But I should focus on areas of disagreement to further the debate, and that’s what I’ll try to do here. I’ll begin with a few remarks about methodology, then attempt to clarify my own view regarding democracy with “Confucian characteristics,” and my response will conclude with some reflections on (...) alternative proposals. On Methodology Professor Dallmayr worries that my book is primarily addressed to an East Asian audience and to those who can affect the lives of East Asians. But I wonder why this intent should be viewed as “reinforcing Asian parochialism”? (shrink)
Confucianism has made a comeback in mainland China over the last two decades or so. Politically minded Confucian revivalists see Confucianism as the core of national identity that differs from “foreign” traditions such as liberalism and they argue for replacing Marxism with Confucianism as the core ideology of the one-party state. But is the ancient tradition of Confucianism compatible with the modern tradition of nationalism? And is it possible to defend a morally appealing form of “Confucian nationalism”? This essay argues (...) that both questions can be answered affirmatively. (shrink)
This essay recovers the redemptive significance of “sacrifice” as the form of Christian resistance to global capitalism. The argument unfolds by way of a comparison of sacrifice, as presented by Anselm, with one of the most compelling contemporary theological accounts of justice and human rights—that of the Latin American liberationists. After showing how the liberationists' vision is implicated in the capitalist order, I argue that Anselm's account of sacrifice displays the advent of the aneconomic order of divine charity and that (...) it is only the recovery of life in this aneconomic mode of donation and gift that can deliver us from capitalism. (shrink)