Letter: Failing common good crashes a nation
Sunday, August 7, 2011
There is a close parallel in Chinese history to what is happening to U.S. government. The great Chinese dynasties owed much of their stability and prosperity to a valued and well-paid civil service bureaucracy and to a culture of cooperation fostered by Confucian ethics from the family unit to the highest levels of government.
The last great dynasty, Ming, fell apart when its government devolved into ideological factions that would no longer cooperate for the common good. A noted scholar revised the centuries-old teachings of Confucius and gained a following so civility and cooperation were replaced with ideology and personal judgmentalism. The government ceased to function, the acrimony spread throughout Chinese society, and the great Ming Dynasty collapsed.
There were many contributing factors, but ideological stalemate and factional hatreds were underlying causes. And it all stemmed from the ideological influence of one man and a small group of followers, a revisionist cult. The result for China was decades of chaos followed by Mao Zedong and the Communist Cultural Revolution. Perhaps we in the U.S. should beware tempting the parallel any further.