Konfucjanizm jako ekonomia moralna

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Kazimierz Poznański


Kazimierz Poznański, Konfucjanizm jako ekonomia moralna [Confucianism as a moral economy] edited by W. Banach, M.A. Michalski, J. Sójka, „Człowiek i Społeczeństwo” vol. XLVI: Między Chinami a Zachodem. Pytanie o źródła chińskiego sukcesu gospodarczego [Between China and the West. An inquiry into the sources of the Chinese economic miracle], Poznań 2018, pp. 11–42, Adam Mickiewicz University. Faculty of Social Sciences Press. ISSN 0239-3271.
Western economic system is usually called “democratic capitalism”. But how should be called the system in today’s China? China is not a capitalist economy, but a market economy without capitalism. She is also a democracy but without direct voting for the highest posts. The doctrinal roots of “democratic capitalism” are in liberalism and the Chinese system is ingrained in Confucianism. For this reason, what is in use in China can be called “Confucian system” or, alternatively “Confucian meritocracy”. This kind of meritocracy is not limited to Chinese state, it operates through entire society. As Confucians argue, state is a function of family. Thus, only when family is a meritocracy, so is the state, actually the whole society. Chinese meritocracy is an ethical concept, because in Confucian tradition “merit” means “virtue”. Two thousand years old, Chinese system of ethics has continued. But two hundred years ago, parallel Western ethical vision of society has been assaulted by liberalism. This marked a gigantic split between the two civilizations. Escaping from ethics to – call it – logic, is the reason why liberalism has been failing to accurately reflect economic reality. As a consequence, Western economies work below their potential. In contrast, sticking to her ethical philosophy – of life – China has been excelling. To properly address this dynamic, it is necessary to determine what constitutes Chinese view of economy as a study of wealth. Not yet formalized, it is her peoples’ “second nature”. It all begins with a claim that goal of people is the extension of life to next generations. But liberalism – with “liberal (classical) economics” – argues that the goal is an “instant gratification”, i.e., consumption of goods. In pursuit of personal satisfaction, individuals face no moral dilemma. But since life is a gift, for Confucians choices are moral. Chinese reject the liberal notion of scarcity and claim abundance of resources. With excess, people can “afford” morality which is about sharing. Since there is no need for live-or-die competition for resources, to survive people need only to work. For Confucians, not market but family is the prime form of organization. This is so, since morality comes from family. Market can enhance efficiency only when “embedded” in morality. This is true about other key institution – state. China continues her “success story” by restoring Confucian past, with meritocracy at the core. To stimulate its economy, Western civilization also needs a return to the past. It needs to remake its mainstream liberalism by returning to roots as formulated by proto-liberalism. Focused on morality and family, this approach has been renewed by Joseph Schumpeter and the Austrian School. Parallel reforms may bring two grand civilizations close by again.


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Poznański, K. (2018). Konfucjanizm jako ekonomia moralna. Człowiek I Społeczeństwo, 46, 11–42. https://doi.org/10.14746/cis.2018.46.2


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