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October 31, 2012

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There's absolutely nothing that is similar between my criticism and Han's of Confucianism. Nothing.

I have no problems with high Confucian standards. That wasn't what I criticized. Rather, you made some incredibly silly statements about responsibility (which is not the same as high moral standards) and other things as well.

Having high moral standards doesn't mean you ought to attribute responsibility to where it ain't due. Not even Confucius would have met your "Confucian" standards for what we know of his father he was worse than a corrupt individual. It simply doesn't follow that high moral standards for either oneself or others entails universally taking on responsibility for them and their actions.

Not even Jesus would carry that burden. There has to be room for freewill and PERSONAL responsibility.

We don't know if Wen played a role in helping his family get rich. Indeed, there are reasons to count against this suspicion and even he might have even gone against it. Moreover, even if you ought to always attribute the faults of your family member to yourself (which is highly implausible) it still doesn't follow that you ought to then take certain actions such as resigning from office under Confucian or any kind of moral standards. Many considerations and assumption are left in the dark here.

You also used a false analogy by comparing murder (the action of Shun's father) to getting rich (the actions of Wen's family).

Now it seems plausible to me that at least some of Wen's family may have gotten rich through corruption since China is an incredibly corrupt country.

But

1. You offer no evidence of this

2. and even if true it still wouldn't show that murder and corruption are the moral equivalents

3. it wouldn't show that Wen's position in the modern Chinese society is comparable to Shun's in his society.

4. or that even Mencius meant for his passage to be interpreted as one about taking on responsibility of a family member (rather it's actually a passage about he filial duties of the son in taking care of his father but also not getting in the way of his just punishment).

For the past 2,200 years Confucius was the official philosophy of the ruling elites. Yet Han Feizi's philosophy was the real one at work. I do rank him above Confucius and I think People's Republic of China does also. Mao was trying to change human nature by purging self from it and installing his virtuous man by various campaigns and Cultural Revolution and failed. Teng Hsio Ping changed direction by his whichever color of cat that works with profit motive that pulled hundreds of millions out of poverty and also its side effect of income inequality and corruption. Wen and the Chinese leadership is not unaware of these problems and slowly to find solutions for them. No one man can solve them by feat ot resignation. I am sure some of Wen's reative got rich because of his position. That's more result of centuries old social relation of China than on Wen's conscious decision per se and it will take time for the rule of law and transparency to take root.

Sam thinks that I thought his post silly because it sets the bar too high (which no doubt is true). But my view is actually that it sets the bar for people to clear the wrong hurdles. His post is just a knee-jerk reaction without even understanding my basic criticism.

I see now that he is reframing the issue to one of "moral standards" instead of moral responsibility. But that would make his previous claims even more ludicrous.

That's because it's quite plausible that the higher the moral standards you expect of people the MORE you'd also expect personal responsibility from them and the LESS likely you are willing to "assume responsibility" on their behalf. It gets more ludicrous the more he defends it.

What we have is the temporal correlation between Wen being at the top and many members of his extended family enriching themselves to grotesque levels. And we all know that correlation does not prove causality. In order to know if it was all just coincidence, or if nefarious corrupt strings were being pulled by people in high places, there would have to be a forensic audit of the paper trail. How convenient then that the government that Wen helps to lead doesn't have the stipulation for such an examination, or perhaps even routine surveillance on an ongoing basis. I suppose it allows him to cling to plausible deniability, though I suspect it is more plausible to some than to others.

It's true that China is outrageously corrupt, and if some of Wen's family turn out to be as corrupt as the next guy, that shouldn't come as a shock to anybody. But I guess all that blustery talk from Wen about fighting corruption wasn't meant to amount to much of anything, if he couldn't even keep his own house in order.

To M,
I imagine Sam can clarify his own point. But to me, it seems he's talking about whether Wen is living up to Confucian standards. Whether his relatives are living up to said standards or not isn't even being discussed here.

If i held myself to lofty moral standards, would I "expect" you to? Nope. I might hope you would choose to, of your own accord. But that's up to you, and not something I'd control. There would be no such expectation.

Also, if Wen had high moral standards, and even if he expected his family to share similar standards, their failure to do so needn't mean that Wen is "less likely" to assume responsibility. I believe that's the crux of Sam's point: if Wen were a true confucian, he would in fact fall on that sword for his family. That Wen appears unlikely to do so seems to be why Sam contests that Wen ain't so confucian. Now, as you say, that confucian standard seems to be a very tall order, one that few can achieve. All the same, Wen ain't one of those few.

Oh, so high Confucian [sic] standards are applied only to Wen and yet not to his family. Right. Makes far more sense because Wen should be singled out for such standards because, well,...just because Sam doesn't like him. You're not making sense as usual. And you didn't even understand my basic criticism at all.

High moral standards, no matter Confucian or otherewise does not imply "assuming responsibility" (in Sam's words) where it ain't due. There is such thing as personal responsibility and the higher the moral stnadards you have for people the higher you ought also to expect personal responsibility from them and not expect them to assume responsibility for others when they had no role.

I quote Sam's own words from the above post to show just how confused skc is.

"But, unlike Legalists, I still believe that Confucianism [sic] can still function as a moral standard.

...

Few of us would say we truly live as Jesus would have us live, but, still, we can strive to live up to that standard as best we can."

So Sam applies his "high moral standards" to everyone. So if it applies to Wen, it will apply to his family (and why not? They are well into adulthood, with no indication of abnormal development). So it is silly why he would want Wen to "assume responsibility" for those whom he has such lofty "moral standards." He ought to have them accept responsibility for their own actions if his moral standards for them are so high.

skc can't even begin to understand this very simple criticism...

Sam also seems to confuse guanxi with corruption. He ought to know better. While detrimental to society and an obsticle to meritocracy, guanxi is not technically a kind of corruption (though it may lead to it). It's actually a kind of favoritism.

Melektaus seems to be getting caught up in a confusion of his own making. I did not suggest that Wen's family bears no responsibility for their actions. Of course they do. But that was not the point of the post, which was to think about Wen's responsibility. Wen is in a particular position, a very powerful one. His family is benefiting corruptly from his position (this is an empirical question which, as SKC suggests, rests on correlation. But the determined stance by the Party to repress information about this issues also implies it is trying to hide something. So, until we have better information I will continue to assume some level of corruption is involved in the Wen family fortune). Wen has publicly taken a rhetorical stand against such corruption. But he hasn't done anything about the corruption closest to him.
If you are a Confucian that is a problem, because actions should match words. Wen's problem is that he hasn't really done anything about corruption.
From a Confucian perspective Wen should assume some (not all, but some) responsibility for his family's corruption. Confucianism is not liberalism, it does not rest on narrow self-interest and personal rights. It emphasizes collective interests and social and familial responsibilities.
M's critique suggests Confucianism is not applicable to contemporary China. So, I guess he would want to consign it to the dustbin of history, or something like that...

Wrong again. The confusion, I'm afraid, is all yours and skc's.

I never said you claimed Wen's family don't deserve any responsibility. I said it was silly for Wen to "assume responsibility" on their behalf.

These are your own posts/positions so you ought to know better.

This type of behavior, (perhaps you aren't even aware of it?) of building up strawperson arguments seems to be very common among your arguments.

This whole blog entry was based on one such strawperson where you falsely thought my argument was because the "Confucian" bar was set too high when in fact it was silly because it was set in the wrong direction (towards taking on responsibility for others without any evidence showing responsibility was due, but by mere family association which is indeed asinine and silly).

Confucianism isn't "liberalism" of course, But even more sure, is that it ain't as silly as your comments make it out to be.

Also, my intuition here is opposite with your regarding corruption playing a role in Wen' family's wealth.

If the New York times, with their investigative prowess and resources were not able to uncover any shred of evidence of corruption after all this time, chances are the evidence doesn't exist. And where the evidence don't exist after an investigation of the sort, it is more reasonable to believe than not that the family members got rich without corruption. These are serious accusations. They need evidence. Evidence which you don't have.

I tend to think that guanxi probably played some role. It is a more likely and obvious answer. And though bad for society, to make an analogy with it with murder is well, silly and asinine.

To M,
man, you are just like a kid, quick to shoot from the hip at all times without necessarily reading first.

No, high Confucian standards are not only applied to Wen. But Wen is the person Sam is talking about. Why? Gee, I don't know, maybe cuz he's the #2 guy in China? His family are just a bunch of nobody douchebags...apparently stinking rich nobody douchebags to be sure, but still nobody's. If you want to say his family ain't so Confucian either, knock yourself out. But i think Sam is just talking about Wen.

You also seem to confuse misunderstanding of your criticism with simply disagreeing with it. You really need to work on grasping that difference. Take your time.

Like I already said (and which you clearly didn't read), a person having high moral standards might HOPE someone else does too, but there's no basis for EXPECTING them to. You can control your own standards; you can't control someone else's. That seems like a pretty basic concept.

Sam does apply this standard to everyone, but he doesn't expect them to meet it. He's silent on whether he feels Wen's family have met it or not. Why? Because Wen's family wasn't his focus; Wen was. And Sam made his case that Wen hasn't met it. He "ought to have them accept responsibility for their own actions if his moral standards for them are so high"?? Sam's not obligated to do anything of the sort. He could choose to, but chose not to...cuz his post was about Wen, and not his family. Do you detect a recurring theme here? Cuz you should.

Guanxi is not technically the same as corruption, if you take guanxi as an exchange of favours and corruption as an exchange of money. In a very narrow construct, they're different. For all practical purposes in China, they're on the same narrow spectrum.

As for evidence, there is only correlation. But as Sam says, we're dealing with China. Saying that the NYT's inability to gather substantive evidence of wrongdoing means there's no evidence of wrongdoing in existence is naive at best. This is the same outfit that denies TAM ever happened. So I would take the standard rules of evidence with a large shaker of salt.


Your petty insults are just your way of compensating for a lack of substance.

Sam was applying his "high standards" to everyone, Wen's family included. And why not, is Wen's family any more special than the rest of humanity who must all assume responsibility for themselves and not have someone assume responsibility on their behalf by mere virtue of family association?. Your lack of reading skills, as consistently displayed in your comments, show that you cannot engage in this conversation in an intelligent manner and don't even know what the points of discussion is about. It's clear from Sam's post thyat he was talking about all of "humanity" including Wen's family, not just Wen.

Sam's silly claims which he attributes as Confucian shows no evidence that any Confucian philosopher would have supported them. In fact they would have seen them as barbaric. Sam's claims which, he must assume sole responsibility, are as stupid as Jiang Qing's and Daniel Bell's who claim that the PRC ought to have people in positions of power by mere virtue of their family association with Confucius.

I believe that both you and Sam's inability to see the stupidity of claiming that assuming responsibility of someone by mere virtue of family association is both intellectual and moral.

For the third time (but considering your type, it will hardly be the last time), Sam says those high standards could apply to everyone, but in this case his subject of interest is Wen. It's amazing, and amusing, that you fail to grasp the concept despite repeated explicit guidance. But as I always say, obfuscation is the game you guys like to, and need to, play, so you do what you gotta do.

" It's clear from Sam's post thyat he was talking about all of "humanity" including Wen's family, not just Wen. "
---is that right? Here is what Sam said at Nov 9 0855hrs: " I did not suggest that Wen's family bears no responsibility for their actions. Of course they do. But that was not the point of the post, which was to think about Wen's responsibility. Wen is in a particular position, a very powerful one."
Now, considering it's you we're talking about, it is highly plausible you didn't even read it. It's also highly probable you didn't understand it. And it's quite possible you simply chose to ignore it cuz it torpedoes everything else you've been groaning on about. But i think I would go with what Sam interprets as his intent, rather than yours. Considering that he wrote the post to start with and all. But that's just me.

Now, you seem to disagree with Sam's position. That is your prerogative. As far as I'm concerned, your opinion, + $2.50 (or whatever the going rate is for transit in your area), should be sufficient to get you on a bus. If you require assistance to discern the value I place on your "opinion", don't be afraid to ask. I believe your inability to grasp and tolerate a difference of opinion is genetic, and possibly metabolic. Or maybe we should blame your upbringing.

Basic english lesson for skc

"expect"

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/expect?s=t

"Synonyms
Expect, anticipate, *hope,* await..."

Having high moral epxectations doesn't necessarily mean thinking it likely anyone will meet them. In this case, expect is used like "hope" or more accurately, "demand." But his deficiencies in reading and basic English mirrors his personal moral deficiencies. How can someone be so ignorant and yet so arrogant?

"When a gentlemen doesn't know you'd expect him to remain silent."

-Analects

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