Over years of debate, Confucianism has long been seen as a conflicting force of democracy, particularly among political scientists who are pro-liberal democracy. This thought has been backed up by the trend of communism or competitive authoritarianism in Asia that liberal democracy seems not to be flourishing in this region due to the strong influence of Confucianism. However, this conventional perception starts to get more challenges from Asian scholars, particularly those emphasizing Confucian perfectionism, that Confucianism instead strengthen democracy, rather than acting as a stumbling stock. In the following, the definition of democracy and the conventional critics against Confucianism in the notion of democracy will be covered, followed by the further elaboration of the complementary relationship between Confucianism and democracy.
Confucianism: Complement to democracy
From the above discussion, first and foremost, definition of democracy matters. Due to the injection of liberal values into the democracy, it limits the scope and possibility of these two seemingly contrasting ideals being compatible with each other. Dworkin (2002) believed Confucianism blocked the nurture of universal human nature in which people are treated with equal concern and respect. However, it is advised to take a pause and look back to what kind of democracy Dworkin is referring to. As argued, Dworkin held on the substantive concept of democracy which is intrinsically valuable in promotion of individual liberties and equality. Yet, Chan (2013) rebutted that if democracy is limited by the liberal values, Confucianism would not be on any ground compatible with democracy since it is not embedded with any liberal accounts like individualism and freedom. That shows how analysis and conclusion varies based on different definitions.
When analysing the compatibility of Confucianism and democracy, it is plausible to suggest applying the procedural definition of democracy. Concurred with Schumpeter (1965), democracy can also be regarded as the competition of votes among politicians that is only instrumentally valuable by bringing more desirable results than other systems. In fact, Confucianism has a lot of similarity with the leadership democracy. According to Schumpeter (ibid), he depicted the reality of politics as a small circle competition among elites who are rational and knowledgeable in identify common interests of people. Being a minimalist, he never came close to the democratic ideals drawn by Dworkin, nor did he believe in endorsing greater extent of political participation among the public help improved the governance at the cost of common good. Similar to Confucians, they believe in achieving common goods by endorsing greater power to the gentlemen who are proved to be both virtuous and knowledgeable, at the expense of absolute equality. In applying the definition of procedural concepts of democracy into the discussion of the compatibility of...