Is ‘China’s Machiavelli’ Now Its Most Important Political Philosopher? | The Diplomat

If you think Machiavelli made important contributions to the history of political philosophy, diplomacy and leadership studies, consider Han Feizi.

 

The trend has been interpreted in various ways. In October, the New York Times called President Xi Jinping’s uses of ancient thought “an overlooked key to his boldly authoritarian agenda,” and specifically noted the importance of Han Feizi, “a Chinese nobleman renowned for his stark advocacy of autocratic rule.”While many experts would agree with that characterization, even referring to Han Feizi as “China’s Machiavelli,” others see him, and Legalist thought in general, in more positive terms. Scholars Orville Schell and John Delury, in an influential book on the history of Chinese reform efforts, credit “pragmatic” Legalist thought as being behind both much of China’s historical success and its ongoing rebirth as a great nation. For Confucians, who focus on ideals of loyalty, righteousness, and benevolence, little could be more repugnant than the Legalist position that “if a wise ruler masters wealth and power, he can have whatever he desires.”

Source: Is ‘China’s Machiavelli’ Now Its Most Important Political Philosopher? | The Diplomat

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