Many years ago, the American scholar Huntington wrote an article called the clash of civilizations. He should be a geopolitical scholar. His main point is that civilization has a decisive impact on geopolitics.
After comparing the economic development history of various countries, I gradually felt similar to Huntington. But what he said was geopolitics. What I feel here is the decisive impact of civilization on economic development. This feeling is that there will be no economic weaker in the Confucian cultural circle.
Confucian culture, because it is not very aggressive, only relies on its own charm to spread, unlike the European and American powers, which use strong ships and sharp guns to reach overseas, so it basically affects only a few countries around China. Among them, Japan is an economic miracle, the first among the developed countries; The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea have followed suit, and the four little dragons have successively ranked among the developed countries; Then there is the Chinese miracle. Now, everyone is optimistic about Vietnam.
After Vietnam, there will be no economic weak in the Confucian cultural circle.
The people who are imbued with Confucian culture still have some unique temperament, which makes people feel that they are Confucian people. The temperament of people coming out of the Confucian cultural circle that is meaningful to the economy is probably the following：
First, discipline and order. Confucianism stresses order most. People cultivated by Confucianism should obey their parents at home and their superiors outside.
Second, attach importance to education. No matter how poor you are, you should afford education. Do everything possible to let children go to school, which is almost the consensus of all people in the Confucian cultural circle.
Take East Asia as an example, China, Japan and South Korea rank among the highest in the world in terms of investment in higher education.
Vietnam is poor, but Vietnamese students are ahead of other ASEAN countries in terms of scores.
Chinese children are best at math. This is an almost natural ability, and American children can only look at it and sigh.
The importance of mathematics is not the first but also the second for manufacturing workers.
3、 Be diligent and enterprising. Confucianism is always diligent and enterprising. This enterprising mentality is the inexhaustible driving force behind the economic miracle of East Asia.
In East Asian countries, everyone seems to be very busy. The mentality of the whole society is impetuous. Countries and people are in a catch-up mode. The world is bustling and bustling. Perhaps, when the country is rich to a certain extent, it can also relax. But in the Confucian culture circle, even if the people are as rich as Japan, can they have a moment of leisure?
Impetuosity, comparison and pursuit will destroy people's sense of happiness. But economically, enterprising is the driving force for sustained growth. The sustained high growth is rare in the economic history of the world, but it is concentrated in the Confucian cultural circle. It can not be said that it is driven by the enterprising spirit of immersing culture into the bone marrow.
4、 Sacrifice. Individual interests give way to collective interests and national interests and sacrifice individuality for commonness.
The reason why South Korea can quickly recover its economic speed and vitality after the 1997 financial crisis is due to the rational and decisive adoption of IMF recommendations by the government and the cooperation of the people. This kind of cooperation requires the people to pay a huge price. The South Korean government told the public that the IMF's proposal is short-term pain, but very painful; Without the pain, the Korean economy has no future. The people listened and endured the pain. The pain includes: 1.7 million layoffs; Civil servants donate one tenth of their salaries to provide relief for the unemployed; A large number of banks and consortiums went bankrupt; Interest rates are high.
Throughout the economic history of various countries, "no work, no strength" is a law. Economic powers are no exception. The workers here are manufacturing. Modern manufacturing industry is characterized by large-scale production and assembly line operation. The requirements for workers are not high, and blue collar workers are OK; But it is not low. It needs to have two basic qualities.
First, discipline and order. Industrialized mass production is like a machine with thousands of parts running. Everyone is a part of the machine. The whole machine will not work if you make a little fuss, play a small temper, leave late and early and strike. Therefore, the discipline of workers and the order of production are crucial.
I have heard from my own ears that some factories are greedy for cheap labor in South Asia or Africa. They move them there and soon complain incessantly. If you ask for leave today, you won't come tomorrow if you don't say hello. If you scold him and punish him, the other party's silly smile just doesn't change, which makes you cry and laugh.
Second, skills. Confucianists have a good educational foundation and can get started with a little training; There is also much room for further training and improvement.
Therefore, the Confucian culture circle has the gene of manufacturing power.
The basic values of Confucianism: benevolence, righteousness, courtesy, wisdom and trust are of certain importance to commercial development, but they cannot be exaggerated.
If everyone can follow such values, it will create a harmonious, friendly and pleasant relationship and atmosphere in the society. If you control a company, you will want everyone to abide by ethics, and everyone will limit the use of immoral means from the heart.
You want everyone to be polite to each other, respect the law (Justice), and create a safe environment for everyone's growth by respecting the law. You want your colleagues, managers and partners to work smart and efficiently. You want them to keep their promises, trust you, and not betray you, so as to maintain a long-term relationship.
After all, one of the most basic and important pillars of the economy is trust. Without trust, there will be no high-speed social economy. Companies produce goods because they trust that customers will pay them. Banks lend to people because they trust that most customers will repay their loans on time. The prosperity of these economies benefits from the high trust between their entities.
The Confucian culture has several specific characteristics, especially the obedience to the hierarchical model, which makes it easier and faster for the enterprise management to make decisions, collectivism (promoting cohesion and loyalty), emphasis on Education (which means a well-educated workforce that can develop upstream of the value chain, and attaches great importance to diligence, thrift and discipline, which will ensure that the workforce works hard, the enterprise operates efficiently and avoids debt.
However, personally, as a man who grew up in a family with deep-rooted Confucianism, I deeply doubt that many people exaggerate the impact of Confucian values on the rapid economic development of the "four little dragons of Asia".
It seems that there is a hypothesis in the academic circles that there is a strong correlation between Confucian culture and economic development, but it does not consider the cultural background between different Confucian societies, nor the wider differences with other parts of the world.
Now, we can all agree that Confucian values may have contributed to the economic rise of the "four Asian dragons" to some extent, especially in the 30 years from the early 1960s to the 1990s.
So why did these so-called "positive cultural factors" fail to produce the same results in the early history from the 1950s to the 1950s?
‘I believe that Protestant professional ethics is the basis for the rapid economic development of western culture and the modernization of Asian culture, and the lack of such Protestant professional ethics in Asia is the reason for the low level of economic development in the Asia Pacific region.
I am not saying that Confucian values have little value for economic development, but we need to remember that throughout history and today, many other non Confucian societies in other parts of the world have also achieved economic success:
1) From 1910s to 1920s, New York City became the largest city in the world and the rise of Silicon Valley;
2) In the past seven years, Rwanda's GDP has increased by 7% annually, and the country and infrastructure have been improved accordingly;
3) Germany has become a manufacturing power;
Therefore, we also need to consider the following factors:
1、 A free enterprise system and a competitive business environment that allow private businessmen to engage in commercial operations;
3、 There is an international trade system that allows the import and export of goods and services, strong government institutions that support commerce and trade, and a stable and growing middle class that can promote domestic consumption.
I think the reason for their success has nothing to do with Confucianism.
China was the most successful in the Han and Tang Dynasties. I'm not sure how much Confucianism contributed to this, but I know that Confucianism certainly influenced China in the Ming and Qing Dynasties. China declined rapidly in the late Qing Dynasty, especially in the 19th century.
The kingdom of Korea is a Confucian society inspired by the Ming Dynasty. I won't say how successful it is.
Japan in the Edo era, similarly, was conquered by the Americans, who overwhelmed them with military power and forced them to open up in the 1850s.
What is the Confucian ideal? Pay attention to education, respect the elders, men are the heads of households, women take care of children, right? It has good and bad aspects, but as far as I know, it has little to do with economic success.
The main factors for success seem to be openness to trade and the adoption of a market economy.
There is too much evidence to prove this:
The Qing Dynasty was isolated from the world, then declined rapidly, and then the Opium War and the Sino Japanese War of 1894-1895 took place. They suffered humiliation.
The Korean Dynasty, closed to the outside world, became a "hermit kingdom" and was invaded by Japan.
Japan in the Edo era was closed to the outside world and became detached from the times. In the 1950s, it was invaded by the United States and forced to open to the outside world, making it the first industrialized Asian country and providing a necessary prerequisite for its conquest of its Asian neighbors.
The people's Republic of China has been regarded as a third world country since the 20th century. Until the late 1970s, it opened up its market economy, accelerated its development in the 21st century, and then became the present superpower.
Looking at the development of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia and other countries, you will find a trend... The more they open trade, reduce or cancel tariffs, and realize industrialization, the better their GDP growth will be, and the more prosperous they will be.
Are Koreans / Japanese / Chinese diligent? Of course, but it can be said that their production value is not as good as that of Westerners. For example, the workload of Germans may be only half that of Koreans, but they are innovative and world leaders in many fields such as engineering. They spend half the time of Koreans to create world-class products. Isn't that amazing?
So, yes... Confucianism has many advantages and disadvantages, but its economic success has nothing to do with it.
On the contrary, Confucianism has long hindered the development of Asia, and it bears the basic responsibility for the "Dark Age" of Asia. Although many parts of Asian history are not as backward as the Christian rule in the "Dark Age" in Europe, Confucianism basically prohibits any scientific exploration and investigation because they think it is a waste of time, which is part of the reason why science has never developed in Asia.
The ethics of Confucianism is too simplistic and vague. For example, you should always obey and respect authority, your parents and so on. Confucianism basically influenced all other serious philosophies in Asia after it. It was not until Asia brought the ideals and philosophies of the European enlightenment that it broke this chain.
When Japan realized modernization during the Meiji Restoration in the 18th century, it basically abandoned Confucianism and supported the enlightenment philosophy and modern political system, which mainly drew on the ideas of Britain and Germany.
Although, for the culture that has practiced Confucianism for hundreds or thousands of years, its influence does not disappear overnight. Therefore, the influence of Confucianism still exists and can be felt in many Asian societies.