A Tale of Two Utopias: Kang Youwei’s Communism, Mao Zedong’s Classicism and the “Accommodating Look” of the Marxist Li Zehou
AbstractIn the Datong Shu the Confucianist philosopher Kang Youwei (1858–1927) attempted to describe in an utopian fashion the end of history, as consisting of the abolition of private property, the institution of a world government, the disruption of marriage and the eradication of social differences. With his book, Kang somehow anticipated Mao’s use of the traditional ideal of datong as a revolutionary concept. In my paper, I will discuss a debate on the Datong Shu from the 1950’s, when a young Li Zehou (1930–) defended Kang’s utopianism from the accusations of ‘conservatism’ moved by orthodox Marxists. Li’s “benevolent look” on Kang may serve as an interesting anticipation of his later efforts to synthesize Marxist and Confucianism.
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