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Dear Dr. Crane, Thank you for reading my blog, and thank you for the pushback. My blog post clearly wasn't my best writing; my apologies for the polemical and straw-mannish tenor of it. I'd like to reiterate my appreciation that you clearly have some sense of the problems that you'd like to see Confucianism begin to solve (attachments to wealth and war and material comfort), so it's clear to me that you're not one of the 'village people' Mencius inveighs against. But what continues to frustrate me is that you're not amenable to any deep, psycho-social critique of the structures and institutions that allow for and encourage those same attachments. And, as evinced in my blog post, I have strong allergic reactions to world-historical determinism, whether in its Marxist form or in its Fukuyamaist form. There have been too many reversals, collapses and world-historical game-changing events throughout history for me to believe that American-style liberal democracy is fated to conquer all before it. I'm convinced that if a project like Jiang's is to get off the ground, it has to involve both the macro-level political structure and the micro-level one. To use your terms, it has to be both 'top-down' and 'bottom-up', and frankly, his current strategy of intentional living in a Confucian academy is an intriguing one. It might be worth watching his academy, and see if it takes a long-view multi-generational approach, building an intentional community around itself which includes more than just scholars, who can live close to their parents and provide them with material support. As for American society... honestly I have no clue. Something has to give on our part, and that can't be sugar-coated. I can only speak as an American from a radical family background, exasperated with his own warlike and profit-driven time. (Much as Mencius himself spoke as a Chinese man exasperated with his own warlord contemporaries.) It was their principled radicalism that attracted me to them in the first place. That's where I'm coming from on this. I have greater hopes in the long run for localist and communitarian alternatives than I do for parliamentary ones; and it's always struck me that Confucianism in the main has greater adaptability to localist and communitarian concerns. Sincerely, Matthew
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Aug 28, 2012