Mencius

For libs interested in China I recommend Roderick Long's "Rituals of Freedom: Austro-libertarian Themes in Early Confucianism"

Long argues, contra David Boaz and Murray Rothbard, that

"From a libertarian perspective, the Taoists have been overrated and the Confucians underrated."

I was forced to read some Mencius(sort of the Rothbard to Confucius' Mises in the Confucian canon) today on my long flight and I was impressed with the sophistication of his political economy--he explains the principle of division of labor, argues against fixed prices for goods, and discusses the advantages of different systems of taxation. I was also surprised with the radical tinge to some of his sayings: (not the best example but I think its funny)

Mencius said to Emperor Hsuan of of Ch'i: "Suppose one of your ministers entrusts his family to the care of a friend and then leaves on a journey to Ch'u. When he returns, he finds that the friend abandoned his family to hunger and cold. What should be done?"
"End the friendship," replied the emperor.
"And if a chief judge can't govern his court - what should be done?"
"Turn him out," pronounced the emperor.
"And if someone can't govern this land stretching out to the four borderlands - what then?"
The emperor suddenly turned to his attendants and spoke of other things.

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Confucius & Hayek & social conventions, Oh My!

As I understand it, Confucius emphasized understanding the individual on the basis of the individual’s place in society. Confucius emphasized observing social rituals as a means of demonstrating your acknowledgment of (and acceptance of?) that place. Not very individualistic.

Then again, I also struggle with Hayek’s idea that people who wish to live with a minimum of state interference must learn to conform to social conventions. (I get the impression Hayek wouldn’t have hit it off with
SEK3.)

I hold a perhaps-simplistic notion of the atomistic human, and the structure of a society which would demand the least participation from him as possible. “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no [one] can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” (WV Bd of Ed. v. Barnette) But perhaps Confucius and Hayek are telling me that if I want to live in a society that protects my autonomy with respect to large items, I must be constantly offering symbolic confessions of obedience to orthodoxy with respect to small things.

Don't like it. Do not. Nope. But then, a lot of folk seem to think highly of that Confucius guy. And allegedly that Hayek feller wasn't a complete slouch either. So I'm still pondering....