This paper is an analysis of certain aspects of recent Communist thought in China. By “recent” thought is meant that of the last two decades, and in fact this study is concerned essentially with developments from 1937 to 1949. The study is not based on an appraisal of the whole body of Chinese Communist writing in this period, nor even on a representative selection of it, but it does bring together for analysis some very interesting examples of Chinese Communist treatment of problems germane to the Confucian ethical tradition. The analysis thus, perhaps, indicates ways in which the Peking regime in the future may relate its ideology to the great corpus of traditional Chinese thought. My assumption has been that writers of the new regime, at least some of them, show a tendency, in developing the new thought, to incorporate into it, and synthesize with it wherever possible, native Chinese intellectual traditions and doctrines. This traditional intellectual background is often of extraordinary antiquity; but while writers such as Liu Shao-ch'i quote the words of Confucius because this has been the idiom of Chinese philosophy, there has nonetheless been a sophisticated effort to mesh a new Communist ethic with those aspects of Confucian thought which are especially characteristic of the last three or four centuries, and to present Communism as in effect the latest stage of this thought. This has been done deliberately and as part of a well-understood world-wide tactic in Communism to strike local roots and to fit Communist “theory” to national situations.

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