The Concept (Virtue) of Harmony and Show its Significance for Politics and Leadership


The initial period was marking by the formation of Chinese philosophy along with the emergence of a significant number of independent schools and trends, leading from the place where tradition calls Confucianism (literally, it means "School of educated people"). Terminological designation of Confucianism as a "School of educated people" indicates that the ideological system enriches heritage of many thinkers. Confucianism is a set of teachings and doctrines that have arisen as a result of the transition to a new system of thought, the center of which was not already the world of spirits, but people. Therefore, legally speaking, Confucianism is a creation and incarnation of all spiritual experience of earlier national civilization. The Confucianism contains traditional philosophical elements that use in the development of the concept of modern China, which are the following: the desire for unity, which achieves through a combination of opposites; the pursuit of harmony and the median. The world, in the Chinese understanding, is represented as a unity that is in the unstable equilibrium of opposites. Internal communication does not always characterize by opposites struggle, but also a mutual transition. Let us consider the history of the development of ideas about harmony and harmonious society in China.


Basics of Social Harmony

Category "he" means harmony and friendship, it follows that the harmony has a huge value for traditional Chinese culture. People interpret harmonic category as a basic principle of communication, a basic rule of regulation of relations between people, between man and society, as well as between states. Confucius saw in harmony basis of the existence of the cosmos, the law of development of all phenomena. Harmony is the observance of the measures, the pursuit of the median, without excess. Harmony is the attainment the unity of the various phenomena, but it is not a simple unity. One of the tenets of Confucianism sounds as "Ho er bu tong", which means that a harmonious unity is not a simple unity, and it is one in which the diversity preserved. For example, in the cooking process to achieve the desired taste of salty, sour, sweet, spicy or piquant should mix.

Since ancient times, much attention has paid to the social harmony as the basis of mutual understanding, conflict resolution, cooperation and mutual assistance. This category is the highest social ideal, which Confucianism culture seeks. Its essence lays in the coordination of all the non-homogeneous and achievement the new harmonious unity on this basis, in the birth of something new in the process of interaction opposites.

In Confucianism, there are many interpretations on the theme of what harmony "he” is. Confucianism representatives revealed the nature and mechanism of social harmony; they formulated a relatively systematic understanding of the category. Firstly, the concept of amity implies harmonious relations within the family: kind, caring attitude of parents to children, children veneration parents, the agreement between husband and wife, love between brothers. “…the relations between parents and children, between husband and wife, between older and younger brother, and among friends”. Harmonious relations do not limit to family, people, in general, regarding others must act in good faith, respect, mutual humility, following the ritual. Secondly, the harmony must be between man and nature. In Confucianism, people are part of nature. Human and nature are interdependent, but not interchangeable. Mencius believed that protecting the environment is the only way for people to be happy and healthy. He wrote that if humans do not abide by the terms of agricultural work, they will not have plenty of food. It follows that if inhabitants pollute the water bodies, there will not be plenty of fish, if a person is walking in the forest with an ax in the inappropriate time, and there will not be plenty of trees. Mencius put the emphasis on the fact that the laws of nature people must respect and cannot excessively consume natural resources. Chinese philosopher of the Han Dong Zhongshu, developing the idea of ​​Mencius puts forward the thesis of "Tian Renzhi chi, ho er wei i ", which means that everything in the world is interrelated, interdependent, it exists in respect of mutual harmony.

Thirdly, harmonious relations must be among states. The countries must interact regarding the trade and commercial affairs. “People and cultures of boarder regions also significantly transformed those of the center; their customs and cultures impacted, enriched and sometimes even imposed themselves upon that of the central zone”. Even those from different parts of country interacted and enlarged the culture of each other, implementing new traditions and habits. The chaos and discord in the era of "fighting Kingdoms" have led to the disintegration of the Zhou Dynasty. At that time the idea of ​​"harmony with all its neighbors" formulated in Confucian thought. This idea was the basis of "a harmonious world" concept of Hu Jintao. Due to the amicable society thought, all the nations lived together, assisting each other.

In Confucian culture, the harmonious society of the future is a community of the Great Unity, which is Datong. Utopia Datong was first set out in Chapter "Lingyun" of "Lizi" canon. When walking along Great way, which calls Dadao, Celestial belonged to everybody, choose the wise and capable, learned loyalty, improved in friendliness. Therefore, the native people were not only his relatives and children but only his kids. The elders had a charity, mature people - reconciliation, young - education. All widows, orphans, lonely, miserable and sick were looking after. The entire share had men, their refuge - women. The intolerant thought then was to leave the treasures on the ground, and not to save it only for them; people supposed intolerably not yield to the forces, but it was not good to work only for you. It meant that the individual cares only about himself and in the harmonious society all people had to be altruistic and helping in the treatment of each other. For this reason, there were not evil thoughts, were not theft and looting, riots and unrest, and people left the comfort of home, not locking the doors. This phenomenon had the title the Great Unity called Datong. Here we see how the ideal of Datong paints us a picture of primitive communism; it expressed commitment to universal equality. Chinese philosophy, combining traditional Chinese and Western views of doctrine, determined the following aspects in the understanding of the harmony between humans and society:

  1. The basic element of society is the people, who are social beings. Harmony between the individual and society is finding a balance between public and personal interests.
  2. Harmony in the system of horizontal links: between individuals, between social groups, social strata, and classes. Availability or the absence of stable and harmonious relations between the elements of the social structure is a crucial factor of social harmony.
  3. “The particular points of principle theory of social harmony does not oppose to the liberal-democratic values, in fact, harmony does not imply the establishment of uniformity and egalitarianism, on the contrary, it requires the recognition of differences and the fact that people may have different values to set different objectives”.

When considering social harmony, it often compares with the absence of conflict, which is not a sign of it. However, the complete absence of conflicts in society leads to stagnation or even to regress. In conflicts, there are the affirmative beginnings they can regard as a source of development. Thus, in a harmonious society conflicts do not exclude, but create the necessary mechanisms, such as legal or moral, for their effective resolution, not allowing them to grow into a social impact. Social harmony does not exclude different forms of conflict manifestations, such as demonstrations, performances, pickets, etc., but only under the law.

Social Justice

Concerning social ethics of the most significant issue of social harmony there is the question of social justice because social harmony is a balance between the interests of different social groups, generally all members of society. Their bases are the political equality and social justice. It is impossible to build a society of social harmony without proper moral culture. Not nurturing ethics building a harmonious moral society is possible only in authoritarian ways.

Social harmony is a valuable orientation, the implementation of which is possible only if following many conditions. “The sovereign rules over a good government with humaneness; the ministers conduct orderly affairs in keeping with rightness. The people of the realm respect each other through humaneness and the officials of the court discourse with each other on the basics of rightness”. It is significant for "Justice", which at different times, dependents on the historical background, and the particular economic and social conditions of the period were trustable and followed the rules of rightness. But there was always an essence of justice meaning “everybody for its merit”. For example, Aristotle singled out dispensation and equalizing justice. The first deals with the distribution of goods according to the principle of dignity that is, in proportion to the merits of each. The second criterion is the arithmetic equality. It calls work and its costs, damage, and compensation, the value of goods and its price.

Fairness means, first of all, equality, not only in the legal sense, such as equality before the law but also equality of opportunity regardless of gender, race, age, social status, etc. They are the so-called identical scopes. The justice means sword, which is a moral imperative, adopted by the majority and has universal significance. The principle of the sword is the point where law and morality meet and complement each other.

The modern world characterizes by the globalization processes, political polarization, increasing social and cultural diversity. At these new forms of social structure to maintain the stability of society are of the coordinate necessity the external force of the law, and inner strength morality. The notions of social justice in China can interpret in two aspects:

  1. In the aspect of economic justice: the traditional planned economy meant leveling and the equality of all - no matter how well or poorly people are working, but in fact it concealed the greatest inequality. In such situation suppressed initiative, activity, that reflected in the development of productive forces. This fact is contrary to the new egalitarian ideological goal of building the society "Xiaokang", which is a small society of well-being. The principal condition for economic justice is fair competition. In a market economy, this is the principle of the rational allocation of public goods. Competition is a powerful incentive and economic development. The key role of competition is to increase productivity and economic efficiency, stimulate innovation. The combination of equity and orderliness adheres to the socialist principle of distribution according to work but also taking into account other factors. Adjust the system means to allow some people to become wealthy firstly, and then all the others. In the theory of socialism, with Chinese characteristics, is an essential requirement of universal prosperity.
  2. In the aspect of political justice, since the Enlightenment, when philosophers developed the theory of "natural right", the humanity has struggled for the guarantee of political, social, economic and cultural rights, without which there would not be social justice in the modern world.

Significance of Harmony for Leaders and Politics

“Confucianism talks a great deal about this duty of the government to transform or bring to completion the nature of the people – in other words, to civilize them”.The author means that the harmony is a must for leaders and politics. They must be harmonic individuals to improve and harmonize the society to the proper level. The government must overcome institutional obstacles to achieve justice. First, overcoming needed for the imperfection of the legal system. In this sense, the principles of social justice must achieve a particular degree of realization of the right. In turn, the legal framework is intended to ensure that the principles of equity in other spheres of society. The level of social tightness is also quite large, as it did not stop protests in the country, strikes, unrest, and demonstrations. The causes of social tension are withdrawal processes of peasant lands for state needs; environmental problems resulting from the construction of new potentially dangerous productions; corruption of party-state apparatus. As a solution, the following action has been proposed: the creation of a new economic model focused on boosting domestic demand; reform of income distribution; strengthening the fight against corruption, etc.

Second is overcoming of the imperfection of the socialist market economy. In China, there is a situation of the unexcused transition to a market economy, which has led, for example, to the absence of clear standards of competition, which is far from the perfect control system and supervision. As a result of unfair competition often occurring cases of counterfeiting and the production of low-quality goods, and sometimes production, harmful to human health. In those areas, where the state regulation preserved, are common phenomena such as the theft of public property by government officials, corruption, bribery, abuse of power, etc. Undoubtedly, “the area of economic activities require strict fulfillment of the law, the prosecution of perpetrators, and protection of rights and legitimating of all citizens’ interests”.

“This is why he who acts as the people’s ruler is attentive toward the fundamental, careful of the beginning, respectful of the small and cautious of the subtle”. The author says that ruler must be amicable individual to be the ideal to follow. Then Chinese people have also contributed to a stable and harmonious development of humanities and the nation. Morality rights in China are the common good and prosperity of the people and the state, not personal self-interest. The unity of moral and political education provided by personal ethical principles are in union with accepted social rules of behavior. Regulations adopted for establishing order in the country is not enough. However, the necessary laws are also deep inside conversion rights, what helps Confucianism.

Confucian theory of management is significant for leaders, as it has allowed overcoming the major contradictions that threaten the stability of the community, such as the conflict between rich and poor, as there was the selection ruling elites from all social strata and ensured support of the majority. Moreover, we note lack of opposition intellectuals and government because of the political orientation of education that was characteristic of other civilizations, especially to the west. Educated people are including in the state system and direct its efforts on its support and preservation, not criticism and destruction. Thus, this system allows to minimize the conflict between global individual and social, and inner thoughts and feelings of man came not to conflict with the public interest.


Thus, social harmony is a form of resolving social contradictions, achieving unity or consistency between the parties to conflict. To summarize, under the pressure of growing social contradictions, it recognized the need for harmony between the individual and society, as well as between individuals. Although there are contradictions and conflicts, which can avoid through their reciprocal coordination, adaptation and combining them can lead to effective reconciliation and reasonable combination. It is significant that the society established a mutual respect, mutual assistance, and mutual trust. The first is reciprocal trust between society and the authorities. It is understandable that a harmonious society cannot form spontaneously, but is the result of active construction. In a period of brisk social changes or rapid development appears the risk of a temporary imbalance in the transition from the old to the new equilibrium. During this time social dynamics must be under the control of public authorities, as the period to be determined values, no clear rules, standards of conduct, it is strenuous to distinguish the fair against unfair. People find themselves in a situational uncertainty; they focus on short-term goals, growing social tensions. In the public sphere, it leads to the growth of corruption power becomes a tool to achieve personal interests; in the private sphere, it leads to the proliferation of various forms of deviant behavior. Because success in building a harmonious society is most appropriate and depends on the changes of the spiritual state of the people, of their nature, social psychology.

Feb 8, 2020 in Research
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