China is the world’s most populous nation, second largest economy, and the greatest creditor nation in history. How will its codependency with the United States – the largest debtor nation in history – affect its fragile, oppressive “state capitalist” system? Register here.
A First History for Adults, Part 5 consists of three segments–Japan, China, and India–which form an integrated thematic whole, but can also be purchased and learned separately or in installments.
In this second segment we explore China: the Middle Kingdom, bidding to reclaim its perceived rightful status. We will begin by examining the very early formation of China’s military feudal system involving the Chinese concept of “divine right,” known as the “mandate of heaven.” Like Europe’s leaders, China’s rulers struggled to control the decentralizing forces of feudalism, often succumbing to periods of “warring states,” which led its ruling class to focus on ideologies of political control, most notably Confucianism and Legalism, and its “intellectuals” to retreat into mysticism, such as Taoism. The hybridization of Legalism and Confucianism implemented by the Han dynasty, roughly contemporary with the Roman Empire, set the trend for China’s form of government until 1911. Despite periodic upheavals, China was generally a stable and self-sufficient civilization, whose size and wealth did not encourage outward expansion but rather drew others to it, including two foreign conquering dynasties from within Asia. Then came the Europeans.
The Portuguese first arrived on the shores of China in the 1540s, followed by the Spanish, and then the English. The significance of the growing presence of these Western “barbarians” was not understood until it was too late to stop them from achieving supremacy over China. The Opium War of 1839-42 established the British Empire’s military and commercial domination of China, leading ultimately to the overthrow of its imperial system and a desperate reactionary attempt to modernize. The failed republic of Sun Yat-Sen set the scene for the rise of Maoism in China, which, like Leninism in Russia, defined an opportunistic and brutally effective path towards industrial communism in a war-torn agrarian setting. The dismal failure of communism, however set the scene for a uniquely Chinese adaptation to postmodernity: a politically oppressive and corrupt nationalist government, whose earthly mandate is GDP growth through Sino-fied “capitalism.” In an increasingly unstable economic world, this combination cannot hold. What then are China’s prospects?
Program Features and Details
- 8 webcast lectures, each 1.25 hours, for a total of 10 hours of instruction
- Lectures given using WEBEX on-line conferencing, and include interactive visuals.
- Screencast recordings available for streaming and download on-line.
- Audio recordings also available in MP3 format and on iTunes
- Listen anytime, and as many times as you like, in your preferred format!
- Yahoo! Group forum available for registered students.
- “Facts practice sheets” that summarize the history of each major period
- Tips and unique exercises to help you integrate and retain the material
Save even more when you bundle this course with other Asian history courses! Find out more here.
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