I am preparing for a lecture at the OzAsia festival in Adelaide in a couple of weeks. The title is ‘Confucius and Chairman Mao: Then and Now’. Mao is quite ambivalent about Confucius, often mentioning him favourably and using many of his sayings. Indeed, Confucius was to be part of the famous ‘sinification of Marxism’ that Mao espoused. At other times, Mao argues that Confucius also embodies the ‘feudal’ backwardness of China and so needs to be condemned. The following is a wonderful example:

People make mistakes when they are young, but is it true that older people can avoid making mistakes? Confucius said everything he did conformed to objective laws when he was seventy. I just don’t believe it, that’s bullshit. (The Writings of Mao Zedong, 1949-1976, vol. 2, p. 160)

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