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Imperial power, gentry power and clan power: Western and Chinese cultural traditions in a comparative perspective

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The differences between China and Western countries in human and physical environment has brought about two distinctive models of state. In the Chinese-style state of quasi-consanguinity, in which family and state have a similar structure, imperial power, gentry power, and clan power are the product of common ownership of consanguineous groups. The similarity in the structures of these three kinds of power derives from the fact that they are all restricted by the power of lineage generated from the self-sufficient small farmer economy, and must obey the conventions of ancestors which hold the benefits of the group as supreme. The relationship between these three kinds of power, is definitely not the one that is based on the division of power that is founded on individual private ownership in Western countries, where ‘public power’ and ‘individual private ownership’ are antithetic, but are three aspects of the patriarchal dictatorship that complement each other. Therefore, village rule in China and autonomy in the West are two totally different concepts, and gentry power is also not the ‘authorized power’ from the state.


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