Yutang JIN


What kind of polity is justified by classic Confucian values? Adopting an interpretive approach, this paper explores the idea of leadership democracy being expressive of classic Confucian values by first introducing the models of leadership democracy associated with Weber and Schumpeter and second connecting Confucian elitist values to them. I argue that leadership democracy best realizes the Confucian emphasis on the people as the source of legitimacy and the ruler as the engine of good governance. The Confucian idea of people-rootedness is borne out by citizens behaving as democratic plebeians who are empowered to choose their leader but devoid of moral and intellectual capabilities for collective decision-making. The Confucian idea of rulership is expressed by democratic leaders displaying competent statesmanship and compensating for intra-elite tensions within the Confucian tradition.