BEIJING -- The law is not opposed to relationships; on the contrary, the law is meant to set behavioral norms and standards for them. But what this author refers to by the term guanxi is that sort of relationship that "opens doors" to "hidden paths," and this sort of guanxi goes against the spirit of the law.
Look at the lengths to which people have gone to force their version of reality onto others in the name of this thing we call God. Think about all the religious wars that have taken place in human history, the degree to which we have made each other suffer because we find it unacceptable that two different versions of the same thing can exist.
As governing systems, both China's autocracy and America's democracy are facing crisis. In many ways, their crises are the mirror image of each other -- and so are the solutions. To fix itself, China needs more re-politicization -- robust popular feedback and accountability to aerate its hidebound mandarinate. American democracy needs more de-politicization --stronger meritocratic, non-partisan and deliberative practices and institutions -- to escape its capture by the populist, short-term horizon of voters, organized special interests and the paralyzing gridlock of its adversarial political parties. Our two political cultures are as distinct as our economies are intertwined. Yet both have much to learn from each other's strengths as well as weaknesses. In short, China needs to lighten up; America needs to tighten up.
My conclusion is a simple one: to restore morality to our businesses we must start by recovering our ability to feel, namely ren. As Jonah Lehrer, a writer on psychology, points out, the worst criminal is not someone who lacks moral reasoning but someone who feels unmoved by others' suffering -- the very definition of a psychopath.
It is easy to understand Confucius' critique of too much raw nature. As he responded to the political chaos of the period in which he lived by suggesting the necessity of a return to the teachings of the ancient sages through learning, he also faced an opponent in those who sought to simply escape the turmoil of the age.