A Reading of Han Fei's "Wu Tu" [Five Vermin]

Contemporary Chinese Thought 10 (1):19-33 (1978)
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Abstract

To give the necessary affirmation to the historical role played by the Legalists and to study and analyze the Legalists' writings from the Marxist point of view is a major task on the ideological front called for by the deepening of the Campaign to Criticize Lin Piao and Confucius. Han Fei was an outstanding representative of the Legalists of the late Warring States period. He summed up the experience, both positive and negative, of the newly emerging landlord class in the process of instituting reform, and he criticized the reactionary Confucianism. He thus fully and theoretically formed a comprehensive system of Legalist thought which served as a direct theoretical preparation for the establishment of a unified feudal state under a centralized authority. The "Wu Tu" is representative of the more than one hundred thousand words of Han Fei's writings. This important political essay made a revolutionary criticism of the reactionary ideology hindering the progress of the newly emerging landlord class and outlined a theoretical program by which the landlord class could exercise an all-round dictatorship over the slave-owning class. Acquiring a clear understanding about this will help us see further through the ultra-Right essence of Lin Piao's practice of honoring Confucius and opposing Legalism

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