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A rather Eurocentric account of political history,
This review is from: Politics: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Kindle Edition)
This introductory text is quite Eurocentric and biased in some ways, for instance its dismissal of all non-European political traditions as "despotism". This view is certainly too simplistic. For instance, in the ancient Chinese political doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven, there are democratic elements present too. As Mencius once said: "Heaven sees through the eyes of the people; Heaven hears through the ears of the people" and "The people are the most important components of a nation. The rulers are less important...". It is mind-boggling that the author would consider ancient China to be more "despotic" than medieval Christian Europe. And during the Western Han Dynasty in China nearly 2200 years ago, a poor peasant girl was able to directly write a letter to the Han emperor and successfully got the emperor to reduce the punishment for her father for a crime he committed. For all the much vaunted "republican civil law" and "democracy" in Ancient Rome, I don't think this kind of thing ever happened in the Roman world. The point is not that there aren't some relatively positive political elements from Ancient Greece and Rome as well, The point is that to dismiss the entire political history of the non-European world as simply "despotism", like what the author is doing here, is really the worst kind of Orientalism which even relatively enlightened Western thinkers of the 18th and 19th centuries didn't indulge in. How could the author repeat this kind of old line today in the 21st century when the West no longer dominates the world like it used to in previous centuries?
Of course, compared with today's political standards, every ancient society would seem somewhat "despotic". But our world today has only become more democratic because of the numerous mass movements, reforms and revolutions in recent centuries across the entire world, rather than due to some "intrinsically progressive essence" in "Western civilisation".