Many people think that the founder of Confucianism is Confucius (孔夫子-Kǒng Fūzǐ or Master Kǒng). However, the fact that ideas of Confucianism formed before Master Kong at least 1500 years. Sima Qian wrote about the debate between Gaoyao and Yu about how to rule the country in the Records of the Grand Historian. Gaoyao's thought was expressed through his saying: "If a man sincerely follows the path of duty and virtue, his counsellors will be intelligent, and those who aid him will act in harmony". Meanwhile, Yu said that "I aim at being assiduous from day to day". He continued to expain "assiduous" that: "When the flood assailed the heavens, and in its vast expanse encompassed the mountains and overtopped the hills, so that the common people were overcome by the water, I travelled on dry land in a carriage, went about on the water in a boat, in miry places I used a sledge, while in going over the hills I used spikes. All along the hills I hewed paths through the woods, and together with Yi supplied the people with paddy and fresh meat. In order to drain the nine streams into the four seas, I deepened the channels and canals, and connected them with the rivers, and together with 'Millet' and the people in general when it was difficult to obtain food, and when food was scarce I bartered the surplus stock to make up for deficiencies, and removed the stores. Thus the people were quieted, and the various states properly governed".
Gaoyao believed that rule of the country is basically based on virtue and duty - this is the early ideology of Confucianism.
Yu believed that rule of the country needs to solve problems of nationality and livelihood such as floods, food, trade, irrigation, and reserves, "I bartered the surplus stock to make up for deficiencies" - this is the early ideology of Socialism.
However, Confucianism splits into 2 branches. One branch that upholds the responsibility and duty of the inferiors (the people) towards the superiors (kings and nobles). The virtue of the inferiors is to obey orders from superiors. This branch formed the Neo-Confucianism or Song Confucianism ideology that has dominated China for the past thousand years. Another branch, on the other hand, emphasizes the superior's responsibility and duty towards their inferiors. The emperor and the mandarin must take care of the lives of their own people below, just like parents taking care of their children. This branch was once the more powerful branch of original Confucian thought, but it is increasingly overwhelmed by the opposing branch and is later completely overwhelmed by the Neo-Confucians on mainland China.
Five hundred years before Confucius, The Duke of Zhou was credited with elaborating the doctrine of the Mandate of Heaven, which does not require a legitimate ruler to be of noble birth but how well that person can rule, depending on the just and able performance of the rulers and their heirs. Chinese dynasties such as the Han and Ming were founded by men of common origins, but they were seen as having succeeded because they had gained the Mandate of Heaven. The concept is in some ways similar to the European concept of the divine right of kings; however, unlike the European concept, it does not confer an unconditional right to rule. Intrinsic to the concept of the Mandate of Heaven was the right of rebellion against an unjust ruler. This shows that, in the original Confucian ideology, the emperor was not absolute power, and the people were also not obliged to serve unconditionally. People have the right to rebellion if their lives go down.
(to be continued)