China’s First Liberal

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2012


Although he was not a full liberal in the modern sense, Mozi (c. 470–391 B.C.E.) espoused some classical-liberal principles long before Locke and Voltaire. Moreover, although his views often run counter to pervasive Confucian norms, his insights about equality before the law, the dangers of the predatory state, militarism, and a social order based on rational self-interest could serve as a reference point for building a liberal society in the new China.