新儒家肖像记:读蒋庆《儒家宪政秩序》 – Reading Jiang Qing’s “Confucian political order”

迄今为止美国几家著名大学出版社还没有出版过多少现代中国大陆学者的著作,尤其是思想理论性的论著更是少见。据我所知,近些年的有哈佛大学出版社在2006年出版了汪晖的《中国新秩序》一书。而今年普林斯顿大学出版社出版的蒋庆著作《儒家宪政秩序》,则再一次引起读者对于现代中国社会政治思潮起伏变化的关注。蒋庆编著的这本书还有一个很大的附标题:中国的过去将如何塑造它未来的政治,开宗明义地告诉读者,这是一部关于中国未来体制设计的政治宣言。除此之外,该书的封面设计也耐人寻味:天安门城楼,世人再熟悉不过,但上面的毛泽东画像却被孔子所替代。那么新儒家到底是要以孔子代替毛泽东?孔子在表毛在里?还是毛既是孔,孔既是毛?要了解现在声势很大的新儒家,代表人物蒋庆的思想脉络当然值得关注。

 

 

稍微关心时事的人可能都知道,新儒家的政治体制设计推出之后,的确在社会上引起了不少的关注,也引发了很多的讨论。尤其在互联网时代,通过网络媒体,持各种不同观点者都可以很容易地发表自己的见解。而对于来自各个方面批评和质疑,新儒家拥趸一个常见的回应,就是质问对方读了多少儒家经典,然后常常就是奚落对方根本不懂儒家思想,人云亦云而已,最后建议批评者先去读几年儒家著作再来。应该说,这一招还真的很灵,很多人的儒学知识大概也就是中学课本里的那些孔子语录,外加上后来很流行的蔡志忠漫画,结果真的就被问住了,不敢再搭腔了。然而读了蒋庆先生的这部新书之后,不能不说很失望,蒋先生的理论推演也有着同样的问题。

 

 

蒋庆的“王道”理论体系,是建立在对西方民主制的批判基础上,他个人对中国政治走向最大的担忧,就是中国会采用西方式的民主制度,而不是回归中国自己的历史传统,也就是儒家的政治理念。但如果通读书中蒋庆对于西方民主制度的总结和描述,马上就可以看出他对于西方民主制度的理解非常片面和狭隘。或者说,虽然蒋庆先生对儒家经典了如指掌,有着个人深刻的见解,但很明显他对于西方社会的历史和社会现实并没有做过深入的考察,既没有感性的经验,其批判也缺乏实证的有力支持,基本上就是一种基于想象的话语,因而显得非常苍白无力。

 

 

蒋庆认为,西式民主的主要弊端,在于过度强调社会大众的意愿,也就是制度的合法性完全基于人民的认同。而对人民意愿的绝对认同则导致了政府和政策的世俗化、短视、急功近利、缺乏长远的历史观和道德建设。他认为,“多数人的愿望不一定是道德的,它可能喜欢种族主义、帝国主义或者法西斯主义。希特勒就是通过民主程序当选的。”“当民众的短期利益和人类的长期利益之间发生冲突时,正如全球变暖中表现出来的情况,民众的短期利益成为政治上的优先选择。” 进而民主政治也就仅仅是一种世俗现世的“欲望政治”。对于西方的三权分立原则,蒋庆认为是仅仅对局限于世俗意志的层面,从政治角度而言,既无必要也无效率。

 

 

他对于西式民主最大的指责之一,是缺乏道德性。在他看来,西式民主制度仅仅顾及主流意见而不会考虑“意见的质量”。进而他假设一旦民意主流是反道德的,那么选举制度就会合理合法的导致法西斯主义、帝国主义和霸权主义等等。简而言之,在蒋庆的眼中,人民是绝对不可信的,因为人民追求的仅仅是眼前的现实利益,因而以人民意志为唯一合法性的西式民主制度必定是以世俗利益和欲望为基础的,从儒家理论的角度研判,必然是不完美的和不可持续的。然而蒋庆对西方民主制度缺乏道德性的指责,恰恰暴露了他对于西方政治历史和现实的知识匮乏。

 

 

蒋庆所不明白的,其一是西方民主政治正是以其道德伦理为基础的特定制度安排,也就是说,没有西方的道德伦理话语体系,就不会有现代西式的民主化政治体系。民主制度并不仅仅是选举而已,它更体现着人与人之间的关系,而这一层关系的背后就是道德与伦理。毫无疑问,人民的意愿有着世俗的一面,但也会有着道德的一面。正如蒋庆指责的那样,美国没有批准京都协议,但同时美国在环保方面的努力和实践同样不可忽视。美国在一方面被一些人指为帝国主义战争贩子,而另一方面,美国接受的国际难民已达数百万,超过其他国家接受的总和,而且事实上这些人的多数最终都选择留在了美国。其二,民主社会的批判精神,任何事情都会有多种声音,因而也就不会像他想象的那样一味短视和只顾眼前利益。其三,纵观西方民主社会的历史,废除奴隶制,男女平等,种族肤色平等,公民权利,社会福利安全保障体系等等,几百年来总体的进步性是无法发被简单否认的。一言以蔽之,蒋庆对西方民主的错误判断就在于从一个并不具备普遍性的假设出发,然后把“民”全盘否定,再下来虚构出一个虚无缥缈的“圣王”理论,来构造一个精英体制的政治框架。蒋庆对于西方民主极度形而下的理解使其理论破绽百出。

 

 

这本书的后半部分是几位知名学者与蒋庆之间的对话,每个人都独立成篇,详细论述其对新儒家主张的见解。几位学者中最后一位是同样对西方民主制度持强烈反对态度并以此闻名的香港中文大学教授王绍光。很清楚,蒋庆之所以会邀请王绍光教授参加之前在香港城市大学的对话,并在书中收录其反馈文章,其意就在于王绍光教授对西方民主制度的长期批判可以从侧面来支持自己的观点,即西方民主制度自身问题重重,并不合适中国社会。也就是说,虽然王绍光教授以阶级斗争为出发点的“左派”观点与蒋庆的儒家宪政相去甚远,大相径庭,但在反对中国走西方式民主化道路这一点上,他们是高度一致的。

 

 

然而如果做一点稍微深入的思考,就可以看出,王绍光教授对西方民主制度的批判同样是牵强附会,经不起仔细推敲的。王绍光与蒋庆的主要区别在于后者认为中国政治今天面临着严重的合法性危机,而前者则认为中国政治模式的合法性没有问题,而且是深得民心。那么王绍光是怎么样论证这个合法性呢?王文首先引用了“西方学者”的研究,也就是一些关于政治模式合法性的实证调查访谈,用数字来证明中国人对现有模式的支持度非常之高。当然,他也承认这种调查访谈的高度主观性难免会引起争议。以前曾有美国的研究人员在北京采访过市民,结论认为中国人向往民主,而王教授则认为问卷设计有问题。最后问题被改成了一定要在吃饭和民主之间排先后,结果被采访者纷纷选择了吃饭在前,然后王教授就得出了中国人对民主不感兴趣的结论。

 

 

然后王教授接着引用了一名西方学者的国际比较研究,用数字来证明中国人对于政府的支持程度远远高于民主国家。然而这里有一个很明显的问题,即不同国家的人民有着可能完全不同的政治经验和哲学,这种对比能在多大意义上有效?比如在美国,政治的逻辑是人民纳税养活了政府,后者提供服务则是一种应尽的义务,因而纳税人对政府的态度总是挑剔和批评居多。而中国式的政治逻辑完全相反,即政府养活了人民,人民需要对政府感恩戴德。更重要的是,中国历史几千年从未经历过美国式的政权更迭,政治的主流至今仍然是“打天下,坐天下”,这种政治哲学对人的影响可想而知,人民也不知道还有别的政治模式可行。比如于建嵘教授曾经注意到他的小区里有一位常常激烈批评政府的居民。而在京奥期间,于教授很惊讶的看见,这位居民戴上红袖标,成了维稳人员。这位居民解释说,批评归批评,但还是要维护它,否则天下乱了还是百姓遭殃。

 

 

接下来王绍光又质疑了蒋庆关于西方民主是基于人民意志的看法,认为西方的代议民主并不是真实的。他举证说,美国众议院有435名成员,123名是百万富翁,在参议院中,100名成员里至少50位是百万富翁,而且很多人其实都是亿万富翁级别。据此他得出了富人在美国政治中占据不成比例的突出地位。他认为,美国的政治因此就是金钱政治,占有财富越多,参与意识越强,对政治的影响也越大,代表都是为背后的金权代言。在这里,王绍光对于美国政治过于简化的阶级斗争思维方式就很明显了。而事实上,美国政治远非如此简单。举几个简单的例子。比如华人在美国是公认比较富有的种族,但是华人的政治参与率确实很低的,政治影响更是微乎其微。再比如,几年前美国最高法院允许了公司、非营利团体和工会像普通公民个人一样,拥有直接在选举活动中表达意见的权力,并且不受资金管制。这一决定作出后影响巨大,很多人都认为美国民主已死,金权政治就要大行其道。但实际上经过几年的观察,美国社会的政治格局并未发生质的变化。前年加州三名富婆试图选举公职,结果耗资过亿却一无所获,还成了媒体上的笑柄。最近的移民改革就更是一个很好的例子。众多的CEO、财阀大佬纷纷组团游说众议院,要求推动移民改革。而众议院的共和党就是充耳不闻,拒绝采取行动。至此王绍光对美国政治代表性的推论也就不能自圆其说了。

 

 

本书中另一位值得关注的人物,就是为书作序的清华大学哲学系教授、加拿大人 贝淡宁,一位近年来以大力“为中国政治模式辩护”和试图从民主与专制之间找出第三条路,即儒家“王道”政治,而蜚声海内外的学者。毫无疑问,贝淡宁的加盟对于中国新儒家的宪政理论体系有着旁人无法替代的作用。贝淡宁可以以一个西方人和学者的身份,来批判西方的民主制,足以补充其他儒门学者如蒋庆没有西方经验和缺乏西方知识的缺陷。

 

 

然而在通读贝淡宁的一些关于民主制度和儒家宪政的文字和本书的导论部分之后,在一方面,我们并没有看到什么强有力的证据来证明新儒家的政治体制主张相对于西方民主制有什么超越之处,而在另一方面,他的言论则提醒了中国读者去认真思考一个大概很少有人想过的问题,即从写《中国大趋势》的纳斯比特,到写《邓与中国转型》的傅高义,再到大谈儒家宪政优于西方民主的贝淡宁,这些西方人究竟对他们自己的国家和政治制度有多少了解?或者更明确地说,当他们为中国现有秩序和某些历史人物大唱赞歌的时候,他们使用的参照系究竟是什么?这在今天已经是一个不能不问的问题。

 

 

贝淡宁并不了解中国,这一点从他对中式“贤能政治”推崇上表现得很清楚。他对“组织部”这种人才选拔的管理模式大加赞赏,认为是一种公平且行之有效的方式,可以通过严格的考核,把最优秀的人才选拔到领导高位上去。但是在另一方面,他也不得不承认,权力阶层内部的腐败蔓延十分严重,严重影响了政权的形象和合法性。很奇怪的是,他从没有把腐败的四处蔓延和他所推崇的“组织部”制度联系起来进行思考。举个简单的例子,仅仅从十八大以来,就已经有十多名省部级以上官员落马。对于如此严重的贪腐局面,不知道贝氏有无想过他大力赞扬的“组织部”制度应该多少负责?进而如果读一读贝淡宁和李世默为《纽约时报》合写的文章,可以说每一句话都体现着他对中国政治和社会的无知。

 

 

通过对其言论的分析,同时可以清晰地看出,贝淡宁甚至对于他生长的西方社会同样缺乏基本的了解。在他对西方民主制度的批评中,民主制度被简化为形式上的投票选举,进而投票选举制度可能有的一些弊端又被扩大为整个民主制度的问题。他认为,西方的民主制度只是一种幻想,美国的民主实际上是一美元一票的制度。而且投票者仅仅是为了自己的眼前利益,并不会虑及他人以及长远的利益,而且投票者经常做出不合理的决定。然而对于任何稍微熟悉美国历史和社会的人而言,贝淡宁这些对对民主的抨击都是空泛无力的。金钱资本当然是强有力的,但美国历史从早期的“进步运动“,到后来的”民权运动“,从老罗斯福到约翰逊,美国社会的变化都显示出民主的力量并不仅仅限于选票,而是渗透到了生活的方方面面。在西方受过完整教育的贝淡宁不应该不知道这些历史。

 

 

最后简单总结几句,蒋庆对于西方民主制度的批判是苍白无力的,原因之一,是他对于西方历史文化的了解不够。他试图全盘否定“民”在政治历史过程中的作用,并以虚无缥缈的所谓“圣王”和“天道”来取而代之,为已经过气的等级制度背书,为今天严重贫血的中国政治模式从古代神话中挖掘理论资源,在资讯发达民智渐开的今天,最终只能成为笑柄罢了。当然,这只是问题的一部分。而通过蒋庆对于西方民主制的批判,所折射出的,恰恰是新儒家思想的内核部分,即他们反对的是什么,迎合期盼的又是什么。可以毫不夸张地说,这部《秩序》就是新儒家思想最好的白描肖像。

To date, American university publishing houses have not published very many works by modern China mainland authors, which is especially true for ideological and theoretical works. Based on what I know, in 2006 Harvard University Press published Wang Hui’s “China’s New Order.” This year, Princeton University Press published Jiang Qing’s “A Confucian Constitutional Order,” a book that once again aroused readers’ interest in the changes in modern China’s society and politics. There’s a rather large subtitle to his book: How China’s Ancient Past Can Shape Its Political Future. From the outset, the author tells his readers that this work is a political manifesto of a systematic design for China’s future. Apart from this, the book’s cover design is quite intriguing: the whole world is familiar with Tiananmen Gate in Beijing, but on the book’s cover the picture of Chairman Mao is replaced with a portrait of Confucius. So, do the New Confucians want to replace Mao Zedong with Confucius? Is it Confucianism on the outside but Maoism on the inside? Or is Mao Confucius and Confucius Mao? If one wants to understand the New Confucianists, who at present have a great deal of momentum, then one would do well to pay attention to the thought process of Jiang Qing, a representative of New Confucianism.

Those who have a passing interest in current affairs might know that after the New Confucianism political system was launched, it most definitely attracted notable attention from society, sparking a lot of discussion. Those holding all kinds of different perspectives are easily able to express their opinions through web media in this age of the internet. A common response of the fanatics of New Confucianism to various kinds of criticism and questioning was to question how many Confucian classics the questioner had read, followed by ridiculing them for simply not understanding Confucian thought and for just regurgitating the views of others. Finally they would propose that the critics first read a few years worth of Confucian works before they make further comments. It should be said that this trick worked like a charm. Many people’s knowledge on Confucianism probably just comes from a few quotes of Confucius in secondary school textbooks, followed by the popular cartoons by Cai Zhizhong. Consequently, they were stumped by this line of questioning, and didn’t dare converse any further. After reading Mr Jiang Qing’s book, I can’t say that I wasn’t disappointed, as his theory suffers from the same problem.

The theoretical foundation to Jiang Qing’s “Way of the King” is founded on a critique of Western democracy. His greatest concern of Chinese politics is whether China will adopt a Western style democracy or if it will return to it’s own historical tradition, which is the Confucian concept of politics. However, by reading Jiang Qing’s description and summary of Western democratic systems, it’s plain to see that his understanding of them are incredibly biased and narrow-minded. Or it could be said that although he has a deep understanding of the Confucian classics like they were the back of his hand, it’s very clear that he hasn’t studied Western history and society very deeply. Since he has no feel for it, his critique lacks the strong support of concrete evidence. It is essentially based on an imaginary discourse, and so appears very pale and weak.

Jiang Qing believes that the major flaw in Western democracy is that it excessively attaches importance to the people’s desires. It’s legitimacy is based entirely on the people’s approval of it. This leads to the secularisation of government and it’s policies, a lack of foresight, a desire for quick success, and lacks a long term historical perspective and moral foundation. He considers that, “Most people’s desires are not always moral. They might be racist, imperialist or fascist. Hitler was democratically elected.” “When the people’s short term interests and mankind’s long term interests collide, just like when global warming was hitting the headlines, their short term interests become a political priority. Thus it follows that democracy is merely the ‘politics of desire’ in a secular modern day world.” Jiang Qing believes that the principal of separating power in the West is merely restricted to the will of secularism. From a political viewpoint, this is neither necessary nor efficient.

His biggest criticism of Western-style democracy is that it lacks morality. In his view, Western democratic systems merely attend to mainstream thinking, and do not consider the “quality of the thinking”. Thereby he speculates that as soon as mainstream public opinion becomes immoral, the election process will rationally and lawfully result in fascism, imperialism, hegemony etc. In a nutshell, in Jiang Qing’s eyes, the masses absolutely cannot be trusted as they merely seek immediate tangible benefits. Therefore taking the will of the people as the sole basis of a legitimate Western democratic system, it is bound to have secular interests and desires as it’s basis. Coming at it from a Confucianary perspective, it is inevitably imperfect and unsustainable. However, it is precisely in his criticism of Western style democracies lacking virtue that Jiang Qing reveals his lack of understanding towards the history of Western politics.

One of the things that Jiang Qing doesn’t get is that, firstly, Western democracies are precisely founded on the basis of morality and ethics. In other words, without an ethical system of discourse, there would be no modern Western style political systems that promote democracy. Democratic systems are not merely just about elections. They embody the inter-relations between people, of which morality and ethics are behind. Certainly, the people’s desires have a secular side, but also a moral one. Just as Jiang Qing criticised, America didn’t ratify the Kyoto Protocol. However, at the same time it’s environmental protection efforts and fulfilments can’t be ignored. Some people on the one hand refer to the United States as imperialist warmongers, but on the other the number of international refugees it has took under its wing has already reached several million, thus exceeding that of other counties. Additionally, the majority of these people have ultimately decided to stay in America. Secondly, in the critical spirit of democratic societies, everything has a voice. Therefore a lack of foresight and a preoccupation with immediate benefits never materialises as he imagines. Thirdly, looking at the history of societies in Western democracies, the overall improvements made in the last several hundred years such as in the abolition of slavery, equality of the sexes, racial equality, civil rights and social welfare systems simply cannot be denied. In a nutshell, Jiang Qing’s erroneous judgement lies in the fact that from the outset he didn’t have a broad hypothesis. He then comprehensively negated “the people” and fabricated an illusory theory of a “sacred king” to compose a political framework with an elite system. His extremely specific understanding of Western democracy causes his theory to be riddled with errors.

The second half of this book features discussions between Jiang Qing and several famous scholars. Each has their own chapter in which they talk in detail about their understanding of New Confucianism. The final interviewee is Professor Wang Shaoguang of Chinese University of Hong Kong. He is famous due to his similar stance of strongly opposing Western democracies. It’s clear that the reason Jiang Qing invited Professor Wang Shaoguang to participate in the discussion held at City University of Hong Kong and include his feedback in the book was so that he could, through Professor Wang Shaoguang’s long-term criticism of Western democratic systems, support his view that said systems are in themselves problematic and not suitable for Chinese society. It can also be said that although Professor Wang Shaoguang expresses some left-wing views on class struggles which were in stark contrast to Jiang Qing’s ideas of a Confucian constitutional government, they are practically the same in their opposition to China following Western style democratisation.

However, if one delves a little deeper, it can be seen that Professor Wang Shaoguang’s critique of Western democracy is equally far-fetched, can not withstand careful scrutiny. The main difference between Wang Shaoguang and Jiang Qing is that the latter believes that Chinese politics is faced with a serious legitimacy crisis, whereas the former believes that the Chinese political model has no such problem and is in fact wholeheartedly endorsed by the people. So how did Wang Shaoguang expound on this point of legitimacy? First, he quotes research done by “Western scholars”, which comprises of empirical surveys and interviews about the legality of political models, with figures to prove that the Chinese people have a very high level of support for the existing model. Of course, he also acknowledged that these highly subjective surveys and interviews would inevitably lead to controversy. U.S. researchers had previously interviewed people in Beijing, and concluded that Chinese people yearn for democracy. Professor Wang, however, believes that this questionnaire had design flaws. The final question changed the tone, with the interviewees having to put various things from eating to democracy in order of importance. This resulted in them time and time again putting eating at the top of the list, resulting in Professor Wang concluding that Chinese people have no interest in democracy.

Professor Wang continued by quoting the research of Western scholar who contrasted different nationalities, using figures to prove that the Chinese people’s level of support for government is much higher than that of the populations of democratic countries. There’s a very clear problem with this: populations of different countries will probably have a completely different political experience and philosophy. To what level can such a contrast be relevant? For example, in America the political logic is that the citizens pay tax to support the government, who then have the bounden duty to provide service to the citizens. Therefore, the majority of taxpayers adopt a critical attitude towards their government. However, in China the political logic is completely different. The government supports the citizens, who are required to be deeply grateful to the government. Most importantly, in its several thousand years of history, China has never experienced an American style change in political power. To this day, the essential point of its politics is still to “conquer and rule”. It can be imagined that such a political philosophy influences people such that they don’t know that there are other feasible political models. For example, Professor Yu Jianrong once noticed there was a resident who often strongly criticized the government in his district. However, he was surprised to see that this resident donned a red armband as he worked with the stability maintenance crew during the Beijing Olympics. The resident explained that criticism is just that and nothing more. Order still must be maintained, otherwise it’s the common people who will suffer in times of trouble.

Wang Shaoguang then called into question Jiang Qing’s opinion of Western democracies being based on the will of the people, by his consideration that the democracies presented in the West are phony. His evidence for this was that of the 435 members in the American House of Representatives, 123 are millionaires. In the Senate, at least 50 of its 100 members are millionaires, with many being billionaires. By this he concluded that the rich hold a disproportionate share of the prominent positions in American politics. He believes that therefore American politics is money politics. The more wealth one possesses, the more weight one has in participating and so the more influence one has on it. Representatives are all just spokespersons for the wealth and authority that backs them. It’s with this that Wang Shaoguang’s over-simplified thinking on the class struggle within American politics becomes quite clear. In fact, American politics is far from being as simple as this. Let’s take a look at a few simple examples. Ethnic Chinese in America are recognised as a relatively rich demographic, yet their participation in politics there is indeed low, with their impact on it being even less. Also, a few years ago America’s Supreme Court permitted companies, non-profit organisations and trade unions the right to directly express their opinions just like ordinary citizens can during election campaigns, without being subject to capital controls. This decision had a large impact, with many believing that it was the end of American democracy, and that money politics would spread like wildfire. However, after several years of observation, the political landscape of American society has in fact not undergone a qualitative change. Two years ago, three wealthy women in California tried to get elected for official positions. They spent over 100 million dollars but ended up empty handed, and even became the laughing stock of the media. The recent attempt for a reform in immigration provides an even better example. Numerous CEOs and tycoons united to lobby the House of Representatives for an immigration reform. However, the Republicans of the House turned a deaf ear and refused to take any action. So far, Wang Shaoguang’s discussion of American politics is not representative of it.

Another person featured in the book worth taking note of is Canadian philosophy professor Daniel A. Bell of Tsinghua University, who was responsible for the preface. Over the past few years, Professor Bell has made his name as both a domestic and international scholar by his great effort to “defend China’s political model” and find a form of politics that lies between democracy and dictatorship, namely the “Way of the King” of Confucianism. With regards to China’s New Confucianist’s theory of a constitutional government, there’s no doubt that Bell’s alliance as an outsider is irreplaceable. Bell can take advantage of his position as a Western scholar to criticize Western democracies, sufficiently making up for Jiang Qing’s and other Confucian scholars’ lack of Western experience and knowledge.

After reading Bell’s introduction to this book, as well as a few of his articles on democracy and a Confucian constitutional government, we don’t see any strong evidence for a New Confucian form of government being superior to Western democracies. However, his remarks remind Chinese readers to seriously consider a problem that probably very few have thought about, which is how much do Westerners such as John Naisbitt, author of “China’s Megatrends”, Ezra Feivel Vogel, author of “Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China”, and himself, proponent of a New Confucian constitutional government being superior to Western democracy, really understand of their own own country and its political system? More specifically, when they are praising China’s current state and certain historical figures, what frame of reference are they employing exactly? This is a question that must be asked.

It’s very clear from Daniel A. Bell’s reverence of Chinese-esque “sage politics” that he really doesn’t understand China. He is full of praise for the CCP’s “Organisation Department”, which operates by selecting the best talent for the job. He considers that its methods are fair and effective as they employ a strict form of assessment to select the best talent to occupy high positions of leadership. However, on the other hand, he has to admit that corruption within the power elite is rampant, and seriously affects the image and legitimacy of the regime. What’s strange is that he has never put together the rampant corruption and the system of the “Organisation Department” that he is full of praise for and pondered over them. A simple example is that since the 18th Communist Party of China’s National Congress, more than ten officials at the provincial level or higher have been sacked. I wonder whether Bell has thought about how much the system of the “Organisation Department” that he reveres deeply is responsible for such a serious level of corruption. It could be said that every word of Daniel A. Bell’s and Eric X. Li’s article that was written for the “New York Times” embodies Bell’s ignorance towards Chinese politics and society.

Analysing this article one can clearly see that Bell even lacks a basic understanding of the Western society that he grew up in. In his critique of Western democracy, he simplifies it to a facade of an electoral vote, which itself is probably subject to malpractice, thus disrupting the whole democratic system. He believes that Western democracy is just an illusion, that democracy in America is basically a one-dollar-per-vote system. Furthermore, that voters are only concerned about their own immediate benefits, never considering others or long-term benefits, and often make irrational decisions. However, anyone who has any familiarity with American history and society will know that these attacks on democracy have no weight. It’s true that money and capital are a strong force, however from the early “Progressivism” to the later “Civil Rights Movement” of American history, from Theodore Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson, changes in American society have shown that the power of democracy is not just limited to the ballot, but permeates through every aspect of life. Bell, who has been completely educated in the West, should know about these points in history.

In summary, Jiang Qing’s critique of Western democracy carries no weight. One of the reasons for this is that his understanding of Western history and culture is insufficient. He tries to completely negate the role “the people” have had on the course of political history, and then introduce an illusory so-called “sacred king” and a “heavenly law”. He endorses a has-been hierarchy, and tries to aid today’s seriously anaemic Chinese political model by digging up a theory from ancient mythologies. However, in this day and age in which information is widely available and in which populations are evermore knowledgeable, this can only be ridiculed. Of course, this is just part of the problem. Jiang Qing’s critique of Western democracy radiates what is is at the core of New Confucianism: whatever is opposed caters to one’s own hopes and expectations. It is no exaggeration to say that “A Confucian Constitutional Order” is the best portrait of New Confucianism.

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This week on Marco Polo Project – June 5-11 | Marco Polo Project blogreply
July 11, 2014 at 12:11 pm

[…] That Thing, Small Memories from Kongtong, and Dream 91. Simon Cooper from England translated ‘Reading Jiang Qing’s new Confucian Political Order’, review of a recent Chinese book exploring the political applications of neo-confucianist […]

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