provocative view of George Zhibin Gu of China :
origins of China's political corruption: political-economy and development in light of history and globalization
(George Zhibin Gu is an author of several new books on China and globalization, including: China's global reach, China and the new world order, and Made in China)
It has been interesting to read the comments by WAISers on Confucius and other classic Chinese writings. To me, there is a great need to study the circumstances in which these ideas emerged.
Indeed, Confucius or Mencius intellectually responded to the urgent issues their eras faced, along with other influential thinkers. Now, the old eras are little understood, while Confucius and Mencius have become doctrines as well as political cults for political bodies for ages until the collapse of the Qing dynasty in 1911.
From an intellectual point of view, Lao Zi and Zhuang Zi are more exciting and challenging. Again, their ideas are a direct response to a cruel political environment in which self-appointed, self-serving political bodies preyed on society and the people. These thinkers offered challenging advice on how to escape the cruel environment people faced in their eras, along with other ideas for the rulers. Their ideas are greatly relevant today, for China's self-appointed political body remains. What is more, this self-appointed government body remains inherently self-serving and stands as an oppressor politically, and a squeezer economically (without knowing this basic
issue, there is no way to understand today's China or its past history).
Furthermore, in the government's point of view, the Legalist group of thinkers has been most influential, which is little understood even today. The legalist thinkers were basically political consultants who offered concrete methods for the rulers on how to control people and how to extract wealth from society without causing unwanted troubles for the rulers. Their ideas are little analysed and challenged, which is part of the fact that China's universal rights of government has never been truly challenged. On the contrary, those people who aid government's expansion of power over the society and people are rewarded.
Since early 1900s, Marxism has become a new slogan for political bodies and social life. But it has remained a set of slogans, a cult to be more precise, for the latest self-appointed government to employ. In reality, even without this new cult, the Communist government would have existed in the same manner in its relations with society and the people--no more, no less. In essence, China's communist power is no more than another self-appointed, self-serving dynastic government in China's long dynastic history, and therefore faces the same type of built-in problems as before. What is more, this Communist power has pushed the worst things of the past dynastic rulers to the extreme: it has hardly invented anything new in its relations with society and the people as well as its internal world (which is greatly explored in my books).
In short, all these challenging ideas should be best studied in a context of historical evolution in relation to society, government, people and life. What is more, in a globalized world today, they must be placed in a global, intellectual context, which would be more meaningful as well as needed.
Part II. Origins of China's corrupt government
George Zhibin Gu of China writes further on the method of terror adopted by "Legalists" vs. Communists and therefore pinpoints on the origins of China's corrupt political system of today:
1. Using terror as a means of governance for the rulers is a basic practice of the "Legalists." One of the most famous Legalists is Li Si, prime minister of Qin dynasty that unified China over 2,200 years ago, after five centuries of chaos and civil wars, but collapsed
within a decade after establishing the first most powerful centralized bureaucracy over the entire nation.
2. Li's basic method was to produce a common terror to be uniformly applied to the citizen body, therefore a set of "law." It includes the following:
1. Ban all free travel.
2. Burn all provocative books.
3. Kill learning, thinking and scholars.
4. Guilt by association: a person's guilt implies that his loved ones, relatives, friends, colleagues, and even neighbors and students are equally guilty. So that no citizen dared to speak up freely against
5. Ban all independent associations and organizations: so that the government has become the only thing in the society.
The above methods of terror were widely used in the era and ever since, but Li and his fellow Legalists gave them a philosophical argument in support of it.
3. Li was promoted to the highest post by the "first emperor" of Qin, but the next emperor wanted to get rid of him. He ran away. Yet, he could not travel far, as travelers must hold a government permit. What
is more, all his family members, many relatives, students, personal staffs, and even servants were killed along with him, a result of his "invention" of guilt by association.
4. In China's communist era, the same built-in problems persist. Let me focus on the differences between Mao and Liu Shaoqi, the second most
powerful communist in 1943-66, as an example.
For example, Liu favored allowing capitalists to exist longer, to ensure that their skills could deliver more eggs to the government, which was the very motive of the government in the first place.
But Mao favored eliminating all capitalists and managerial people, so that the Communists could most directly extract eggs from the population.
Mao won. For example, within 13 days of the Communist victory in Shanghai in May 1949, the new regime destroyed the Shanghai Stock Exchange and arrested over 2,000 bankers and investors in just one raid.
How many eggs did such raids produce for the rulers? Not to mention other things, Jiang Qing, wife of Mao, got four mansions in Shanghai alone, though her principal residence was in Beijing. But the Communist monopoly over China's wealth, markets, organizations and institutions immediately gave rise to a record famine, killing some 50 million people, not to mention about the record number of deaths by
violence. What is more, this grand economic failure led to three rounds of bureaucratic wars for the next two decades.
5. By the start of cultural revolution in 1966, the third bureaucratic war, Liu immediately fell to the ground. What is more, Liu's wife, mother-in-law, and brothers-in-law were all arrested. But that was the smallest part of the big picture: over 20,000 additional people, ex-teachers, school mates, colleagues, and neighbors of Liu and his wife were victimized. Many of them simply perished.
6. This group of Communist victims was only a drop in the ocean in view of the record bloodshed of the era.
For information about the World Association of International Studies (WAIS), and its online publication, the World Affairs Report, read its
homepage by simply double-clicking on: http://wais.stanford.edu/
John Eipper, Editor-in-Chief, Adrian College, MI 49221 USA