Chen Ming: Tyranny of Kings: The Political Structure and Cultural Spirit of the Chinese Empire
–Macroscanning based on a civilizational perspective

The Enlightenment narrative and the revolutionary narrative, with individual and class as keywords respectively, are both unilinear evolutionary theories central to Western ideology, in which China is an object of definition and interpretation, its history and content not fully revealed and valued, while the civilizational paradigm inherently contains a grasp of China’s history and political and cultural structure due to the presuppositions of the civilizational system. In this paper, we argue that the political and cultural structure of Chinese civilization was formed during the Han dynasty, where the centralized county system and the Confucian belief in the reverence of heaven, law, and ancestors maintained and shaped the stability and development of Chinese civilization for more than two millennia. In the modern era, the foundations and significance of this structure have been shaken by reality and denied by theory, but it is important to re-examine all this in the light of the new international and domestic situation.

   [Keywords] civilizational theory paradigm; hegemonic miscellany; enlightenment narrative; revolutionary narrative

   I. From Cultural Confucianism to Civilizational Paradigm of Confucianism

   In the genealogy of Neo-Confucianism in mainland China, I am considered an advocate of “cultural Confucianism,” which is not quite accurate, because the concept of culture itself is very complex and even vague. The relationship between Confucianism and Chinese social history is not only cultural, but also civilizational. This civility implies its permeating combination with social and political organization to form an entity. As such, it has an all-embracing influence in both the public and private spheres, and carries more and greater cultural weight than other cultures, such as Buddhism and Taoism. This is obviously the reason why Chinese civilization is called Confucian civilization.

   The end of the “Cold War” and the collapse of the Soviet Union negated the utopia of the revolutionary narrative, and the clash of civilizations theory and the actual clash of civilizations falsified the “final conclusion of history” of the Japanese American scholar Fukuyama – the “final conclusion of history”. -it clearly frames and rests on the Enlightenment narrative as a framework for thought. Huntington’s use of civilization instead of class and individual as the central concept of his work is not only strategically realistic, but also signals a certain paradigm shift in thinking. The slogan of Chinese national rejuvenation sounded in the East, bringing the theoretical need and deepening opportunity for the expansion of this keyword in Chinese thought.

   The Enlightenment discourse of democracy and science was introduced during the May Fourth period and became mainstream and core values because of its presumptions about the validity of salvation. Like the revolutionary narrative, its instrumental nature was initially clear – democracy to save the nation, science to save the nation, only socialism could save China, etc. This was the case. The change from salvation to revival naturally requires a corresponding upgrading of thinking, and a possible way to absorb the narratives of enlightenment and revolution with the narrative of revival is to confront and deal with our politics and culture in terms of historical continuity. This is precisely the paradigm of a civilizational theory of thinking. Since civilization is a “cultural entity,” the so-called civilizational paradigm requires us to study, analyze, interpret, and evaluate the phenomena and problems of historical and social structures, relations, and maintenance within the presuppositions of the civilizational body.

   The study of China on the basis of this paradigm implies, first of all, an affirmation of the existence of Chinese civilization as a unit of human civilization, i.e., a move away from a Western-centric view of history that simply relegates Chinese civilization to some non-normative subtype, such as the “Asiatic mode of production,” according to the paradigmatic criteria it sets. This is intrinsic to the fundamental presupposition of the civilizational paradigm that civilizations are interconnected and pluralistic, interactive and independent. If we do not discover and understand our own history from within China, we will have to think of the Soviet Union and the United States today as our own tomorrow. It is only by establishing ourselves as narrative subjects that we can build our own historical narratives and imagine and plan our own futures from our own internal possibilities.

Secondly, it implies a basic positive presupposition about the positive nature of Chinese culture and its corresponding meaning and value system. For every civilization is necessarily a major achievement of human activity, the result of natural evolution and human creative cooperation. Even if there are problems and shortcomings, they should be considered and addressed within the framework of civilization as a whole. This has to do with inherent disciplinary frameworks and research progressions that are not in opposition to but complementary to each other, as in the state-society paradigm or in the ideologies of the left and right.

   Finally, it implies an awareness of and attention to historical totality and to the public significance of Confucianism. The term culture has to do with farming and with teaching. This dimension of Confucian connotation has been emphasized, but its relationship to political systems and political operations, its significance in terms of spiritual edification, personality formation beyond individuality, identity and integration, etc., has not been sufficiently appreciated – even by modern Confucian scholars with a certain awareness of civilizational types. And “none of their constituent units can be fully understood without reference to comprehensive civilizations”. It cannot be said that there is no continuity from cultural Confucianism to Confucianism in the paradigm of civilizational theory, but the awareness of the problem and the way of thinking have indeed been very different.

   The prominence of the problem of civilization is the main reason for the emergence of the civilizational paradigm. The “Cold War”, like the Industrial Revolution, reinforced the individualistic value of the Enlightenment discourse. The end of the “Cold War” was both a triumph and the end of modern liberal political philosophy. For soon Huntington’s theory of the clash of civilizations replaced the individual in the Enlightenment discourse with civilization as the key word. Correspondingly, faith and identity gained equal or even more theoretical attention to desire and rights, among the center of political discourse. For example, WHO ARE WE? The Challenges to America’s National Identity re-asked the question of who and what Americans really are. Its answer is “WASPs”, that is, white Anglo-Saxons who are Christians. The rhetoric of “We the people” in the United States Constitution has been studied and quoted repeatedly, but the emphasis seems to be on the “people” only, while the “we” is ignored. With Huntington’s distinction between settlers and immigrants, emphasizing that it was settlers who created America, the “city on top of the hill”, it is clear that the “people” under the qualification of “we” are the “people”. “is not just the antithesis of king or queen, but a specific cultural community, and therefore a more fundamental question. The plural form of “we” indicates a spiritual orientation or theoretical interest that clearly does not belong to the liberal individualist value theory and methodology.

   Another reason for the civilizational paradigm is that China, as an ancient civilization, has a strong sense of self-confidence in its own history and culture, and this sense of self-confidence, once lost, has begun to return after the economic development of recent decades. The establishment of the national goal of Chinese national rejuvenation represents an escalation of the mainstream ideology’s absorption of the narratives of revolution and enlightenment. This not only marks a certain theoretical maturity of the ruling party, but also a certain cultural maturity of society as a whole. The Sino-Western cultural debate in the context of the May 4th rescue is actually a reflection on the future direction of our civilization, which, in the face of the failure of military and economic competition, has questioned, cleansed and reconstructed the value and meaning of Confucian thought, using the West or modernity as a reference point. As the Enlightenment and revolution formed a discourse on the world and history that turned from reflection to dogma, it also alienated from means to ends, causing us to lose ourselves in a Western-centered single-stranded evolutionary theory. “The Soviet Union’s today is our tomorrow” and “America’s today is our tomorrow” are clearly part of the illusion of “making Hangzhou the capital of Bianzhou”. In fact, the main subject and connotation of salvation with the content of “protecting the country, the seeds and the education” has always been and can only be the Chinese nation, but not the class or the individual. If class or individual is the key word and value scale, the ancient sages, poetry, rituals and 5,000 years of history will become meaningless. Now that the Chinese people have become the subject of a new narrative and the Chinese path is being explored, the question of the relationship between civilizational traditions and their significance for the survival and development of the Chinese people also needs to be reconsidered: what is the historical state of moral value laying, integration of social organization, and maintenance of cultural identity? How do we face it today? How can we go about doing better in the future? The construction of a revival narrative from the perspective of a theory of civilization must respond to this.

   Yukichi Fukuzawa distinguishes between “the shape of civilization” and “the spirit of civilization”. We might concretize this distinction by considering civilization as a combination of political structures and cultural spirits – with land and people as the self-evident universal prerequisites – and then proceeding to separate them with “the tyranny of the ways of the king. “The words “hegemony” and “king” correspond to this. It should be noted that Yukichi Fukuzawa divided civilization into three stages: barbarism, semi-civilization and Western modernity, with Japan’s graduation from Asia and accession to Europe as the goal. The expression of and respect for specific forms of civilization and their differences and uniqueness in the region. The Westernizationists in the East-West cultural debate of the May Fourth period and even the New Enlightenment of the 1980s still thought like Fukuzawa Yukichi. The Confucian camp, on the other hand, believed that the difference between East and West was of a kind, not of a grade, and that one should therefore adhere to the idea of Eastern civilization itself – in Huntington’s words, a view of multiple civilizations. But left-right universalism has always prevailed, and even some later Neo-Confucians have embraced this way of thinking. The modern Neo-Confucianism’s idea of “the inner sage creates a new outer king” can, to a certain extent, be said to be a kind of imagination and pursuit of a new form of civilization, that is, “Confucian spiritual values” and “democratic political system”. “The structure of binary unity. In a way, this remains a half-assed, Western-centric, single-line evolutionary thinking, just like the Enlightenment narrative and the revolutionary narrative.

   Therefore, it is necessary for this cultural conservatism to be elevated to the level of civilizational consciousness, to include politics as a structural element of civilization in its thinking, and to think about its own needs and plan its own future in the light of history and national conditions in order to become a complete theory that can truly take root. This is what Qian Mu, Kang Youwei and, earlier, Dong Zhongshu did. That line of thinking, which hoped that the inner sage would open up a new outer king, recorded the sincerity and romance of the time, but was later criticized and ridiculed by liberals. The real connotation of modern salvation is “protecting the country, the seed and the religion”. This is not a question of modernity, but a question of survival. If one must draw parallels with the European experience, in terms of the growth of nations or civilizations, it should be with the Reformation, which broke free from the theocratic rule of the Holy See, because for salvation sovereignty, not human rights, is the priority. The Enlightenment and revolutionary narratives were introduced into China as means of salvation, and their historical and logical significance is to be assessed and qualified within this context. The presuppositions, expectations, or imaginings implied by them for rebuilding the nation and even civilization on the basis of individuals or classes are the essence or the key point of the ideology of the left and the right. Sexual Function.

   A combination of kingship and domination

   Back to today’s question. “In the Book of Han, Emperor Xuan of Han said, “The Han dynasty has its own system, which is based on the tyrannical and benevolent Confucianism. The Dao of Hegemony and the Way of Kings, that is, Hegemony and the Way of Kings; mixed, that is, a combination of the two. The main body of “mixed” is the Han emperor, so, in this sentence, hegemony and kingship should be some kind of governance, that is, “Confucianism and law, Germany and the main punishment supplement”, belongs to the administrative category. The “Ritual Records – Music Records” of “rituals, music, punishment and government four and not contradictory, then the king’s way is ready” is similar to this. This concept has a long history, when Shang Yang saw the Duke of Qin Xiaogong into the rich country and strong military strategy, they put forward the imperial road, the king’s road and hegemony of the three sets of programs in turn.

   From the perspective of schools of thought, the imperial way, with the theme of Wuwei as its main objective, corresponded to Taoism; the kingly way, with the theme of Virtue as its main objective, corresponded to Confucianism; and the hegemonic way, with the theme of punishment, corresponded to Legalism. They have different philosophical foundations and value objectives: the Tao of empire is “vitality” and “mysticism”; the Tao of kings is benevolence and harmony; and the Tao of hegemony is power and prosperity.

   From a disciplinary point of view, Shang Yang’s context should be the means of governance; the Tao of Kings, the Tao of Kings and the Tao of Hegemony are all means to enrich the country and strengthen the army. By the Song Dynasty, Zhu Xi discussed kingship and hegemony, starting from what he called the distinction between the human heart and the heart of Dao, arguing that actions from the heart of Dao belonged to kingship and actions from the heart belonged to hegemony; the distinction between kingship and hegemony lay in the difference between public and private, righteousness and profit – converting the two into ethical categories. The sociologist Fei Xiaotong once discussed it from the perspective of the distribution or arrangement of power between the government and society, arguing that all power dominated by the government is called hegemony, and the combination of power negotiated between the government and society is called kingship – the shadow of county and county system and feudal system lurking behind it makes the pair of concepts have a system. of taste.

   We go further here, starting from the structural theory of civilization, and understand the hegemony as the centralized county system established by Li Si and Qin Shi Huang, and the kingly way as the Confucianism established by Confucius with the belief in the Heavenly Way at its core – the principles of order, politics and social governance of heaven and earth as embodied mainly in the Spring and Autumn Ramses, and the Heavenly Way behind all these Belief. The Han inherited the Qin system as far as hegemony was concerned. Apart from many reasons, some people think that one of the reasons for the failure of Qin was the failure to “establish a religion”. To “teach by law and use officials as teachers” is to teach by government, to replace Confucianism with government, and to replace Confucian scholars with officials, with the natural consequence of denying the inherent teachings and finally losing the teachings. Therefore, the most important point is that when discussing the structure of a civilization with “tyranny, kings and dao”, we need to focus on the transformation of kingship and its combination with tyranny.

   “The law is prepared by the three kings, and the dao is written by Confucius. (Reading the Tongjian Theory, Vol. 1) If the Duke of Zhou’s ritual-making and pleasure-making belonged mainly to political practice, and the related discourses of Confucius and Mencius to theoretical interpretation, then the work of the Spring and Autumn ramologists, represented by Dong Zhongshu, belonged mainly to political philosophy, a re-implementation of the Way of Confucius. The unification of the Great Unification, the unification of the Three Unifications, the reformation of the Sakuaku, and the changing of the color of the clothing are no longer the distribution and operation of power, i.e., the theory of institutions and the theory of governance, but the basis of legitimacy and the principles of operation. Just as Confucius’s Su-king-ization was based on the unshakable status of the King of the Time, the “Way of Kings” is so unrealistic because the “hegemony” has established its unshakable status in the political arena in reality.

This foundation of stability cannot be narrowly understood as violence to serve the selfishness of a single name, but its guarantee of unification and the pursuit of wealth and power as a value need to be highly affirmed at the national and civilizational levels. Confucius said, “Wealth before education” is common sense and common sense. The Spring and Autumn Fanlu: “The nourishment of the body is more important than the righteousness of the body” was based on this theory: “Heaven is born, so that people are born with righteousness and benefit. Beneficence nourishes the body, and righteousness nourishes the heart. The heart cannot be happy without the righteousness, and the body cannot be safe without the righteousness. The righteousness of the heart is also the nourishment of the mind, and the profit is also the nourishment of the body.