Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A543-W317

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A543-W317


Release Date: May 8, 2010



Topic: The Way Out for China (Part IX) -- Wei Jingsheng

标题: 《中国的出路》之九 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)



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The Way Out for China, Part IX

-- Wei Jingsheng



Earlier, I have explored with you the crooked road for China in the past century.  There were a lot of reasons why the Chinese pursued democracy yet were unable to get it.  Besides the blind reverence of the West, another important reason was the theory of the original goodness of human nature in the traditional Confucian culture.  From this point of view, people were hoping that there would be good people and sages to manage the society.  To their leaders, they would use the standard of a good person and a sage to make the measurements.  The result was that hypocrites overflowed and the schemers had their ways.  In the end, the people still lived in a society of suffering and unfairness.


As a matter of fact, the hypocrites manufactured by the Confucian culture had already overflowed into disaster during the Western Han Dynasty of more than 2000 years ago.  The Chinese struggle with hypocrites has never ended.  Yet, in the frame of the Confucian culture, there was no root change possible.  The reason was that, just as in the Middle Ages religious culture in the West, the Confucian culture was a unification of the state and religion.  Thus, it created chaos in the politics and laws, and provided fertile conditions for hypocrites and schemers.


Some people have suggested that the philosophical base of the Western democratic system is a theory of the original evil of human nature.  That is not right either.  The philosophy of the democratic system is to fully estimate the true features of human nature, good and evil, and accurately design a system that is feasible and reliable.  The basic design of a democratic system is not necessarily that the "people" make the decisions, but more that the people and structure provide guaranteed restraint.  The main goal and principle of democracy is that the people influence the decisions, not necessarily make them.  Yet, for the various policies to reach this goal, the design principle is mutual restraint.  The origin of this principle is due to the fact that human behavior is good under some conditions, yet might be the devil under some other conditions. 


Take corruption and graft as an example.  There are no natural born rogues.  We often run into some situation like this.  When the people gnash their teeth against some corrupted official, the official's relatives and friends would sincerely cry out of grievance.  They would say that that official was a good person, with a kind heart, was helpful, etc.  Even Adolf Hitler had been full of tender feelings.  Mao Zedong dropped his tears for ancient people when he was watching dramas.


Why did these people who were so praised conduct those kinds of corrupt and cold-blooded things?  If we study it carefully, we would discover that the system and the environment would permit and even guide them to commit such crimes.  Human nature at birth is without evil or good to start with.  However, when a person with free will encounters problems in reality, he or she will try to find ways to resolve them.  There are many ways available.  Sometimes, an approach of "good" might be troublesome and even may not be successful.  So if a system and an environment permit people to take "evil" approaches, some people might rather to choose failure due to their own moral restrictions, while some others might choose those evil approaches.  This is the guiding function of a system and environment.


The restrictions of religion and morals need to have initiative, and also have their limitations. They can even be easily disguised and duped.  This is why a society needs various politics and laws to manufacture passive restraints.  By manufacturing the forced restraints from the outside, the system guides people to conduct "good" instead of "evil".  Politics and laws are different.  The political system is to restrain those people who manage the society.  The people who operate the system must be separated from the people who manage the society, in an effort to avoid having them act in collusion with bureaucrats shielding each other, thus losing the restraint function.


The ancient Chinese had noticed these problems long ago.  So they designed the bureaucratic system in an effort to disperse official power, with layers and layers of supervisors and mutual restraints.  The final jurisdiction was carried out by the emperor, exercised as the proxy of the people.  When the emperor was wise, social management would be relatively lucid.  However, it was difficult to guarantee that all the emperors of all the periods were very wise.  There was no system to change the emperor.  The stability of the imperial power system was all tied to the single emperor.  This is the reason why this extreme stable system often became extremely unstable.


The other big difficult problem in ancient Chinese politics is that the officials shielded each other, while cheating their superiors and defrauding the subordinates.  The restraining function of dispersing bureaucrats' power was hard to carry out.  Occasionally, there was a Bao Gong and Hai Rui, both good officials whose reputation was to sincerely and bravely carry out their duty.  Yet, in reality, these kinds of good officials found it hard to survive.  This problem could not simply be solved by moral restriction or dissemination of public opinion.  Even the established system of officials in charge of the discipline of public functionaries could not resolve the political deals under the table and mutual cover-ups.  The drum at the courts beaten by someone who was lodging a complaint and the wood of slander from the ancient democratic period all become ornaments in the government offices, only serving for visual enjoyment like antiques.


The democratic system designed by the Westerners has exactly resolved this root problem of restraint.  Instead of punishment, the system uses people's natural scrambling for power and interest to its advantage.  By creating multiple political parties, the democratic system is able to realize the mutual supervising and mutual restraint by using the different parties' and factions' fight for power and interest.  Thus, the fight for power and interest is able to be guided along the road of "goodness", more-or-less, instead of producing the fruit of "evilness".  On the surface, the hostile parties think their rivals are "evil".  Yet, to the people, it is the good result of "the fish man's gain (as the third party) from the fight between the sandpiper and clam".  By these means, the democratic system is able to let the people monitor these "experts" who are very capable of cheating the others.


On the surface, both the Confucian culture and the unification of the state and religion all ended with evil results despite the purpose for goodness.  In comparison, a democratic system produces non-unity, yet gets good results.



To hear Mr. Wei Jingsheng's commentary, please visit:



(Written and recorded on April 30, 2010.  Broadcasted by Radio Free Asia.)



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Wei Jingsheng Foundation News and Article Release Issue: A543-W317

魏京生基金会新闻与文章发布号: A543-W317


Release Date: May 8, 2010



Topic: The Way Out for China (Part IX) -- Wei Jingsheng

标题: 《中国的出路》之九 -- 魏京生


Original Language Version: Chinese (Chinese version at the end)









-- 魏京生


































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