战国与希腊:中西方文明根性之比较(中英)

2020-12-07重要概念范畴表述外译发布平台

战国与希腊:中西方文明根性之比较

China in the Warring States Period VS Ancient Greece: A Comparison between the Fundamental Natures of Chinese and Western Civilizations

中央社会主义学院党组书记、第一副院长潘岳

Pan Yue

Secretary of Leading Party Members’ Group and First Deputy Dean, Central Institute of Socialism of China

导读

百年未有之大变局下,中国和西方又一次站在了解彼此的十字路口。在文明层面,双方的了解却远远不够,甚至存在误解。那么,中西文明的“根性”究竟有何不同?

中央社会主义学院党组书记、第一副院长潘岳认为,战国和古希腊在同时期相似的历史条件下,出现了不同的历史结果。二者都面临纷争战乱,而后也都出现了由军事强大的边缘国家所主导的统一运动,但希腊终未真正统一,而战国却走向了大一统的秦汉时代,且整整延续两千余年。他认为,希腊古典文明和中华古典文明各成体系、互有分殊,最重要的就是统与分的不同根性,以及由此塑造的两种不同道路:西方走向分,其间虽有统一努力(如罗马、基督教),但以分为主,最终归于个人主义和自由主义。中国走向合,其间也有分离时期(如王朝更替、游牧民族冲击),但以合为主,造就了集体主义。

这种不同,演变为当今时代的突出矛盾:是“自由优先”还是“秩序优先”?潘岳认为,问 题不是在自由和秩序中二选一,而是在哪个环节加强自由,在哪个环节加强秩序,从而既防止瓦解、又激活创新。

今天,中国和西方又一次站在理解彼此的十字路口。

现代文明中蕴含着古典文明的精神基因。欧美和古希腊古罗马文明;伊斯兰世界和阿拉伯文明;伊朗与波斯文明;俄罗斯和东正教文明;以色列和犹太文明。种种关系连着种种基因演化成种种道路。

现代欧美文明认为自己的政治秩序,是融合古希腊文明、古罗马文明、基督教文明和工业文明的精髓为一体。其中,古希腊文明是源中之源。现代中国的道路,建立在中华文明的遗产之上。中华文明的稳固形态确立于秦汉,演变之关键处在战国。

从公元前五世纪到三世纪,战国与古希腊面临着相似的历史境地。都陷入了内部极度战乱;战乱中都出现了统一运动;统一运动的积极力量都不是核心圈国家,而是军事强大的边缘国家;大批知识分子为统一运动上下奔走,提出了大量哲学、政治、道德命题。

而统一运动的结果不同。希腊形成了亚历山大帝国,仅7年即分裂,其后三大继承者王国内斗100年,被罗马逐一兼并。战国形成了大一统秦王朝,虽14年后崩溃,但很快就再次兴起了大一统汉王朝。秦汉制度被历代王朝所继承,整整延续2000余年。

相似的历史条件下出现的不同结果,这因为不同的文明根性。

Introduction

In the great transformation unseen in the past century, China and the West are again standing at the crossroads to get to know each other. But the two sides have known so little about each other’s civilization, of which they even have misunderstandings. So what exactly is the difference between the “fundamental natures” of Chinese and Western civilizations?

The author believes that China’s Warring States and Ancient Greece had different historical outcomes under similar historical conditions in the same period. They both experienced the chaos of disputes and wars and subsequently campaigns for unification dominated by a geographically peripheral military power. Greece never achieved real unification, while the Warring States in China managed to enter the Qin and Han dynasties, which achieved the Grand Unification that lasted for over two thousand years. According to the author, the ancient Greek and ancient Chinese civilizations formed independent systems different from each other, with the most important difference lying in their fundamental natures oriented to unification versus fragmentation and the two divergent paths hence developed: the West tends to head for fragmentation, albeit its efforts to unite (such as in Ancient Rome and Christianity), and ends up in individualism and liberalism, whereas China tends to head for unification, despite periods of fragmentation (such as the dynastic changes and the impact from the nomads), and ends up in collectivism.

This difference, however, has evolved into a prominent contradiction today, which is whether we should opt for “freedom first” or “order first”. The author believes that the question is not how to choose between freedom and order, but where to have more freedom and where else to have more order, in order to prevent fragmentation while spurring innovation.

Today, China and the West are again standing at the crossroads of mutual understanding.

Modern civilizations have the DNA of classical civilizations. For example, the DNA of ancient Greek and Roman civilizations can be found in Europe and the US, the Arab civilization in the Islamic world, the Persian civilization in Iran, the Orthodox civilization in Russia, and the Jewish civilization in Israel. These relations, entangled with civilization DNA, have evolved into a variety of paths.

Modern civilizations in the US and Europe believe that their political order encompasses the best of the ancient Greek and Roman, Christian and industrial civilizations, of which the ancient Greek civilization is the source. The path of modern China is built on the legacies of the Chinese civilization that was established in the Qin and Han dynasties and went through a key evolution in the Warring States period.

From 5th to 3th century BC, China in the Warring States period was in the same historical context as ancient Greece: both descended into acute civil conflicts where unification movements appeared and were fueled by militarily powerful peripheral countries rather than those in the core circles, and large numbers of intellectuals proposed a myriad of philosophical, political, and moral ideas for the movements.

But the unification movements had different outcomes. Greece saw the empire of Alexander the Great, which, however, survived for only seven years before it fragmented, and the ensuing three kingdoms fought with one another for a hundred years before being annexed by Rome. But in China, the warring states were unified as one state in the Qin dynasty. Although it collapsed after only 14 years, the unified Han dynasty quickly emerged, whose systems, coupled with those of the Qin dynasty, have been passed on from one dynasty to another for over 2,000 years.

It is the different fundamental natures of civilization that led to different outcomes under similar historical conditions.

战国:从分立到大一统

(一)被误读的“百家争鸣”

1975年12月,湖北云梦出土了书满秦法的“睡虎地秦简”。在一堆法家书简中竟发现一篇充满儒家精神的官吏培训教材《为吏之道》:“宽俗忠信,悔过勿重,和平勿怨,慈下勿陵,敬上勿犯,听谏勿塞”。这并非孤例。王家台秦简、岳麓秦简、北大秦简也有类似文字,说明秦朝后期 己不完全排斥儒家。

不仅秦国,其他六国也一样。通常认为专属秦国的法家制度和精耕农业,实际是魏国发明的;通常认为自由散漫的楚国,实行“县制”比秦国还早;通常认为商业发达的齐国,其《管子》中也含有与秦相似的“保甲连坐”元素。

可见,儒法交织,刑德同用,是战国晚期的整体潮流。各国政治观念的底线就是“一天下”。

谁也不甘于小区域的分治,都要去争夺完整的天下。不是争要不要统一,而是争由谁来统一。对整体“天下”的执着,是历代中国政治家群体最为独特之处。

思想家们也是如此。人们只注重百家争鸣的“争”,却往往忽视了它的“融”。几十年来陆续出土的战国简帛印证了“诸家杂糅”的现实。郭店简中,可以看到儒家与道家混同;上博简中,可以看到儒家与墨家混同;马王堆帛书中,可以看到道家与法家混同。“德”不为孔孟独享,“道” 不为老庄专有,“法”不由商韩把持。诸子百家思想融合的宗旨就是建立“统一秩序”。儒家强调 “定于一”的礼乐道德秩序,法家强调“车同轨、书同文”的权力法律秩序,墨家强调“尚同” 与“执一”的社会层级秩序。极端强调自由的道家也如此,老子的“小国寡民”之上还有“天下” 与“天下王”庄子也强调“万物虽多,其治一也”。

战国成为思想制度的熔炉。秦国的法家贡献了大一统的基层政权;鲁国的儒家贡献了大一统 的道德秩序;楚国的道家贡献了自由精神;齐国将道家与法家结合,产生了无为而治的“黄老之术”和以市场调节财富的“管子之学”魏韩贡献了纵横外交的战略学,赵燕贡献了骑兵步兵合体的军事制度,如此等等。最后的结果,就是汉朝。

大一统,不是秦并了天下,而是天下消化了秦。

Warring States: from fragmentation to unification

1. The misinterpreted Hundred Schools of Thought

In December 1975, the “Qin slips in Shuihudi” were unearthed in Yunmeng, Hubei Province, China. Among the bamboo writing slips filled with inscriptions about the laws of the Qin dynasty, which reflected the legalist thoughts, there was unexpectedly a text entitled “How to Serve as an Official” for training officials at that time, which contained many Confucian thoughts, such as telling people to be magnanimous, loyal, faithful, peaceful and kind to underlings, respect superiors, take good advice and not to regret too much. Examples like this are many. The Qin slips excavated in Wangjiatai and those collected by Yuelu Academy and Peking University also bear similar writings, indicating that Confucianism was not completely banned in the late Qin dynasty.

In addition to Qin, Confucianism was applied in other six states as well. The legal system and intensive farming that are generally believed to be created in the Qin state were actually invented in the Wei state; the Chu state that is generally believed to be liberal and lax turned out to apply the system of counties earlier than the Qin state; and the Qi state that is generally belived to have a booming business society turned out to have the neighbourhood administration and family penalty systems similar to Qin as described in the book Guanzi.

Hence, it can be seen that combining Confucianism with Legalism and punishment with virtue was prevalent in the late stages of the Warring States period. All the states had the same bottom line in their respective governance, which was to unite the states. 

All the states refused to accept a portion of territory and scrambled for the whole. They were not fighting on whether to unite, but on who to unite China. This persistent pursuit of a unified territory is the most unique feature of the Chinese statesmen of every dynasty.

This is also true of thinkers. People often focus only on the debate part of the Hundred Schools of Thought and overlook their integration. Bamboo and silk manuscripts of the Warring States period excavated in recent decades have validated the integration of various schools of thought. For example, the bamboo writings of Guodian reveal the blend of Confucianism with Taoism; those of Shangbo expose an integration of Confucianism and Mohism; and the silk manuscripts of Mawangdui disclose a combination between Taoism and Legalism. Virtue was not unique to Confucius and Mencius; Taoism was not unique to Laozi and Zhuangzi; and Legalism was not unique to Shang Yang and Han Fei. The objective of integrating various schools of thought was to establish a unified order. Confucianism highlights “all in one” for the orders of rites, music and morality; Legalism highlights “same tracks for vehicles and same writings for books” for the orders of law and power; and Mohism highlights “harmony” and “specificity” for the social hierarchy. The same applies to Taoism as well, though it lays much emphasis on freedom. The concept of a small state with a small population as preached by Laozi is built on “the land under heaven” and “the emperor ruling the land under heaven”, and Zhuangzi also said, everything can be governed by the same approach despite their diversity.

The warring states provided fertile land for various ideas and systems. Legalism of the Qin state contributed the regime at the grassroots level for the grand unification; Confucianism of the Lu state contributed the morality order for the grand unification; Taoism of the Chu state contributed its spirit of freedom; the Qi state integrated Taoism with Legalism to produce the School of Emperor Huang and Laozi that proposes governing by doing nothing that goes against nature and the School of Guanzi that proposes market regulation of wealth; the Han and Wei states contributed their strategic diplomacy; and the Zhao and Yan states contributed their military system of combining cavalry with infantry, etc. All of these led to the Han dynasty.

The grand unification was not the occupation of China by the Qin state, but the acceptance of Qin by China.

(二)秦的崛起与荀子之辩

战国最后50年。志士谋臣们分成两大派。函谷关内的秦国,活跃着法家与纵横家;函谷关外的六国,活跃着儒家、道家、兵家、阴阳家、刑名家。齐国的稷下学宫是东方六国知识分子的聚集地,是与秦国对峙的另一个精神世界。这个精神世界的领袖,就是战国最后一位儒家大师、三任稷下学宫祭酒的荀子。

前269至262年之间,60多岁的荀子竟然入秦考察。他并没有如传统儒家那样骂秦政是暴政,反而赞扬了秦的法家治理制度:秦的基层小吏忠诚勤俭,办事尽心,像古代的官吏;秦的高级官员,不搞朋党,贤明而有公心,像古代的士大夫;秦的朝廷,处理政事速度极快,没有积存的事务,像古代的朝廷。在儒家的话语体系中,“古之治”就是古代圣王的治理。对秦政如此高的评价竟出自儒家大师之口。

不过,荀子还说了一句更重要的话。他认为,秦国虽有此优势,但依然没能达到“王者”的 境界,原因是缺“儒”,“殆无儒邪”。怎样才算是“有儒”呢?荀子建议“节威反文”,用君子治天下。这是后世“王权与士大夫共治天下”的雏形。

荀子认识到,儒家虽然有着统一的道德秩序,但没有建立统一的治理体系。法家虽然能建立统一的治理体系,却在精神道义上有着极大缺陷。如果秦国的法家制度,加上儒家的贤能政治与信义仁爱,才能成为未来天下正道。

对这番话,秦王没有理会。

几年之后的长平之战,印证了荀子的话。秦国在赵军投降之后,背信坑杀了40万赵军。即便在血流成河的战国,这也突破了道义的底线。秦国从来靠现实主义与功利主义取天下,又岂会用仁义道德自缚手脚。

没有力量的道义和没有道义的力量,都不能回答眼前的现实。

2. The rise of the Qin state and Xunzi’s argument

In the last 50 years of the Warring States period, scholars broke into two factions. The Qin state, located to the west of Hangu Pass, had people of Legalism and political strategists, while the other six states to the east of Hangu Pass had people of Confucianism, Taoism, the Yin-Yang School and the Logician School. The Jixia Academy in the Qi state was where intellectuals gathered from six states, a spiritual world in stark contrast to the Qin state. And the leader of this spiritual world was Xunzi, the last Confucian in the Warring States period and head of the Academy for three terms.

From 269 BC to 262 BC, Xunzi, aged over 60, surprisingly paid a visit to the Qin state. But he didn’t criticized the Qin regime as tyranny as traditional Confucianists had done, and instead praised its Legalist governing system: petty officials at the grassroots level were loyal, diligent, thrifty and hardworking, just like those in past dynasties; high officials were sagacious and devoted to public interests, just like the shidafu scholar-bureaucrats in past dynasties; and its court was efficient in handling administrative affairs, just like those in past dynasties. In the discourse of Confucianism, doing something just like what was done before is regarded as a sage’s best practice. Such a high commendation for the Qin regime was unexpectedly offered by a Confucian master.

But Xunzi also said something more important: the Qin state still failed to reach the highest level in spite of its advantages, because there was no Confucianism. So what can be considered Confucian? He proposed to govern the state with those whose humane conduct makes them moral exemplars, which laid the very foundation for joint governance by the royalty and the shidafu scholar-bureaucrat class in generations that followed.

According to Xunzi, Confucianism did have a unified moral order, but lacked a unified governance system, while Legalism managed to establish a unified governance system but had great flaws in moral principles. If the Legalism of the Qin state could be integrated with the political meritocracy and the basic principles of Confucianism, he believed, a correct way of governance would prevail in future generations.

But the king of Qin turned a blind eye to the remarks.

The Battle of Changping a few years later validated what Xunzi had said. After Zhao’s troops surrendered, the Qin state broke the promise and killed 400,000 soldiers by burying them alive, which was a breach of moral principles even in the Warring State period when slaughter was much common. The Qin state never ceased to win with realism and utilitarianism, so it was not strange to see they wouldn’t restrain itself with morality.

Neither morality without power nor power without morality could possibly explain what happened.

(三)法家与儒家都不能少

长平之战后,荀子放弃了政治,著书立说、教学授徒。

他的思想体系与孟子的纯粹儒学不同。孟子的“天”是惩恶扬善的义理之天,而荀子的“天” 是天行有常,不为尧存不为桀亡,因此要“制天命而用之”,这是中国最早的唯物主义。孟子崇尚王道鄙视霸道,而荀子认为应该王霸兼用。孟子只谈义不谈利,荀子却要义利兼顾。孟子崇尚 法先王,而荀子认为应该法后王。

他教出了两个大有名气的学生,一个是韩非,一个是李斯。他们学成后双双入秦大展宏图,荀子却为此悲而不食。因为他们不但没有融合儒法,反而将法家发展到了极致。韩非的法家理论囊括了法、术、势等三大流派;李斯则设计了法家的全部政策体系,“焚书坑儒”就是他建议的。他们都忘记了,老师荀子虽然肯定法家手段,却始终坚持着儒家价值观一一比如忠义孝悌的伦理; 比如从道不从君、从义不从父的士大夫精神;比如政治以王道为根本,用兵以仁义为优先。法家和儒家,是对立统一的关系,哪一个都不能少。如果没有法家,儒家不能完成结构化和组织化,无法实现对基层社会的动员,无法在大争之世自我强化。但如果没有儒家,法家将变成不受约束的力量,其威权体系只是完全标准化、垂直化、同质化的执行体系。

何况荀学并非只有儒法。《史记》言荀子之思想乃是总结儒、墨、道家的成功失败汇聚而成 一一 “推儒、墨、道德之行事兴坏,序列著数万言以卒”。

荀学最好地体现了中华文明在面临巨大困境和矛盾时的包容精神。因为它遵循“中道”。中道的标准只在有益于事理,不必遵从于某种特定教条。用今天的话来说,就是“实事求是”。“凡事行,有益于理者立之,无益于理者废之,夫是之为中事。凡知说,有益于理者为之,无益于理者舍之,为中说。事行失中谓之奸道。”建立于实事求是基础上的中道精神,使中华文明最善于包容完全相反的矛盾体,最善于结合看似不可能的矛盾体,最善于使一切“非此即彼”的事物和谐共生。

3. Both Legalism and Confucianism are Necessary

After the Battle of Changping, Xunzi abandoned politics and started to write and teach.

His system of thought was different from the pure Confucianism of Mencius. Mencius proposed to praise virtue and punish vice, whereas Xunzi believed that Nature is the true law and hence people shall understand and take advantage of it, which is China’s earliest form of materialism. Mencius upheld rule by morality and despised rule by dictatorship, while Xunzi proposed the integration of the two. Mencius accepted morality and rejected interests, while Xunzi argued for both. The former proposed to uphold the moral code of ancient emperors, as opposed to emperors of future generations suggested by the latter.

He had two students who later gained fame: Han Fei and Li Si. But the two both went to the Qin state to achieve their ambitions. Xunzi was very much disappointed in them as they not only didn’t integrate Confucianism into Legalism but applied Legalism to the very extreme. Han’s Legalist theory encompassed three factions, namely law, technique, and force, while Li Si devised the overall policy system for Legalism and recommended to burn books and bury the literati in pits. Both of them forgot that Xunzi did recognize Legalism but he always upheld Confucian values, such as the ethics of loyalty, morality, filial piety and fraternal duty, the scholar-bureaucrats’ spirit of following justice rather than monarchs and righteousness rather than fathers, as well as morality-based governance and benevolence-based use of military force. The unity of opposites applies to Legalism and Confucianism. Without Legalism, Confucianism wouldn’t be able to deliver institutionalization or systematization, mobilize the grassroots or reinforce itself in a world of many disputes. Also, without Confucianism, Legalism would be unrestrained, whose authoritarian system would be nothing more than a completely standardized, vertical and homogenous executive system.

Moreover, the School of Xunzi covers more than Confucianism and Legalism. According to the Historical Records, Xunzi’s thought is built on the successes and failures of Confucianism, Mohism, and Taoism: “(Xunzi) studied the successes and failures of Confucianism, Mohism and Taoism and wrote tens of thousands of words before his death”.

The School of Xunzi best reveals the inclusiveness of the Chinese civilization in the face of tremendous predicament and contradiction, as it complies with the “middle path” theory, which is based not on a particular dogma but on truth. In other words, the “middle path” theory is about seeking truths from facts. “Follow anything that is truth for all and abandon anything that is untrue. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a proper way forward.” The “middle path” spirit built on truth-seeking has made the Chinese civilization very much inclusive to any contradictions and able to integrate them to deliver harmony for coexistence.

(四)荀子的正名与大一统中国的“秘密”

荀子终年90余岁。

他的思想太矛盾,以致他死后的境遇更为曲折。与孟子并称的他,却在儒家成为正统后的1800年里,从未被儒家各派推崇。900年后,韩愈为荀子辩解了几句,也连带着被宋明理学又批判了900年。

一直到清乾隆时,专攻考据的清代大儒们才发现,那些汉初儒学从灰烬中翻出来的根本大典,不论今文经学和古文经学,竟然全是荀子传下来的。如《春秋左传》《春秋谷梁传》,如《毛诗》《鲁诗》《韩诗》,如《大戴礼记》和《小戴礼记》。梁启超评价说,“汉代经师,不问今文家、古文家,皆出荀卿。二千年间,宗派屡变,一皆盘旋于荀子肘下”。

原来,在七国战火熊熊燃烧的最后30年,他一只手教出了法家奇才李斯与韩非,另一只手却默默书写传授着儒学。焚书坑儒后,只有他通过“私学”悄悄传下来的这批经典留存下来,而被汉儒复述重写。“盖自七十子之徒既殁,汉诸儒未兴,中更战国暴秦之乱,六艺之传赖以不绝者,荀卿也。”

一心改革经典的异端,却是最忠诚于经典之人。

行纯粹者易,行中道者难。随时要准备被两个极端所抛弃所夹击。即便如此,历史最终会沿着中道前进。汉武帝与汉宣帝接受了荀子思想,“礼法合一”、“儒法合治”,“汉家自有制度,以王霸道杂之”。接着,历代王朝也按照他的思想继续前行。只是因为他的“不纯粹”,所有王朝都 只用其实而不用其名。好在荀子只唯实不唯名。儒法由此真正合流。法家创造了中央集权郡县制和基层官僚系统,儒家则创造了士大夫精神和家国天下的集体主义伦理,在魏晋唐宋又融合了道家和佛家,创造了儒释道合一的精神世界。

这种超级稳定的大一统国家结构发散到整个东亚,成为中华文明强而不霸、弱而不分、延绵不断的秘密。之所以还称为“秘密”,是因为大多数西方学者至今仍未想了解。

4. Reemergence of Xunzi and the “secret” of the grand unification of China

Xunzi died at the age of 90 or so.

His thoughts were so contradictory that he was never revered by any Confucian factions throughout the 1,800 years after Confucianism became the orthodox in China. Although Han Yu defended him with a few words 900 years later, the two were criticized by the Neo-Confucianism in the Song and Ming dynasties for another 900 years.

It was not until the reign of Emperor Qianlong in Qing dynasty that scholars discovered that the great literature about Confucianism in early Han dynasty, be it current or ancient classics, were all passed down by Xunzi, such as Zuo’s Commentary, Guliang’s Commentary, Poetry of Mao, Poetry of Lu, Poetry of Han, Records of Ritual Matters by Dai the Elder and Records of Ritual Matters by Dai the Younger. As philosopher Liang Qichao said, all the current and ancient classics of the Han dynasty were passed down by Xunzi, and all was covered by Xunzi despite numerous changes in the past 2,000 years.

It turned out that Xunzi made Li Si and Han Fei two prodigies of Legalism while quietly passing down Confucianism in the last 30 years of bitter wars among the seven states. After the incident of burning books and burying literati, only he privately and discreetly passed down the classics, which were rewritten by Confucian scholars of the Han dynasty. “At the time when seventy-two disciples of Confucius were dead, Confucian scholars of the Han dynasty were yet to emerge, warring states fought one another, and the Qin state was imposing tyranny, it was Xunzi that managed to pass down the Confucian classics.”

The heretic that was devoted to rewriting the classics turned out to be most faithful to the classics.

It was easy to go to extremes but hard to seek for the middle path, as one had to brace for any abandonment or attack by the two extremes. Even so, history eventually advanced towards the middle path. Both Emperor Wu and Emperor Xuan of the Western Han dynasty accepted Xunzi’s thought, integrating morality with the law and Confucianism with Legalism, and governing the state with virtue and force combined. Dynasties that followed applied his thought as well. But due to his unorthodox nature, all the ensuing dynasties didn’t mention his name. But his thought was widely applied not for his name but for his essence, which promoted the integration of Confucianism and Legalism. Legalism invented the centralized system of prefectures and counties and the grassroots bureaucratic system, while Confucianism created the spirit of shidafu scholar-bureaucrats and the collectivism of governing one’s family, then a region and finally the state. And in the Wei, Jin, Tang and Song dynasties, Confucianism was blended with Taoism and Buddhism, to usher in a spiritual world that combined Confucianism, Buddhism, and Taoism.

Such an exceedingly stable state structure of grand unification extended across the entire East Asia, which explains why the Chinese civilization didn’t seek for hegemony when it was strong or fragment when it was weak and survived till today. This is still considered a secret today because most Western scholars still refuse to know about it.

希腊:成也城邦,败也城邦

(一)“大希腊主义”

公元前325年,亚历山大率领着征服了埃及和波斯的希腊雄师万里迢迢来到印度旁遮普邦比亚斯河畔。跨过河就是全印度乃至中国。他激情澎湃地鼓励将士们继续前进。而驮满沉甸甸战利品的战士们再也不想东进半步。亚历山大只好顺着河边的斜阳痛哭而返,两年后病死。

亚历山大的东征,来自希腊世界的统一运动。希腊统一运动来源于城邦危机。今天,西方深刻缅怀的希腊古典文明,其实只是雅典历史上的一小段,即伯利克里执政的黄金时期,代表着民主制度的最伟大成就。而这短短几十年黄金期后,希腊城邦世界就陷入无休止的恶性内斗。雅典和斯巴达竞相称霸,双方都曾血腥屠城。战乱之中,土地逐渐集中到富人手里,失去土地的贫民为了外邦的金钱变成了雇佣兵,转头攻打自己的城邦。

这种乱局持续了100年。乱局中诞生了一种呼声:各城邦不要再争抢彼此有限资源,应团结向外征服殖民波斯,如此希腊才会获得永久和平。

呼声最响亮的,一个是雅典头号雄辩家伊索克拉底,一个是希腊头号哲学家亚里士多德。

在发表于公元前380年的《泛希腊集会词》中,伊索克拉底说,“在我们从同一源泉获得利益、和同一敌人进行战斗之前,希腊人不可能和睦相处。” “为此,我们必须竭力使战争尽快从这里转入亚洲大陆(小亚细亚)。”

这个思路,近代历史学家称为“泛希腊主义”或“大希腊主义”。其根本动力,是解决土地缺乏、人口过剩的问题。传播希腊文明,只是附带产物。这成为后世西方殖民帝国主义的思想雏形。伊索克拉底是第一个提出殖民帝国主义的人。

但他呼吁了40年,雅典却因为内战派掌权而一直置若罔闻。继续打斯巴达,打底比斯,打马其顿,就是不愿意团结一起对外打波斯。

他最终放弃了雅典,公开呼吁希腊城邦世界的边缘国家马其顿国王腓力来统一希腊。他向腓力建议了一个著名的战略,“你要劝说其他的波斯总督摆脱波斯国王的束缚,前提就是你将给与他们‘自由’,并且还要将这种‘自由’惠及到亚细亚地区。因为‘自由’这个词一来到希腊世界,就导致了我们(雅典)的帝国和拉西第梦人(斯巴达)的帝国的瓦解。”(《致腓力辞》)

这些话,和后人对雅典自由民主的印象太不一样了。20年以后,腓力的儿子亚历山大正是按照伊索克拉底的战略思路,征服了埃及和波斯,建立了大希腊殖民帝国。但亚历山大的老师不是伊索克拉底,而是亚里士多德。亚里士多德在“大希腊”的道路上,比伊索克拉底走的更远。

Ancient Greece: the success or failure is all due to city-states

1. The Greater Hellenism

In 325 BC, Alexander the Great led the Greek legion that had conquered Egypt and Persia to the Beas River of Punjab in India, on the other side of which were India and China. He enthusiastically encouraged soldiers to march on, but fully loaded with spoils of war, the soldiers didn’t want to inch eastward any more. Alexander had to return home after wailing in the setting sun alongside the River and died of illness two years later.

Alexander’s invasion into the East was triggered by the unification movement in the Greek world that originated from the city-state crisis. The ancient Greek civilization that the West cherishes so dearly today is just a tiny fraction of the Athenian history, which is the golden age when Pericles was in power in Athens, representing the greatest achievement of the democratic system. But it lasted only several decades before the Greek city-states descended into prolonged fierce civil strife, where Athens and Sparta jostled for hegemony with massacre in cities. In the wars, land was gradually concentrated in the hands of the rich, and the poor who lost their land were hired as mercenaries by foreign city-states to fight against their own ones.

This turbulence lasted for 100 years, during which some people called for uniting to conquer and colonize Persia instead of scrambling for limited resources in a bid to have lasting peace for Greece.

The most vocal were Isocrates, the best rhetorician in Athens, and Aristotle, the best philosopher in Greece.

Isocrates said in Panegyrics released in 380 BC, “before we obtain interests from the same origin and fight the same enemies, the Greeks cannot live in harmony... That’s why we have to do our utmost to transfer the war here to the Asian continent (Asia Minor).”

This was named by contemporary historians “Panhellenism” or “Greater Hellenism”, which was fundamentally driven by the effort to meet the challenges of land shortage and overpopulation, laying a foundation for the ensuing colonial imperialism in the West. Isocrates was the first to come up with the idea of colonial imperialism.

He advocated it for 40 years, but Athenians turned a blind eye to it because those in favor of civil war were in power. They continued to fight Sparta, Thebes and Macedonia and refused to work together with other city-states against Persia.

He finally gave up on Athens, and instead publicly appealed to Philip, who was the King of Macedonia, a peripheral country in the city-state world of Greece, to unify Greece. He proposed a famous strategy to Philip, “you will also induce many of the other satraps to throw off the King’s power if you promise them “freedom” and scatter broadcast over Asia that word which, when sown among the Hellenes, has broken up both our empire and that of the Lacedaemonians.” (To Philip)

These words were quite different from what impressions later generations had on freedom and democracy. 20 years later, the son of Philip, Alexander the Great, applied his strategy, conquered Egypt and Persia and established the greater colonial empire of Greece. But Alexander was the disciple of Aristotle rather than Isocrates, and Aristotle went even further on the path of the Great Hellenism than Isocrates.

(二)“希腊帝国”的两副面孔

亚里士多德生于马其顿辖下的色雷斯小城邦,是雅典人眼里的蛮族地区。

亚里士多德虽然身在蛮族,却心在雅典。17岁的他独身一人投奔雅典柏拉图学院。他是柏拉图最优秀的弟子,一度有望成为接班人。但柏拉图逝世时,却将学院交给了亲侄子而不是他。最重要的原因是,亚里士多德是个外邦人。他在雅典不能拥有合法财产(土地),更不能参与政治,因为他没有“公民权”。按照法律,拥有雅典公民权的必须父母都是雅典人。法律把希腊最伟大的智者和雅典分开了;把所有不产于雅典却愿意忠于雅典之士和雅典分开了。有意思的是,这条法律正是民主政治楷模伯利克里颁布的。

亚里士多德离开了雅典,投奔了马其顿,担任亚历山大的老师。他按照希腊文明的最高标准塑造着亚历山大。他让14岁的少年喜爱上了希腊文学与荷马史诗,并对生物学、植物学、动物学等广阔的知识产生热情。更重要的还是政治思想。亚里士多德为教育亚历山大专门写了《论君主》和《论殖民地》。黑格尔说,亚历山大的精神和事业的伟大正是来自亚里士多德深刻的形而上学。

亚历山大一边残酷征服,一边传播希腊文明。他在非洲、西亚、中亚和南亚建立了大量拥有竞技场和神庙的希腊化城市,用博物院和图书馆建造科学文化、哲学艺术的殿堂。他甚至还把亚洲的动植物标本源源不断送回给正在雅典办学的亚里士多德做研究。之后的拿破仑远征埃及时也带上了大量考古学家,最终发现了罗塞塔石碑,开启了埃及学。西方帝国主义暴力征服+文明传播的方式,是亚里士多德发明的。

亚里士多德对亚历山大提出要求,“做亚洲人的主人,做希腊人的领袖。”伊索克拉底也曾对腓力说,“说服可用于希腊人,强迫可用于蛮族人”。这正是“希腊帝国”的精髓一一内部是民主, 外部是殖民;上面是公民,下面是奴隶。这种双重标准的希腊式帝国,是日后欧洲帝国的精神原型与政治模板。

2. The dual character of the Greek empire

Aristotle was born in Thrace, a small town under the rule of Macedonia, which was the land of barbarians in the eyes of the Athenians.

Despite his origin, he was devoted to Greece. At the age of 17, he went to Plato’s Academy alone. He was Plato’s best disciple and was expected to succeed him. But before he died, Plato handed the Academy to his nephew rather than Aristotle, which can be largely explained by the fact that Aristotle was an outsider who could not own legal property (land) or participate in politics because he had no citizenship. According to the law, those having the citizenship of Athens must have Athenian parents. The law separated from Athens the greatest Greek sage and all those who were not born in Athens but devoted to it. Interestingly, the law was enacted by Pericles, the model of democratic politics.

Aristotle left Athens and headed for Macedonia, where he served as the tutor of Alexander the Great and shaped him with the highest standard of the ancient Greek civilization. He made the 14-year-old boy fall in love with the ancient Greek literature and Homeric epics and interested in a vast array of knowledge including biology, botany and zoology. More importantly, he taught him political thoughts. He even wrote On Monarch and On Colony to teach Alexander. As Hegel said, the greatness of Alexander’s spirit and cause originated from Aristotle’s profound metaphysics.

Alexander was cruelly making inroads while spreading the ancient Greek civilization. Across Africa, East Asia, Central Asia and South Asia he built hellenistic cities with many arenas, temples, where museums and libraries were set up for science, culture, philosophy and art. He even sent animal and plant specimens in Asia back to Athens for Aristotle’s research. On the expedition to Egypt, Napoleon also brought with him a large number of archaeologists who helped him find Rosetta Stone that cracked the code of hieroglyphics. It was Aristotle that invented the pattern of conquest by force plus civilization spread for the Western imperialism.

Aristotle asked Alexander to “be the master of Asians and the leader of the Greeks”. Isocrates also told Philip that “persuasion could be used to the Greeks and force to the barbarians”. This is the essence of the Greek empire: democracy on the inside and colony on the outside, citizens at the top and slaves at the bottom. The Hellenistic empire with such double standard provided a source of inspiration and political template for European empires in the years that followed.

(三)统一与自由的悖论?

历史的发展和他们的设想不一样。

公元前338年爆发喀罗尼亚战争。雅典不服马其顿,起兵挑衅,被马其顿打得大败。马其顿乘胜组织科林斯同盟,并开始进军波斯。得到这个消息的时候,伊索克拉底己经98岁了。他看见运送回来的雅典士兵的尸体,绝食身亡。

他的“大希腊”设想,蕴含着一个无法解决的矛盾一一马其顿拥有强力,如何保证它对雅典只用“说服”而不用杀戮?反过来,善于雄辩的雅典,又岂能甘心被马其顿“说服”?死于马其顿阵前的雅典青年尸体,使他明白了日后仍会重复的悲剧。他既珍视自由,又渴望团结统一。统一带来的暴力,会破坏自由。但自由产生的混乱,又会破坏统一。

伊索克拉底死后,希腊城邦再无团结。希腊大军远征前夜,腓力刚死于暗杀,底比斯就闻声而叛;亚历山大刚死于巴比伦,雅典就又揭竿而起;最后,当马其顿与罗马入侵者决战时,希腊城邦竟给了该王国背后致命一击。即便马其顿将希腊的半岛文明拓展成世界文明,但希腊城邦宁可同毁于外人也不买这个账。

美国古史学家弗格森总结说,希腊城邦不可能融合。“希腊城邦是一个有着独特内在构造的单细胞有机体,除非进行再分割,否则无法发展,它们可以无限制地复制同类。但这些细胞,无论新旧,都无法联合起来,形成一个强大的民族国家。”

因为,希腊城邦政治的根基,不是民主,而是自治。城邦自身可以选择任何政治制度,但绝不服从外来的权威。有权力决定政治制度的,只能是城邦内的世居者。“绝对自治”意味着“绝对地方主义”,让统一变得不可能。希腊城邦不只反对领土国家,连马其顿组建联邦也反对。到整个希腊世界被罗马征服之前,他们都没有演化出一套大小城邦都满意的“联邦制”。城邦的利益定要凌驾于共同体利益之上。

3. Paradox between unification and freedom?

The development of history was different from what they had envisioned.

In 338 BC, the Battle of Chaeronea broke out. Athens challenged Macedonia with troops but ended up with a crushing defeat. Macedonia then quickly organized the League of Corinth and started to invade Persia. Upon hearing the news, Isocrates was already 98 years old. He fasted to death after seeing the dead soldiers brought home.

His vision of Great Greece contained an unsolvable paradox: how to make sure that Macedonia, with its strong force, would only “persuade” Athens and not resort to force? Conversely, how could the eloquent Athens reconcile to Macedonia’s persuasion? The young Athenians who died from fighting against Macedonia made Isocrates realize the tragedy that would continue. He valued freedom but was avid for unity. But the force brought by unity would curtail freedom, and the chaos initiated by freedom would disrupt unity.

After Isocrates died, there was no more unity among the Greek city-states. On the eve of the Greek expedition, Philip was just assassinated, and Thebes immediately started to rebel; right after Alexander died in Babylon, Athens rose in revolt; and when Macedonia had a decisive battle with the invaders from Rome, the Greek city-states stabbed the King in the back. Even if Macedonia expanded the peninsula civilization of Greece to a global one, the Greek city-states would rather let themselves conquered by invaders than agree with Macedonia.

As US historian Ferguson said, the Greek city-states couldn’t integrate as one. “The city-states in Greece are like single-celled organisms with a unique organization inside themselves, which couldn’t develop further unless further segmented. They could replicate in unlimited amounts, but these cells, new or old, could not unite as a powerful nation-state.”

This is because the politics of the Greek city-states is built on autonomy rather than democracy. They could choose any political systems, but would never succumb to foreign powers. The natives in the city-states were the only ones that could decide which political system to adopt. “Absolute autonomy” means “absolute localism”, which makes unity impossible. The city-states were opposed to not only territorial states but the confederation of Macedonia. Before the entire Greek world was conquered by Rome, they didn’t have a federal system satisfying to all city-states, big or small. Their respective interests were above the common ones.

(四)战国的“合”和希腊的“分”

对“分”与“合”,战国与古希腊的政治观念完全不同。

中国上古时代也曾经有过万邦林立、一城一国的局面(执玉帛者万国)。到周初还剩一千八百个部落方国。但最终这些城邦没有长期分立,而是形成了地区性王国,进而发展成统一王朝。表面上看,西亚北非的古老文明如苏美尔、埃及和波斯也是如此。其实不一样。亚非古国靠的是 “神权”,中国靠的是世俗伦理共识。

夏商周时的邦国世界中,始终存在一个名义上或实际上的共主。谁能当共主,取决于谁拥有唯一的天命。天命同时包括了武力和道德。谁能既强大又保民,谁才能拥有天命。否则,天命就会转移。就会发生殷革夏命,周革殷命。即便在战国时代,天命也是唯一的。战国七雄和诸子百家不管怎样争斗,都认为只能有一个秩序,分治不应长久。而同时代的希腊城邦世界不存在共主,只有不同的联盟互相斗争而从不认为存在一个“共同的秩序”。

从城邦之间的关系来看,周礼规定一国发生瘟疫灾荒,其他国家要借粮赈灾;一国有喜事丧事,各国要前往庆贺哀悼。这些责任是强制性的,由天子维持。霸主也要维持这套规矩才能称霸。这就强化了邦国之间同属“华夏世界”的认同。而希腊城邦之间没有建立责任关系。即便是从母邦殖民出去的新城邦,对母邦也没有责任义务,甚至经常反戈一击。即便在希波战争时,希腊人共同身份也只起到微弱作用。

两种文明根性塑造了两种不同的道路。

西方不断走向分。从地域上分,从民族上分,从语言上分。其间也有统一的努力,如罗马的努力,基督教的努力。但分的趋势占据主流,最终归结到了个人主义和自由主义。

中国则不断走向合。从地域上合,从民族上合,从语言上合,其间也有分离的时期,比如王朝更替,比如游牧民族冲击,但合的趋势占主流。造就了中华文明的集体主义。

中华文明并不是没有“分”的概念,但并不是“分治”,而是“分工”。荀子说,人体力弱小,何以能超越禽兽而生存?因为人能组织成集体。组成集体的关键在“分工”。即确定不同的社会角色,但要对彼此承担起责任。只要分工符合“礼义”,就能整合社会。因此,分是为了和,和是为了统一,统一则多力,多力则强大,强大则能够改造自然。

4. Unification of China’s warring states and fragmentation of Greece

The warring states and ancient Greece had completely different political perceptions of unification and fragmentation. 

China back to the very early times was tremendously fragmented, in which each town was run like a state. (“Representatives from ten thousand states held jade and silk (to assemble at Tu Mountain)” as described in classics.) The number of tribal states, by the time when the Zhou dynasty was just founded, was still 1,800 or around. They did not distinguishably stand long, however. Instead, those tiny states previously in blooming clusters became regional kingdoms and later evolved even into a unified country. The same story seemingly took place in ancient civilizations, like Sumer, Egypt and Persia, over the West Asia and North Africa, yet the point is the latter were shaped all by “divine rights”, while in ancient China people were united with an ethical consensus.

China as a united being of town-states was always under the sovereignty of one person, either in name or having a final say, over the lengthy period spanning from the Xia to Zhou dynasty. He was the chosen one bearing a supreme and divine destiny, which covered both force and morality. A person so destined must be strong and kind enough to his subjects, or the destiny would turn around. It did happen that Jie, the notorious tyrant of Xia dynasty, was killed by Tang who later founded the Shang dynasty. The demise of his dynasty, however, finally arrived with the successors’ brutality and ferocity. The practice has remained even in the Warring States period. However the seven kingdoms engaged in armed conflicts with one another, they all believed in one central authority. The same voice came also from the ideological sphere that a fragmented regime could not live long. By contrast, the contemporary Greek city-states never held such an idea. They made allies and fought constantly against each other.

All states were on ethical grounds connected in the Zhou dynasty. Others must give a hand whenever a state was suffering plagues or famine, or send a congratulatory or condolence message to wherever good or bad news came from. They were moral obligations the then emperor had to honour, and there was even no exception for a kingdom wielding power over the rest. This did help secure a consensus among all states that they were actually a united nation. Things were different among Greek city-states, however. A new city-state had no duty or obligation to the mother city-state it grew from and even oftentimes waged a war against the latter. The Greek identity almost went nowhere even during the Greco-Persian Wars.

Thus come different ways for the two worlds. We see a fragmenting west in territory, nation and language. Once in a while they sought to unify the continents with swords (Roman Empire) and hymns (the Church), yet the efforts all failed and led ultimately to what we know as the individualism and liberalism. We Chinese, however, love to see a country with unified nations and languages. China, once being forcibly fractured because of regime changes or nomadic attacks, never failed to become a reunited country. This is also where the Chinese collectivism comes from. Instead of “separation”, the Chinese people emphasize a “division” of roles. Xunzi left a comment that it was the habit of living together that enabled mankind to survive the wildness. He believed the key was to divide roles, in which everyone should fulfil a job but, in the meantime, take care of each other. In his view, an ethical and righteous division of roles could bind all people together. Role division, therefore, brings joint efforts that make a unified society possible. The unity, behind which stand a wider range of social resources, means greater human power to reshape the nature.

(五)为什么亚氏思想塑造了后世西方文明,却无法征服雅典?

亚里士多德比伊索克拉底多活了十五年。

亚历山大辉煌远征时,师以徒贵,亚里士多德荣归雅典,开办了“吕克昂学院”专门收罗和自己一样外邦出身的思想家并很快压过了柏拉图学院。雅典人骂亚里士多德是文化侵略的急先锋。

亚里士多德在此建立了人类历史上最广博、最统一的知识体系,写下了被西方政治学奉为圭臬的名著《政治学》,其中有大量对城邦政治的反思。他严厉批评了其中的暴民政体是不以法律为依归的另一种专制。类似于极端民粹主义。

他还提出了“绝对王权”的概念。即“由君主一人代表整个氏族或整个城市,全权统治全体人民的公务,犹如家长对于家庭的管理。” 他认为,“整体总是超过部分,这样卓绝的人物,本身恰恰是一个整体,而其他的人们便类于他的部分,惟一可行的办法就是大家服从他的统治,不同他人轮番,让他无限期地执掌治权。” 批评亚里士多德的人说,“绝对王权”是为了亚历山大量身定做的政治理论,说明他热爱权力甚于真理。

亚历山大死后,亚里士多德立即遭到反攻倒算。要面临雅典公民大会的审判,借口是他“亵渎神灵”。上次这样被审判而喝下毒芹汁的,是他的师祖苏格拉底。

亚里士多德不愿重蹈覆辙。他逃匿到马其顿的维亚岛上,一年后怏怏去世。他的逃跑遭到满雅典的嘲笑。

5. Why did Aristotle’s thought shape future Western civilizations but fail to conquer Athens?

Aristotle outlived Isocrates by 15 years. When Alexander was on the expedition, Aristotle was well received to return to Athens, where he opened the Lyceum (Peripatec School) to recruit philosophers who were born in other city-states just as him, which quickly surpassed the Platonic Academy. The Athenians condemned him as the vanguard of cultural aggression.

In the Academy, Aristotle established the most sweeping and unified knowledge system in the human history, and wrote Politics, the Bible in Western political studies, in which he had many reflections on the politics of city-states and vehemently criticized the mob rule as another autocracy above the law, similar to the extreme populism.

He also introduced the concept of absolute monarchy: a sovereign represents the entire clan or city and rules the matters of all the people, just as a parent manages domestic affairs. He said, “the whole is greater than its parts. Such an extraordinary person is like a whole, and others are his parts. The only feasible way is to make everyone subject to his rule and let him stay in power infinitely.” According to those that criticized Aristotle, “absolute monarchy” was a political theory customized for Alexander, exposing his lust for power more than truth.

After Alexander’s death, Aristotle was immediately attacked, to be trialed at the ecclesia of Athens for his “blasphemy”. The one before him that was forced to drink poison hemlock after the trial was his master Socrates.

But Aristotle wouldn’t like to repeat it. So he fled to the island of Euboea, where he died a year later. His escape was mocked by the entire city-state of Athens.

(六)希腊帝国的堙灭及其教训

亚里士多德死后,亚历山大帝国内部分裂,三大继承者王国相互征伐,不断再分裂再独立。这不是因为亚历山大死得早。在他没死时,除了推动了一部分欧亚上层通婚外,没有对征占的庞大帝国进行过内部政治整合,更没有进行过基层政权建构。

马其顿帝国的扩张方式,是在所到之处创建希腊式的自治城市。这种“自治”是对留居该城市的希腊殖民者而言,不包括被征服的土著社会。在每个新征服的亚洲城市,亚历山大都把自己的“王友”派驻到该城市当总督,只管军事和税收,不管民政。

中国战国的基层政权组织方式则完全不同。出土秦简显示,秦国每扩张一处,都要建立从县到乡的基层政权组织。其县乡官吏要处理所有的民政,组织垦荒、统计户口、征收税赋,记录物产,再把这些信息输送到秦都咸阳编册保存。秦吏也不在一地久留,而是数年一轮换。

如果只要金钱与税收,不服就派军队镇压。一时可以最小的行政成本获取最大的财富,但也放弃了对当地社会的长远整合。中央强大时尚可,一旦中央权力衰弱,离心力就产生了,城市纷纷脱离控制。亚历山大帝国的分崩离析是必然的。

这不能怪亚历山大。因为即便是他的导师亚里士多德,也从未设想过超大规模政治体的理论制度。他的“绝对王权”概念,只是从一个城邦的角度。在那个时代,并不是没有超大政治体可供研宄,如埃及和波斯。但亚里士多德认为它们都是“非政治”的,是不先进的,只有希腊城邦政治才能叫做“政治”。

后人辩解说,虽然作为政治实体的希腊统一国家消失了,但作为文化精神的希腊,在罗马的躯体上得以永存,成为欧洲精神的母体。国家灭亡无所谓,文化永存己足够。

这要听听当时的希腊人民怎么说。希腊邦国灭亡过程中,一大批希腊高级知识分子作为人质被送入罗马贵族家庭当老师。其中就有著名历史学家波利比乌斯。他在名著《历史》中问道,“为什么希腊不断瓦解,罗马却能一直强大”?他那时心中想要的,恐怕不是仅存精神的希腊,而是一个实体与精神共存的希腊。

“自由优先”还是“秩序优先”

这几位思想家的命运,说明每一个文明内部,每一种精神追求,都蕴含着巨大矛盾。在人类社会进程中,不存在某种能解释一切的理论,不存在某种普世的绝对原则。每一个致力于改变真实世界、而不是构建乌托邦的思想家,终有一刻,都会面临着不可自洽、相反相成的痛苦。但这痛苦和矛盾中,也孕育着相辅相成的未来之路。要敢于不向任何一种绝对性低头,要敢于在不可能处创造可能。

当今东西方文明观念的最大纠结,是“自由优先”还是“秩序优先”。这分别是希腊文明和中华文明的核心价值观。

希腊人对自由的热爱,让“希腊人”从种族的名字变成了“智慧”的代名词。中国人对秩序的热爱,则让中华文明成为了唯一同根同文并以国家形态持续至今的文明。

秩序优先带来的稳定,自由优先带来的创新,哪个更值得追求?这涵盖了哲学、政治学、宗教学、伦理学的无穷争论。我们不需要定论。保留这些不同的本身,恰好为文明日后的互鉴互融留下可能。多元与矛盾并存,会为人类文明基因库留下更多种子。对自由优先与秩序优先的分歧,不但不应成为中西文明交流的障碍,反应成为中西文明交流对话的基础。一方面,技术发展进入爆炸式创新的前夜,让我们深刻认识到自由带来的创造力;另一方面,非传统安全危机频繁爆发,也让我们重新认识到秩序的宝贵。对于自由来说,要探讨如何加强秩序,以防止瓦解;对于秩序来说,要探讨如何加强自由,以激发创新。问题不是在自由和秩序中二选一,而是在哪个环节加强自由,在哪个环节加强秩序。

过去,验证一个理念,甚至需要数百年时间,数代人去重复错误。而今天,在技术革命下,几年之间就能看清来龙去脉。唯有懂得反省反思、不断包容、和谐共生、互鉴互融的文明,才是真正可持续发展的文明。为此,中国与欧洲真应该坐下来好好谈谈心。

6. The demise of the Greek empire and its lessons

After Alexander’s death, his empire disintegrated, with three kingdoms fighting one another, leading to further disintegration and independence. This was not because Alexander died too early. When in power, he didn’t initiate an internal political integration of the gigantic empire, much less the establishment of the grassroots authorities, except for an effort made to promote marriage among some members of the upper class in Eurasia. 

Building Hellenistic autonomous cities in places they invaded was the way the empire of Macedonia expanded. Such autonomy was imposed to the Greek colonists who settled in colonized cities, and not to the conquered indigenous communities. Alexander would dispatch a satrap to each newly-conquered Asian city to manage the military and taxation except civil affairs.

China’s grassroots authorities in the Warring States period were very much different. As indicated in the excavated bamboo writing slips of the Qin state, the Qin state would establish a grassroots authority organization at the county and village levels in every place it extended to, and the officials of every county and village would manage all the civil affairs, reclaim land, carry out census, collect taxes, document property and transfer all this information to the capital city Xianyang for record. And the officials would be replaced every few years.

If they only wanted money and taxes and would suppress any revolts with troops, they might acquire the greatest wealth with the minimum administrative cost, but in the meantime they lost the opportunity to integrate local societies in the longer term. When the central government was strong enough, this might work. But when it was weak, cities might stay away from its control. In this sense, the fragmentation of Alexander’s empire was inevitable.

Alexander was not to blame, as even his tutor Aristotle hadn’t thought about a system for a super large polity. His concept of absolute monarchy was confined to a city-state only. There were super large polities for research at that time, such as Egypt and Persia, but Aristotle considered them to be apolitical and unadvanced and believed politics only applied to the Greek city-states.

According to later generations, Greece as a political entity has disappeared, but its culture and spirit lived on in Rome forever as the birthplace for the spirit of Europe. It is not a big deal for a country to collapse, so long as its culture stays forever.

Take a look at the reaction of the Greeks. As Greece went to demise, a large number of senior intellectuals in Greece were taken hostage to serve as teachers for the Roman aristocratic families, one of whom was Polybius, a well-known historian, who wrote in his masterpiece Histories, “why did Greece keep disintegrating while Rome keep so strong?” What he wanted back then was probably not a Greece with spirit only, but the one with both entity and spirit.

Freedom comes first, or order first?

The destiny of these philosophers indicates that every civilization or every spiritual pursuit has immense contradictions. In the evolution of human societies, there was no theory that could explain everything nor any absolute principle that could be universally applied. Every philosopher devoted to changing the real world rather than building a utopia would eventually feel the pain of inconsistency. But in the pain and contradictions lies a path to the future for mutual reinforcement. One has to create possibilities out of the impossible and never concede to anything absolute.

What the Eastern and Western civilizations are perplexed about is to put freedom first or order first, which is respectively the core value of the Greek and Chinese civilizations.

The passion of the Greeks for freedom has turned “Greek” from a name of a particular race to the emblem of wisdom, while the passion of the Chinese people for order has made the Chinese civilization the only one that has survived till this day in the form of a country with the same roots and culture.

As order brings stability and freedom encourages innovation, which one is better? This involves a debate about philosophy, politics, religion, and ethics that would go on forever, which doesn’t require a conclusion. These differences would make it possible for civilizations to interact with one another. Diversity and contradiction would contribute to enriching the gene pool of human civilizations. The debate on choosing freedom first or order first should not impede the interactions between Chinese and Western civilizations, but should drive them to interact. On one hand, we have been keenly aware of the creativity brought by freedom as technological advances head for disruptive innovation. On the other, frequent outbreaks of non-traditional security crises have given us fresh perspectives on the importance of order. We have to think about how to enhance order to prevent it from being disrupted and how to encourage freedom to spur innovation. The question is not about choosing from freedom and order but about where to encourage freedom and where to enhance order.

In the old days, it might take hundreds of years and several generations to do the trial and error to validate a theory. But today, with the technological revolution, we can have a clear picture within just a few years. A civilization could have sustainable development only if it learns to reflect, accommodate, live in harmony and interact with one another. To this end, China and Europe should sit down together and talk about it.

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