Sunday, December 2, 2012

Zi Zhongjun: "Officialdom Corruption Is not to be Feared, Society Corruption Is"

Note: Zi Zhongjun (1936-) is a well-known scholar and translator in China, in the fields of international politics and US study. The following is her speech during the so-called "consensus symposium" held in Beijing on November 26. -- Xujun

[in translation]

I didn't plan to speak, because I'd rather not say anything.  The words in the first paragraph of this document, that "The 18th Congress …is heartening," is contrary to my own feelings.  I'm not the least bit excited, but feel dispirited, without hope. That speech is full of clichés and set phrases, while the few noteworthy lines are backward-facing.

This morning many insightful people have expressed intelligent and incisive views; I admire that, and their passion is touching. Those opinions have been expressed many times by many people. My first question is:  To whom are we speaking?  Who makes up our imaginary audience?  It seems our eyes are still looking upward, hoping the rulers will adopt [our suggestions], but is that even possible? I recall a small article I wrote, "The Nation's Rise and Fall, Not Everyone's Responsibility." That was to interpret Gu Yanwu's words. His famous saying was, "The world's rise and fall, everyone’s responsibility." But then he also said, "The nation's rise and fall, meat-eaters decide," which means it is not everyone’s responsibility. At the time the Ming Dynasty was dead, and he said you rulers destroyed it, we had no responsibility, our responsibility is to maintain orthodoxy – or national spirit in modern terms.   Why from time immemorial are "meat eaters despicable, lacking foresight"? Because avarice blinds the eye of judgment. It is vested interests that impede good decisions. So the problem is not how to convince them to change. 

I'm thinking, we are talking about such obvious problems; if we can all see them, do the rulers really not? They are not mentally retarded. They must have deeper experience than us on social crises; otherwise why would they mobilize 1.4 million to protect a meeting of thousands [i.e., the 18th Party congress]?  Why so much fear and guilty conscience?  Now there's no point in analyzing how each line is written. Language is unprecedentedly disjoined from reality, unprecedentedly hypocritical. What is "socialism with Chinese characteristics"? There are Chinese characteristics, but there is no socialism! Now there's still talk of "our" socialism and "their" capitalism, it is very ridiculous. The fact is that China's crony capitalism has combined with transnational capital, and they are linked by common interests.  The victim is China's laborers and laborers of the other countries.

Someone just said, "To reform is to court death; to not reform is to wait for death." This is a widely spread line. But one thing must be made clear: Whose death is it? If reformed, would the entire Chinese nation die? I think the hope of the nation's revival is on reform; otherwise, though not necessarily "dying," it will fall, sink. People hate corruption, but officialdom corruption is present at all times and in all countries. That's not to be feared. What is to be feared is the corruption of society as a whole. Right now our entire society is corrupt. During the KMT era, officialdom was corrupt, but the rest of society academia, the arts, journalism and business enterprises – were not all corrupt, so when the regime was overthrown, society still had hope. Now, all walks of life are corrupt, and people are inured to corruption.  Even a child knows that parents should give teachers gifts to get better treatment for her. The children who grow up this way would not think anything wrong with it. Those of us here who are above 40 years of age know it was not like this when we were in school; then there existed the concepts of fairness and justice. If things continue as now, I'm afraid the next generation simply will not care at all about fairness and justice, but consent to the rules of corruption and care only how to better play the game. This is the entire nation spiritually rotten! Mr. Sun Liping's argument on "societal breakdown" was very enlightening for me. So I'm particularly worried about education issues! This speech [about the 18th Party congress] has no mention of education issues. We need to have our eyes looking downward, focusing on the enlightenment of the people. The people's quality and the leadership's quality interact as both cause and effect. The consciousness of the people is the most important. I was saddened by the vandalism and atrocities in the name of "patriotism" that happened a while ago [during anti-Japanese protests]. A hundred years with no progress; above is still Empress Dowager Cixi, below is still the Boxers. I do not mean to compare any leader with Cixi, but that action [i.e. the anti-Japanese protests over island disputes] began with the connivance and acquiescence of, or perhaps was intentionally orchestrated by, the government, in order to transfer internal conflicts to a foreign enemy. This is the modus operandi. Later when it got out of control, then suppress, in the end still having to compromise with the foreign country. In short, we need a different way of thinking, changing the angle – is our responsibility to the whole nation, or the dynasty?

Speaking of reform's entry point, the most important thing is to establish the rule of law. With a sound legal system in place, the government should try to control other things as little as possible, then society naturally will have vitality and self-control. I agree with someone else who just said that the practice of "double designations" within the Party is a violation of the rule of law, violation of human rights.  It feels a bit like a gang cleaning its own house, not the modern country's rule of law. Who is monitoring the Party's Commission for Discipline Inspection? Without the supervision of public opinion, without transparency, without checks and balances of power, corruption is impossible to treat. There is also the need to clarify a concept, that is, the United States implementing world hegemony must not become the reason for us to oppose constitutional democracy. To take the road of constitutional democracy is to join the common progress trend of mankind. Human rights are equal rights everyone should have, regardless East or West. Equality is a modern society's concept; in feudal times, people had to live with stratified society. In modern society this is not acceptable, as equal rights are required. To use the hegemonic behavior of the US or the pirate past of Britain as the reason to deny human rights, liberty, and equality, is to confuse concepts. It's as if someone eats well, becomes strong, and beats others up or even murders them. Should we then refuse to eat? Those are two different things. The direction of constitutional democracy is our own interest, and has nothing to do with foreign countries.

[中文原文] 资中筠:20121126日在共识座谈会上的发言 


上午许多有识之士发表了许多真知灼见,我很钦佩,那一片痴心也令人感动。这些意见多少人多少年来也发表了不少。我首先一个问题是:我们说给谁听?假想的听 众是谁?好像还是眼睛向上,希望掌权者采纳,可能吗?我想起我曾写过的一篇小文章:《国家兴亡,匹夫无责》。那是诠释顾炎武的话,他的名言天下兴亡,匹 夫有责,但是又说国家兴亡,肉食者谋之,意思是匹夫无责。当时明朝亡了,他说你们那些在位者把王朝给折腾亡了,我们没责任,我们的责任在维护道 统,用现代的话来说,就是民族精神。为什么自古以来肉食者鄙,未能远谋?因为利令智昏。是既得利益妨碍做出正确的决策。所以不是如何说服他们改的问 题。

我想,我们现在谈的这么明显的问题,我们都看到了,在上者难道真的看不到?他们也不是弱智。社会危机他们想必比我们体会更深,否则为什么要动员140万人 保卫几千个人开会?那么害怕,心虚?现在去分析讲话中哪句话的提法是没有意义的。语言与实际已经空前脱节,空前的虚伪。什么是中国特色的社会主义?有中国 特色而无社会主义!现在还讲我们社会主义、他们资本主义,是十分可笑的。事实是中国的权贵资本已经与跨国资本相结合,互相利益攸关,受害的是中国 的劳工和那些国家的劳工。

刚才有人说:改革是找死,不改是等死,这是一句流传很广的话。但是有一个问题要搞清楚:是谁死?改革了,整个中华民族会死吗?我认为民族复兴的希望就 在于改革,否则虽然不一定会,但是会堕落,沉沦。人们都痛恨腐败,官场腐败,古今中外都有,并不可怕,可怕的是全社会腐败,现在正是全社会腐败。国 民党的时候是官场腐败,社会其他方面:学界、文化、新闻以及工商企业没有全腐败,所以政权被推翻了,社会还有救。而现在,各行各业都腐败,而且已经见怪不 怪,连小学生都知道要家长给老师送礼,以便对自己好一点。他们长大了就不认为这有什么不对了。我们在座的至少40岁以上的上学的时候还不是这样,还有公 平、正义的观念,下一代人如果这样下去恐怕就根本不在乎什么公平正义,而是认同腐败的规则,只看自己怎么在里面玩了。这就是整个民族从精神上烂掉!孙立平 先生的溃败论对我很有启发。所以我对教育问题特别忧虑!这个文件中完全没有提到教育问题。我们需要眼睛向下,着眼于民众的启蒙。民众和领导的素质是互 为因果的。民众的觉悟是最重要的。前一阵发生的以爱国为名的打砸抢暴行,使我感到悲哀:一百年了,没有长进,上面还是慈禧,下面还是义和团。我不是要 把哪位领导比作慈禧,但是那次的行动开始就是当局纵容、默许,或者就是有意组织的,把国内矛盾转到一个境外敌人身上,这是惯技,到后来失控,再行压制,然 后和外国还得妥协。总之,我们需要换一种思维方式,换一个角度,是对全民族负责呢,还是对王朝负责?

如果要说改革的切入点,最重要的是建立法治。有了健全的法治,其他事,政府能不管就少管,社会自然会有活力,自我调节。我同意刚才有人说的党内纪委实行双规的做法是违反法治,侵犯人权的。我觉得有点像帮会的自己清理门户,绝不是现代国家的法治。纪委谁来监督呢?没有公众舆论的监督,没有透明度,没有 权力的制衡,腐败是不可能治理的。另外,还要澄清一个观念,美国对外实行霸权主义,绝不能成为我们反对民主宪政的理由。我们要走民主宪政的道路是汇入人类 共同进步的潮流。人权是所有人应该有的平等的权利,没有东西方之分。平等这个概念是现代社会的,过去封建社会,人们都在一定等级之中,也就认了。而现代社 会就不能接受,要求平等的权利。以美国对外的霸权行为,还有英国过去是海盗起家等等来否定人权、自由、平等,是概念的混淆。就好像有人吃饱了饭,身体健壮 了,出去打人,甚至杀人,我们就拒绝吃饭了。那是两回事。向宪政民主的方向改革是我们自己的需要,与外国无关。

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