Long-Standing Mistakes in Understanding “A Century of Constitutional Governance”

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Guo Shiyou, Yanhuang Chunqiu

If we say that the last 12 years of the Qing Dynasty were one of the most complex periods in Chinese history, then 1905 is one of the most important years of that time. It was in that year that the result was declared in the Russian-Japanese War, in which the constitutional monarchy Japan defeated the absolute monarchy Russia, the United League of China, which swore to overthrow the Qing Dynasty, was established in Tokyo, the Empress Dowager Cixi, who suppressed the Hundred Days of Reform with her own hands gave the idea to Emperor Guangxu, to, on the one hand, declare the abolition of the imperial examination system that had lasted for 1300 years in China, and on the other hand, to send Zaize and five other ministers on an unprecedented trip to both the Easter and Western seas, in order to observe and study foreign countries’ constitutional governance, and announced the next year that “constitutional governance patterned after [these countries] is being prepared”, in August 1908, a commitment was made to institute constitutional monarchy within nine years, the “Imperial Constitutional Outline” that attracted worldwide attention appeared soon after. In another three years, the gunfire of the Wuchang Uprising spurred the tide of the Xinhai Revolution, and the constitutional monarchy plans of the Qing Dynasty “for all ages” vanished like a bubble. Until the foundation of the Republic, there was frequent change of masters, the text of the Constitution was incessantly renewed, the result of constitutional governance remained slow in coming time and time again, it never attained the desired goal up to the present, the calls for constitutional governance from the knowledge elite are sometimes hidden, and sometimes emerge, it is a ceaseless path. More than a hundred years have passed since the late Qing constitutional governance observation mission visited foreign countries, the rivers and mountains are unrecognizable, the dream of constitutional governance, however, lingers in the Divine Land, without ever being forgotten. Looking back at the figures of the sages of the modern era who endured great hardships in pioneering work and fought bloody battles, it is hard to avoid that all sorts of feelings well up in one’s mind.

In recent years, from the media to academic circles, the topic of “a century of constitutional governance” has continuously been present, it assumes different meanings, and it is difficult to avoid that opinions differ.

I, Saying “a century of constitutional governance” is, in fact, not exact

Not talking about online writers, there is relatively vibrant discussion in historian circles about the late Qing ministers’ constitutional governance observation trip and the “Imperial Constitutional Outline”, but in legal circles and thinkers’ circles, this is discussed often.

Strictly speaking, the wordings “a century of constitutional governance” or “constitutional governance for a century” are overly sketchy, they easily injure their meaning and fail in exactitude. They easily lead readers to engender misunderstanding, and it seems as if, as early as the late Qing period, our country became a constitutional governance country “under the rule of the Constitution”, this easily embellishes history and beautifies the late Qing, and adds fuel to the grumbles of anti-Qing revolutionary men. If we start from the level of historical facts, at best, it can be said that there are “a century of constitutional governance thinking”, “a century of constitutional governance planning” and “a century of preparing constitutional legislation”. The late Qing Constitutional Outline in which “The great power lies with the Imperial Court and the myriad matters of politics are opened up to public opinion”, and the Constitution under the great flag of democracy both finished with their texts, a Constitution is not the same as constitutionalism, it is easy to have matters on paper, the final judge is action. When discussing the truth of history, the last years of the Qing only “prepared for constitutional legislation” and did not “establish a constitution”. Therefore, let us not talk about which connections in time and space there are between the Qing Dynasty’s preparation of constitutional legislation, the Provisional Constitution of the Republican era, “Hongxian” [Note: this is a reference to the regnal name of the short-lived imperial rule of Yuan Shikai, who adopted the reign name of Hongxian, or Constitutional Abundance], the “Party Constitution” and other historical versions, let us not talk about how the scene for actually constitutional governance was after the republic, in terms of talking about the original meaning of constitutional governance, “a century of constitutional governance” and so on, has nothing to start from, but the preparatory work of a hundred years ago has grounds for reference.

There are also scholars who like to call the preparations for constitutionalism of the Qing Dynasty the “Late Qing Constitutional Governance Reform”, this is also insufficiently rigorous. Not only because the Late Qing’s preparation for constitutionalism did not equate to constitutional governance, but also because we might as well pay attention to the fact that the preparation for constitutionalism means to create something where nothing exists, the issue of reforming it or not did not yet exist. Rather than calling it “constitutional governance reform”, we would do better to call it ” autocratic reform”, which is more accurate. When concepts are blurred and indistinct, it is easy for errors in value judgment to emerge, which deeply impede scholarly consideration.

Furthermore, there are a number of scholars and researchers who trace the period of “a century of constitutional governance” to 1901, mistakenly considering that the imperial edict on “New Government” published during the helpless flight of Empress Dowager Cixi and the Guangxu Emperor is the beginning moment of the preparation for constitutionalism, this is especially inaccurate, that year, after all, did not see the shadow of the preparation of constitutionalism. Nevertheless, if we look at it from determining the source of the preparation for constitutionalism, making 1901 into an important starting point is not necessarily impossible, only the grounds of the argument are somewhat different. The famous text “On Constitutionalism”, that war written by Liang Qichao, who was named a criminal by imperial order in 1981, was published in Japan in that year, and immediately spread into the country. In this text, Mr. Liang looked around the three sorts of political systems in various countries world wide, analysing the pros and cons of each, and using commonly understood language to explain the necessity for constitutionalism and the rights of the people. He said: even if there are sovereigns who are capable and virtuous, such as Yu in the Xia Dynasty and Tang in the Shang Dynasty, in every generation, the country is large, and we require officials to carry out the work; there are, in fact, many officials, but “geniuses are few in the Realm while people of mediocre ability are many; therefore, striving for improvement is difficult and following evil is easy, the reason that they do not dare to make mistakes, is because they are constrained by the law; the reason that they do not dare to disobey the law, is because people supervise them.” As for who supervises the situations of officials abiding by the law, the conclusion of Liang Qichao is that it only can be the people: the behaviour of officials relates to the personal interests of the people, the people will shield avaricious officials; the people will also not be in the minority, they have good ears and eyes, and officials will not be ale to dupe them. “Therefore, in order to ensure that monarchical power is limited, we cannot but use the power of the people; to ensure that officials’ power is limited, we can certainly not but use the power of the people. Both the constitution and the power of the people cannot be separated, this truly is not an easy doctrine, but many nations have gained it through experience.”

In this article, the young Liang Qichao also earnestly suggests, on the basis of the constitutional governance experience of Japan:

1, to have the emperor proclaim to his subjects that China will become a constitutional monarchy;

2, to dispatch three high-ranking officials to travel to all countries in Europe, as well as the United States and Japan, to observe the similarities, differences, successes and failures of their constitutional governance;

3, to set up a legislative bureau, draft a Constitution, translate the original texts of various countries’ constitutions and famous works interpreting these constitutions, and announce these to all under Heaven;

4, to determine a time for implementation of the Constitution.

What is interesting is that even Liang Qichao himself had not expected that, shortly after, the Qing Dynasty’s pace of preparation of the constitutional legislation would not be much different from this design that he made when he was pursued by the Empire in 1898. The difference only lay in the fact that Mr. Liang said three people would be sent, Cixi sent five, however; Mr. Liang suggested to “take twenty years time to implement a Constitution”, afterwards, this was greatly shortened, and the court first did not affirm a period, but by 1908,because of the calls of Liang Qichao, Yang Du and other people for “a rapid convention of the national parliament”, it was announced to be just nine years of time, and constitutional politics would established in the “42nd Year of Guangxu”. Two years later again, because of the pressure from the petitioning movement of the National Parliament and the active entreatment from the Advisory Council, it was reduced again by three years, and it was announced that a legislature would be set up in the “5th Year of Xuantong”.

Before and after the publication of “On Establishing a Constitution”, the dynamic thinker Liang Qichao consulted and cooperated with Sun Yat-sen for a while, approved of violence to save the country, implement democratic constitutionalism, and suggested to make the Guangxu Emperor president. For all sorts of reasons, the collaboration with Sun was fruitless, and apart from continuing to strive for awareness and propaganda for constitutional governance theories, Liang Qichao’s, main energies were devoted to the organization of constitutional organizations, he became the first standard-bearer and promoter of the constitutional movement at the end of the Qing. His influence is large, his prestige eminent, exceeding that of his teacher Kang Youwei by far. Mr. Liang’s thinking on civil rights principles was deep and his writing rich, he also was clearly higher than Sun Yat-sen, who was very diligent in armed criticism, and other anti-Qing personalities.

II, The expression “political change ruined the Qing” easily gives rise to misunderstanding

In all fairness, although Empress Dowager Cixi was not greatly literate, she was clever and audacious, she was a woman born as a concubine, and was successful; but as the person in charge, dominating China’s fate for nearly half a century at the beginning of its modernization, matters were messed up, her mind could not contain a China of such a size. This only one of the aspects for the tragedy of the Qing Dynasty. Under her leadership, the Aisin Gioro Imperial House declined into the last phase of the Qing Dynasty, and some person of stronger ability than Cixi could not be found. After she died, both the Prince Regent Zaifeng and Empress Dowager Longyu were even more rotten than her.

In that year, the Japanese Emperor took a tenth of the expenses of the Imperial Court to support the Navy, all military and civil officials imitated this in succession, the Japanese Army intensified its preparations for war against the imagined foe of China, Cixi used the naval funding provided by the biological father of the Guangxu Emperor, Yixuan, to enjoy the scenery at the Summer Palace, and even when the Japanese Army swept across Liaodong, she enjoyed three days of theatre to celebrate her sixtieth birthday, this is the difference. The defeat in the War of 1894 and the “Treaty of Shimonoseki” were a great humiliation that aroused an enthusiasm for political reform all across the entire country, Cixi was no exception either, but good times don’t last long, and Cixi changed the good opportunities for this political reform into a sacrifice in the power struggle between Emperor and Dowager. The Hundred Days Reform was suppressed, and that day was the day that conservative forces became more rampant every day. When the Boxer Movement that had opposition to foreign teachings, driving out foreigners and doing away with foreign things as objective, rapidly unfolded in Shandong and Zhili, Empress Dowager Cixi, who was nigh on seventy years old by that time, learnt that Kang, Liang and similar people were given shelter by foreigners and could not be brought to justice, and when she got wind of the fact that foreign legations in Beijing wanted her to “return government”, she tacitly consented that the Boxers poured into the capital and assaulted the Dongjiaomin legation quarter. The Eight-Nation Army then brought on a bloodbath in the capital for the sake of protecting the legations and the security of foreigners.

The history of China in the 20th Century opens up with characters written in blood and fire. Cixi’s incitement of the Boxers’ blind anti-foreign sentiments, created an excuse for the Eight Nation Army to severely punish China, the imperial power monopolized by the Manchu aristocracy began to lose its sacred glory, and it was unavoidable that the people longed for change in their hearts and minds. As Liu Kunyi, Zhang Zhitong and other Southern governance disregarded the decrees from the court, and refused to send soldiers to relieve the North, and as they negotiated the “South-East Mutual Protection” with Western consuls, the Qing Dynasty’s envoy in the US, Wu Tingfang, went to look for the Acting Secretary of State Hill, and anted him to distinguish punishing the “culprits of 1900, Cixi and Zaiyi with punishing the Chinese people. The professional revolutionary Sun Yat-sen, devoted to armed criticism, at that time could sense that, after 1901, those sympathizing with and supporting his revolution increased in number markedly, those scolding him for being a “minister who collaborates with the enemy” were very few. it was under such circumstances that Empress Dowager Cixi was frank towards her retinue: “I always was the responsible person in the household, now, the trouble has come to this, which is my mistake, I have not been able to face up to the ancestors, and I cannot face up to the people?, the could not but resolutely make a fresh start. Not waiting to return to Beijing, she  started “New Government”, with the aid of the mouth of Guangxu, which was to start first from rejuvenating industry, training a new army and opening schools. Following the spread of “New Government”, the obstacles originating in the political structure became clearer every day, and to this, the irritation of the wars with Russia and Japan and the pressure of anti-Qing revolutionary movements were added. Only then did Cixi resolutely abolish the civil service exam system and put constitutional legislation onto the agenda.

The strength of the late Qing’s “New Government” was greater than that of the Hundred Days of Reform, it undoubtedly embodied the determination of the rulers, but, the Qing court at that instant in time was beset with difficulties, not reforming was not possible, reform was not necessarily effective, it may well be said that too much time had been lost. This was mainly reflected in the following aspects:

First, the people’s livelihood became destitute, the Treasury was empty, financial resources could not bear the task of reform. Local officials incessantly aggravated old takes in order to renovate the government, and added new taxes, bringing about popular discontent and social conflicts, and increasing barriers for “New Government”.

Second, “New Government” not only didn’t rectify the issue of corruption, it caused it to further intensify, corrupt officials took advantage of the situation to rake in more, again adding to the difficulties for “New Government” and undermining the image of “New Government”.

Third, it was difficult for the politically declining rumours to control and digest some results of “New Government”, it could be said to amount to planting melons and harvesting beans, the Court faced a hidden danger of losing control over the new armies organized and trained under the responsibility of local governors.

What was even more grave was that Zaifeng and others, after the death of Cixi, not only forcibly suppressed the parliamentary petitioning movement that engulfed the entire country, but also, in an act of folly, threw out the “Imperial Cabinet”, humiliating those honest but aggrieved petitioners, and pushing them into the anti-Qing camp.

in recent years, intellectual circles and academic circles have revolved around an argument, believing that the revolutionary strength of leaders such as Sun Yat-sen and others was not strong, that the Qing dynasty capsized in the process of political reform, and that it was buried in the risks of preparing for constitutional legislation. This implies that if the Qing government would not have initiated political reform, and would not have prepared for a constitution, it would not have collapsed so speedily. In June, two years ago, the international surge to remember the Xinhai revolution began, and the Macau Foundation and the Sun Yat-sen foundation organized n international conference on “Sun Yat-sen and the Xinhai Revolution” in Macau. here was a Taiwanese senior keynote speech that also stressed a similar argument, at that time, I did not mince my words: the process of history is far more complex that its results, historical research must avoid by all means using results to deduce processes, this is acting too much like a post facto Zhuge Liang, under the brilliant outward appearance of the Forbidden City, the imperial power of the Qing Dynasty was in imminent danger, this was an unalterable fact. As for the question, under which pressures and against which backgrounds did the preparation of constitutional legislation begin? If the Qing Dynasty would not have engaged in political structural reform, who could guarantee that it could continue its existence? Furthermore, after the death of Cixi, why would Zaifeng and others absolutely want to forcibly suppress the parliamentary petitioning movement that swept across the country, and stupidly through out the “Imperial Cabinet”, humiliate those honest but aggrieved reformers and push them into the anti-Qing camp? These questions require that answers are pursued. Through all time, there hasn’t been any ruler who did not take into account the life or death of their own house and rashly plucked the strings of political structural reform, even the present King of Bhutan is no exception. The argument that “political reform destroyed the Qing” easily misleads us, and throws up barriers for political reform in the present.

In recent years, complaining grumbles about how the Xinhai Revolution should not have happened, and how the revolution brought trouble often occurred in academic circles, these all impute the social unrest of the early years of the Republic and all sorts of disastrous results of fierce warlord warfare to the violent revolution of Sun Yat-sen and other people, they indulge the Qing Dynasty’s commitments about preparation for constitutionalism and historical imagination, they promote the real emotion of “farewell to revolution” into a view of history, all of this are subjective ideas and excessive deductions that deviate from the historical scene during the late Qing. As the Qing Dynasty rulers used their power  to humiliate the nation and forfeit its sovereignty and suppress the people, the people naturally had the right to rise up and resist. Du Yaquan and other people saw very clearly in that year that the reason why Empress Dowager Cixi, who had once stained her hands with the blood of the Six Gentlemen of the Hundred Days Reform, laid down her arrogant airs and agreed to send people abroad to observe foreign countries’ constitution, and started making preparations for the establishment of a constitution. This was because, apart from the public opinion brought by the results in the wars with Japan and Russia, there was also the United League of China and other rebellious anti-Qing political pressures. If Sun Yat-sen and his like had not unwaveringly maintained a bloody spirit, would the Qing Dynasty have started constitutional preparations? If there had been no Xinhai Revolution, could we guarantee that the Qing Dynasty would have survived intact, and guarantee that China was not in chaos, constitutional legislation in the year “Guangxu 42” could have satisfied you, I’m afraid that these issues are unknown quantities. As long as we look a bit at the opinions published by Liang Qichao during the last three years of the Qing Dynasty, it is not hard to know that it is not very likely that the abovementioned guesses, removed from the reality of the late Qing, were aimed at persuading Sun Yat-sen’s opponent Liang Qichao. Looking around the past, the present, China and the outside world, no organized armed rebellion is generated on a whim, the process of history cannot be decided by the choice of any single force. This is so for the Huang Chao rebellion in the last years of the Tang Dynasty, and this is equally so for the Xinhai Revolution.

III, The bumpy advance of constitutional governance

The special environment of domestic turmoil and foreign invasion of Modern China has, to a large extent, continued into the democratic era after the collapse of the imperial system, the instrumental appeal of democratic rights politics, and the zero-sum relationship between democratic power and state power, added to the influence of the Soviet model of “using the Party to build the country” and “using the Party to govern the country” on Sun Yat-sen’s revolutionary practice, there was also the political tutelage of Chiang Kai-shek’s “borrowing the name of Party rule to implement a dictatorship”. On the path of restraining constitutional governance since the days of the Republic, Chiang Kai-shek also lost the golden opportunity to build the country with constitutional governance after the complete victory in the War of Resistance of Japan, even so, the concept that “sovereignty lies in the people” present in the “Provisional Constitution” of the first days of the Republic and the framework for the new legal system of democratic constitutionalism was firmly established, and was not overthrown even though it often was buffeted by wind and rain.

Both political and academic circles, as well as textbooks, on both sides of the Taiwan Straits make it seem as if Sun Yat-sen, who pioneer of the modern democratic revolution and the builder of the Three Principles of the People was the only great historical person who is completely undisputed, but the essence of the Three Principles of the People is not something else, it is the Principle of the People’s Rights. The Principle of the People’s Rights of Sun Yat-sen was based on the reality of China, and benefited the nourishing of global political civilization heritage and the inspiration of global democratic trends. Even after Sun Yat-sen passed away, this world heritage remained solid as a rock as it was challenged by German and Italian Fascism and totalitarianism. On 12 October 1940, U.S. President Roosevelt pointed out in his famous Dayton speech that: “We are determined to use our energies and our resources to counteract and repel the foreign plots and propaganda—the whole technique of underground warfare originating in Europe and now clearly directed against all the Republics on this side of the ocean. That propaganda repeats and repeats that democracy is a decadent form of Government. They tell us that our old democratic ideal, our old traditions of civil liberties, are things of the past. We reject that thought. We say that we are the future. We say that the direction in which they would lead us is backward, not forward—backward to the bondage of the Pharaohs, backward to the slavery of the Middle Ages.”

Sun Yat-sen’s Principle of the People’s Rights is valuable as well because it has not remained only an ism, but because, when setting to building institutions, it clearly pot forward that there would be three phases that could be brought into practice, being “military governance, political tutelage and constitutional governance”. Also, it made “constitutional governance” into the governing objective and value plane for the struggle of Guomindang members, in comparison with the sweeping statement of Kang Youwei on the three phases of “a world of chaos, a world of rising peace and a world of great peace”, was much more concrete, and more dependable. Precisely because of this, regardless of the rebellion of Chen Sheng and Wu Guang and the “Heavenly Punishment of the Barbarians” of Hong Xiuquan and Yang Xiuqing, the Xinhai Revolution led by Sun Yat-sen was better than the “revolutions of Tang and Wu” of the past, which only changed one tyranny into another. The only reason that Chiang Ching-kuo, who originally was overshadowed by the authority and halo of his father Chiang Kai-shek, gained a high opinion on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, was because he was the most faithful disciple of Sun Yat-sen’s Three Principles of the People, and was a broad-minded politician. It was Chiang Ching-kuo who, at that time, tacitly approved of the other parties’ secret “Grand Hotel Meeting”, which became a critical juncture for the conclusion of Guomindang single Party rule in the Taiwan region, only then was the ban against parties opened up and the democratic practice of alternation of political parties instituted. The value of Taiwan’s constitutional governance does not lie in Taiwan itself, it is sufficient to prove that Chinese people are completely capable of implementing democratic politics through their own efforts, and do not need to “borrow a belly to bear children” like Hong Kong. Furthermore, China’s traditional culture is not completely unaccommodating to Western democratic concepts.

The Chinese mainland has undergone more than thirty years of reform and opening up, social and economic development successes are clear, the people’s material lives have greatly improved, the position of the country has risen, and these are all achievements broadly recognized by the world. In comparison, reform of political structures is excessively slow, many civil rights provided for in the Constitution are not protected, the public power that the Constitution should restrain expands day by day, many Party and government officials use all sorts of methods to misappropriate State-owned assets, they buy titles and take bribes, amass wealth by any unfair means, and monopolize industrial resources, they seek gain at the people’s expense, and form an number of interest groups who manipulate market competition, they even use names such as land development., etc., to grab the housing resources of grass-roots masses, the conflict between officials and citizens continues to intensify. In order to maintain order, interference should be eliminated, and the Constitution implemented with force.

The system of stability through brute force should be brought back to the track of the Constitution, only by giving government power back to the people and using election systems as an appointment and dismissal system, will it be possible to reverse the phenomenon that the people have to ask for things from officials and officials do not ask the people for things, and to lock power into an institutional cage.

IV, The “Bo-Wang Incident” contains rich research resources for constitutional governance

Still in May 1922, “Our Political Standpoints”, drafted by Hu Shi and signed by 16 people, including Cai Yuanpei and Li Dazhao, put forward three basic demands for the political reform of the country:

First, we demand a “constitutional government”, because this is the first step to bring politics on the tracks.

Second, we demand an “open government”, including financial openness and open examinations for appointments, etc., because we firmly believe that publicity is the only weapon to break through all black curtains.

Third, we demand a sort of “planned politics”, because we firmly believe that the great illness of China lies in its aimless drifting without plans, because we firmly believe that planning is the source of productivity, and because we deeply believe that a mediocre plan is better than blind groping without plans.

These three demands simply and clearly expressed the expectations of the intellectual elite and the broad popular masses.

The 2012 Bo Xilai and Wang Lijun incident shook China and the entire world, it exposed that unrestrained power can create formidable local kingdoms. In my humble opinion, the value for constitutional governance research of the “Bo-Wang Incident” is not second to the research value of Party style, Party discipline and criminal law. How could Bo and Wang have risen step by step, exactly? Why did they do as they pleased? Was there anyone managing them, and who? There are numerous similar cases, and I’m afraid these all merit close examination and rethinking. Only through the bitter water of refining wisdom gained by paying expensive tuition, and taking the Constitution and the law seriously, will it be possible to do right by the labour of taxpayers and the harm of the innocent, and to the painstaking efforts of the drafters and revisers of all previous Constitutions.

The fairy-tale of the “Chongqing Model”, from its coming out of the basket to its collapse, can let us think of Max Eastman in modern U.S. history. This person stood trial twice because he opposed the U.S. government’s participation in the First World War, but during the period of the Second World War, he clearly advocated that the United States should prepare to fight shoulder to shoulder with England, if England would only be helped through economic means, it would not be different from “fighting a war with substitutes”, this was still not enough, in his view, the Second World War was the only match between democracy and totalitarian dictatorships in human history. he also went through research, and concluded that totalitarianism represented by the two countries Germany and Italy had 20 characteristics:

1. narrow nationalist emotions, raising it to the level of religious mania;

2. a military-style, narrowly restricted political party, to wield State power;

3. strict ban of all opinions opposing the government;

4. reducing transcendent religious belief into a national religion;

5. the “leader” is the general centre of belief, in fact, he is equal to a god;

6. advocating anti-intellectualism and anti-knowledge, flattering the ignorant and the masses; severely punishing honest thinking;

7. destroying books, distorting history and scientific truth;

8. abolishing science and scholarship that purely seeks for truth;

9. replacing argument with arbitrary decisions, letting the governing party control the news;

10. bringing the people into cultural isolation, making them unable to be aware of the true situation in the outside world;

11. having the governing party control all art;

12. destroying political faith, using fabricated and hypocritical methods;

13. government-planned crimes;

14. encouraging the people to frame and abuse so-called “public enemies”;

15. resuming uncivilized household guilt methods, in dealing with these “public enemies”;

16. preparing eternal war, militarizing the people;

17. encouraging population increase by hook or by crook;

18. abusing the slogan “the revolution of the working class over capitalism” everywhere;

19. prohibiting workers’ strikes and opposition, destroying all labour movements;

20. industry, agriculture and commerce are controlled by the governing party and their leaders.

We only need to compare the “Chongqing model” played up by Bo and Wang with these conclusions about totalitarianism made by this American writer 70 years ago, to know how precious freedom and democracy, and how urgent implementing constitutional governance is.

There is no doubt that, from the Anti-Rightist Movement and the Cultural Revolution to other unjust cases and miscarriages of justice, from the struggle between Mao and Liu, and the struggle between Mao and Lin to the farce of Bo and Wang, the important thing is not who manages who or who implicates who, but it is how to ensure that the civil rights that the Constitution endows are implemented as rapidly as possible, to let the people use ballots to progressively manage those in power at all levels, ensure equality before the rules, etc.

 V, The objective conditions for constitutional governance and their basic maturity.

Constitutional governance is the method to govern the country at lower cost, and it is the face of a country and its citizens. Different countries admittedly have different histories, cultures and national circumstances, and different constitutional governance models and democratic standards must be adopted. Nevertheless, safeguarding human rights and restraining public power are implacable basic principles in any constitutional governance country and region. Democracy and rule of law are the heritage of global civilization shared by humankind, some human laziness can only be restrained through rule of law, there are no other ways to do this.

Often, there are people who say that the democratic level of the people is not yet high, if a democratic system would be suddenly rolled out, it could only lead to social unrest. This theory looks to be plausible on first sight, but in fact, it will not bear closer deliberation, at least, the following points of doubt still need to be answered:

I, How should the democratic quality of the people be raised? Is it to be raised by relying on endless political study, or is it progressively realized through democratic practice?

II, In 64 years, what have political party organs at all levels actually done to raise the people’s democratic quality? How much has it been raised? The masses are often encouraged to sing odes to themselves, but this is really not only something that Bo Xilai did individually, does this actually raise the people’s, democratic quality, or is it the opposite?

III, Is the fact that the people’s democratic quality is not high absolute or relative? If villagers in many places can participate in village committee elections, then, why can the majors of large cities and the heads of focus schools not be produced through elections?

In comparison with the late Qing era, today’s national circumstances are vastly different, the risk of political structural reform is far from as big as it was during the last years of the Qing Dynasty.

First and foremost, the Qing Dynasty was an ethnic minority dynasty that had entered the Central Plains from outside, it had made guarding against the Han ethnicity that comprised the majority of the population nationwide into a basic national policy, Manchu-Han contradictions did not only exist throughout, but following the decline of the Late Qing and the intensification of the humiliation of the nation and the loss of its sovereignty, they became increasingly more prominent. There was mutual suspicion and jealousy between Manchu and Han, and a lack of mutual trust, the Manchus were worried that reform would bring power to the Han, and the Han considered the Manchu as “foreigners” (said by Sun Yat-sen), always believing that the Qing had no sincerity in reform, and did not cherish good intention, overthrow was the only possibility. This problem does not exist in the China of today.

Second, since the Hunan Army was formed, Central control over the military begun to weaken, his was especially the case during the New Army period, in the China of today, the Army and the Party are one body, and this sort of fear of backstabbery does not exist.

Third, during the late Qing period, the national treasury was empty, the country was heavily indebted, the financial input for new government was limited, and problems where often overwhelming, the China of today is the second largest economy in the world, people’s living standards have clearly improved, the people’s hearts and minds are stable, it is not the case that the people’s hearts and minds are opposed.

Fourth the process of spreading education and developed communication has greatly exceeded the late Qing era, and it is not easy to change the rule of the Constitution into mob rule. Even the She people living in the precipitous mountains in the north of Fujian and the south of Zhejiang have their villages linked with roads, with postal services, there also are telecommunications and network connections, it may be said that there are no longer any information dead spots on a nationwide level. This has provided convenience for the implementation of constitutional governance.

Not only in comparison with the later years of the Qing dynasty, do such great political risks for the implementation of constitutional governance been subject not exist, even in comparison with the times when Sun Yat-sen, Yuan Shikai and Chiang Kai-shek led the government, there are no great powers humiliating us with foreign aggression, there also are no domestic troubles, warlords and fierce battle, all efforts can be exerted to the full to make the country prosperous, and to advance in a stable manner. If we compare it to the Mao Zedong era after 1949, confidence in constitutional governance should be greatly strengthened as well. For example, information during the Mao Zedong era was quite closed off, the Cold War environment also did not permit for calm thinking, the victors’ self-confidence easily engendered mistaken judgement on the basis of inaccurate information and warfare thinking, political movements became ever more chaotic. The political mistakes of the mast may be a mature warning for posterity, the material wealth of 30 years of reform and opening up has also become a foundation for national strength that was originally weak, university education has been shifted from being elitist to being popularized, the creation of a knowledge society and the dissemination of global information, are effective resources to raise the citizens’ quality, there is no comparison between past and present.

The English playwright George Bernard Shaw said: “Successful people in this world are those who get up and look for circumstances they want. If they can’t find them, they make them.” A generation of people has the opportunities and challenges of a generation, a generation of people has the burdens and successes of a generation.

(The author is a visiting professor at the Tongji University, and a professor at the China University of Political Science and Law.)

“百年宪政”的认识误区
如果说清朝最后12年乃中国历史上最为复杂的时段之一,那么,1905年就是其中最为重要的年份之一。就在这一年,日俄战争宣告结束,君主立宪的日本打败君主专制的俄国,矢志推翻清朝的中国同盟会却在东京宣告成立,曾经亲手镇压戊戌变法的慈禧太后授意光绪帝,一边宣布废除延续中国1300年的科举制,一边破天荒地派遣载泽等5名大臣,远航东、西两洋,专程考察外邦宪政,并于次年宣布“预备仿行宪政”,于1908年8月承诺以9年为限,推行君主立宪,举世瞩目的《钦定宪法大纲》也随即出台。再过3年,武昌起义的枪声催发辛亥革命的高潮,清朝“万世一系”的君宪计划成为泡影。及至民国奠基,易主频仍,宪法文本不断翻新,宪政之果却一再难产,至今未曾到位,知识精英的宪政呼声时隐时现,不绝于途。自晚清宪政考察团出访至今,100多年过去了,江山不可复识,宪政之梦却萦绕神州,无时或释。回首近代先贤筚路蓝缕浴血奋战的身影,难免令人感慨万千。
近年来,从媒体到学界,“百年宪政”的话题经久不衰,歧义纷呈,见仁见智在所难免。

一、“百年宪政”之说并不确切

除开网络作者不论,史学界对晚清大臣考察宪政与《钦定宪法大纲》讨论较少,法学界与思想界却谈得很多。
严格地说,“百年宪政”或“宪政百年”的提法过于简约,易伤其义而有失确切。它很容易使读者产生误解,好像早在晚清时期,我国就有基于“宪法之治”的宪政了,这就容易给历史化妆,美化晚清,徒添对反清革命志士的抱怨。如果从历史的真实层面出发,顶多可以称作“宪政思潮百年”与“宪政规划百年”,“预备立宪百年”。“大权统于朝廷,庶政公诸舆论”的晚清宪法大纲也罢,民主大旗之下的宪法也罢,都是文本而已,宪法不等于宪政,纸上得来终觉浅,行动才是最后的审判长。若以历史的真相而论,清末年间不过是“预备立宪”,并非“立宪”。姑且不说清朝的预备立宪与民国时期的临时约法、“洪宪”“党宪”等历史版本之间有何时空关联,也不论民国之后的宪政场景究竟如何,仅就宪政的本义而言,“百年宪政”云云,还无从谈起,但百年前的准备工夫倒是有据可查。
还有学者喜欢把清朝的预备立宪称作“清末宪政改革”,也不够严谨。不仅因为清末预备立宪并不等于宪政,而且不妨注意到,立宪之预备属于原创性的从无到有,还不存在改不改它的问题。与其称“宪政改革”,还不如叫“专制改革”更准确。概念的模糊不清最容易出现价值评判的偏差,掣肘学术思考的深入。
另有部分法学研究者将“宪政百年”的时间上溯到1901年,把慈禧太后与光绪帝在狼狈逃亡途中发表“新政”上谕的时间误作预备立宪的启动时间,尤欠准确,该年毕竟未见预备立宪的影子。不过,倘若从清理预备立宪的源流着眼,以1901年作为一个重要起点倒是未尝不可,唯论据有所不同。戊戌钦犯梁启超的名文《立宪法议》就在这一年问世于东瀛,迅即传入国内。梁氏在此文中,环视地球各国的三种政体,分析各自的利弊吉凶,用通俗明了的语言说明立宪与民权之必要。他说:即使世世代代都有圣明如夏禹、商汤的君主,但国家很大,需要假手官吏;官吏却很多,而且“天下上圣少而中材多,是故勉善难而从恶易,其所以不敢为非者,有法以限之而已;其所以不敢不守法者,有人以监之而已”。至于谁来监督官吏的守法情况,梁启超的结论唯有人民:官吏所为,事关人民的切身利益,人民不会包庇贪官;人民还不是少数,耳聪目明,官吏骗不了他们。“是故欲君权之有限也,不可不用民权;欲官权之有限也,更不可不用民权。宪法与民权,二者不可相离,此实不易之理,而万国所经验而得之也”。
就在这篇文章里,年轻的梁启超还根据日本的立宪经验,郑重建议:
一、皇上诏告臣民,定中国为君主立宪之国;
二、派重臣三人,游历欧洲各国及美国、日本,考其宪法之同异得失;
三、创设立法局,草定宪法,编译各国宪法原文及解释宪法之名著,颁布天下;
四、确定行宪时间。
有趣的是,连梁启超自己也没想到,清朝稍后的预备立宪步骤竟同他这位戊戌钦犯的设计差不多,差别仅在于,梁氏说派遣三人,慈禧却派了五人;梁氏建议“以二十年为实行宪法之期”,后来就大大缩短,朝廷先是不肯定期,到了1908年,迫于梁启超、杨度等人领唱的“速开国会”之声,才宣布以9年为期,在“光绪四十二年”实行立宪政治。再过两年,迫于国会请愿运动的压力与资政院的竭力请求,再缩短3年,宣布于“宣统五年”开设议院。
《立宪法议》发表前后,思想活跃的梁启超还一度与孙中山协商合作,赞同暴力救国,实行民主立宪,提议以光绪帝为总统。基于种种原因,与孙合作未果,梁启超除了继续致力于宪政理论的启蒙宣传外,将主要精力转入立宪团体的组织,成为首屈一指的清末立宪运动之旗手与推手。其影响之大,声望之隆,远出乃师康有为之上。梁氏对民权学理的思考之深与著述之丰,亦明显高出勤于武器批判的孙中山等反清志士。

二、“政改亡清”之说易生误解

平心而论,慈禧太后虽然识字不多,但脑子聪明,也有魄力,作为嫔妃出身的女人,她是成功的;但作为主宰中国命运近半个世纪的早期现代化的当权者,却是糟糕的,她的胸怀还装不下偌大一个中国。这还只是清朝悲剧的一个方面。当爱新觉罗皇室在她的导演下,衰败到了清朝末世之时,已经找不出几个比慈禧更强的能人来。在她死后,无论是摄政王载沣,还是隆裕太后,都比她更糟。
当年日本天皇拿出宫廷经费的十分之一资助海军,文武百官纷纷仿效,日军以中国为假想之敌加紧备战时,慈禧却用光绪帝的生父奕譞提供的海军经费,享受颐和园的景致,还在日军横扫辽东之后,赏戏三天过她的六十大寿,这就是差别。甲午战败与《马关条约》的奇耻大辱激发全国上下的变法热忱,慈禧也不例外,但是好景不长,慈禧却把这个变法的机缘变成帝、后权力格斗的牺牲品。戊戌变法横遭镇压之日,便是守旧势力日形猖獗之时。当以反洋教、驱洋人、废洋务为目标的义和团活动在山东和直隶地区迅速展开时,年近古稀的慈禧太后得知康、梁等人得洋人庇护而迟迟不能归案,又风闻西方驻京公使要她“归政”,便默许义和团团民涌入京师,攻打东交民巷使馆区,八国联军则以保护使馆及外人安全为由,血洗京师。
20世纪的中国历史就是用血与火的文字开头的。当慈禧指使义和团盲目排外,为八国联军严惩中国制造借口时,满族贵族把持的皇权就开始丢失神圣的光环,人心思变就在所难免。当刘坤一、张之洞等南方督抚不顾朝廷的诏令,拒不派兵声援北方,还与西方领事协议“东南互保”时,清朝驻美使臣伍廷芳还找到美国代理国务卿席尔,要把惩办庚子“祸首”慈禧、载漪同惩罚中国人民区别开来。致力于武器批判的职业革命家孙中山在当时就能感觉到,1901年之后,同情支持其革命者明显增加,骂他“乱臣贼子”者却已很少了。正是在这样的背景下,慈禧太后才对随从坦白:“我总是当家负责的人,现在闹到如此,总是我的错头,上对不起祖宗,下对不起人民”,不得不决心改弦更张。还等不到返京,她就借助于光绪之口,启动“新政”,先从兴实业、练新军、办学堂入手。随着“新政”的铺开,来自政体的障碍日益明显,加上日俄战争的刺激与反清革命运动的压力,慈禧才下决心把废除科举制与预备立宪提上议事日程。
清末“新政”比戊戌变法的力度更大,固然更能体现统治者的决心,但是,此时此刻的清朝却是困难重重,不改不行,改也未必有效,可谓为时已晚。主要表现在以下方面:
第一,民生凋敝,国库空虚,财力难当改革之任。地方官吏为了搞新政,不断加重旧税,增设新税,遭来民怨与社会冲突,增加“新政”的阻力。
第二,“新政”不但没有整饬腐败问题,反而变本加厉,贪官污吏趁机再捞,既增添“新政”的难度,也败坏“新政”的形象。
第三,政治衰败的统治者难以驾驭和消化某些“新政”的成果,乃至种瓜得豆,朝廷对地方督抚负责编练的新军就存在失控的隐患。
更为严重的是,慈禧死后的载沣等人不仅强行镇压席卷全国的国会请愿运动,还愚不可及地抛出“皇族内阁”,羞辱那些积诚罄哀的请愿者,把他们推向反清革命的阵营。
近年来,思想界与学术界流行一种论点,认为孙中山等人领导的革命力量并不强大,清朝是在政治体制的改革中翻船,在预备立宪中冒险葬身的,言下之意是,如果清朝不去启动政体改革,不搞预备立宪,就不会迅速垮台。前年6月,辛亥百年纪念的国际热潮涌动之初,澳门基金会与孙中山基金会在澳门举行“孙中山与辛亥革命”国际研讨会,有位台湾前辈的主题报告也在强调类似的论点,我在当时就直言不讳:历史的过程远比结果更复杂,历史研究切忌用结果去推导过程,过于充当事后诸葛亮,在紫禁城的光鲜外表下,清朝皇权岌岌可危,已是不刊之事实,至于预备立宪是在什么背景和压力下开始的?如果清朝不搞政治体制改革,谁能保证它能继续维持下去?还有,慈禧死后的载沣等人为什么一定要把席卷全国的国会请愿运动强行镇压下去,还愚不可及地抛出“皇族内阁”,羞辱那些积诚罄哀的改革者,把他们推向反清革命的阵营中?这些问题,都是值得追问的。古往今来,还没有哪个统治者不是顾及自家的存亡而轻易拨动政体改革之弦的,即便是现任的不丹国王也不例外。“政改亡清”之论,容易产生误导,徒增当今政改的阻力。
近年来,学界还时常出现辛亥革命不该搞、革命添乱的抱怨之声,把民国初年的社会动荡与军阀混战的种种恶果都归咎于孙中山等人的暴力革命,沉湎于清朝预备立宪的承诺与历史想象,把“告别革命”的现实情怀提升为历史观,这些都是离开清末历史场景的主观臆想与过度演绎。既然清朝统治者拥有丧权辱国和压制人民的权力,人民自然就有奋起反抗的权利。杜亚泉等人当年就看得清楚,曾经手沾戊戌六君子之血的慈禧太后之所以放下傲慢的架子,同意派人出洋,专程考察外邦宪政,为预备立宪做准备,就是因为除了日俄战争的结局带来的舆论压力,还有中国同盟会等暴动反清的政治压力。如果没有孙中山等人坚持不懈的浴血精神,清朝会不会启动立宪准备?如果没有辛亥革命,能否保证清朝完好无损地维持下去,保证中国不乱,“光绪四十二年”的立宪就能包你满意,这些问题恐怕都是未知数。只要稍微查阅梁启超在清末最后三年发表的见解,就不难知道,上述脱离晚清实际的猜测要想说服孙中山的论敌梁启超,都是不大可能的。环视古今中外,任何组织起来的武装暴动从来都不是心血来潮,历史的进程也不是任何单个力量的选择所能决定。唐朝末年的黄巢起兵是如此,清朝末年的辛亥革命也是如此。

三、坎坷前行的宪政

近代中国内忧外患的特殊环境在较大程度上延续于帝制覆灭之后的民主时代,民权政治的工具性诉求,民权与国权的此消彼长,加上“以党建国”“以党治国”的苏联模式对孙中山革命实践的影响,还有蒋介石的“假党治之名,行独裁之实”的训政,在制约着民国以降的宪政之旅,蒋介石还失去过抗日战争全胜之后的宪政建国之良机,然而,民初《临时约法》所承载的“主权在民”之理念与民主立宪的新法统之框架臻于确立,历经风雨而不倒。
在海峡两岸的政、学两界与教科书中,近代民主革命先驱与三民主义理论的构建者孙中山先生几乎是唯一毫无争议的历史伟人,而三民主义理论的精华不是别的,就是民权主义。孙中山的民权主义理论既立足于中国的实际,也得益于世界政治文明遗产的滋养与世界民主潮流的启迪。即使在孙中山病逝之后,这份世界遗产亦曾坚如磐石地经受过德、意法西斯与极权主义的挑战。1940年10月12日,美国总统罗斯福在著名的德吞(Dayton)演讲时就指出:“我们决心要用我们的人力和财力,去抵抗并击退这种外国的阴谋和宣传,以及地下战争的诡计,这种阴谋诡计和宣传,发端于欧洲,而现在却明显的企图进攻太平洋这边的各民主国家。那种宣传反复宣称民主主义乃是没落政治制度。他们告诉我们,说我们的民主理想,和我们民主自由的传统,都是过去的事物了。我们绝不承认这种说法。我们认为我们是有前途的,而他们所走的方向,却是退向古埃及王国的束缚的方向,是退向中古黑暗时代的奴役的方向。”
孙中山民权主义的可贵之处还在于,它并非流于主义的层面,而是从制度建构入手,明确地提出了可以实际操作的“军政、训政、宪政”三阶段,并以“宪政”作为国民党人为之奋斗的执政目标与价值境界,比起康有为笼统地提出“据乱世、升平世、太平世”三阶段来,要具体得多,也实在得多。唯其如此,无论是古代陈胜、吴广的揭竿而起,还是近世洪秀全、杨秀清的“奉天讨胡”,孙中山领导的辛亥革命就比往昔以暴易暴的“汤武革命”胜出一筹。原本为乃父蒋介石的威权与光环所笼罩的蒋经国后来之所以能在海峡两岸好评如潮,就是因为他是孙中山三民主义理论的最忠实的信徒,是胸怀宽阔的政治家。正是蒋经国当年默认异党密谋的“圆山之会”,成为台湾地区结束国民党一党专政的契机,才有开放党禁与政党轮替的民主实践。台湾宪政的价值并不限于台湾本身,它足以表明:中国人完全可以通过自己的努力实行民主政治,无需像香港那样“借腹生子”。另外,中国传统文化同西方的民主理念并非不可通融。
中国大陆经过近30余年的改革开放,社会经济发展成效显著,人民的物质生活大大改善,国家的地位得以提升,这些都是举世公认的成就。相比之下,政治体制的改革过于迟缓,宪法所规定的许多公民权利得不到保障,宪法所应限制的公权却日趋膨胀,许多党政官员用各种方式侵吞国有资产,买官受贿,拼命敛财,还垄断行业资源,与民争利,形成某些操纵市场竞争的利益集团,甚至还借土地开发等名目,强夺下层民众的宅地资源,官民冲突持续加剧。为维系秩序,应该排除干扰,力行宪法。
强力维稳体制理当回到宪法的轨道上来。唯有还政于民,用选举制取代任命制,才有可能从根本上扭转民求官而非官求民的现象,将权力关入制度的笼子。

四、“薄王事件”蕴含丰富的宪政研究资源

还在1922年5月,由胡适起草,蔡元培、李大钊等16人联署的《我们的政治主张》就国家的政治改革提出过三个基本要求:
第一,我们要求一个“宪政的政府”,因为这是使政治上轨道的第一步。
第二,我们要求一个“公开的政府”,包括财政的公开与公开考试式的用人,等等。因为我们深信“公开”(publicity)是打破一切黑幕的惟一武器。
第三,我们要求一种“有计划的政治”,因为我们深信中国的大病在于无计划的飘泊,因为我们深信计划是效率的源头,因为我们深信一个平庸的计划胜于无计划的瞎摸索。
这三项要求简明地表达了知识精英与广大民众的期待。
2012年的薄熙来、王立军事件震动了中国与全球,它暴露了以不受制约的权力营造的地方王国之强大。窃以为,“薄王事件”的宪政研究价值并不亚于党风党纪与刑法的研究价值。薄与王究竟是怎么步步高升的?为何随心所欲?有谁管过他们没有?凡此种种,恐怕都值得追问和反思。只有从昂贵的学费付出中提炼智慧的苦水,把宪法与法律当真,才能对得起纳税人的劳动与无辜者的伤害,还有历次宪法起草者与修改者的心血。
“重庆模式”的神话从出笼到破灭,都能让我联想起美国近代史上的那个伊斯曼(Max Eestman)。此人曾因为反对美国政府参加第一次世界大战而两度受审,但在第二次世界大战期间,他明确主张美国应当提前准备与英国并肩作战,如果仅仅在经济上援助英国,那就无异于“替身作战”,还很不够,在他看来,二战乃人类历史上唯一的民主主义与极权专制之间的较量。他还经过一番研究,把德、意两国代表的极权主义归纳为20个特点:
1.狭义的家国主义情绪,提高至宗教狂的程度;
2.由一个军队般严格约束的政党,来执掌国家的政权;
3.严厉取缔一切反对政府的意见;
4.把超然的宗教信仰,降低到国家主义的宗教之下;
5.“领袖”是一般信仰的中心,实际上,他也就等同于一个神;
6.提倡反理智反知识,谄媚无知的民众。严惩诚实的思想;
7.毁灭书籍,曲解历史及科学上的真理;
8.废除纯粹寻求真理的科学与学问;
9.以武断代替辩论,由政党控制新闻;
10.使人民限于文化的孤立,对外界真实情况,无从知晓;
11.由政党统制一切艺术;
12.破坏政治上的信义,使用虚妄伪善的手段;
13.政府计划的罪恶;
14.鼓励人民陷害及虐待所谓“公共敌人”;
15.恢复野蛮的家族连坐办法,对待这种“公共敌人”;
16.准备永久的战争,把人民军事化;
17.不择手段的鼓励人口增加;
18.把“劳工阶级对资本主义革命”的口号,到处滥用;
19.禁止工人罢工及抗议,摧毁一切劳工运动;
20.工业、农业、商业,皆受执政党及领袖的统制。
只要把这位美国作者70多年前对极权主义的归纳对照薄、王渲染的“重庆模式”,可知自由、民主是何等珍贵,实行宪政是何等紧迫。
毫无疑问,从反右、文革到其他冤案错案,从毛刘之争、毛林之争到薄王闹剧,重要的不是谁管谁与谁关谁,而是如何尽快落实宪法赋予的人民权利,让人民用选票来逐步管理各级有权者,规则面前人人平等。

五、宪政的客观条件已基本成熟

宪政既是治国成本最低的方式,也是一个国家与国民的脸面。不同的国家固然有着不同的历史文化与国情,需要采用不同的宪政模式与民主标准,不过,维护民权与限制公权则是任何宪政国家和地区不可逾越的基本原则。民主与法治乃人类共有的世界文明遗产,人类的某些惰性只有通过法治来限制,别无他法。
时常有人说,人民的民主素质还不高,如果突然推行民主制,只会带来社会动荡。此论乍看起来很有道理,实则经不起推敲,至少还需回答以下疑点:
一、怎样提高人民的民主素质?是靠没完没了的政治学习来提高,还是在民主的实践中逐步提高?
二、64年来,各级党政机关究竟为提高人民的民主素质做过哪些实事?提高了多少?时常鼓动民众对自己唱颂歌,这并非只是薄熙来的个人行为,它究竟是在提高人民的民主素质,还是相反?
三、人民的民主素质不高是绝对的,还是相对的?既然许多地方的村民都可以参加村委会的选举,那么,大城市的市长与重点院校的校长为何就不能通过选举产生?
较之晚清时期,今天的国情却已大不相同,政治体制改革的风险远不如清朝末年那么大。
首先,清朝是一个以少数民族入主中原的皇朝,它以防范占全国人口多数的汉族作为基本国策,满汉矛盾不仅始终存在,而且随着晚清的衰败与丧权辱国的加剧,反而日益突出,满汉之间互相猜忌,互不信任,满人担心改革会把权力改到汉人那里去,汉人则把满人当作“外国人”(孙中山语),总觉得它没有改革的诚意,不怀好心,只能推翻。今天的中国就不存在这个问题。
其次,自湘军问世以降,中央对军队的控制开始削弱,新军时期尤其是如此,今天的中国却是党军一体,并不存在此类后顾之忧。
第三,晚清时期国库空虚,负债累累,新政的经费投入有限,时常捉襟见肘,今天的中国却是世界第二经济大国,人民的生活水准已有明显改善,人心思稳,而不是人心思反。
第四,教育普及、交通发达的程度已大大超过晚清时期,并不容易把宪法之治变成暴民之治。即便是生活在闽北浙南崇山峻岭的畲族人民,也是村村连公路,通邮政,还有电讯与网络互相联通,可以说,全国范围内已基本没有信息的死角。这给宪政的实施提供了便利。
不仅同清朝末年相比,宪政之施已不存在那么大的政治风险,即使同孙中山、袁世凯与蒋介石主政的时代相比,既无列强侵凌之外患,亦无军阀混战之内忧,尽可励精图治,稳步前行。如果同1949年之后的毛泽东时代相比,亦当大增宪政之信心。比如,毛泽东时代的信息相对闭塞,冷战环境亦不允许从容思考,胜利者的自信容易根据并不对称的信息与战争思维,产生错误的判断,政治运动越动越乱。过去的政治失误可为后人的成熟张本,改革开放30余年的物质财富已为原本脆弱的国力奠基,大学教育从精英化向大众化的转变,知识的社会化与全球信息的普及化,均乃提升国民素质的有效资源,今非昔比。
英国剧作家萧伯纳说:“在这个世界上,取得成功的人是那些努力寻找他们想要机会的人。如果找不到机会,他们就去创造机会。”一代人自有一代人的机遇与挑战,一代人自有一代人的担当与成功。

(作者为同济大学特聘教授、中国政法大学教授)

One thought on “Long-Standing Mistakes in Understanding “A Century of Constitutional Governance”

    […] Long-Standing Mistakes in Understanding “A Century of Constitutional Governance” (Guo Shiyou, Yanhuang Chunqiu, 9 May) […]

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