How did Shang Yang change from a reformer to a public enemy of the people?

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Reading the biography of Shang Yang in historical records, Shang Yang is a respectable, pitiful and pitiful figure.

It is respectable because he has a firm will, a persistent ideal and a broad vision. He has been resolute and resolute since he started his work, and he is determined to go his own way regardless of the consequences. He has all the advantages that a reformer should have, and he also has Qin Xiaogong’s unswerving trust. For more than 20 years, he has set about, put his heart on, and let his sharp knife cut and gouge out the weak and sickly body of the state of Qin. He has really made a great career here, making successive generations of poor and weak state of Qin leap to the forefront of the feudal states, and the spearhead is irresistible, “The princes folded their laps and faced the wind from the west” (sang Hongyang), which laid the political, ideological and military foundation for the unification of the six states by Qin Dynasty. Ten years after the emperor Shang Xiangqin, the records of the historian recorded that: “the Qin people were happy, the Tao was not found, there were no thieves in the mountains, their families were sufficient, the people were brave in public war, were afraid of private struggle, and the town was governed greatly.”

Regrettably, it is because he is a person who is good at doing things but not good at dealing with himself. In other words, he can do great things but can only be a villain. Be practical and mean. Good for the country; It is clumsy to plan for oneself. Do great things in a mean way, and when things are done, people fail. Guo Moruo thinks that both he and Qin Xiaogong are selfless people (by the way, the word “clear public and private” first appeared in the book of Shang Jun). In fact, Xiaogong also has selfishness for his descendants, and Shang Jun has really dedicated everything. The third strategy of the Warring States · Qin recorded that the later Ying Hou fan Sui said Shang Yang:

Being filial to the Duke, he tried his best not to be ambivalent and devoted himself to serving the Duke regardless of his own interests. He made the rewards and punishments honest to bring about the great rule of the country. He used his intelligence and expressed his ideas. He did not hesitate to bear resentment, deceived his old friends, captured the Duke of Wei, ang, and finally helped the state of Qin capture the enemy. He would defeat the enemy and plunder thousands of miles

[original text: being filial to the public, having no difference in body, being loyal to rewards and punishments and not paying back private affairs, trusting rewards and punishments to rule, exhausting intelligence, showing emotion, getting blame, bullying old friends, seizing Prince ang of Wei, and dying for Qin bird (capture) to defeat the enemy, bustling the land for thousands of miles…]

Shang Yang really came to the point of sacrificing his conscience. For the sake of Qin, he abandoned his reputation and personality. When a person converts to a political entity to the point of “no self”, the tragedy begins. After all, there are more basic principles for human beings to settle down. This concerns the foundation of human dignity, value and happiness. It is a commitment between man and God, which can not be replaced and overridden by all temporary political needs. Guo Moruo could not understand this: “although the war is not averse to fraud and each person is the main force, it can be shocking to betray friends and the country like that.” After the death of Qin Xiaogong, the prince who had been punished by Shang Yang ascended the throne and became the new master. The wind was getting tighter, and the ominous clouds were getting thicker and thicker. Shang Yang, who had asked to retire and lived in seclusion in his own fief, was like a thorn in the side of his back. In a panic, he took his family and his mother to return to the state of Wei. The Wei people didn’t accept it. The reason was: “because you can betray your old friend, young master ang, who cheated you. We can’t know your character.” What is more ironic is that since Shang Yang made Qin powerful, the vassal states did not dare to offend Qin and no one dared to take him in. “Lu’s spring and Autumn Annals – Chapter of no righteousness” commented on this: “therefore, scholars can’t go without trial.” Betraying conscience to join politics and abandoning values to cater to power and influence is indeed a kind of “altruism” that Chinese intellectuals have often experienced for thousands of years.

It’s pitiful. It’s the end of his car crack. When he was cornered by the vengeful crowd, his native country refused to accept him, so he had to take a few of his followers north to attack Zheng and fight hopelessly. He probably wanted to run a shelter outside the Qin Dynasty. He knew that he had no place in Qin. Those official titles, titles, and the fiefs of Shang Yu’s fifteen cities all disappeared in an instant. All the vassal states closed their doors to him, like the God of plague. Behind him was the childe Qian, who had his nose cut off and had been shut up for eight years, gnashing his teeth at him; In front of us were walls erected on all sides. There was a voice saying “no”. The world was so big and vast that there were no friends except those desperate followers. He had ignored the value of friends and trampled on the basic way of being friends. When an individual has no independent will and independent management, abandons all basic moral principles and adheres to the system, what the system can give you, of course, can also be taken away. All top-down reforms will inevitably result in the death of the government (if there is no external pressure or external pressure to say “no”). Is it true that Shang Yang, who is extremely smart, doesn’t know that this day will come? Five months before he was cracked by a car, Zhao Liang warned him: “once the king of Qin donates guests and does not establish a dynasty, why does the state of Qin accept the monarch? Death can be waited for.” Once the old king of Qin dies, the state of Qin will arrest you on charges. Will there be fewer people? Your death will soon come! Five months later, the poor, desperate and abandoned Shang Jun was killed in the Strider pool of the state of Zheng, and his body was brutally cracked (according to the historical records of Shang Yang and the Qin Benji, it seems that the car was cracked directly). Gnashing their teeth, the Avengers killed Shang Yang’s family, including his white haired mother. At this time, Shang Yang dedicated his own life and the life of the whole family to the state of Qin. The name of his crime is really very black humor: “nothing like a business King’s villain!” A loyal man who gave up his conscience and life finally got the charge of “rebellion”! When Shang Yang saw his white haired mother’s blood splashing the butcher’s knife, what was the idea of this selfless person?

Therefore, I really can’t bear to speak ill of Shang Yang. In fact, in my heart, I pay him great respect. When I read that he had no choice but to look up to the sky and sigh, I also held a handful of sad tears for him. However, after reading the book of Shang Jun, I had to speak ill of him. Fortunately, the book of Shang Jun is not necessarily written by Shang Jun. Mr. gaoheng thinks that at least five of them are not his, while Guo Moruo thinks that except for the book of inside China, the rest are not written by Shang Jun. In this way, when I write the following words, my feelings are not very awkward – let me deceive myself. Shang Yang in records of the historian and Shang Yang in book of the Shang Jun really give me two very uncoordinated images. If Shang Yang in the historical records is respectable, pitiable and pitiable, then the image of Shang Yang in the book of Shang Jun makes me afraid, hate and hate.

In fact, Sima Qian’s attitude towards Shang Jun was ambiguous. When writing about Shang Yang’s actions and political achievements, Taishigong hardly uttered any derogatory words, and even said “Qin people are happy”. At the same time, it is also suspicious to write a large section of Shang Yang’s filial piety to the emperor, and then he had to use domineering words. “It’s not the quality of a man who wants to do filial piety and use imperial skills to coerce Fu.” This can not but be said to have excused Shang Yang. However, in the routine “Taishi gongyue” after the biography, he said that Shang Yang was “a man with poor talent”, “Shao en” and “a man with a bad reputation in the Qin Dynasty!” Isn’t this a bit of schadenfreude!


The book of Shang Jun, in a word, refers to one people and two people. This is my conclusion after reading the dry, cold and unreasonable book of Shang Jun.

One people, according to my analysis, has two meanings. One is that the country only needs one kind of “people” – people who plough and fight. They plow in peacetime and attack the enemy in wartime. Others, such as “learning people”, “business people”, “skilled people” (listed in the chapter on agricultural warfare), “scholars”, “people who eat with words”, and “benefiting the people” (listed in the chapter on going strong), are all “lice” that harm the country. They should have no way to go, thus forcing them to fall into the path of “agricultural warfare”. Second, the people only do one thing: Agricultural warfare. Agriculture and war seem to be two things, but in fact they are one thing. The people are the body, the agriculture and war are the use, and the two functions are integrated. Its purpose is to establish an absolutely unified society, simplify, simplify and vertical social structure, monotone social life, and controlled by an absolute center:

“Reward punishment” says:

The governance of saints is a reward, a punishment and an education.

[original text: the sage is the country, one reward, one punishment and one religion.] ?

“Land calculation” says:

Internally, the people are required to engage in agriculture; Externally, the people are required to make every effort to fight… Only when the people have the same inclination can they be willing to work in agriculture. The people are simple in farming. The people are simple, so they live in their native land and do not want to go out and wander.

[original text: as an envoy to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to the people, as an ambassador to

The purpose of “one people” is, of course, to make the people “simple”, that is, simple and obedient. The specific measures of “one people” are to start from the one yuan of economy (interest) and then reach the one yuan of politics and Religion:

“Talking about the people” says:

There are thousands of desires of the people, but there is only one way to satisfy them (agricultural warfare).

[original text: the desire of the people is ten thousand, but the profit is one.]

The desires of the people vary greatly, but we only let them be achieved through one channel: Agricultural war. This is the advantage of centralization of power that all autocratic countries like to preach: it can concentrate all the forces of society in one way, so as to achieve the goals that ordinary democratic countries cannot achieve. As for how many ordinary people are deeply traumatized and pay the price, it does not matter, and the wishes of the people are completely ignored.

Jin Ling said:

If we stick to the ten principles, the country will be in chaos; If we set a policy, the country will govern.

[original text: those who keep ten are chaotic, and those who keep one are governed.]

When Lilu of the imperial court comes out of a hole, the country is invincible.

[original text: the country is invincible if profits are exhausted.]

The agricultural war says:

One year after the implementation of “absolute uniformity”, the country will be strong and prosperous in ten years; Ten years of “absolute uniformity” will lead to a century of prosperity; A century of “absolute uniformity” will lead to a millennium of prosperity. A country that has been strong for a millennium will become a king. ?

[original text: the kingdom is one year old, ten years old, ten years old, 100 years old, one hundred years old, a thousand years old, a thousand years old king.]

This practice of using the state machine to highly unify the will of the whole people to the government’s goals may have its short-term rationality and effectiveness, but its fatal weakness cannot be ignored in any case:

1? This practice ignores all individual will and individual differences, makes the social goal single, despises and erases the individual goal of any special individual. Individual happiness is crushed as an illegitimate desire and an obstacle to the national collective. Individuals are only means and tools to achieve the government’s goals. Like the “people” in the book of Shang Jun, they are only tools produced by the state and tools of war. Only the value of use, but not the significance of being concerned. As an individual, in such a society, he is just a helpless part of a machine and has no independent value and dignity. Not only is his spiritual existence completely wiped out as useless and harmful things, but even the rationality of his physical existence depends on whether he can act as a government tool. Therefore, in this case, even if the government goal is completely ethical and in line with the fundamental and long-term interests of the whole people or the overwhelming majority of the whole people, it still runs counter to the fundamental well-being of mankind, and there can be no real individual happiness. A society without individual happiness but only order and the will of the government can only be said to be a prison or a reform through labor camp. The prison set up by Shang Yang in the state of Qin was even more unique: he did not allow anyone to deliver food to criminals. He said that this would make people afraid of prison and seriously reclaim farmland (reclamation order), which was really extermination. However, we can think about it this way: if we do not reclaim land, we will go to prison. The arbitrary decision of the government has made reclaiming land no longer a matter for the benefit of the people, but a terrible threat to people’s lives from the very beginning. On the other hand, the prison only acts as a deterrent to the good people outside the prison when there is no food. This just proves that the difference between the state of Qin under the administration of Shang Yang and the prison is that there is no bread. The society of the state of Qin is just a prison with bread (if the people of the state of Qin can have bread to eat). The good people, like the criminals, have no freedom. There can be no personal happiness in such a country. Except for slaves, of course. There are only two kinds of people in an autocratic country: slaves who feel pain for the system but have to obey it; A slave who loses pain or even happiness because of long-term obedience. Slaves have no happiness, only the feeling of happiness, even hallucinations. There is a very interesting phenomenon: in the autocratic era or autocratic countries, people are often particularly keen to discuss or advocate the subjectivity of happiness. However, the objectivity of happiness, the social conditions required by happiness, is intentionally ignored. This discussion of happiness is a typical servile philosophy or a philosophy of intentional flattery.

2? In an authoritarian society, the rationality of government objectives can not be guaranteed, and even most of the time it is only the will of a small group of people. Therefore, the high degree of unity of the will of the whole people often turns into a kind of alien monster. Not only is every individual living in it swallowed up by it, but this kind of national power is very likely to turn a country into a scourge of all mankind when it “acts in concert with the outside world”. The state of Qin was generally known as the “land of tigers and wolves” in the classics of the pre Qin period. When reading the “territory” in the book of Shang Jun, the whole article was written with bloody “beheading”. The Central Plains tradition of “not chasing the north, not capturing two hairs” was swept away in the post reform Qin state. According to the historical records, the Qin Dynasty killed more than 1.5 million people in the six countries in the process of reunification. This does not include the death toll of Qin’s own soldiers. Such a cruel figure as Bai Qi is also a general of Qin. It can be said that the state of Qin brutally trampled on some basic humanitarian principles. This phenomenon was not only fully demonstrated in the state of Qin in the Warring States period, but also in the German and Japanese fascists during the Second World War.

“One people” has another function, that is, to create a vertical relationship between the upper and lower levels in the whole society and cut off all horizontal parallel relations, which is the basic composition of all autocratic politics. At the top of this vertical relationship, there is only one person: the king. As Montesquieu said, “an autocratic regime has neither laws nor regulations, and is led by a single person according to his own will and capricious temperament.” Here I would like to say something about Shang Jun’s attack on the clan dignitaries of the Qin state. Of course, we will not sympathize with the clans, but if we do not look at the problem from a moral point of view, we will find that the purpose of cracking down on these clans with hereditary economic and political privileges is actually for the purpose of monarchy! Wuqi, Li Ying and Quyuan all did such work. We know from the section “summoning the Duke to admonish King Li” in the book of history · book of Zhou · Hong Fan chapter and the national language · language of Zhou that the regime of the Zhou Dynasty should be an aristocratic democracy, and the “son of heaven” of the head of State Administration must listen to and consider the opinions of all parties and accept the constraints of all parties. However, once this constraint is rejected, such as king li of Zhou, the result is not that King li of Zhou wantonly suppressed it and burned jade and stone in the end, resulting in the collapse of the dynasty (this is the basic model for the change of dynasties in China’s later feudal society), but that King li of Zhou was exiled and the Duke of Zhou and the Duke of Zhao jointly ruled. The son of heaven is the only one who has changed, and there is no great shock in the society. This situation is due to the restriction mechanism of power, which is restricted by the aristocratic group. Therefore, in order to implement the feudal autocratic monarchy, we must first overthrow the aristocratic group and remove the restriction of the aristocratic group on the monarchy. Therefore, whether Shang Jun, Li Zhe or Wu Qi, they took the fight against aristocratic groups as the only way and necessary means to achieve political monism, which of course formed the life and death contradiction between “magicians” and “ministers” (clan members) later described by Han Fei.

Therefore, “one people” is a big utopian fantasy, and all utopias are ultimately characterized by a monistic society. If a country is like the Shangjun book, in a nutshell, the best politics is the criminal law, and the best country is the prison. In fact, an absolutely unified monistic society is a big prison to the letter. All the people are prisoners of reform through labor. They work under the instructions of the state, reform through labor, earn a living, create national wealth, and maintain the survival of the country. However, individuals themselves have only obligations and no substantive rights.

“Saying the people” openly says: “the king, the country does not accumulate strength, the family does not accumulate millet.” If the country does not conserve its strength, it will exhaust the people’s livelihood. Sometimes it will launch wars to “kill” people; If a family does not accumulate millet, it is to deprive all private property and squeeze all the people’s fat and cream, so as to destroy all independent personalities and ideas, eliminate all notes that are not harmonious with the state machine, and eliminate all heresies!

Therefore, the state of Qin under the administration of Shang Yang, of course, had a very strong offensive power and was successful in the disputes among other countries, but it had no happiness for the people. It is a great misfortune to live in such a country. Shang Yang’s governance of Qin Dynasty had the merit of “the son of heaven sends greetings to the princes” (“historical records”) externally, but internally he could not help but “the old mother cries and laments” (on salt and iron – non Yang chapter). In the book of Shang Jun, there is an article “laimin”. At least 80 years after Shang Yang’s death, it is written that there are many people in the three Jin Dynasties but lack of land, and there are few people in the Qin Dynasty but surplus land. Why did the people in the three jin dynasties not come to the state of Qin? It is because “the Qin scholars are suffering.” Therefore, the three Jin Dynasties (Zhao, Wei and Han) could not defeat the state of Qin for four generations… In wars of all sizes, the wealth of the three Jin Dynasties looted by Qin was also innumerable. But even so, the people of Sanjin still did not yield to Qin. The state of Qin could plunder the land of Sanjin by force, but could not get the people of Sanjin.

[original text: the three Jin Dynasties are invincible to Qin. Four generations have passed… There are countless people who died in Qin in the big and small war. If you refuse to accept this, Qin can take their land, not their people.]

Finally, Shang Yang, who was hated by the whole state of Qin, said, “the chariot of King Hui broke, but the people of Qin did not pity him” (Warring States policy – Qin policy I). ?

“One people” has another serious consequence. Of course, this is the goal pursued by autocrats and all nationalists, that is, to eliminate private space and create a transparent society. Everyone is under the close surveillance of the state and others. Shang Yang practiced the registered residence system, set up the Wushi system, practiced the method of sitting together, and advocated the wind of reporting. Let the residents picket each other and monitor each other. Give a heavy reward for denouncing a traitor; If they do not report the traitor, they will be severely punished. Within Shiwu, one person is guilty, and others are jointly and severally guilty. If the people are not brave in the war, they will be executed by themselves, and their parents, brothers and wives will sit down together. Anyone who accuses an official of being a traitor may inherit the position of the official who accuses him of being a traitor. Even –

The highest state of governing the country is to enable husband, wife and friends not to cover up their crimes and mistakes, but not to hinder their honesty to the country because of their close relationship. The people cannot conceal or cover up each other.

[original text: to rule, husband, wife and friends should not abandon evil to cover up evil, but not harm their relatives. People should not hide from each other. (“forbidden envoy”)

Even couples and friends have to report to each other without being moved by family ties. It is a very transparent society. In the same article, it was also mentioned that in order to really let people report to each other, we must avoid the relationship of the same interests, because the same interests will shield each other, so we should make everyone “combine things and benefit from differences”, and use people’s self-interest to harm others and report on others. How vicious is it?

The painting strategy gives us a picture of a transparent society. This paragraph is so refined that I can’t bear to leave it out. It’s all cited below:

Insight means seeing everything. So the officials would not dare to be traitors, and the people would not dare to be wrongdoers. The emperor sat on the high chair, listening to the music of silk and bamboo, and the world was naturally in order. The so-called insight means that the people have to do what the emperor wants them to do. The so-called power of a monarch is to defeat all the people in the world. By defeating the people of the world, we can concentrate the strength of the people of the world. Therefore, the brave dare not do anything violent and rebellious, and the wise dare not do anything fraudulent and disloyal. They will think all day about how to serve the monarch. No one in the world dares not to do what the monarch likes, and no one dares not to do what the monarch does not like. The so-called power means that brave and powerful people have to be loyal to themselves.

[original text: the so-called bright one sees everything. Then the officials dare not act evil, and the people dare not act wrong. The so-called bright one makes the people have to do it. The so-called strong one wins the world. Winning the world is the result of joint efforts. It is the result of being brave and strong, not daring to be violent, and the sage and knowing not daring to be deceitful. And the people in the world dare not be liked by them, but avoid their evil. The so-called strong one makes the brave force have to be their own Use.]

What a terrible sight this is! The tyrant sits on the top of the throne and is at the central hub of the world, just like a giant poisonous spider in the center of a cobweb. He can keenly capture any slight information. This reminds me of George Orwell’s famous work 1984: the ruling party of the “ocean country” is an “inner party”, and the leader of the “inner party” is “big brother”. Big brother never shows up, but his photos are posted everywhere. His bright eyes are watching over his subjects. The private rooms of his subjects are equipped with an “electronic screen”, which can watch, listen, and give orders. Every move and word in the room is watched by this electronic screen. In peacetime, nothing happens, and the electronic screen endlessly broadcasts the march of the army, political slogans, and so on. This electronic screen is controlled by a central hub and cannot be turned off by individuals

Everything Orwell wrote was designed by Chinese Shang Yang more than 2000 years ago! But Shang Yang did not have today’s technology at that time, and his means of picketing were not so modern!

If the development and progress of society do not keep pace with the progress of science and technology, science and technology can only become the accomplice of autocracy, but can not bring benefits to mankind. It just provides more convenient means of ruling for autocrats!

The ultimate goal of social transparency and the run on private space is to control people, so that people “dare not do wrong” and “have to do what the monarch (often in the name of the national collective) requires. It is to win the world with one person or group and occupy all the wisdom, wisdom, courage and other social public resources in the world. “Dare not do” is the prohibition of freedom; “Having to do” means depriving even the right to silence. “Not daring to do” and “having to do” speak most clearly about the overall deprivation of people by autocratic politics!

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