On Qin Shihuang’s thought of social construction from the remains of the sand dune

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Recently, I read a scholar’s notes on the history of the Qin Dynasty, which mentioned that the Qin Dynasty (referring to the era of the first emperor of Qin) did not “put forward an ideal”, and all the imperial edicts “did not say where the purpose of building a nation is”, so I came to the conclusion that the Qin Dynasty was an empire “without the support of social foundation”. Although this view is supported by the theory of “crossing the Qin Dynasty” in the early Han Dynasty, it is an unfair understanding for the first emperor of Qin Dynasty. In fact, Qin Shihuang was not a tyrant who came out of the history of the Warring States melee, nor could his behavior be completely regarded as the opposite of the Qin society after the reunification. After smashing the old political order, Qin Shihuang also had ideas about the construction of a new social order. However, some historical truths are often hidden in historical details. It is difficult to dig them out without careful experience and specific analysis. Now Gu starts with the imperial edict of the sand dune.

In 210 BC (the 37th year of the first emperor of Qin), after visiting the southeast, the first emperor of Qin who returned to the West died of illness in the sand dunes. The historical records of the first emperor of Qin recorded that before his death, the first emperor of Qin left an imperial edict to his son Fusu: “meet with the funeral and be buried in Xianyang.” It means that Fu Su returned to Xianyang from Shangjun to participate in the funeral. In the biographies of Lisi, this imperial edict also includes the words “Meng Tian, a soldier” and “standing with Xianyang in mourning”, which shows that it is difficult to know the actual state of the imperial edict. Qin Shihuang had more than 20 sons. Hu Hai was the youngest son he loved, and he was beside him at that time. Although Fusu was the eldest son, Qin Shihuang didn’t seem to like him very much. So what exactly did this imperial edict want to express? Zhao Gao saw the mystery. He told Hu Hai that the first emperor’s sole gift of the eldest son book was a clear indication that he would make Fusu emperor. Hu Hai also thought that father meant so. Since then, Zhao Gao, Hu Hai and Lisi conspired to force the death of Fusu and caused a major turning point in the history of the Qin Dynasty, which is familiar to people.

According to historical records, there is no ideological harmony between Qin Shihuang and his eldest son Fusu. For example, Qin Shihuang pit “all living beings” in Xianyang, Fusu once advised. According to historical records, Fusu was “resolute and brave, and believed in people and fought hard”, which seemed very different from the headstrong Qinshihuang, who was “happy to use punishment as a threat”. History books also said that Fusu repeatedly wrote, “discussing current politics”. This contradiction later developed until Qin Shihuang was intolerable and rushed him to the border county to supervise the army. In that case, why did Qin Shihuang hand over the empire he founded to Fusu, the eldest son who was different from his skill in governance, before he died? I think from the personality of Qin Shihuang, the reason why he chose Fusu as his successor may not have much to do with Fusu as his eldest son. The decisive factor is that Qin Shihuang realized in his heart that the Empire needed a ruler who could stabilize the world, and Hu Hai and other sons could not bear this responsibility.

Jia Yi, a political commentator in the early Han Dynasty, believed that the reason for the quick death of Qin was that “it is no different to take and defend”. Therefore, he put forward a very meaningful proposition: “taking and keeping are different techniques”. “Taking” means war, attack and capture, and “guarding” means stability, stability and preservation. Then, in the more than ten years after the reunification of Qin Shihuang, was there only destruction and tyranny in social construction, but no achievements? Did Qin Shihuang not think about the issue of “taking” and “keeping”? The historical facts are quite thought-provoking.

First of all, Qinshihuang had the thought of seeking “unity” in social construction. In the 26th year of Emperor Qinshihuang, Qin destroyed Qi and merged with the world at the beginning. In that year, the first emperor of Qin denied the parallel method of the two social administrative systems of enfeoffment and counties, and adopted a single county system. In this way, the social management in the Empire was completely centralized, and the hereditary aristocracy system and enfeoffment system disappeared. Qin Shihuang himself said that the purpose of doing so was to “seek his tranquility” and achieve “world peace”. In the 26th year of the reign of Emperor Qin Shihuang, “one law weighs stone feet. Cars are on the same track. Books are the same as words”. Here, “one” and “same” are synonymous, that is, “unity”. The thought and behavior of seeking “unity” and “one” are inextricably linked with the society at that time, involving all aspects of society. Whether it is good to seek “sameness” cannot be generalized. It should be analyzed in detail. For example, a unified law is beneficial to society. A unified text, a unified track and road, a unified unit of measurement, and a unified currency are beneficial to society. If it is related to the chaotic historical background of the Warring States period, the benefits will be more. It can be seen that the ruling group headed by Qinshihuang had a lot of research on the Chinese society since the Warring States period, and took decisive measures with a very long-term vision.

For example, unified laws were beneficial and harmless to social governance at that time. Political commentators in the Han Dynasty said that Qin Zhe’s clothes were blocked and his prison became a city. The harsh Qin law turned the society into a big prison. In the past, we didn’t know much about the laws in the early Han Dynasty, so it is inevitable to interpret the remarks of these political commentators one sidedly. However, comparing the laws of the early Han Dynasty unearthed in recent years with the laws of the Qin Dynasty, it is found that the laws of the Qin Dynasty are not as harsh as they say, so it is inappropriate to completely regard the laws of the Qin Dynasty as the antithesis of social stability in the Qin Dynasty. Qin Shihuang talked about the relationship between law and society on many occasions. For example, in the twenty eighth year of the Taishan stone carving, he said that “there is a French way to govern the operation of the Tao, and all industries are appropriate”, in the Langxie stone carving, he said that “the law of all things is balanced, and the discipline of all things”, “in addition to doubt, the law of all things is established, and salty knowledge is established”, and in the twenty ninth year of the non stone carving, he said that “the general application of the Ming Law, the meritorious rule of the world, and the eternal rule of the instrument”, and so on, all of which emphasized that the operation of the whole society, Fair law is the code of conduct of all levels of society, including the common people (“property”). To be honest, there is nothing wrong with such thinking. Qin law is indeed more detailed, but it cannot be equated with strict law. Of course, the Qin law is the law to protect the interests of the exploiting class, but it also embodies the idea of social construction, which is worth studying, especially to distinguish the brutal behavior in the second period from the Qin law.

Secondly, Qin Shihuang did not completely accept the social thought of legalism. Confucianism said that ruling society should emphasize etiquette and morality, while Legalists said that ruling society should rely on law, skill and potential, and “fool the people”. Legalists are hostile to Confucian social thought, which is most typical in Han Fei’s remarks. However, a careful examination of Qin literature found that the first emperor of Qin valued “law” but did not abandon “Confucianism”. In the 28th year of zouyi mountain, Lu Rusheng participated in the discussion. There is also the language of “male and female courtesy and obedience” in the stone carvings of Mount Tai. In the same year, the langye stone carving said that the “Dharma” should “clarify personnel, contract father and son. Sage, benevolence and righteousness, show truth”. Qin Shihuang also emphasized changing customs and creating a “clean and honest” social environment, all of which have traces of Confucian social thought.

Thirdly, Emperor Qinshihuang had the “people-oriented” thought of “timing”. In the newly unearthed lye Qin Bamboo Slips, the Sheriff of Dongting said in the official document issued to the county: “Tian Shi H (also), do not want to revitalize the head of Guizhou,… (revitalize the head of Guizhou) can save less than the province, and those who prosper less than the province, are prone to impeach and move the county, (county) is urgently discussed by laws and decrees.” This article was issued in February of the 27th year of Emperor Qinshihuang, the year after reunification. The official document emphasizes that criminals should be used as much as possible to bear corvee, especially in the busy farming season. People should be cautious when using corvee. If more collection and distribution are made, they should be punished by law immediately. This does not seem to coincide with our impression of the abuse of civilian power in the Qin Dynasty. In fact, this administrative style started from the central government and then spread to the local government. For example, in the twenty-eight years of Langxie stone carving, the first emperor of Qin said that the state should “go to agriculture to eliminate the end, and the head of Guizhou is rich”, “care for the head of Guizhou, and make unremitting efforts day and night”, “when festivals and events come, all industries breed. The head of Guizhou is peaceful, and there is no need for military reform”. Combined with riejane, it can be considered that this idea has been implemented.

This article is not intended to overturn the case for Qin Shihuang, but through the above discussion, it can be seen that after the establishment of the unified Qin Empire, Qin Shihuang also had his own independent thinking and did some things on how to manage this huge society, in addition to being deeply influenced by the Legalists. He wanted to hand over his unfinished business to Fusu. This choice was undoubtedly right, and it just reflected the other side of his thought. However, history has taken a detour here, which is a great pity.

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