The human civilisation is composed of innumerable individuals, countless interest groups and social strata, with each of them following the fundamental instinct – striving to maximise their own well-being by obtaining as many benefits as they can and averting as much cost as possible. Unfortunately for humankind, for one to improve one’s life, competing with others is unavoidable. Competitions, by definition, means the winners get something at the expense of others. The good news is that competition among people is not a constant-sum game, that is to say, theoretically, if we can reallocate resources, rights and duties in a certain way, the humankind may benefit maximally. In the most ...view middle of the document...
Inevitably, these rulers of a state do not only play roles of rulers. They are also pleasure-driven human beings, bound by their emotions and self-love; they are also obliged to their families. It is conceivable that these obligations may contradict one another, and when it so happens, the rulers will be like standing at the fork in the road. This is the problem I address as the problem of multiple identities.
Huang’s Confucian school
In Huang’s view, a ruler’s duty to the state is very huge. The emperor of a state is never an easy role to play. He should not rule in accord to the interest of himself, but to the interest of all #(原君, para. 2). His returns may not be proportionate to the sweat and blood he dedicates. He is supposed to be a selfless coordinator and arbitrator of the state. His officials are naturally obliged to both the ruler and to the benefits of all under the heaven.
Huang proposes a solution to the problem by utilising “schools”. In his theory, Confucian scholars serve as consultants for and critics of the political circle. They provide advice to and criticise the emperor and his officials on a monthly basis. Through debates and reasoning, the “school” may uncover the blind spots and mistakes in current governance. #(學校, para. 21, 23) Therefore, the likelihood of the emperor or officials exploiting their power for the sake of their private interest is lowered.
The highest principles drawn up by Rousseau
Huang’s western counterpart, Rousseau, explains the nature of the executive branch of the state in Book III, and the nature of the legislature in Book II. I will only discuss the job of legislators here. The best legislators, according to Rousseau, should have the intelligence of “beholding all the passions of men without experiencing any of them”. (Book II, Chapter VII, para. 41). They need to decide what is good for the state and are responsible for reallocating resources for the people. (para. 43) The legislators should work independently, not only serving certain interest groups in society, for the sake of justice. This principle is to forbid concurrent command over both the law and man. (Book II, Chapter VII, para. 44)
Different from Huang’s idea that the emperor is still superior, Rousseau’s theory about politics assumes there is an ever-righteous General Will. Rousseau’s solution to the problem is based on this belief. He argues that the General Will is the only binding force that can be exerted on the individuals, so a law bill drawn by a however intelligent legislator, which is a particular will of an individual cannot become law before being authorised by the sovereignty. (Book II, Chapter VII, para. 47) The separation of power of drawing a law bill and legislation will therefore prevent the self-interest of the legislator impeding the collective welfare. Because General Will is the aggregation of many individual wills, it is possible to verify if a law bill proposed is in line with the General Will by...