|A Philosophical Analysis of World/Empire in terms of All-under-heaven(天下)
|Transcultura Series of Le Robert
Empire and Peace
A Philosophical Analysis of World/Empire
in terms of All-under-heaven(天下)
Professor of Institute of Philosophy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
1. The World is still a Non-World
Our supposed world is still a non-world.
The global has not yet become a world for its long lasting Hobbesian situation, something of the chaos before organized to be the kosmos, for there is not a real coherent world society under a universally accepted world-institution. To organize the global into a world seems the good general will of peoples. A world institution supported by a new philosophy for the world is apparently needed. The construction of the world seems to have two possible and available patterns as a world-empire and a union of all nations. But both of these two patterns, unfortunately, have suffered a lot of untamed difficulties that make the \"world\" to remain just as an empty word rather than a fact. It is of no doubt that the historical accidents and limitations could be accounted guilty for all their failures. But historical interpretations are not enough to reveal our poor philosophical preparation for the political concept of the world, which must be recognized as the deep reason for the failure of the world. We had better to be aware of the truth that our problem is the failed world rather than some so-called failed states in the world. And none of countries could always be successful if the world is made a failed one.
A provoking question, quite relevant to the issue wherein I am discussing, had been put forward by Martin Wight as \"why is there no international theory?\" in 19661. In his very interesting paper, Wight argued that we had not prepared the qualified international theories but instead only the so called \"political theories\" that were actually merely about the domestic politics of states and some poor parerga about the problems of international \"balance of powers\" or something like that. He implied that people did not really know what internationality was. I am afraid that Wight would have had changed his criticism if he had had learnt the Chinese theory of world politics in terms of all-under-heaven, which focuses on the world-ness rather than internationality though it is included at any rate. And I will argue later that internationality is not a best horizon to understand the world politics. Perhaps Wight\'s question could be improved as \"why is there no world theory?\" now that we have a new background termed globalization as well as new empire.
It is not surprising that the problem of empire has become a hot focus today, considering the fact that \"empire is materializing before our very eyes\" as Hardt and Negri said in the first line of their noted book Empire2. Hardt and Negri impressively argue that the emerging new empire is a sort of global empire inheriting but rehashing, by means of the globalization, the ancient empire that accepts no limited boundaries, such as a Roma empire in a new pose. But we should further realize the complicated composition of new empire inheriting not simply the ancient ideal of empire but also both the modern imperialism based on the nation/states with the ideology of nationalism and Christian empire with the ideology of cultural universalism as well as the Leo Straussian neo-conservatism of a militarism and religious fundamentalism. In short, American empire is trying to reshape the concept of empire in advantage of all dangerous possibilities. It has made the concept of empire a paradox of launching wars in name of peace and destroying liberty and democracy in name of liberty and democracy3. Another most important but still vague thing is the European revival, called \"the rebirth of Europe\", that has been strongly claimed and urged recently. What a united Europe would become is still a question. It would be hopeful for it to become a strong but peaceful union as an example of a grand community rather than another superpower4.
Globalization is leading to a new age but it has prepared no new concepts or ideas for it, remaining in rather than out of the game of nation/states, enhancing international or intercultural conflicts rather than the universal interests and benefits, so that we are still not able to develop a universal concept of peoples of the world. Just as there is the global rather than the world, there are only peoples of nations rather than the peoples of the world. In fact, the world today has been misled by some American made discriminating illusions such as the \"clash of civilizations\", the \"rogue states\" and \"failed states\", which are illegally legitimating the American empire\'s wrong leadership and unjust rule of the world so that making the world into a failed world that is much worse than a failed state. A failed state could be saved by the world, but a failed world could ruin all in the world. We must seriously face the problem of a failed world before too late to have the last chance. Philosophically speaking, the failed world is due to our ignorance of the world qua a world and peoples as peoples.
The modernized western empire is the dominance in a world system, as Wallerstein had analyzed in his The Modern World System5, in which one or a group of powerful nation/states has its political, economical and cultural dominance over the less powerful nation/states. It could be said that, essentially, all kinds of western empires are the empires in terms of dominance. But we must recognize that the capacity and potentiality of the concept of empire has not yet been exhausted. For instance, the western empire would be considered an unacceptable one in Chinese philosophy, for the Chinese concept of empire defines the empire in terms of order(治). Now it indicates a new resource for remaking the concept of empire, which would be a contribution of both theoretical importance and practical advantages to the future of the world. But it is quite a pity that the Chinese theory of empire has been almost totally neglected and remained unknown to the world because of the western dominance in discourse and knowledge, though many people have leant there had existed a huge Chinese empire lasting for several thousands years.
A world must be in order otherwise all things in the world will get out of their proper positions and into conflicts. Chinese philosophy seems to have a born skepticism to the theory of winner for it sees the truth that a winner would lose all things when he had made nothing of the others. The possibilities of creating the order of world have been considered theoretically, though not yet proved, either a form of world-empire or of a union of all nations under a sort of world government. It seems no other better choice. In the centuries gone, some ambitious western superpowers had tried in vain to set up world order by means of imperialism or a kind of supremacy called \"leadership\". And in the last decades the United Nations, a pretended world agency, has also tried in vain to get the world out of disorder. Because of the rapid globalization speeding up all kinds of crisis, the world order has become a more and more urgent problem. And it is worth notice that the order of the world is now distorted into the dominance over the world in terms of America\'s interests and ideology.
It is sure that a lot of accidental causes and historical conditions should be responsible for all the failures in creating a world order since history is always a story gone wrong and defeating our good will, but the failures must be fundamentally considered due to the lack of a philosophy of the world for sake of the world its own, that is, a philosophy of the world in the view of the world standard instead of a domestic view. Surprisingly, not to mention a well-prepared philosophy for the world society, it seems that peoples have even no such an intention, neither consciously nor unconsciously, to consider the world for its own sake. Instead, the usual understanding of the world has always been confined in national interests. As known, the most available ideologies of the world today are still either the universalism, essentially the aggressive nationalism, as the dominant strategy for the national interests of the most developed countries, or the pluralism, essentially the resistive nationalism, as the realistic strategy for the local interests of the less developed nations. And such a strategy profile of universalism versus pluralism leads to a Nash\'s equilibrium preventing us from any Pareto\'s improvement in world peace, common benefits and reciprocal development. It indicates that there are only the philosophies of the world for national interests rather than the philosophy for the world on behalf of the universal interests. The failure of world politics is finally the failure of philosophy.
It is necessary to highlight the subtle but crucial difference between the philosophy for and that of the world for it has the very relevance to the legitimacy of a world-view (weltanschauung). Logically speaking, everyone could have a philosophy of the world in his own horizon, and in the same way, a nation could have a philosophy of the world, seeing the world in the horizon of the national interests. But we have to realize the philosophies of the world are still the ignorance of the world qua the world. We do not enjoy a world because of our refusal of a world-view representing the world its own.
It is here wherein good for entering our discussion about Chinese philosophy for the world in terms of a theory of empire. It will be argued that Chinese political philosophy could offer a way of finding a solution to the chaotic situation of the world today, further more, providing us an alternative framework of philosophical analysis of political problems, which has remained unfamiliar to the western.
2.A Framework of Political Philosophy in terms of All-under-heaven
The Chinese key concept, all-under-heaven(天下), has the triple meanings as the land of the world, all peoples in the world and a world institution all together in one word, indicating a theoretical project of the necessary and inseparable connections among the three things by its semantic trinity6. All-under-heaven is thus made to be a thick concept7, if I could call it as such, which structurally enjoys multiple and synthetic meanings. A thick concept always possesses not only a syndrome of meanings in its semantic sphere, but also a philosophical grammar implicatively defining the philosophical relations of all the meanings involved. As far as the concept \"all-under-heaven\" is concerned, \"the world\", \"peoples\" and \"a world institution\" make the reciprocally conditioning relations such as that, to be roughly described, the world of physical order would not be a world of humanized order unless it is considered a political entity ruled by a world institution reflecting the general will thus universally accepted and supported by the peoples8. In other words, the world is made to be a world if and only if there is a world institution, which is constituted to follow the general heart of peoples, to create the oneness of the world.
The conception of world in terms of all-under-heaven is thus a world-view by which the world is understood a unity of the physical world (land), the psychological world (the general heart of peoples) and the political world (an world institution). In such a unity all the factors are the necessary conditions of each other and reciprocally fit well in coincidence, so that it is made a complete set of worlds. Philosophically speaking, a world-view is qualified if and only if it is complete in its meanings, and consequently, a complete world would not exist if it has not yet realized its full meanings. In this sense, the global must be said still a non-world, for it has not yet enjoyed a world institution representing the general heart of peoples in the world. Linguistically, \"world-view\" is a western and mainly German term after all, so the Chinese world-view must be termed the view of all-under-heaven as it is, which especially emphasizes the political characteristic of a world-view.
The concept of all-under-heaven has established a world-measure of the width of the world. That is to say, the issues and affairs of the world should be analyzed and measured by the world-standard rather than by a nation-standard and in the world context rather than a local perspective. It is an epistemological principle defined by Lao-zi (老子) as \"from the standard of all-under-heaven to understand the affairs of all-under-heaven\"9, or in modernized words, \"the world should be seen from a view of world-size\". It further indicates a political epistemology probably reminding us of the difference between phronesis and episteme made by Aristotle. And it shows much of the way of Chinese thinking, in which the world is considered a political entity more than a scientific object.
Chinese epistemology was always the political epistemology for Chinese minds were inclined to investigate the society while imagine the nature, taking it as something to follow and beyond analysis. The Chinese preference to political knowledge had been so dominating that Chinese minds had very little interest in the truths of the nature and consequently rarely made contributions to theoretical sciences. It has been believed that the political/ethical investigations are more important than the sciences. The Chinese argument of it could go like this: the world is consisted of things (物) and facts(事), but only the facts, as what have been done10, are what determine our lives therefore the real problems with which we must dealt, while the things are merely what we have to accept as they were and thus not the problems at all. Briefly, the nature is what should be let be, while the society what should be made to be. To consider that the problems of facts are those of the relations of human beings, the problems of the world are thus found to be essentially the political/ethical.
If a philosophy must have its meta-theoretical concern with the problems of the meta-ness of something, Chinese philosophy must be said to have its inclination to develop the meta-theories as the met-ideologies of facts in terms of the key words such as all-under-heaven, hearts, relations and happiness, whereas western philosophies have engaged in the meta-physics of things in terms of truth, mind, logic and existence. The concept of truth, for instance, is nothing at all to a typical Chinese philosophy. What matters a lot is the appropriate or proper relations to be kept with the nature and with the other human beings. In fact, everything should be described or evaluated in terms of \"relations\", otherwise nothing could be said a thing so and so. For instance, we will find someone a friendly person when we treat him friendly, and in other cases we might have an opposite knowledge of him if we treat him wrongly. It is therefore the relations instead of the essence that does define the reality. The investigation of human relations is considered, in the Chinese point of view, the foundation for the science of politics.
It is apparent that Chinese philosophy has been politically and ethically oriented, mainly because of its dominating political epistemology. From the point of view of political epistemology, the social knowledge of the world is even more important than the scientific. And everything must be considered political because of its inevitable involvement in human relations that always cause political problems. The assumption of \"all is political\" is strongly implicative, leading to the imagination of the complete political system of the world. The basic principles of the Chinese political epistemology, as I have understood and developed it, could be briefly described as follows:
1. The priority and a priority of the world institution
As usually thought, every political entity could not enjoy its order and peace unless it has an effective internal institution to prevent it from the anarchy. But it is not so simple. Everything has been thrown into a wider context so that it has no chance to be at large when the world is in anarchy. The problems of chaos will still remain among all political units even if all of them are under the rational governance. The internal institution is therefore definitely not sufficient for a political entity to enjoy its order and peace by its own, and the external institution is necessarily needed. That is, a political unit should be included in a greater political system to be ensured of its external circumstance. In other words, an inferior unit is always contained in thus to be guaranteed of its order and peace by its superior. Logically, none of political entities could be immune from the governance by a superior unless it is itself the highest and greatest. And a political system could be proved to be the highest and greatest if and only if it is universal so that it has no more external institution but only the internal institution because of nothing excluded outside. \"All included\" or \"nothing excluded\"(无外)11is exactly the Chinese standard of the completeness and absoluteness of a political system, which implies the necessity of a world institution.
Everything of nature is ordered in advantage of the general order of the nature, in the same way, every fact could be ordered by means of the general order of the world. The universal political system of the world, as the highest and largest political system to create the general order, is therefore necessary to have its universal institution of the world to be responsible to the world peace. The point is that the world institution is the necessary general condition and insurance of all the inferior political institutions, on this reason the priority of world institution is thus argued. And it further means that the world institution is of its a priority since the world is there.
It is the very Chinese principle of politics that a world institution is absolutely necessary since the world is there in need of being controlled, and the world institution as well as the world order should be of the top priority, especially priori to any inferior institution such as a state. It is the world rather than the state that is the foundation for political philosophy. And the concept of state must be a wrong starting point of political thinking. The world is thus understood as an absolute political entity, a highest entity with the leadership upon any lower level political entity. The most important point is, the world must be understood as a world shared by all peoples. It would be a fundamental mistake to make the world of a state, or to universalize a state onto the world.
Chinese theory of the world precisely insists on the dependence relations of political systems as the political priority from the superior down to the inferior, since the world institution is, as argued above, the necessary condition and insurance for any inferior institution such as nation/state, city/state or any other political community. The Chinese project of political systems in terms of the dependence relations, divided and ranked as all-under-heaven, states and families(天下，国，家)12, is quite different from the western division as nation/states, communities and individuals. It looks an up-side-down formation in comparison to the western. And it could be a significant contribution to political philosophy and political science especially because of its grand framework of political analysis, in which the political problems and values are differently defined and understood.
The western political philosophy would be said an incomplete one, if understood from the Chinese view of the division of political entities as all-under-heaven, states and families, for the absence of the world as a highest political entity in western political system would be seen as a big mistake. The absence of world institution, very likely due to the absence of a comprehensive world-view, leads to the incompleteness of a political system. As the matter of fact, the western invention of modern nation/states system has become the almost universally adopted political system in the world today. But the absence of a political authority higher than the sovereign states must be responsible for the international anarchy and conflicts that seem unlikely to be settled by means of either something like the United Nations as a Kantian ideal or something of a world republic based on world democracy, because the United Nations as well as other available international organizations is not at all a political system higher than the system of nation/states. An international organization is meant as such to deal with the problems in terms of inter-ness, so that it could be nothing more than an auxiliary organization essentially confined by and pertaining to the system of nation/states. Nothing of universal interests and universal ideals but only the national interests and the ambition of universalizing the self instead of the others are encouraged in the system of nation/states as well as the international organizations. Any system in terms of internationality is thus not capable to overcome any serious conflicts in the world unless they are trivial. In short, no international theory could develop any horizon beyond the limitation of nationalism or statism. And the term of \"internationality\" is a fundamental mistake in the philosophy of the world.
As stated above, Wight\'s question of \"why is there no international theory\" is more or less misleading, for it is the \"world-ness\", rather than \"internationality\", that is the real problem. Between internationality and world-ness there is not only the difference in vocabulary, but also in the framework of analysis and the methodology of recognizing the key problems. The horizon of internationality is not a proper access to the problems in world-size, instead, it could be a concealment of what should be reorganized and solved in the horizon of world-ness. Besides the domestic theory and international theory in the usual framework, we have reasons to argue for the world theory as a necessary and essential constituent in the system of political theories, for the political philosophy or political science will not be complete without the participation of the horizon of world-ness only by which the problems of world politics could be finally understood. The theory of all-under-heaven is supposed to have contributed a horizon of worldism instead of statism, or a world theory more than the international theory to rethink the world problems, such as world order, cultural conflicts and peace, all of which have been wrongly identified as the \"international\" problems. In the same way that inter-subjectivity is not a way out of the problem of subjectivity, international theory is also much less than the solutions to the problems produced by national interests.
International theory, as well as the ideology of nation/states, had been founded on the sprite of the Treaties of Westphalia, admitting of no political horizon higher and wider than the political unit of nation/states, leading to the matters of bargaining for each interests and balance of powers. International theory is thus more or less a kind of game theory about the strategies of maximization of national interests and about the necessary but reluctant equilibrium rather than a cooperative theory of the world interests and long-lasting peace. The limitation of international theory is now quite obvious in that the world has not yet been considered an absolute political entity. And this misunderstanding of world is essentially due to the absence of a world-view as the representation of the needs of the world its own. The importance of the world theory is, as argued above, it could enjoy a world-view, higher than any national view, to have the world be measured by a standard of world size. It is exactly the contribution of the concept of all-under-heaven to be a foundation for a world theory.
2. The institutional consistency and transitivity
The presence of the world theory makes the Chinese concept of political theory different from the western. As we know it, in the western political theories, the core theory is the domestic theory or intrastate theory, upon which the international theory has been developed as the appended theory. Such a political framework has now been argued a mistake. It is a philosophical grammatical mistake. We could easily see there is a big problem of the incoherence or inconsistency between domestic and international theory, for instance, the domestic democracy is always taken for granted whereas the international democracy seems to have been considered theoretically unacceptable and practically impossible. This break has made a broken system of political theories. It would become a fatal mistake for a political institution not to be universal and transitive to all political levels. Given a political institution, no matter the democracy or the dictatorship, it could be free of any doubt and anti-argument if and only if it could be universalized, that is, universally applied to all political units, and transitive in all political levels or systems. Otherwise it would lose its absoluteness and authenticity. For instance, the democracy will be proved a political failure if it could not be extendedly developed into the world democracy, even though it has been well applied inside communities and states. That is one of the reasons that America is losing its political authority in the world now, since it plays different political games in the domestic and international levels.
Alternatively, Chinese political philosophy searches for the completeness in general and the oneness of the political system, the so called \"the universal availability of one principle\"(道之一贯性), upon the belief that an institution is good if and only if it could be run well throughout all political levels, from the basic to the highest, to make a universal political system. This Chinese idea is right at least in its reduction of the contradictions and incompatibility of the political levels from the world as the highest to the families as the grass-rooted so as to create a constructive \"political continuum\". The Chinese design of the general political system, in its simplified pattern, consists of all-under-heaven (the world institution), states (actually sub-states rather than nation/states) and families. And the methodology of ensuring the coherence of all political levels is a sort of mapping, by which one political level could be structurally mapped into the others. That is, the world, states and families must be consistent in their essence of governance so that they are nothing but the different presences of one institution. As a result, the whole political system enjoys a structure of self-reference or reflexivity in its different levels so that it is self-proved.
It is argued that the political governance must have its effective transitivity from the highest entity to the lowest, for the reason that the smaller political societies are always conditioned by the greater as their extended context. That means the order and peace of the superior political society is always the necessary guarantee for that of the inferior. About this truth, Mo-zi had an argument going like this: the world was disordered when no political leader and full of conflicts because of the conflicting opinions and logos of peoples or communities, the world could not be controlled unless it was controlled under one principle thus it needed the imperial institution as the leadership in general. But the world was too big to be managed only by the emperor so that the world should be divided into many sub-states and then into some other inferior political units. The methodology of establishing the good governance was to \"establish the consistency and transitivity from the superior to the inferior instead of from the inferior to the superior\", because of the fact that the conjunction of good families could not necessarily produce a good and peaceful society, and in the same way the conjunction of good states could not ensure a good and peaceful world13. Mo-zi\'s theory seems an anti-argument to the western ideal of international \"union\" or something like that. It is thus not surprising that Chinese philosophy always insists on the priority and primacy of the world governance by a world institution and the a political governance system with a descending order down-going from all-under-heaven to states then to families(天下，国，家). Logically, the world theory is thus made to be the core theory in all political theories, while the domestic as well as the international theory is regarded as its branches or sub-theories. The Chinese political philosophy, grounded on the conception of all-under-heaven, would become a real challenge to the western political theory based on the absoluteness of nation/states. It would be interesting for us to be reminded of Dante\'s more or less similar idea of a world theory in his De Monarchia14. But there are not so many western thinkers following Dante.
On the other hand, it is also argued that the universal political institution should have its political legitimacy rooted and claimed in terms of ethical legitimacy. In Chinese philosophy, family-ship is thought to be the naturally and absolutely given ground and evidence for the normal human love, harmony, mutual concern and obligations, thus it is said something almost \"exhausting the essence of humanity\"15so that it had been claimed the \"first thing with which a Lord is concerned most\" and the only thing \"impossible to be altered forever\" in the world, while all the other rules and knowledge alterable16. And family-ship is therefore made an ethical paradigm universally applied level by level to, in the way of mapping-into, all political levels such as the states and the world. Now the ethical forms of life are understood as the deep structure of political governance, in which the ethical legitimacy of political institutions are established in an ascending order from families to states then to all-under-heaven(家，国，天下), an inversion of the political order. To run the affairs of states and even the all-under-heaven in the way of running the affairs of a family is a generally recognized principle in China17. And it is implied that all-under-heaven would not enjoy peace and harmony unless it could be run in the pattern of family-ship that is supposed the absolute foundation of producing harmony and peace.
The political descending order from all-under-heaven to states then to families and the ethical ascending order from families to states then to all-under-heaven has made a political-ethical circulation indicating the reciprocal reconfirmation between politics and ethics. This reciprocal circulation seems to be a sort of transcendental argument in which the political institution and ethical forms of life have to find each other the necessary conditions for their legitimacy. To create and keep the order of the world, a world institution as the highest governance in general is needed, and to justify the political governance, an evidence of the general heart of peoples is required18. In other words, politics make sure of the effectiveness of ethics while ethics determines the legitimacy of politics.
All-under-heaven is therefore identified as a universal-empire in family-ship, or an imperial world defined as the highest political entity, in the tree-spread of which all nations are included a priori. And it has the far or near relations among nations instead of the discriminating definitions of the self and the others. The theory of all-under-heaven could become a new framework of rethinking political problems today, and a resource for creating the new philosophical idea for the future world, now that the globalization is depreciating the ideology of nation/states so that the world seems disoriented. The globalization is now leading to a new age of no prepared concepts or ideas. We are led blindly into the problems of the world as a whole, the grand problems of much greater context than the international affairs.
As a matter of fact, the theory of all-under-heaven had not been developed in full details in the ancient China. But it is of no doubt potential. Its philosophical principles, claimed as well as implied, could be summarized as follows:
1) The world must be a political entity otherwise a political system is incomplete;
2) The world should be the highest political entity if a political system is composed of different levels of governance;
3) The general governance of the world should be a world institution. The most effective form would be a universal empire;
4) The political institutions of different levels must be of same essence, in other words, the political principle must be able to be universalized and transitively run throughout all political levels;
5) The legitimacy of political institution must be rooted in the ethical;
6) The ethical justification of the political governance is the representation of the general heart of peoples.
3. The Relevance to the Contemporary Problems
The all-under-heaven pattern of the world reminds us, firstly, more or less of the United Nations pattern in their similarities, one of which is that both of them are supposed to be the world organizations to solve the international problems and to ensure peace and order of the world. But their difference might be of more significance. Anyway it would sound a little farfetched comparison between All-under-heaven and the United Nations patterns, for the United Nations is not anywise an imperial institution after all. But one thing that could reduce the unreasonableness of this comparison would be that all-under-heaven is not a narrow-defined imperial institution but one of an extendedly defined universal system of world society.
United Nations is not a world institution for sake of the world as it is meant but an organization of negotiating and bargaining for each nation\'s interests on the basis of the imagined equal right of every nation, so that it could never reach any real agreement because no one would be satisfied with justice, or in other words, no one takes the justified as the representation of justice, since everyone is defined the rational maximizer of his interests. In order to reconcile the divergence, the United Nations has made great effort in validating rational dialogue to replace the unreasonable conflicts, but not so successful as peoples have expected. It is of no doubt that rational dialogue has made a decrease in wars but never a reduction in conflicts, instead, it has encouraged the strategic game of non-cooperation thus enhanced the personality of the selfish maximizer. And even the worse, the United Nations is an organization of no substantial power hence unable to stop a superpower from universalizing only itself and establishing its dominance over the world.
The philosophies underlying the pattern of United Nations seems the idea of international democracy and the theory of rational dialogue or communication. But we have reasons to argue that these philosophies are failed or at least imperfect theories. Democracy could be distorted by power, money and marketing as all of us have seen, or misled by strategic votes as Arrow\'s theorem has proved, and even unjustly used to create terrible disasters such as Hitler\'s German did and today\'s American empire has been doing to the world. To our disappointment, democracy does not imply, neither theoretically nor practically, the justice, goodness as well as any other moral virtues. So democracy is unreliable in itself unless we have a world of justice as the given condition. The justice and the virtues of humanity must be the conditions priori to the efficiency of democracy and not the contrary. But such ideal situation has never existed and probably not to come true in the future. As to the theory of rational dialogue, also serious difficulties are there. Given the dialogue or communication in ideal situation, say as perfect as Habermas\' concept, it might lead to good reciprocal understanding but never to reciprocal acceptance, for there are no reason to guarantee such a necessary transition from the reciprocal understanding of minds to the reciprocal acceptance of hearts. Sure it is that the rational dialogue should be said admirable for it lets us come to know how deep and big the gap between understanding and acceptance, or between mind and heart19.
The United Nations is an international society with a social structure mapping into that of an individualism society. So it inherits and even enlarges the problems of an individualism society, for instance, the problem of international choice as a copy of that of social choice. And the worse, it does not boast of the effective international democracy compared to the social democracy. As actually observed, a superpower has its all opportunities to invalidate an international organization such as the United Nations. The matter is that the United Nations is a joint organization instead of an empire. And it seems to me, it would be an empire, rather than an international organization with international democracy, that could become a more effective institution to fulfill the ideal of the world-as-one, because of very few chances in getting a justice international choice even through the qualified democracy on account of Arrow\'s theorem. I am not criticizing the United Nations at all for it has tried its best. What talked here is just the theoretical limitation of the pattern of the United Nations. Anyhow the United Nations is supposed an international organization, conditioned by the interests of all nations/states, dealing with the international problems and affairs only in the age of nations/states. And it does not mean to be a way leading to a new system of world. It seems to enhance rather than weaken, as Giddens pointed out, the system of nations/states as the modern political form20. To be fair to the United Nations, it is meant only to take care of the national interests of the nations rather than the world interests. Now the question of the world institution for the world in future is still open and unclear, but it has become urgent since the world has plunged into the globalization. Many people would rather lay their hopes on United Nation. Just as Peter Singer said that, after his analysis of the failures and mistakes of the United Nations, \"the United Nations is and should remains the foundation of the international order\", but \"it should be reformed\"21. The United Nation might be changed into a new and essentially different thing, say something of an imperial existence, if the reform of it will be the significant improvement in its power, as it seems to me.
Globalization is breaking the world system of nations/states as often talked about. In fact, globalization is not a very new thing. It has been a composition of universalism and fundamentalism, in which the fundamentalism of some kind, capitalism, modern industry, a self-claimed world religion or ideology, tries to universalize its own22. And in the process of globalization it is very likely for one or several nations/states to transform themselves into a sort of empires. Is it an age of new empires to come? And will be there a new form of empire or just a post-modern return to the old things? We could think about these questions and rethink if there is a more reasonable and recommendable concept of empire.
The newly invention is the pattern of America \"empire\"23. It is a new imperialism inheriting many characteristics of the modern imperialism but transforming the direct control into the hidden but totally dominating control of the world by means of hegemony or the \"American leadership\" as Americans prefer to call it. This omni-empire is going on not only in political and economical spheres but also in cultural discourse and knowledge by means of globalization in which it finds the greatest chance of universalizing its own24. But it seems that some Americans want even more. Just as Joseph Nye said recently that the problem of creating an American empire might be better termed \"imperial understretch\" rather than \"imperial overstretch\" as often blamed25. This omni-empire differs from the modern imperialism in that it wants to be not only the winner in a given game but also further the maker of any game it prefers as well as the rules of the games. The world would become totally disordered if a player could be the maker of the rules of game at the same time. This kind of empire, aiming at the absolute rule of the world not only in economics but also in ideology, is bound to make a failed world. It is a truth that the spirit of American empire as \"winner takes all\" will not lead to something of the cheerful \"end of history\" but rather to the death of the world.
This is our problem of the times. It would be better for us to be aware of the point that globalization is not a new age but a process of transformation from the age of nations/states to a new one that is unclear. But one thing would be clear that the globalization has been getting all nations, societies and cultures involved in one world. This is why we should consider the world institution as a key problem of our times.
Would the European State be an empire in a new form if it will come true? It is quite natural for us to feel something when the European intellectuals are expecting the \"rebirth of Europe\". But the question is what the cultural identity of Europe or what the definitely distinguished representation of Europe will be, and further, what kind of idea or concept for the new Europe will be invented. I am afraid that the Europeans have not yet had very organized ideas for it, for instance, the declaration \"the birth of Europe\" by Derrida and Habermas seems to claim that the European should develop a way other than the American, but we have not an available concept of it. The impressive term \"core Europe\" could remind us of the \"chief states\" in the ancient China in the period of Chun-qiu(770BC-476BC) when the Empire Zhou was declining. At that time, the world was becoming disordered because of the emperors\' inability to maintain the efficiency of the all-under-heaven institution. And five big states had stood out to be the leaders termed \"chief states\" to be in charge of the inter-state affairs. But conflicts and even wars were increasing since the world was made more complicated and full of seeming chances in competition. What I mean is that the idea of \"core Europe\" might be a good idea for the unity of Europe, but it depends on a clearly defined political order and a commonly received cultural concept for the future Europe.
Generally speaking, the fundamental problem of the future world is that, as far as I can see, we have not yet well prepared an idea of world institution to create the order of the world. And the world is not, as argued, if there is no world institution to be in charge of its order. A world institution is the existential condition for the world to be a world. We are now facing the problem of creating a world institution to let the world exist out of its being. It is a matter of the birth of the world, which is a greater task than the rebirth of Europe or something else. This reform in politics requires a philosophical turn in terms of a new world-view and a new framework of political analysis, by which the world could be understood for its own sake and all problems in the world could be re-interpreted by means of a world-wide-measure. This is the reason to recommend the philosophy of All-under-heaven as a resource of creating a world institution. Of course the world might not need an empire any more, neither a dangerous one, such as American empire, nor a peaceful one such as the empire of all-under-heaven. But the pattern of all-under-heaven must be a significant concept for a reasonable world institution.
As to the practical and concrete operations of the pattern of the all-under-heaven system, I am not recommending the ancient China patterns to be the frame of reference for today\'s world, for they were so designed as only to fit their situations in history though claimed to be the universal and permanent. But we could see some eliciting points in the all-under-heaven institutions and policies that are still worthy of consideration even today.
1) In the all-under-heaven system, the sub-states were not something as member states in a union, instead, they were the sub-states as meant and politically pertaining to a general imperial system, just as the sub-sets pertaining to a general set. And the sub-states were the distributed portions as if the shares in a world of a company. This institutional design had effectively created the universal political consistency and the common interests. And the imperial center had served as the supervisor to recognize the political legitimacy of social institutions.
2) The imperial central force in the military system of all-under-heaven, for instance the empire Zhou, had been designed to enjoy its limited advantages over the sub-states. As said the imperial force was larger than a big sub-state\'s in a ratio of 6 to 3, larger than a middle one\'s in 6 to 2 and than a small one in 6 to 126. And it must be known that Zhou had about 800 sub-states. This design might not be the ideal one----in fact it is hard to decide what is the best-----but it does indicate a political principle that a world institution should be so designed that a superpower is illegal and impossible to be.
3) The most interesting thing in the all-under-heaven system might be its free immigration policy that all peoples could choose and have their equal right to be permitted to live in and work for any state they prefer. It implies a philosophy of worldism rather than nationalism. Behind this policy, there is the Chinese definition of justice(得道) and injustice(失道) in terms of whether being supported by peoples. The free immigration policy must be one of the key reason for the early Chinese society (especially the period of Chun-qiu) to have become a culturally active and creative times-----most of the Chinese influential thinkers and their ideas had appeared in that time-----because the states had had to develop their cultural appeal and the maximal freedom for peoples to create.
1 Wight: Why is there no international theory, in Diplomatic Investigation, ed. Butterfield & Wight, 1966, London, George Allen & Unwin, p. 17.
2 Hardt and Negri: Empire, Harvard Univ. Pr., 2000. Preface.
3 The American decision of \"preemptive attack\" had proclaimed a new age of military empire and a world of disorder. Cf. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The White House, September 2002.
4 Jrgen Habermas and Jacques Derrida\'s joint declaration \'\'After the War: The Rebirth of Europe\'\' on May 31 in Germany\'s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and France\'s La Libration indicates the European intellectuals want to develop a prudent understanding of the world.
5 Cf. Wallerstein: The Modern World System, V. 1 & V.2, Academic Pr, Inc. 1974 & 1980.
6 The semantic details of all-under-heaven could be found in my \"a semantic introduction to all-under-heaven\".
7 The word \"thick concept\" that I introduce here is more or less related to, though different after all, the word \"thick description\" used by Ryle and Geertz.
8 As Xun-zi pointed out: \"to enjoy the world as all-under-heaven does not mean to have people to give their land by force but to have an institution universally accepted by people\". 《荀子/王霸》。
9 See Tao-de-jing.《道德经/54章》：“以身观身，以家观家，以乡观乡，以邦观邦，以天下观天下”。
10 The Chinese concept \"事\" is defined as \"what has been done\", very close to the western word factum. See Huainanzi: What has to be followed is the Way, and what has been done is the facts.《淮南子/汜论》：“所由曰道，所为曰事”。
12 Mencius said: \"all the people accept the general proposition of the system of governance in the order of all-under-heaven, states and families\". 《孟子/離婁上》：“人有恒言皆曰天下國家”。
13 See The Works of Mo-zi.《墨子/尚同》。
14 Dante said: \"The human race, therefore, is best when it imitates the movements of heaven, so far as human nature allows. And since the whole heaven is regulated with one motion, to wit, that of the primum mobile, and by one mover, who is God, in all its parts, movements, and movers (and this human reason readily seizes from science); therefore, if our argument be correct, the human race is at its best state when, both in its movements, and in regard to those who move it, it is regulated by a single Prince, as by the single movement of heaven, and by one law, as by the single motion. Therefore it is evidently necessary for the welfare of the world for there to be a Monarchy, or single Princedom, which men call Empire\". in De Monarchia, chapter 14.
15 See Interpretation of Rites.《禮記/大傳》曰：“上治祖禰尊尊也，下治子孫親親也，旁治昆弟，合族以食，序以昭穆，別之以禮義，人道竭矣”。
16 See Interpretation of Rites.《禮記/大傳》曰：“聖人南面而治天下必自人道始矣。立權度量，考文章，改正朔，易服色，殊徽號，異器械，別衣服，此其所得與民變革者也。其不可得變革者則有矣，親親也，尊尊也，長長也，男女有別，此其不可得與民變革者也”。 Only a few Chinese philosophers had the opposite opinion to the principle of family-ship. For instance, Shang-yang said that the ethics of family-ship encouraged the selfishness and evils rather than kindness and goodness, and he thought laws are the most important things. Cf. 《商君書/開塞》。
17 Cf. The Great Ideas ( Da-xue)《大學》：“身修而後家齊，家齊而後國治，國治而後天下平”。And The Works of Mo-zi《墨子/尚同下》：“治天下之國若治一家”。
18 Mencius argued that people were of greater weight than the government and the support from people was the final confirmation of the reign. And he insisted that the king would lose his reign because he lost his people\' support, and he lost his people\' support because he was against the people\'s hearts. And Interpretation of Rites also said: \"enjoying the reign when receiving the support from the people, and losing the reign when losing the support of the people\". Cf.《孟子/民为贵章》：“民为贵，社稷次之，君为轻。是故得乎丘民而为天子”；《孟子/失天下也章》： “桀纣之失天下也，失其民也，失其民也，失其心也”。《礼记/大学》：“得众则得国，失众则失国”。
19 My anti-argument to Habermas\' theory of communicative dialogue could be found in my paper Understanding and Acceptance in Les de la Connaissance Reciproque, ed. Alain Le Pichon, Le Robert, 2003.
20 cf. Anthony Giddens: The Nation-state and Violence, Chapter 10, Polity Pr. 1985.
21 Peter Singer: Human Right, the State and International Order. A speech in 21th World Congress of Philosophy, Istanbul, 2003.
22 The Manifesto of the Communist Party was one of the earliest texts discussing something of globalization. It said: \"The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country\". And \"as in material, so also in intellectual production, the intellectual creations of individual nations become common property. National one-sidedness and narrow-mindedness become more and more impossible, and from the numerous national and local literatures, there arises a world literature.\" And communism thought that it was its turn to universalize itself, though in vain as later proved, in replacement of capitalism.
23 M. Hardt and A. Negri had argued in their Empire that the new empire of today is different from the European imperialism and mainly produced in American constitutionalism that is more similar to Roman empire than to European imperialism. Cf. Empire, Harvard Univ. Pr, 2001.
24 But the American empire seems still not satisfied with its \"leadership\". J. Nye calls upon the USA to enhance its \"soft power\" as the complement to its \"hard power\". Cf. J.Nye: The Paradox of American Power: Why the World\'s Only Superpower Can\'t Go It Alone. Oxford Univ. Pr. 2002.
25 J.Nye: U.S. Power and Strategy after Iraq, in Foreign Affairs, July/August, 2003.
26 陈傅良：《历代兵制》。Chen Fuliang (1137-1203): The Military Systems in History.