Zhang Xianqing: The Characteristics of the Late Ming Society

2022-06-07 0 By

The so-called “late Ming” generally refers to the historical period of more than 100 years from Jiajing to the end of Ming dynasty.In the whole ancient Chinese history, this period has many new characteristics and occupies a special historical position, which is worthy of in-depth study and discussion.To sum up, the characteristics of the late Ming Society are that China’s traditional feudal society was highly mature and began to transform from the traditional feudal society to the new modern society. The late Ming Dynasty was just the starting point of the transformation.China’s transition from ancient society to modern society is a very long and tortuous historical process, and it has its own national characteristics.At the beginning of the transition, the society presents a complex historical picture of the old and new intertwined.On the one hand, feudal economic, social and political structures and ideologies still firmly held a dominant position, and the inherent contradictions of the feudal society were deepening.On the other hand, after a long period of accumulation and aggregation, Chinese society has bred some new economic, social, political, customs and ideological factors that are different from traditional feudal society and have the nature of modern society, and the society is undergoing profound and intense changes.These new factors mark the beginning of the transformation.They are mainly as follows: in terms of economic structure, commodity agriculture, private handicraft industry and commerce developed unprecedently, the national currency became silver standard, the circulation of silver increased greatly, the national market network took shape, industrial and commercial towns sprang up vigorously, and capitalist relations of production sprouted.Some scholars object to the use of “capitalism sprout”, but advocate the use of “market economy sprout” or “early industrialization” concept.In fact, this is from different levels and angles to summarize the development and change of social economy in the middle and later period of the Ming Dynasty.”Market economy” is from the level of economic operation mechanism, exchange and circulation, “early industrialization” is from the level of the development of handicraft industry, and “capitalism sprout” is mainly from the level of production mode and production relations to describe the development and change of social economy in the late Ming Dynasty.It should be said that mode of production and relations of production reflect social changes to a higher and deeper extent and are based on the development of the whole social production.In terms of social structure, the number of people shifting from “primary occupation” to “non-occupation” (industry and commerce) increased, the flow of urban and rural population accelerated, the number of freely-employed workers expanded, and the emergence of the citizen class.In politics, the feudal monarchy’s autocratic control weakened, super-economic compulsion and the feudal patriarchal clan relationship relaxed, the embryonic form of modern political parties such as Donglin Party and Fu She emerged, and the public sphere expanded.In terms of social customs, the advocation of frugality and simplicity turned to advocation of consumption and luxury.In the aspect of ideology and culture, early enlightenment thought appeared, or the germination of modern trend of thought appeared.In the late Ming Dynasty, China did not lag behind the Western countries. It was at the forefront of the world both in terms of the overall level of economic development and in terms of social development. It was a world power at that time.This is the envy of western missionaries in China.Matteo Ricci, a missionary who lived in China during the Wanli period, wrote in his Notes on China that rice production in China was “much richer than in Europe”.Producing cotton and cotton “enough to supply the whole world”;The silk produced not only enabled “the inhabitants of that country, rich and poor alike, to wear silk, but was exported in great quantities to the remotest parts of the world”;Iron and steel smelting and foundry industry, “they can make more things out of molten iron than we can”;Coal was “dug up and widely transported to all parts of the country at a low price, indicating that it was plentiful”;Jiangxi porcelain, “not only shipped to all parts of China, but also to the farthest corners of Europe,” was “cherished by those who appreciated the elegance of banquets.”At that time, Chinese goods were the most abundant in the world market.They were sold to Asia, Europe and America, alleviating the shortage of commodities in the world market and promoting the development of western economy.At the same time, a large amount of silver was imported into China. From Wanli to Chongzhen, more than 100 million yuan of silver was imported through trade, making China’s monetary economy further prosperous.The new changes in economy, society, politics and customs in the late Ming Dynasty had an important impact on social thoughts, literature and art.In response to the social transformation, ideology and culture also began to show signs of transformation from traditional Confucianism to modern ideology.This trend of progressive thought in the initial stage of transformation can be called the early Enlightenment or the germination of modern thought.The so-called “enlightenment” contains two basic elements. First, it is different from traditional Confucianism and refutes some important theoretical principles in traditional Confucianism.Second, put forward some propositions with modern ideological factors.The early enlightenment in the late Ming and Ming dynasties was composed of early humanism and practical learning.The humanism trend of thought in the late Ming Dynasty evolved from a branch of yangming mind school, represented by Wang Gen, Yan Shanong, He Xinyin, Li Zhi, etc., emphasizing the awakening of human mind and nature, advocating deviance and demanding the liberation of human nature.Opposing feudal ethics and demanding freedom of behavior;Advocating human desires and desires, demanding material benefits;Affirmation of the heart without distinction, equality requirements.Li Zhi’s thought was representative of a certain scale and resonated with many people even common people.The thought of humanity emancipation is more sensitive in literature and art.Tang Xianzu, Yuan Hongdao and other works, as well as unprecedented flourishing folk literature, popular literature, such as “Journey to the West”, “Jin Ping Mei”, “Three yan”, “Er Pai” and so on, have promoted the anti-feudal etiquette, the pursuit of human liberation of the humanistic spirit.In the late Ming dynasty and Ming Dynasty, the ideological trend of practical learning was complicated.Some of the advocates of the ideological trend of practical learning only stay at the level of practical application;Others, such as the found, huang wan, Zhao Naxing, huang, gu yanwu, wang fuzhi gradually, Tang Zhen, etc., are in the criticism of the mind empty talk, in exploring social ills in late Ming dynasty, in has a vital practical social problems of study, put forward some beyond the traditional concept of Confucianism has enlightening new political ideology and economic thought.In terms of political ideology, it criticized the feudal autocratic monarchy, advocated the rule of all and the people being the principal body of the country, and called for stronger supervision and restriction of the power of the monarchy and the government by public opinion. It believed that “all who are Kings are thieves” and that “Kings are a great menace to the whole country” and that “in the absence of Kings, everyone can be selfish and benefit himself.”In terms of economic thought, it abandons the old theory of “emphasizing the foundation and suppressing the end” and puts forward the revolutionary proposition of “industry and commerce are all the foundation”, so as to create public opinion for the development of industry and commerce and defend the change of social status of those engaged in industry and commerce.Earlier, Qiu Jun put forward the view that labor determines the value of commodities for the first time in the history of Chinese thought.These progressive thoughts became an important part of the early Enlightenment.Political Corruption and Economic Prosperity in the Late Ming Dynasty Completely speaking, the politics of the Ming Dynasty had both positive power and corrupt power.The policy of recuperation in the early period of Ming Dynasty, the continuous reform in the middle and late period of Ming Dynasty, the movement of the party and society, and the civil movement are all positive political forces, which promoted the economic development and social progress in the struggle against corruption.After entering the middle and late Ming Dynasty, political corruption became more and more prominent.Indolence, neglect of duty, constant party strife, lack of discipline;Annexation of land, shifting the service, the richer the richer, the poorer the poorer, the people unbearable life.All these are impediments to social and economic development.There are complex reasons for the rise of political corruption, two of which are important.First, the development of commodity money economy greatly stimulated the greedy desire of the feudal ruling class, so they relied on their political power and status, through corruption, bribery and annexation, cheating and extorting money to meet the needs of their luxurious life.They only know how to swallow the achievements of civilization brought by the development of commodity economy, but are unwilling to shoulder the responsibility of social stability.Thus, on the one hand, the unprecedented development of commodity economy, on the other hand, the increasing political corruption, forming a sharp contrast, constitute a disharmonious historical picture.As a result of the development of commodity economy, the money relationship and the law of the market also fiercely expanded to the field of social and political life, all with the money buying and selling relationship as the criterion.The feudal ruling class could not resist the invasion of money and commodity relations, so they began to plunder them wantonly.Jiajing emperor as long as ministers for his immortal service, and “not strange to money, and greedy husband.”Yan Song, the notorious prime minister of the selling officer and his son, is known as “consumption of money”.Wanli emperor “wine, color, wealth, gas” complete, indiscriminate sent to the country to collect gold and silver treasure.The apocalypse emperor’s lethargy, castration and anarchy.”Good at the top, good at the bottom.”So bribery, annexation, luxury wind will spread in the scholar-bureaucrat and official gentry.Second, the feudal ruling class is unable to fundamentally cure, eliminate the corruption of their own class, unable to fundamentally restrain, choke the greed of their own class.Zhang Juzheng’s reform was the biggest, strongest and deepest reform in the middle and late Ming Dynasty. Its purpose was to cure corruption.However, after his death, the corrupt anti-reform forces took control of the government, and the reform was destroyed, especially the achievements of reorganizing the local government went to waste. After that, there was no significant reform until the half century of Ming dynasty.This marks the Ming dynasty feudal ruling group has lost the ability of self-regulation, since the middle of wanli, political corruption has become an unstoppable trend, social class contradictions more and more sharp, the ruling class split, coupled with the loss of resistance to natural disasters, finally led to the outbreak of peasant uprising and the demise of the Ming Dynasty.Historians say: “The death of the Ming dynasty was actually caused by the death of shenzong.” After the middle period of The Wanli dynasty, there has been a “disintegrating trend”, which is in line with reality.The peasant uprising at the end of the Ming dynasty overthrew the decadent Ming dynasty, which was of great historical significance, but it failed to consolidate the victory.Then the Qing dynasty moved in and waged a war of conquest for half a century.The political corruption and the social turbulence caused by it at the end of The Ming Dynasty and the backward political, economic and cultural policies at the beginning of the Qing Dynasty hit and set back the good momentum of the unprecedented development of commodity economy formed in the middle and later period of the Ming Dynasty.The lesson of history is profound.This book is a collection of 20 papers by Professor Zhang Xianqing, member of the Honorary Division of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, on social studies in the Ming Dynasty.These articles cover the fields of economy, politics, ideology and culture as well as the social transformation in the late Ming Dynasty, showing the development of Ming society and its historical characteristics from many aspects.Zhang Xianqing was born in 1937 in Xinglong County, Hebei Province.Honorary member of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, honorary President of Chinese Ming History Association.In 1962, he graduated from the Department of History of Peking University and studied The History of the Ming Dynasty under Mr. Wu Han.He was the director of Ming History Research Department, doctoral supervisor, academic secretary of History film of Scientific Research Bureau, director of Party Committee office of Institute of History, Party Secretary of Institute of Archaeology, member of academic Advisory Committee of Institute of History, member of Guiding group of Chinese Local Chronicles, and president of Chinese Ming History Society.His research field is Ming History, and his academic masterpieces include Biography of Yan Song, Commentary biography of Sun Qifeng, General History of Chinese Economy · Ming Dynasty Economic Volume (deputy chief editor), Ming Dynasty Political History (chief editor), Studies on Social Transformation in the Late Ming Dynasty (chief editor) and Collected Works of Zhang Xianqing, etc.Zhang Xianqing works recommended “Late Ming Dynasty social Transformation research” ISBN: 9787500467052, 2008 November pricing: 60.00 Yuan Introduction:Studies of the late Ming dynasty society transformation from agriculture, handicraft industry and commerce, the evolution of relations between urban and rural areas, the change of the social customs, political struggle with the ruling class crisis deepens, the emerging of the early enlightenment ideas, the innovation of literature and art with the rise of citizen literature, summary of traditional technology innovation and the incoming of western science and technology culture,And various social conflicts intensified and eventually lead to the late Ming Ming, many aspects, such as historical materials, expounds in theory, will be always in ancient Chinese society to the modern transformation of research to further, it can be found that many of today’s social transformation with us, help us draw the experience and lessons of history, history is any guide,Correct handling of the various contradictions in the current social transition period will benefit the country and the people.In April 1566, an 87-year-old old man lived in a grassy cottage in a cemetery outside Jieqiao Village, Fenyi County, Yuan Zhou Prefecture, Jiangxi Province.He died quietly under the heavy attack of hunger, sickness and sorrow.There were no condolences, no coffins.This dead is had done 20 years prime minister, cut official yan Song homecoming.The former Yan Song “extremely expensive person minister, rich jia world”, but the outcome is so miserable and desolate.Why?The answer is that greed killed him.Greedy for power and position, he gradually degenerated from a show in poetry into a sycophant, insidious and crafty sycophant.Covet money, so that he gradually metamorphosis from a poor people to suck blood, crazy money, “since ancient times power and adultery did not” corrupt officials.But history is cruel.Greedy for power and wealth, they corrupted the government and disgraced the people, resulting in a shameful end of ruin and destruction.The historical warning of Yan Song’s transformation is quite thought-provoking.General History of Chinese Economy · Ming Dynasty Economy Volume (upper and lower volumes), Edited by Wang Yuquan, Liu Chonggri, Zhang Xianqing, deputy editor, ISBN: 978-7-5,004-6060-2200, April pricing: 86.00 YuanThe “General History of Chinese Economy · Ming Dynasty Economy Volume” makes a comprehensive analysis of the natural environment, social environment, resource conditions, economic regions, industrial structure and economic types of Ming Dynasty’s economic development.The paper makes a thorough discussion on the development level of productive forces and corresponding class structure, land system, tenancy relationship, servitude system, management mode and economic thought in Ming Dynasty.This paper makes a detailed investigation of the production conditions and national management policies of agriculture, handicraft industry, commerce, currency, transportation, town market, salt, tea and horse in Ming Dynasty.In the book, the level of agriculture, handicrafts, commerce and transportation in the Ming Dynasty was further improved compared with that in the previous dynasties, especially the unprecedented development of commodity money relationship and urban economy, which caused a series of social changes, which were the remarkable characteristics of the social and economic form in the late feudal society of China.The book is a systematic and comprehensive monograph on the economic history of Ming Dynasty with high academic value.Follow our video number