Beijing Daily Client | Author Han Sheng
History inspires wisdom. Wisdom is based on the understanding and comprehension level of human nature, things and truth.
Understanding of people
People’s social attributes determine that people have to deal with each other all the time. Therefore, knowing people is an important aspect of being in the world. High-level leaders need to know people better.
Han Xin, the genius commander who helped Emperor Gaozu Liu Bang conquer the world, paid special attention to the analysis and grasp of people. After the hongmen banquet, liu bang was sent to hanzhong, and Han Xin was appointed as the general to command the army under the strong recommendation of Xiao He and others. Liu Bang summoned Han Xin to analyze the odds of fighting against Xiang Yu. Han Xin, who is about to go to war, did not analyze the military issues such as the strength of the two sides, but directly asked Liu Bang to compare the qualities of the top leaders of both sides, and proposed that the top leaders should meet the four indicators of "courage, toughness, benevolence and strength". Therefore, Han Xin pays more attention to the leader’s character accomplishment than the obvious material conditions. Based on this, Han Xin thinks that Liu Bang can be a leader. At that time, when the strength between the enemy and the enemy was wide, this was simply an unexpected inference.
What is the basis of Han Xin? He noticed Xiang Yu’s aristocratic background. Nobles are "expensive" because they are knowledgeable, educated and humble, which is the same at all times and in all countries. This is the spirit of "expensive" and the characteristic of Xiang Yu. Although he is all-powerful on the battlefield, a thousand people are invincible with a roar, but he is gentle and polite to people. Everyone can see the advantages of Xiang Yu, but few people can see the other side of his personality, that is, he is too "cherishing things." Xiang Yu’s inheritance was laid down by himself, which was hard-won and cherished. Therefore, he was reluctant to divide people and was not atmospheric enough. When he won the award, he always put the reward in his hand and weighed it repeatedly. At the end of the award, it was quite different from the expectations of his subordinates and caused dissatisfaction. In the long run, the more men fight, the more boring they will be, and they will leave Germany. This is the fate of Xiang Yu, who can’t unite people closely. Therefore, he will go into decline. On the contrary, Liu Bang started from scratch and made some gains by the efforts of all. These things are not his own savings, so he knows very well that things are done by everyone, and things are divided by everyone. After the division, people are excited and can do even more next time. Therefore, the team will become more and more brave, and talents from all over the world will come in an endless stream. Xiang Yu and Liu Bang have different ways to analyze and deal with problems, so Liu Bang will eventually win. Han Xin’s analysis was incisive and fully proved in the Chu-Han War. Han Xin understood the truth that "the world belongs to the world" from the perspective of human nature, and anyone who wants to take it for himself will be spurned.
In human society, knowing people’s wisdom is the first thing to learn, and knowing people can do things.But this is only one dimension. Can it be invincible only by popularity?
Or Han Xin. When he led an army across half of China in the north and arrived in Shandong today, a strategist named Kuai Tong came to visit and asked him why he was struggling with Xiang Yu. Kuai Tong analyzed the world situation and thought that three armed groups, Liu Bang, Xiang Yu and Han Xin, had been formed at that time. Although Han Xin was a subordinate of Liu Bang, his prominent position depended on the existence of Xiang Yu. Therefore, Kuai Tong advised Han Xin to let Xiang Yu go, so as to promote a tripartite confrontation and ensure his own safety and interests. However, Han Xin explicitly refused, because he read Liu Bang’s kindness of "driving me with his car, clothing me with his clothes, and eating me with his food", and he could not betray Li Yi. Obviously, Han Xin always believed in judging people, so as to defeat all his military opponents, and extended it to the political field, trusting Liu Bang and his "righteousness", showing his political naivety. Most of the problems that military strategists think about are local plane dimensions at that time, while politicians are much more complicated and profound. They are not at the same level, so military strategists are often no match for politicians. As a bystander of political strategists, Kuai Tong saw this clearly, while Han Xin didn’t realize that he was just a soldier, and Liu Bangze was going to be a soldier until Liu Bang deprived him of the King of Qi after the Battle of Gaixia, and even later he was stripped of the packet of the King of Chu and relegated to the vacant position of the imperial court, but it was too late. A general is a strategist who does things, while a general is a politician who commands the overall situation.
From Han Xin, we can see the limitations of being confined to knowing people. People are fickle, the most difficult to grasp, and those who want to be independent of the world just by looking at people will eventually be defeated by others. One-sided people are prone to paranoia, and will fall into the mire of rule by man, making it difficult to achieve great things.
A clear understanding and prediction of the situation
Situation analysis is a comprehensive judgment on physical geography, social sentiment, strength growth and decline and other factors. Su Qin’s analysis of the situation between the six countries and Qin in the Warring States Period is a classic.
After Shang Yang’s political reform, Qin’s military strength increased greatly, and it was militaristic and constantly attacked six countries. The six countries passively defended themselves and adopted the policy of forbearance and submission in succession, trying to ease the attack of Qin. Su Qin, a strategist, felt very strange. If the six countries were United, their territory would account for 4/5 of China, and manpower and material resources would also account for 4/5. Why should they yield to Qin? Concession is to fill Qin’s endless desires with limited land. Although it can be delayed for a while, it will surely die. He persuaded the six countries to unite against Qin one by one, and went to Qi, a big eastern country, to analyze the situation to the king of Qi: Qi has Mount Tai in the south, Langya in the east, Qinghe in the west and Bohai in the north, which is called a country with four blockades; The territory is vast, reaching more than 2,000 miles, with hundreds of thousands of elite soldiers, a mountain of grain, rich people, busy traffic, shoulder to shoulder, curtain-raising, sweating and high spirits. No one can compare the strength of Qi, but it makes people feel ashamed to succumb to Qin.
Su Qin’s situation analysis is based on two points: first, the mountains and rivers win; second, the human and material conditions. The former is congenital, while the latter can be changed. But all changes should be based on respecting nature and conforming to the law, that is, adapting to local conditions. Generally speaking, China or the world has only an abstract meaning. In order to survive and develop properly in China, we must first have a deep understanding of China’s natural conditions, which will form the basis of decision-making, and then consider using nature for social development. By combining nature with people, we can see many mysterious problems clearly. Su Qin was familiar with the geography of China, so he accurately pointed out the weaknesses of Qin Jun’s marching operations and the countermeasures. According to the danger of Guanzhong, the state of Qin is surrounded by mountains and waters, and it is more than self-sufficient. However, if it wants to attack the six countries far away, it must pass through the dangerous mountains, and the roads are rugged and vulnerable to attack. So why are South Korea and Wei unwilling to actively resist? Su Qin analyzed: Korea and Wei are blocking Qin’s eastward advancement, and Qin is determined to win, while Korea and Wei are resisting Qin Jun alone, and even if they win, they will suffer heavy casualties, not to mention defeat. Therefore, Korea and Wei are doing their best to resist Qin’s eastward advancement, in addition to defending the country from extinction, they are still guarding the door for the eastern countries; But if you submit to Qin, you can reduce losses and lead the disaster to the east. Su Qin revealed the key of geopolitics through the relationship between geographical situation and national interests. Therefore, even from their own interests, the eastern countries should resolutely support Korea and Wei, so as to help each other and protect themselves. If they have ulterior motives and try to lead Qin’s disaster to other countries,At most, we can only delay the time of being divided by one. When the truth was made clear, the kings of the six countries saw clearly the gains and losses, so they accepted Su Qin’s suggestion and formed a "vertical and horizontal" alliance to jointly resist Qin, which made Qin dare not covet the East for more than ten years.
Knowing people and analyzing the situation is basically based on the immediate understanding of the local area at that time, which belongs to plane thinking. People and interests change at any time, so do interpersonal or international relations. Therefore, we must understand the principle of interests, but we must never rely solely on interests. It is also inevitable that Su Qin’s "Union" alliance will collapse immediately after his death. In order to make this alliance stronger, we must have a deep understanding of the history, culture and traditions of various countries. Mutual understanding and respect are the basis for establishing an interest coordination mechanism. Many conflicts are caused by mutual ignorance or even judging each other based on self-imagination.With historical thinking, our understanding will change from plane to three-dimensional, and with depth, we will have a more important understanding, thus entering the third level.
A profound understanding of history
After Liu Bang defeated Xiang Yu, he chose Luoyang as the capital of the Western Han Dynasty. There are three main points in his basis: first, Luoyang is among the best in the world; Second, there are Zhongtiao Mountain, Xiaoshan Mountain, Xiong ‘er Mountain and Waifang Mountain in the southwest of Luoyang, with the Yellow River in the north and Chenggao in the east, which can be held; Third, the Eastern Zhou Dynasty took it as its capital and had a historical tradition. Deep down, Liu Bang still has a yearning to be on a par with the Zhou Dynasty. These three points are all reasonable from the perspective of the right place and the right time. However, the truth of a thing must match its nature and scale. If it is a small country, Luoyang has a really good terrain; However, if it is a unified central dynasty, the hinterland of the landscape package around Luoyang is too small to maneuver, which is a "death". The third is even more important. Liu (Lou), Liu Bang’s adviser, analyzed that after the founding of the Zhou Dynasty, the princes and chiefs of the Shang Dynasty and its previous generation were enfeoffed, which showed their tolerance and justice, so they won the support of all parties, and their capital was the center of all nations coming to the DPRK, basically without fortification; However, you have been fighting bloody battles for several years, and the society is full of sorrow and hatred. Therefore, the capital needs heavy defense, which is incomparable with the Zhou Dynasty. You can’t choose Luoyang with incomplete terrain as the capital. Liu Bang understood the truth and immediately made his capital in Chang ‘an, Guanzhong.
Since entering the imperial country, whether the capital is properly chosen or not is related to the rise and fall of the dynasty or even the success or failure. Xiang Yu established the Kingdom of Western Chu, with its capital in Pengcheng. This is a land of four wars, and from the perspective of being the capital, it is actually a lower domain. However, Xiang Yu ignored the history and the situation of mountains and rivers, and even cooked and killed the advisers who advised him to make his capital in Guanzhong, and went his own way. As a result, the regime of Xi Chu did not have peace for a year, and he committed suicide in Wujiang River just a few years later. Vision and pattern determine the scale and success or failure of the cause.
It is extremely important to learn to look at problems historically. History teaches us to look at problems completely and systematically and avoid fragmented thinking.When many people think about a problem, they only extract some fragments closely related to it, but don’t understand it from the whole process. People who lack historical thinking only see trees instead of forests, but they can’t see through the essence when they see problems. Based on the fragmented thinking of a specific time and space, the opinions and conclusions are often tempting to fall into the trap. Sadly, people who fail are often convinced of their one-sided views. Sima Qian lamented Xiang Yu’s death, which is a great historian’s regret for paranoid politicians.
Zhang Liang became an outstanding strategist in the early Han Dynasty because he not only knew how to judge people and understand the geographical situation of mountains and rivers, but also knew how to grasp its context from the whole process of historical development, see through the phenomenon, directly attack the essence, and analyze it from three dimensions: interest relationship, geopolitics and historical tradition, thus surpassing Su Qin and Han Xin and assisting Liu Bang in establishing a stable Han Dynasty.
Studying history is the advanced stage of life, and we go in step by step. Our life and our understanding of the whole society are gradually improving, so we must read history in life.
(The author is a professor of history at Fudan University)