Zhu Shaowen, male, Han nationality, born in January, 1915, is a native of
Read Classical Works Carefully and Seek Principles to Save the Nation and People
Yang Chunxue (hereafter referred to as Yang): Nice to meet you, Mr Zhu! I think many young economics students are very curious about your studying experiences, thinking, expectations, etc. Holding these in mind, could you talk about your studies in
Zhu Shaowen (hereafter referred to as Zhu): I haven’t fully recovered from a serious illness, so I can only talk about it briefly. I graduated from
At that time, it was very convenient to go aboard because I didn’t have to go through any procedures or have a visa and passport and I should register at the Shanghai Consulate. I brought hundreds of silver dollars given by my father and my graduation certificate from senior high school and took the ‘Nagasaki Ship’ from
Yang: What impressed you most when you arrived in
Zhu: When I first arrived in
Yang: Why did you go to
Zhu: I was thinking that the educational system in
In the spring of 1935, I enrolled at the First Higher Education School of Tokyo and was one of the last students. As long as I entered the campus, I saw a monument engraving the ‘Grave of Zhu Shunshui’ which made me feel so close to home. At that time, students studying in
Fortunately, I could enter the First Higher Education School of Tokyo and then received a student subsidy from the boxer indemnity fund, so I could live easily and study hard. I didn’t care about English, but my Japanese was also poor. I should not only learn Japanese but also German, so I read the German dictionary in the libraryevery day to get ready for the teacher’s call.
Actually, my studies in the First Higher Education School of Tokyo consolidated my basic knowledge for entering university. The students were divided according to liberal arts and science and I chose liberal arts. Teaching here focused on the world, including philosophy (Hegel, Kant, etc.), literature (Goethe, Shiller, Shakespeare, etc.) as well as Western History, Cultural History, Japanese History, etc.
At that time, the graduates of the First Higher Education School of Tokyo and Chinese overseas students could go to
Yang: Why did you choose economics at that time?
Zhu: I had already been affected when I was in
Yang: What was the Economics Department of Tokyo University like when you were there?
Zhu: Scholars in
Fortunately, Professor Okochi and Otsuka also worked in the Economics Department, listening to those classes was like a light in the dark. Most of the professors in this department had studied in
Yang: I can say you consolidated your knowledge on the German historical school at that time so that you have made great achievements. I went to college in 1979. When I studied in
Zhu: It was my teacher, Doctor Okochi that inspired me to study Liszt. I entered the Economics Department in 1939 and listened to his special lectures – ‘Liszt Economy’ when I was in Grade 1. When I was in Grade 2, I was authorized to join the ‘Okochi Research Group’. I graduated in December, 1941 and went to the Postgraduate Institute directly. Professor Okochi said to me: “You should stay to do research on the historical schools of German economic thoughts because his theories are of referential significance for developing countries.” I had studied under him for about 6 years, and he played a decisive part in my learning and life. As a Chinese who was facing a broken motherland, what I could do was to study hard and think about ways to rescue
I finished my doctorial paper, ‘Development Theories of National Productive Force of Liszt’ of more than 20,000 words in 1943, I wrote a paper on a part of it ‘The Theories of Productive Force of Liszt and Modernization of China’ published in
I hadn’t published all parts of my book because I was arrested by the Tokyo Military Police for propagandizing the anti-Japanese patriotic movement. They also took away my books in 2 trucks. I was tortured and my right ear was beaten so badly that I became deaf in prison. My teacher protested at the Military Police Station several times. Although they ignored his protests, they didn’t dare to kill me due to the protests at
I was transferred to Chaoya Prison in late October and was released at the end of the year, but I couldn’t walk any longer. A friendly group arranged for me to recuperate. It was in February, 1945 that I came back to
When I came back, I taught Economic Thoughts. At the end of 1945, I held the post of economic thoughts professor in the Business Department of Hujiang University and Economics Department of Fudan University. In 1950, the president of the People’s Bank of China, Nan Hanchen, transferred me to the Head Office. Afterwards, I was marked as ‘Right Wing’ for more than 20 years, but I didn’t forget this subject. I translated ‘Outline of National Economy of Historical Method’ by Roscher during this period. In 1979, I was transferred to the Economics
Liszt, a representative of the German historical school, criticized the British classical economist - Adam Smith because the contemporary problems faced by his country or national conditions were different from those of
Yang: Your studies of Liszt have developed your own school in China, especially “Properties and Morality of the Economist Man in ‘The Wealth of Nation’” published in ‘Economics’ in 1987 which was of great influence and has been adopted by researchers till now. At that time, some scholars in
Zhu: At that time, economic reform relied on developing a market economy and admitted the legitimacy of pursuing private interests. However, we could witness that some have utilized the imperfections of the economic system to seek private interest by damaging the public by hook or by crook in reality. Certainly, scholars at that time discussed whether there were contradictions between commodity economy and morality, so I studied ‘questions of Adam Smith’ to explain their doubts. His questions were basic between market economy and morality as well as economy and ethnics.
It is not scientific for modern economists to simply interpret Smith’s ‘The Wealth of Nation’ from the perspective of equilibrium theory. His book is not only a classic of economics teaching people how to become rich but also an encyclopedia of social sciences instructing people how to dispense with feudalism and move forwards to a modern society of liberated personality.
Scholars of the historical school believe that ‘The Wealth of Nation’ by Smith centers on ‘privatism’ whereas ‘The Theory of Moral Sentiments’ is based on altruism, so these 2 books are logically contradictive.
‘Economist man’ in ‘The Wealth of Nation’ was the embodiment of righteous and moral civilians in 18th century
Considering that society is a community, ‘justice and morality’ is invisible and is the base of social & economical order. For years, I have emphasized that the ‘liberal economy’ and ‘natural & liberal system’ proposed by Smith referred to the liberation of handicraft industrial workers, peasants, craftsmen, etc. from feudal society rather than unchecked freedom. They were equipped with the moral characters of ‘economical man’ in modern times, like observing the laws, caring about others, righteous, careful and ethnical, which represented freedom for civilians. So, each nation shall guarantee their rights according to the Constitution or other regulations. How do they obtain freedom without rights?
Yang: Teacher, could you talk about your studies of Smith? Your work, ‘Adam Smith and Modern China’ examined the dissemination of Liszt’s theories in
Zhu: I wrote this passage through the chance of attending an international academic meeting to commemorate the 200th annivasary of Adam Smith’s death in
Yan Fu translated ‘The Wealth of Nation’so our country could flourish, bring in advanced social & scientific knowledge and arouse the attention of scholars. The translated version is different because Smith’s work is very simple and deals with civilians. Although his translation of ‘The Wealth of Nation’ could not be equal to the translated version of ‘Evolution and Ethnics and Other Essays’ in affecting intellectuals, but his achievement lives for ever.
Guo Di and Wang Yanan translated ‘The Wealth of Nation’ again in 1931 which has been a classic till now, but they only intended to disseminate Marxism political economics. Different from Yan Fu, they didn’t regard ‘The Wealth of Nation’ as the historical experiences of a country moving forward to modernism.
After the establishment of the new
After reform and opening up, something changed, but some scholars still believed that ‘The Wealth of Nation’ was capitalism rather than spiritual possession or classic economics. So, the studies of Smith haven’t made any great progress, great attention was not paid to it and the depth of studies was not equal to that of
Yan: You always ask us to study the classics of Marxism carefully. I know that you began to write about the monetary theory of Marx a long time ago. Could you talk about it?
Zhu: When I studied in
In 1950, I was appointed as the special committee member and researcher in the People’s Bank of China and then I started to study monetary theory, translated ‘Currency Circulation and Credit of Soviet Union’ by Kozlov and wrote papers such as ‘Several Theoretical Issues on RMB’, ‘Basic Theories about Marx Monetary Value’, etc. which received praise from my predecessors such as Zhang Naiqi, Shen Zhiyuan, etc.
Unfortunately, I was marked as ‘Right Wing’ in 1957 which wasn’t made right until June, 1979. Then, I could do research freely, but I was more than 60 at that time. Xu Dixin asked me to work in the
Yang: In the 1990s, you spent lots of energy studying and introducing the Japanese market economy. Your ‘Destruction and Its Lessons of Japanese Foam Economy’ published in 1992 was one of the earliest academic papers concerning the foam economy in China and it enlightened people theoretically and has been quoted all the time. It is still in print
Zhu: After WWWⅡ,
When I was righted in 1979, it happened that Doctor Arisawa Hiromi, a famous economist in
It was in this year that
When we thought how to reform enterprises around 1985, economists in
To introduce the knowledge, I organized some people to translate the works of some Japanese economists and founded the Research Center of Japanese Market Economy in 1992, etc.
In 1992, I wrote a passage concerning the Japanese foam economy because I found some unfavorable phenomenon in the Chinese economy, like excessive interest in stocks, land and real estate. I would like to remind Chinese economists that the conditions in the Chinese market economy were not perfect and mature so that they should not encourage the rise of capital prices, speculation, getting fortune, inflation and unstable currency. Government or banks were incapable of dealing with them. Then, they would destroy the social and economic order engaging in production and creating wealth. It would be hard to build up a healthy market economy and it would lead to no end of trouble. It is quite helpful for us to look in to ourselves if we want to draw lessons from foreign economies.
Yang: How do we learn from Western economies?
Zhu: We should learn about it from Japanese scholars. They never regard the social and scientific classics such as the works of Smith, Hegel, etc. as something different from eastern versions; in contrast, they use them for the spiritual wealth of the entire human society to learn and absorb. They would like to learn all human knowledge and never hold ‘use Chinese culture to manage and western technology to work’ like the Chinese.
Why don’t you learn Hegel? The Japanese want to learn the essence of human society, so they learn faster and more authenticly. I had such feelings when I was a student. I learnt a principle in
When I found how the Japanese cultivate young people, I thought about our country as well. For years, I found that the Chinese didn’t know very much about social sciences. In my opinion, we have neither learned their advanced knowledge nor studied a good way to cultivate young people. If we want to develop a country but we neither learn all the knowledge of human society nor respect science, especially social science, we can’t draft politics perfectly nor cultivate young people, which is very dangerous.
Western economists have already studied the market economy for more than 200 years and it is certain that they understand more, so we shall learn economic knowledge from them. However, there is something unfavorable in their economics. I have written a passage to criticize the tendency of ‘un-economy’. I am not opposed to using math in economics because math is only a kind of scientific tool. Nonetheless, the mathematical and technical treatment of economics is a kind of degeneration, is the sign of poor economical spirit and abandons its scientific intention – ‘to benefit the people’.
Yang: What special expectations do you have of young scholars?
Zhu: You should have ambition and the will to study, namely, ‘every individual must hold himself responsible for the prosperity or decline of his country.’ Otherwise, how could you resist the temptation of the real world? Without such ambitions, it is easy to make use of your studies to obtain benefit and reputation, which runs counter to the professional ethics of scholars or ‘benefit the people’.
School is the beginning and cradle of life. When I studied at the First Higher Education School of Tokyo, Japanese students seemed to be resolute and were not ashamed of wearing torn clothes or not wearing socks. This is a living tradition with great power that celebrities in old
Certainly, it is impossible to study in case of hunger, but we shall fight for the people in our country and truth rather than seek fame or benefit. Only in this case shall we learn forever. Although I am old, I study for knowledge everyday. In my opinion, only in this way shall we keep young forever. As the old saying goes: “There is no limit to studying knowledge”.
However, not only spirit but also favorable learning methods or tools are very important. In particular, you should be skillful at foreign languages. Only in this case can you read the original works carefully, can you know the extent of your research and can move forward on the base of others.
I expect young learners in our country can blosom in their motherland, study hard and read more classic works rather than spend their whole lives earning money because every individual must hold himself responsible for the prosperity or decline of his country.’
Translated by Feng Weijiang.
Editor: Wang Daohang