Thursday, July 28, 2016

Good Wine in Old Bottles

I am a believer in Natural Law. That is, there are laws in the universe, and human nature, and they can be discovered. You don't have to have a Ph.D. to discover them, or to understand if you follow them things will work out for you and society, and if you don't, instead bad things will happen.

Many of these laws have already been discovered thousands of years ago. Since Natural Laws are universal, you can find them in the moral codes of all societies and all religions.

Let's take a little book called the Tao Te Ching, a book written a few thousand years ago, by Lao Tze. I have a few translations of this book. Here are some of the sayings in it:

"Why are people starving?
Because the rulers eat up the money in taxes.
Therefore the people are starving."

I have modern-day books by Murray Rothbard and Ludwig von Mises, both of whom have expanded greatly on that comment above. I have hundreds of books, with thousands of pages. Yet, those three lines, millennia old and true as can be, stay in my mind.

"Why are the people rebellious?
Because the rulers interfere too much.
Therefore they are rebellious."

Well, that's certainly true, isn't it? The State never learns that lesson, does it?


"The more prohibitions there are, the poorer the people will be."

Hey, Lao Tze was a smart guy! Rules and regulations make people poor.

"The more rules and regulations, the more thieves and robbers."

Yep. Not just the average joe, but the people in the State stealing people's money through misnamed "taxes."


Therefore, The sage does nothing and people govern themselves,
Provokes no one and people are peaceful,
Does not interfere and people prosper,
Is without desire and people fulfill themselves."

Throw out all the Ph.D.s in Political Science from Harvard and Yale and Princeton and the places down. Instead, teach the sayings in this article starting in grade school.


"The more people are controlled, the less contented they become.

But when will leaders understand the significance of this? "

Apparently leaders will never understand it.

“The best rulers are scarcely known by their subjects;
The next best are loved and praised;
The next are feared;
The next despised:
They have no faith in their people,
And their people become unfaithful to them.”
I think I’m not going to make any more comments. Lao Tze doesn’t really did them, since he’s self-explanatory.

“When the best rulers achieve their purpose
Their subjects claim the achievement as their own..
“When harmonious relationships dissolve
Then respect and devotion arise;
When a nation falls to chaos
Then loyalty and patriotism are born.
“Those who wish to change the world
According with their desire
Cannot succeed.
“The world is shaped by the Way;
It cannot be shaped by the self.
Trying to change it, you damage it;
Trying to possess it, you lose it.
“Powerful men are well advised not to use violence,
For violence has a habit of returning;
Thorns and weeds grow wherever an army goes,
And lean years follow a great war.
“A general is well advised
To achieve nothing more than his orders:
Not to take advantage of his victory.
Nor to glory, boast or pride himself;
To do what is dictated by necessity,
But not by choice.
“For even the strongest force will weaken with time,
And then its violence will return, and kill it.
“Armies are tools of violence;
They cause men to hate and fear.
The sage will not join them.
His purpose is creation;
Their purpose is destruction.
“Weapons are tools of violence,
Not of the sage;
He uses them only when there is no choice,
And then calmly, and with tact,
For he finds no beauty in them.
“Whoever finds beauty in weapons
Delights in the slaughter of men;
And who delights in slaughter
Cannot content himself with peace.
“So slaughters must be mourned
And conquest celebrated with a funeral.
“To reduce someone's influence, first expand it;
To reduce someone's force, first increase it;
To overthrow someone, first exalt them;
To take from someone, first give to them.
“This is the subtlety by which the weak overcome the strong:
Fish should not leave their depths,
And swords should not leave their scabbards.
“Well established hierarchies are not easily uprooted;
Closely held beliefs are not easily released;
So ritual enthralls generation after generation.
“When government is lazy and informal
The people are kind and honest;
When government is efficient and severe
The people are discontented and deceitful.
“Who recognizes his limitations is healthy;
Who ignores his limitations is sick.
The sage recognizes this sickness as a limitation.
And so becomes immune.
“When people have nothing more to lose,
Then revolution will result.
“Do not take away their lands,
And do not destroy their livelihoods;
If your burden is not heavy then they will not shirk it.
“When rulers take grain so that they may feast,
Their people become hungry;
When rulers take action to serve their own interests,
Their people become rebellious;
When rulers take lives so that their own lives are maintained,
Their people no longer fear death.”

Who needs all those books when you have this?

4 comments:

Ron said...

'Who needs all those books when you have this? '

Because you can't make an is from an ought.

Bob Wallace said...

That doesn't make any sense at all, but then, I get a lot of that from adolescents.

gaikokumaniakku said...

The is-ought distinction is very useful for Christian philosophers.

To the Christian, natural law is "ought."

The Christian says, "I ought to fulfill ritual obligations, such as going to church on Sunday."

The cracker-barrel critic says, "You ought to be a good Christian, but you ain't!"

But Daoism is not preoccupied with "ought."

Bob Wallace said...

I have a minor in Philosophy and know well what is/ought is. I also know David Hume discovered it.

I also know you got it wrong.