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« Is the Tao Te Ching Consequentialist? | Main | The New Legalists: Distorting Chinese History and Chinese Philosophy for Nationalist Ends »

February 25, 2008


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It almost sounds like you are talking about the mass line when you put it like that.

"It almost sounds like you are talking about the mass line when you put it like that."

Perhaps that was how Mao convinced those Chinese who could not understand Tao to be communists! Just a thought.


Seems you are using "democracy" as a yardstick to measure Tao Te Ching. I wonder how it could ever be done, considering the vagueness both "democracy" and Tao Te Ching.


It is hard to imagine Lao Zi in an election campaign, to make a speech like Obama. If ever pushed to the front, I guess lao Zi would flee as fast and as far as he could and hide himself in the desert...he might expect the democracy (a relatively innocent one) to lynch Plato's Master and his fellow philosopher. As a deep skeptic of the language, he would be horrified by the control and manipulation of the mass media by the economic elites as a mind control machine. He would prefer the innocence of the ignorance farmers (on retaining the De of the their natures) rather than the manufactured opinions of the middle class ... he wouldn’t trust the “democratic peace” theory… the one that is tailor designed to justify all the deeds of Israel in the ME … As a historian in residence at Luoyang who oversees the documents on the down and fall of the 800 years’ Zhou history, he is prejudiced against all the emotional stirring up of masses and danger of the manipulation of public opinions…


I've come to the conclusion that Tao Te Ching is an anarchist text, actually: ultimately the people govern themselves in an atmosphere of equality and non-competition. Laozi, like anarchists, is an optimist at heart, arguing (just like the anarchists) that the removal of oppressive categories and practices will result in happier, self-regulating people.

Perhaps instead of asking "Is the Tao Te Ching Democratic" we should ask "Can democracy be taoist?"

I see support for democracy in the Tao Te Ching. The ruler that does little so that the people are made dynamic and strong seems to make an argument for direct democracy. Certainly a government that requires a sizeable majority of support from a broad electorate would not be able to reach too far and cause too much mischief.

This is not anarchy and neither is Taoism because anarchy workes against the human nature of creating political institutions. The Taoist thinkers seem to stress that we not be taken in to thinking too much of these human constructs like honor, family and government; but to deny them is to deny human nature...and denying nature is anything but Taoist.

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