Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bit by Bit - Chapter 10, Part 5

Trey Smith

Cudgel and cane the sages and let the thieves and bandits go their way; then the world will at last be well ordered! If the stream dries up, the valley will be empty; if the hills wash away, the deep pools will be filled up. And if the sage is dead and gone, then no more great thieves will arise. The world will then be peaceful and free of fuss.

But until the sage is dead, great thieves will never cease to appear, and if you pile on more sages in hopes of bringing the world to order, you will only be piling up more profit for Robber Chih. Fashion pecks and bushels for people to measure by and they will steal by peck and bushel. Fashion scales and balances for people to weigh by and they will steal by scale and balance. Fashion tallies and seals to insure trustworthiness and people will steal with tallies and seals. Fashion benevolence and righteousness to reform people and they will steal with benevolence and righteousness. How do I know this is so? He who steals a belt buckle pays with his life; he who steals a state gets to be a feudal lord-and we all know that benevolence and righteousness are to be found at the gates of the feudal lords. Is this not a case of stealing benevolence and righteousness and the wisdom of the sages? So men go racing in the footsteps of the great thieves, aiming for the rank of feudal lord, stealing benevolence and righteousness, and taking for themselves all the profits of peck and bushel, scale and balance, tally and seal. Though you try to lure them aside with rewards of official carriages and caps of state, you cannot move them; though you threaten them with the executioner's ax, you cannot deter them. This piling up of profits for Robber Chih to the point where nothing can deter him - this is all the fault of the sage!

~ Burton Watson translation ~
Both Tawney and Weber noted that the rise of capitalism occurred hand-in-hand with the spread of Christianity. While the namesake of the religion -- one Jesus Christ -- was something of a communist revolutionary (based on his core message), the Church has utilized his teachings to legitimize exploitation and repression. Were it not for the Christian Church, capitalism may never have succeeded!

To view the Index page for this series, go here.

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