The Huainanzi, a collection of essays of Western Han philosophy and statecraft written over 2,100 years ago, states:
If a ruler rejects those who work for the public good, and employs people according to friendship and factions, then those of bizarre talent and frivolous ability will be promoted out of turn, while conscientious officials will be hindered and will not advance. In this way, the customs of the people will fall into disorder throughout the state, and accomplished officials will struggle.
If the ruler ignores what he should preserve and struggles with his ministers and subordinates about the conduct of affairs, then those with official posts will be preoccupied with holding on to their positions, and those charged with official duties will avoid dismissal by following the whims of the ruler. This will cause capable ministers to conceal their wisdom.
If the ruler is frequently exhausted by attending to lesser duties, proper conduct will deteriorate throughout the state. His knowledge by itself will be insufficient to govern, and he will lack what it takes to deal with the world. [Continue reading…]
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