Ron Paul Tzu
by Joshua Snyder
Dr. Ron Paul
of Texas is our American sage. He merits the honorific tzu,
meaning "master," given to the great thinkers of Chinese antiquity:
K'ung Fu Tzu (Confucius), Meng Tzu (Mencius), Lao Tzu, Chuang Tzu,
Sun Tzu and others. Ron Paul Tzu is both a Confucian gentleman and
a Taoist sage.
advocacy of constitutional principles and the thought of the founders
would gain approval from Confucius, who said "I transmit but do
not innovate; I am truthful in what I say and devoted to antiquity
(The Analects, VII, 1)." The Paul Administration will serve
to "transmit" the ideas of our founders and their documents, which
are our classics. There will be no officials who "innovate" upon
them with creative interpretations or dismiss them as "quaint."
Indeed, Dr. Paul's strict adherence to the letter of the Constitution
is reminiscent of the Confucian devotion to the "Rectification of
Names," i.e. the restoration of original interpretations
of words and the rejection of arbitrariness. Said China's first
teacher, "When words lose their meaning, people lose their liberty
(ibid. XIII, 3)."
statement of the Golden rule-"What you do not want done to yourself,
do not do to others (ibid. VX, 24)"-is remarkably similar
to the "no harm" principle that guides Dr. Paul's libertarian philosophy.
While the Confucian version may be less active than the Christian
version, it is perhaps more suitable to governance, in that it allows
individuals and voluntary associations more leeway and incentive
to carry out mutual aid and charity work.
applaud Dr. Paul's opposition to rule by a unitary executive with
unchecked powers. Confucius rejected rule by force, going as far
to say, "Barbarian tribes with their rulers are inferior to Chinese
states without them (ibid. III, 5)." Instead, he proposed
leadership by example, which is what the Paul Administration will
offer America, at home and abroad. Confucius offered this admonition
which could have been levelled at the current occupant of the Oval
Office: "Sir, in carrying on your government, why should you use
killing at all? Let your evinced desires be for what is good, and
the people will be good (ibid. XII, 19)." Indeed, Confucius,
like Dr. Paul, was an arch-enemy of tyranny: "An oppressive government
is fiercer and more feared than a tiger (The Record of Rites
If Dr. Paul
is the consummate Confucian gentleman, he is even more of a Taoist
sage. Here, Lao Tzu presages Dr. Paul's social and economic platform
of individual liberty:
The more prohibitions
there are, the more ritual avoidances, the poorer the people will
be... The more laws are promulgated, the more thieves and bandits
there will be... So long as I 'do nothing' the people will of themselves
be transformed. So long as I love quietude, the people will of themselves
go straight. So long as I act only by inactivity the people will
of themselves become prosperous. (The Classic of the Way and
Virtue II, 57).
The essence of
Dr. Paul's economic ideas are that "by [governmental] inactivity the
people will of themselves become prosperous." When Thomas Jefferson
famously reminded us that "the government is best which governs least,"
he was expressing a Taoist sentiment.
or "do-nothingness" is the Taoist ideal of wu-wei, or non-action.
What is the non-interventionism Dr. Paul proposes for America, and
which he reminds us was our original foreign policy, if not wu-wei
writ large? In warning us of "foreign entanglements" and "entangling
alliances," Washington and Jefferson showed themselves to be Taoist
sages as well. Like the Chinese, Dr. Paul knows that it is wise
to listen to one's ancestors.
Dr. Paul is
a man of peace, but his thoughts echo those of that greatest theorist
of war, Sun Tzu, who, not a chickenhawk, warned that unnecessary
wars should never be waged. Certainly, a Congressmen Sun Tzu would
have voted with Dr. Paul against invading a country that neither
attacked us nor had the means to do so: "Unless endangered do not
engage in warfare. The ruler cannot mobilize the army out of personal
anger (The Art of War XII, 11)." Dr. Paul's call to bring
the troops home immediately from what has been foolishly but accurately
advertised as "The Long War" would have been seconded by Sun Tzu,
who observed, contra Randolph "War is the Health of the
State" Bourne, "There is no instance of a country having benefited
from prolonged warfare (ibid. II, 4)."
Lao Tzu, and Sun Tzu all lived and taught in pre-imperial
China. In 221 B.C., Ch'in Shih-huang united the various Chinese
states into an empire and set about to burn the Confucian classics
and bury their scholars alive. The Legalism of Han Fei Tzu, which
centered on the totalitarian power of the ruler, replaced the humanistic
teachings of Confucianism and Taoism.
is not unlike our own today. The only difference between our Republic's
transformation to Empire and that of ancient China is that ours
has been more subtle. (Ours is the "soft tyranny" spoken of by Alexis
de Tocqueville.) Our Declaration of Independence and Constitution
have not been burned (yet), nor have their defenders been buried
alive (yet), but our founding documents and those who defend them
have been ignored, scorned, circumvented, and trampled upon.
survived the suppression and became the governing philosophy of
the Han and all subsequent dynasties until 1911. Our constitutional
republic, too, will survive and be restored. And there is one man
calling upon our country to return to its founding principles, Ron
great heir, carried on and elaborated his master's theory of benevolent
government, calling for a sage-king to lead, not rule, the people.
Who among the current crop of Republicrat candidates, or even those
of the last generation, has even an ounce of sagacity, save for
Dr. Ron Paul, in whom it abounds. Ron Paul Tzu, the Confucian gentleman
and Taoist sage, stands alone offering "Hope for America" and the
restoration of our Republic.
Catholic son-in-law of Korea, Joshua Snyder [send
him mail] lives with his wife and two children in Pohang, where
he serves as an assistant visiting professor of English at a science
and technology university. He blogs at The
© 2007 LewRockwell.com