Top Ten Chinese Thinkers #2: Zhuangzi

May 31, 2007

As we continue the countdown, this next one might surprise many of you. Hell, I find it shocking, and I am the one producing this authoritative list of great Chinese philosphers! Without further ado, here he is, #2:


Zhuangzi, aka Chuang Tzu

I know what you are thinking: “Yan Xishan, what are you thinking? Has everyone’s favorite warlord lost his marbles?” I know, Zhuangzi was something of the anarchist. He once compared working for the government to being cooked alive in a tasty soup (if he was alive today I am sure it would be a hotpot analogy). He thought we should do away with government–and here I am, attempting to bring the world as we know it (also known as China) under my personal rule. Zhuangzi also saw no use for basic categories–he once famously postulated that it was pointless to say death was bad, since we had no idea what it was like in comparison to life. Seeing as how I have acted in self-interest all my life, to not only stay alive but to get ahead no matter what, I admit it must be confusing for many of you when I say Zhuangzi is the #2 guy when it comes to Chinese philiosphy.

But my true fans know me, and they will understand. You see, I am something of a drunk. One of my favorite ways to pass a warm Shanxi summer night is to chug beer and do shots of fenjiu out of the belly button of one of my many wives. Many times the fenjiu belly vessel will not be a wife, but a poor peasant girl I forced into my household, or perhaps a professional sex worker. In any case, up late at night, drunk and pleased with myself, staring up at that one star still visible through the haze created by my coal mines, my mind often wanders away from pressing military concerns. I often find myself thinking about the philosophical conundrums raised by Zhuangzi.

Am I really Yan Xishan? Or is this some sort of dream, and when I wake up I will discover that I am in fact some sort of stinking insect? Damn. That’s some deep shit right there.




Top Ten Chinese Thinkers #3: Han Feizi

May 30, 2007

YXS Loyalists:

Now we come to the truly great philosophers, the one that inspire deep reverence on my part. You might recall in our previous discussion of Xunzi, that while he was a genius–one of the first to see humans as inherently evil–he sided with the Chinese imperial equivalent of France. By advising the losing state of Qi, Xunzi proved that there was at least one man greater than him. I refer of course to that greatest of Waring States thinkers, the advisor to Qin:


Han Feizi, aka Han Fei, aka Han Fei Tzu

Han Feizi actauly started out as a disciple to Xunzi before parting ways with Confucianism, turning his back on Kongzi for the cold and hard realities of Legalism. As someone who has personally danced on Yuan Shikai’s grave, let me tell you, there is nothing sweeter than outlasting/defeating former teachers. I bet Han Feizi got loaded when Qin defeated Qi–perhaps even claiming a few of Xunzi’s wives as his own. I know that is what I would have done.

Han Feizi’s view of the state meshes perfectly with my own. He saw the ruler as fundamentally isolated and surrouned by peoeple motivated by self-interest. Check and check! He advocated keeping a tight grip on your officials, and to not be afraid to execute them if needed. He also cracked down on the “five vermin”; this included killing off lots of scholars. Be warned so-called academics–You are vermin in Han Feizi’s eyes, and rulers would be wise to dispatch you as soon as you can be lured out of your libraries. I am thinking that once I am back in power in Shanxi I will start a new fellowship program to bring leading scholars to do “research” in the Taiyuan Archives. Oh, and by “research” I mean working in one of Taiyuan’s many fine coal mines.

Perhaps the only reason HFZ is not any higher on this list is that he was out-maneuvered by that punk Li Si, who turned Qinshi Huangdi against HFZ, even though Han Feizi was rumored to be the emperor’s father. Han Feizi died in jail, which is just inexcusable–great philosophers make other people die in jail, not the other way around! Even though he died in jail like a student activist, my great respect for him compels me to grant him the honor of #3 on the list.

A Warlord Returns

May 29, 2007

Loyal Readers,

I write to you from the comforts of the US military finest air transport. I am working on my fifth martini (gin, very dry) and enjoying a Cuban cigar–General Bragg has been kind enough to give me a case of these beautiful creations as a parting gift. These creature comforts have only increased my happiness, as I must admit I am ecstatic–I am on my way back to the Motherland, to reclaim my rightful place at the helm of Shanxi, the greatest place on earth.  It truly is the magical kingdom.

Exactly how will I accomplish this? I wish I could tell you, but alas, due to military concerns my plans must remain confidential. All I can tell you is that the plan involves the JPA and a few hundred cases of fenjiu. First stop is Beiping, where I will attempt to work out a deal with Feng Yuxiang or whatever warlord currently controls the former Beijing.

On to victory! In the meantime, I will get back to drinking these delicious martinis. It must be the altitude… I am getting fantastically loaded.


On Unruly Students

May 28, 2007

I am compelled to comment on the latest topic to set the interwebs on fire, the unruly student in Beiping who dared to attack his university professor. You can see the video below:

Now, I was heavily conflicted after watching this video. I, after all, was once one of the most unruly of all students. I played a key role in bringing down the Qing empire! So I am no stranger to student activism. But as I see it, these Beiping students have gone too far. If they were in Shanxi, they would get the Hay Chopper Chop, no doubt about it. I hereby call on Feng Yuxiang (or whoever it is that is running Beiping these days) to get cracking.

Top Ten Chinese Thinkers#4: Its a Tie…

May 25, 2007

Today the countdown takes on two of the greatest minds to ever grace the Middle Kingdom. I could not decide which figure was more worthy of your emulation, so it is a tie. And yes, I know that this means this list will technically be a “top eleven” list, but guess what? Part of being me is making the rules up as I go along. Get used to it.

We start with the man who inspired the countdown:

kongzi 2

Kongzi, aka Confucius

Now Confucius-lovers like that crazy woman Yu Dan are probably plotting my execution. At least when the deed is done they will carry out the funeral rites in a manner that can only be described as perfect. Here is what I said back then:

“Anyway, once again my Chinese brothers and sisters are turning to Kongzi to give their lives meaning. Seems some chick (a chick!) wrote a book about how Kongzi has so much to teach us. What a joke. Now, Kongzi was not as big of a sexist as some make him out to be. It was my boy Zhu Xi who really put women in their place. That place, BTW, is nei-leave the wai to us men. Still, I have to believe that Kongzi would agree that women authors should stick with cookbooks. One of my wives thinks that I am just hating. Yeah, you know what? It does hurt that this chick has a best seller while my masterpiece, Yan Xishan: Using Warlord Wisdom to Achieve Personal Perfection in Ten Steps has yet to break into double digit sales.

But really, I am just not into Kongzi. He is always going on and on about correct ritual practice. Clear case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)-this fool needs serious medication. As my subjects know, I am more of a freewheeling, boozing, gambling, whoring type of leader. Until Kongzi develops the correct ritual practice for doing shots of fenjiu with Mongolian hookers, he can stay the hell out of my HQ.”

I still stand by this interpretation of Kongzi. For all his influence, he was too anal about ritual for my liking. Perhaps it is only fair that he shares the #4 spot with one of my personal heroes:


Yuan Shikai

Yuan Shikai-now here is a man a warlord such as myself can truly admire. Sure, he is hated for betraying both the Qing court and the new Republic, but he taught me that in these crazy days, you always gotta look out for #1. I still remember the last words he ever told me: “When you need five Mexican silver dollars, don’t ask for three. Ask for ten.” Now you tell me readers, what the hell did Kongzi ever say that contains so much wisdom? Besides, in actuality my boy Shikai was not the cause of the downfall of the Republic. That regime was weak and destined to fail. You know why everyone hates Yuan Shikai? Because every story needs a bad guy. Same reason everyone is always hating on me.

I could go on and on about YSK. He helped send me to Japan for my military training. His reorganization of the Beiyang army helped lay the foundations for the warlord era, which has been a great time for warlords such as myself. He made the connections between military rule and political power self-evident. He made killing peasants fashionable again when he put down the Boxer Uprising in Shandong. And of course he had the highly annoying Song Jiaoren assassinated, a move that set off a chain of events that put him in power of all of China. That he had it done at the train station–on the platform!–as Song was about to come to Beiping, well that is pure genius.

As much as YXS respects YSK, there is a reason he can rise no higher than Kongzi on this list. You see, in 1915 he attempted to have himself declared emperor of a new dynasty. Even worse, he had the most ridiculous emperor name-Hongxian, or “glorious constitution.” One of my favorite Beiping consorts once told me he paid extra if she would call him Hongxian in the sack-that kind of always grossed me out. That and the fact I was sharing women with one of my mentors.

I should note that some of my subjects have begged me to declare myself emperor and revive the empire, and I would be lying if I have not considered this option on a few occasions. But I don’t think I could ever go through with it. To be frank, I prefer my women to yell out my military rank when I do my thing.



The Critics Come Out!

May 22, 2007

Dear YXS Fans,

As many of you surely know, the blogosphere has been set ablaze with debate over my ongoing countdown of the top ten Chinese philosophers. Not surprisingly, many commentators have been quick to cast judgment on my choices, as well as disparage my personal character. The latest mudslinging has come from the otherwise compelling blog peer-see, whose writers have accused me of being a DMT fiend for rating Mozi at #9. Now my longtime readers will know that I am no friend of the Alan Watts/Terrance McKenna Hippie Gestapo, but let me state again clearly–my only vice is fenjiu. And whoring. Is ordering executions a vice? I guess there are a few more, but none of the hippie ones.

“peer-see” have their own idea idea about who number #1 should be, nominating “Sanjaya,” who I suppose must be one of the early Buddhist missionaries to arrive in China during the Han dynasty. I am really not that much a Buddhist, so I am not familiar with him and thus there is no way he can make the list. Yes, I do call myself a Buddhist, but only because European chicks are down with that kind of stuff. Plus, ever read the Vimalakirti Sutra? According to this most enlightened text, you can be a Bodhisattva while hanging out with whores. Best sutra ever, hands down. If the author of the Vimalakirti Sutra was Chinese, he just might make my list. But unless I get some proof that “Sanjaya” was the author of this most sacred sutra, AND he lived in China for over 51% of his adult life–no way peer-see.


Top Ten Chinese Thinkers #5: Laozi

May 21, 2007

As we move into the top half of the countdown, we meet a truly great figure. But as great as he is, he is totally misunderstood. Once again, I can relate. Sometimes I just so sick of everyone–journalists, historians, Commies–calling me a “warlord.” Sure, I rely on military power to control my territory. But is that what really defines me? Did you know I also enjoy working on scrapbooks? It is true, but you won’t see Fairbank describing me as a “Scrapbooker” even though it is just as valid of a description as me as a “warlord.” But I digress. Here he is, #5:


Laozi, aka Lao Tzu

Now my boy Laozi is misunderstood because everyone thinks he was some kind of mystical hippie. This view was promoted first by Confucians, then by hippie burnouts. I cannot think of any other historical crime committed by the evil duo that is Mengzi and Alan Watts.

In actuality, Laozi was concerned with restoring the social order–just as I am focused on restoring order in Shanxi and eventually bringing all of China under my benevolent rule. Laozi also saw the folly of making ethical decisions, as morality was an illusion. Whenever I am about to execute Commie organizers or steal a young peasant wife to serve in my household only to sell her after she gets mysteriously knocked up, I just remember the words of Laozi and feel good about my personal life choices. Like, really good.

For all the good Laozi has done in justifying my murderous style of rule–and he has done even more than Sunzi–he has one big knock against him that keeps him from climbing even higher on the list. Turns out the story of his life–the whole riding off into the West on a blue ox–is fabricated. He probably never even existed, and I prefer my role models to be actual historical figures.