#9 Most Impressive Dynasty: the Shang

November 26, 2007

Loyal Readers,

My apologies in the long delays between my posts–from your emails (remember, you can always reach your favorite warlord at YanXishan at gmail dot com) I know that many of you are eagerly following my countdown of the greatest Chinese dynasties. Do I really need to add the word Chinese to that sentence? Like a non-Chinese dynasty could be better than a Chinese one? Ha! Don’t make me laugh. Those readers who have written in have impressed me, and not only because they have universally praised my wisdom and leadership. No, I am also struck by their commitment to learning more about Chinese culture. This is only natural, not just for my Chinese readers, but for the ethnically-challenged (which is to say, non-Chinese) among you. Why? As we say in Chinese, allow me to gift you a word: 天下. Tianxia is what we Chinese control, and since it means “all under Heaven” you can best believe it includes that piece of land you are currently occupying.

I got a little of track there. Back to today’s topic, the ninth most awesome dynasty of all time, the Shang. As I stressed to the JPA in the lecture I gave to them, the Shang earn our respect largely due to their cold-blooded nature. You see, the Shang had a complex social structure, with the rulers at the top, most naturally. At the bottom of the social structure were the slaves. Now, I am no fan of slavery–I prefer to underpay my workers and let them fend for themselves–but here we must find some respect for the Shang. You see, the function of the slaves was to provide human sacrifice for the dead ancestors of the Shang leaders, who were seen as mythical semi-animal divine beings. And those darn ancestors needed lots of sacrifice… thousands and thousands were killed at once in huge sacrifices. Take a look at this artistic representation of some hapless slaves being led to their deaths just to please some dead human/bird bastard:

shang slaves

Hmm…. don’t think that is going to end well for you buddy.

Now, my JPA recruits were a bit confused about what is so great about sacrificing thousands of slaves. What they had trouble wrapping their little Hello-Kitty-addled minds around was the fact that it was great leaders like the Shang kings of old who helped make sure that we here in the Middle Kingdom do not put too much value on human life. Without believing that some abstract concept (divine bird-men, Heaven, Communism) was more important than the lives of millions of peasants, Chinese civilization could never have taken off. Hell, even my most precious JPA would not exist! Forget being sacrificed, life without the JPA–that is just too scary to contemplate.

YXS


#10 Most Impressive Dynasty: the Sui

November 14, 2007

Loyal Fans of the Great Yan Xishan,

Over the next few weeks I will be giving a ten-part lecture for the JPA. Some of these fierce yet feminine warriors have requested that some of the information from the lectures be put online, so that they might get their study on while also downloading Hello Kitty decals to attach to their standard-issue fenjiu dispensers. I have agreed, in part so that I might educate you, the misinformed reader.

My goal in these lectures to help my rank-and-file better understand what Yan Xishan is all about. You see, I am not just here to have sex with my multi-ethnic entourage of working girls or to constantly remind Mao Zedong about all of his dead wives and missing children. No, Yan Xishan has an even loftier goal–to bring order and prosperity to China (and eventually the world, just like that punk Zhu Xi formulated). So I will take the JPA–and you lucky readers as well–through a tour of the Chinese past so that everyone will understand just what makes a great ruling house.

Enough foreplay, lets do the dirty.

#10 Most Impressive Dynasty: the Sui

It never ceases to amaze me that many otherwise educated Chinese have never heard of the Sui. Sure, most laowais do not know what the Sui was or what they were about, but that is to be expected: they are laowais and therefore stupid, if not in fact smelly. Perhaps the failure of knowledge that marks my countrymen stems from the fact that the Sui dynasty was rather short lived (581-618), as well as the fact that the dynasty was rather small. Check the map:

Sui Map

Shit, that is just embarrassing. Plus the founder of the Sui, Yang Jian (also known as Emperor Wen) was kind of a pussy. I know that you might not believe this, but he was monogamous! That meant he only had sex with one woman! And that woman was his wife! What is the point of being the Son of Heaven if you can only screw one woman?

But there were things about the Sui that can be emulated. You see, Yang Jian was not afraid to get his hands dirty and get involved in lives of his subjects. For an activist ruler such as myself, he makes a good model. He reformed the military. He also removed the dreaded “nine ranks” and made office holding non-hereditary. As you should know, I myself went from “rags to riches” (and bitches) so you know I love this. He also employed the “well-field system” to organize land holdings among the peasants. Normally I would not be big on anything promoted by “momma’s boy Mencius” but I find this system intriguing. I am using it with my poppy fields. Wait, did I say poppy? I meant sorghum. In any case, I am using a modified system. Instead of the nine shares for the peasants, one share for the ruler, we are switching it up so I get nine. I smoke way more sorghum then they do anyway.

But we as we learn from the Sui, we also learn from their mistakes. You see, the Sui went a bit too far with the whole activism thing under Emperor Wen’s son. First there was the Grand Canal–that must have seemed like a great idea until the peasant rebellions. Then there was the invasion of Korea… Damn those pesky 高丽膀子 !

So there is much to learn from the Sui. If there is one lesson I will hold close to the heart, it is not to just have one wife. Have many. And do not take the “Maoist” approach of having your wife killed off by the KMT so you can get a new one. Have many at one time! If we learn anything from Chinese history, I hope that we learn this.

YXS