Sons and Daughters of the Order of Yan Xishan,
Welcome again to my ongoing rundown of the greatest dynasties in the history of the world’s most awesome and super-duper civilization, that of the Chinese. Did you know that we invented everything? We did. Name a thing. What was that you said? Gunpowder? Kites? The Hay Chopper Chop? We totally invented all of those–hell, I was even personally responsible for one of these inventions, and you can be sure that it was not the kite that sprang from the mind of your favorite warlord.
Now, it is true that our rate of inventions has slowed down a bit. Ever since the Song dynasty, China has been plagued by a horrible curse, for you see we are forced to deal with millions and millions of poor peasants. With so many of these damn peasants, all of whom were willing to labor all day for peanuts (or the equivalent rate in rice), there really was no need to develop new agricultural techniques or pretty much any other labor saving device. Hell, it seemed downright anti-Confucian to deny our beloved peasants their enjoyable back-breaking labor by re-inventing the water wheel. But as I explained in my recent lecture to the JPA, this does not mean that Chinese invention stopped. No, we glorious Chinese turned our keen minds to other forms of invention.
So it was with the founder of the Ming dynasty, ranked number #6 in this definitive countdown of the greatest Chinese dynasties to ever rule All Under Heaven. For this great and wise man, known to us as Zhu Yuanzhang, recast the imperial state. First, a bit about the man:
Zhu Yuanzhang, as you can see, was no 花花公子. He was even more pockmarked than Jiang Jieshi’s favorite Shanghai gangster. In that sense, I have trouble relating to him, for I am a dapper gentleman of the highest order. Well, that is not entirely true–I should not really say that I am a gentleman, only that I know how to act like one when needed. I am, however, a damn fine looking man–although I am not sure why I need to remind you of this, you have seen my photos.
Anyway, Zhu Yuanzhang was ugly, but he was a genius. He basically re-invented the imperial state, creating an autocratic and authoritarian regime that power hungry and paranoid rulers have been enjoying ever since. In the past, emperors had to listen to their ministers. But once Zhu solved this problem by cutting off the head of his government; he did so literally, making me think he would be a fan of my patented Hay Chopper Chop. I mean, once the Prime Minister has no head, how the hell is he going to complain about the increasing diversion of flood control funds into the fenjiu shush fund?
Alas, the state he created was not without flaws. First, it was small:
I mean, it could be worse. But really, what happened to West China? Tibet? Hello? Anyone there? It seems Zhu Yuanzhang misunderstood “All Under Heaven” as meaning “This Small Pathetic Part of All Under Heaven.” Trust me, that is not a mistake I will make. As I noted after meeting the Dalai Lama, I am still undecided about invading Tibet. On one hand, having it does make the map much more impressive. On the other hand, yak butter tea (ugh, I just threw up a bit). In any case, Zhu Yuanzhang never even dared to venture west as I have, and for that I look down at him like the pock-marked porcine caricature that he is.
The real problem with the Ming, however, is that Zhu Yuanzhan’s offspring were royal fuck-ups. They make Puyi look like Kangxi, if you get my meaning. When you put all power in the hands of the ruler and reduce the officials to a bunch of yellow bellied fools dragging their coffins to court, you best have a damn competent ruler. But Zhu Yuanzhang’s descendants were not fit to manage a Shanxi noodle shop. Take for example Zhu Houzhao, better known as the Wuzong Emperor. Houzhao didn’t like to study, loved war games, and boozed his life away. Now, I imagine you are wondering what could be wrong with boozing–nothing in the abstract, but ol’ Wuzong got so loaded he fell out of a fishing boat and died from complications. Now, if you are too stupid to figure out how to safely pass out on your kang, how the hell you gonna run a damn empire?
PS–Note to self, make sure my offspring are not total fuck ups.