#4 Most Impressive Dynasty: The Tang

February 8, 2009

Gentle Readers:

Last night, gazing over the beautiful Taiyuan skyline as the sun set to the west of my fortified palace, watching the sun dip below the fragrant haze created by my coal mines, my mind wandered and I began to ponder some of the big questions that have been on my mind since I was a young lad.  Who or what created us?   Was Hong Xiuquan fucking crazy, or was he actually bat-shit crazy?  Why is it that I was destined for greatness, while peasants are destined to farm using their own shit as fertilizer?  Who put that stick up Jiang Jieshi’s ass?  Does Mao Zedong realize that with his accent, he sounds like a little bitch?

As I pondered my role in this world, and my status as a great Chinese leader (and the #1 Chinese thinker), this led me to a new line of inquiry: What is it that defines us as Chinese?  Not in terms of nationality, as this is a simple question.  In terms of nation, China refers to the great Han race and all those minorities lucky enough to be crushed by our superior numbers and hot pot technology.  No, as I pondered the meaning of “Chinese,” I was reflecting on the role of culture.

Now, when I was a young man, Chinese culture was a simple matter.  Drink tea, quote Zhu Xi whenever possible, eat rice, cripple your daughter by binding her feet, and repeat until you croak and your many sons mourn you for three years.  But within my lifetime, so much has changed!  Sure, we still got the rice thing, but nowadays Zhu Xi is out, and Ibsen is in.  And if you bind your daughter’s feet, you are considered a serious asshole.  A few decades ago, if you could not freely pontificate about the “investigation of things” while your womenfolk hobbled about within the seclusion of your estate, you would not be considered Chinese.  These days?  So much has changed!

Now, of course I am thankful for this change.  I mean, I rule Shanxi, so the whole end of the imperial era thing has kind of worked out for me.  Plus, I like a real active sex partner, and women with bound feet really cannot do some of the real freaky shit that I enjoy.  Yes, I know, this makes me a feminist, don’t remind me.  But if we cannot take Chinese culture and fossilize it, how can we ever be sure how to separate the great Chinese from the dirty, stinky, and typically hairy barbarian?  After worrying about this for a few hours, I finally relaxed, thanks to two things.  First was a stiff fenjiu cocktail, second was my memories of the #4 dynasty of all time, the great Tang dynasty!

tang-dynasty-map1

The Tang was truly a great time.  First, as you can see, this was a large dynasty, one that extended a Chinese bitch slap all the way into Inner Asia along the Silk Road.  But what really appeals to me about the Tang was that this was a different China, one would have been unrecognizable to my parents and their generation.  That punk Zhu Xi had not yet put the Neo in Neo-Confucianism.  Women did not yet bind their feet, which meant when you sexed up Yang Guifei, she could do all your favorite positions!  Perhaps most importantly, China was open to other cultures and ideologies–Confucianism was actually taking a back seat to Buddhism!  Crazy.  But if China was culturally so different during one of its greatest eras (specifically, the #4 era ever), then China can change and grow!   This is great news for my plan to replace tea drinking with bourbon guzzling.

Now, the Tang is often considered to be the #1 dynasty of all time.  Close, but not quite.  How can we overlook the fact that the Tang was breifly usurped by the only female emperor in Chinese history?  Thanks to the so-called Empress Wu, the Tang has a black eye that cannot be covered up.  Good thing that I am a feminist, because I can come out and say what all Chinese men know, even us feminists: Women cannot rule All Under Heaven!   All Under My Pants, yes, but not All Under Heaven.

YXS

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Great Men of Shanxi: Duke Wen of Jin

October 7, 2008

Readers:

As usual, a long time has passed since I last had the pleasure of lecturing to the unwashed internet masses about the comings and goings of your favorite warlord.  And as usual, I am not to blame.  Where to start?  All three of the Song sisters have been drunk dialing my Taiyuan palace.  It seems they have no idea how expensive it is to operate a working phone system out here in Shanxi–and in the middle of a war to boot!  I might just have to raise taxes on noodles to pay for their inane blabbering.  Meanwhile, all across my territory I face the constant threat of the further disintegration of political unity. Fucking peasants.

As such, I have lately been thinking about another great man of Shanxi, one who knew how to keep peasants in line.  Previously I introduced you to Judge Dee, a Shanxi native that raised the art of torturing “suspects” to an art form, and a kinky art form at that.  Today I would like to introduce you to one of the earliest Shanxi greats, a powerful statesman known to history as Duke Wen of Jin (晉文公):

Duke Wen is also known as Double Ears (重耳), but I just call him a kick-ass hegemon.  You see, Duke Wen lived during the Spring and Autumn era, when all of China was fragmenting into all of these pathetically tiny states.  He was the ruler of Jin, which being located in what today’s Shanxi, was clearly the most awesome of the states.  But was he content with being ruler of Jin?  Not quite.  He would expand his armies and then expand his state, bringing in lesser states to make Jin even more awesome.  He eventually became one of the “5 Hegemons,” rising to a position of supreme power and holding together the Zhou order.  Truly a role model for all of us.  Or at least for those of us who are rulers from Shanxi.

There are plenty of great stories about Duke Wen, including a funny tale where he accidentally ate his friend’s thigh.  But my favorite tale is as follows: When he was a young buck on the rise, he had to take shelter in the state of Chu.  As a sign of his gratitude, he promised the ruler of Chu that if the two states went to war in the future, he would retreat a distance of a three day march, and only then fight.  Sure enough, after Duke Wen was in control of Jin, war with Chu came, and true to his word he retreated.  But after seeing that Chu still wanted a showdown, he used his retreat to lure the Chu troops to press thier attack in a reckless fashion.  The result was a bunch of dead Chu nobles.  I sometimes wonder what it would be like to kill nobles instead of peasants.  Anyway, to be a man of honor, and yet still find ways to trick your opponent and then kill them?  A great man indeed.

YXS


#5 Most Impressive Dynasty: The Han

August 23, 2008

Good Friends:

As my longtime readers may have noted, something has been wrong with the Yan Xishan Blog lately. Earthquakes, Tang dynasty magistrates, and dumbass laowai have been distracting me from my primary goal for the year. Well, I suppose my primary goals for 1941 should be wiping out the wife-sharing ideologues and convincing the 小日本儿’s to return the panties of our good Shanxi women and get the hell back to their little island chain. But beyond that, I have been attempting to educate my soldiers (and by extension the uneducated masses of the so-called “internet”) about the wonders of Chinese imperial history. I fear a future where people learn about our past from pasty-faced intellectuals who can never understand that killing peasants is not only essential in the state-building process, but fun as well! Why just last week… wait, I am getting off track again. You can see how this could happen so easily with a Great Man such as myself. Speaking of which, I am thinking that once the war is over, I will put my visage on every single monetary denomination. But for the fiver, I am thinking about this for the image: me, giving Zhou Enlai a noogie. Shit, I am getting off track again. I need to stop holding special 8:00 AM happy hours.

But this conception of myself as a Great Man is relevant to today’s topic. As I explained to my JPA troops in my most recent lecture, a truly great dynasty is defined by great men. And there were many great men in the #5 Most Impressive Chinese Dynasty, the Han. First, let’s take a look at the map:

Not bad. I have seen better, but compared to the Sui, that is nothing to sneeze at. Now, who were these great men of the Han? The first in my estimation is Liu Bang, the founder of the Han. He was of peasant origin, which is rather problematic in my estimation. As a social climber, I can dig his rise to power, but as someone who is currently the ruler of millions of peasants, I do not want them getting any big ideas. Liu Bang became the ruler of the realm by putting the beat down on the great general Xiang Yu. During the critical battle, he duped Xiang Yu into thinking that his own men had turned on him. Liu Bang did this by having his own men sing the songs of Chu, where Xiang Yu hailed from. Interesting, huh? I should note that I have some long term plans that require my JPA troops to learn Carmen Miranda songs. Just in case, you know.

My other favorite Great Man of the Han was Wudi, a later Han emperor. He was a man of action, and a great role model for powerful Chinese men everywhere. Here is a man who would never be seen holding a clutch purse. Instead, he expanded the Chinese state to the largest it ever had been, at least up to that point. What a stupendous feeling that must be… unfortunately for me to have that feeling, I think that after I unify China, I would need to then go ahead and annex Sibera. Besides being a conqueror, Wudi also knew how to get up in people’s faces. This was no distant Laozi-style ruler, but one that got right up in a peasant’s grill and said: Hey little buddy, instead of letting the market tell you how much grain costs, how about I just tell you instead?

Now, there are many other great men of the Han, espeically if we consider the warlords that emerged at the end of the period.  I am talking, of course, about men such as Cao Cao (holy shit Cao Cao just showed up at my Taiyuan palace).  But let me tell you, dear reader, no matter what radical revisionists such as Kenny Pomeranz might say, Wang Mang was no great man.  He was a punk usurper, plain and simple.  And anyone who mentions land reform, as he often did, was obviously a Commie Pinko.  I would have had him quickly introduced to my famous hay chopper.  If it was good enough for Liu Hulan…

Well, there you have it kids–a few great men of the great Han dynasty.  I am pretty sure there were some pretty groovy chicks during the Han–I hear there was this one chick Ban Zhao who could teach other chicks to be good wives, that sounds pretty cool.  Overall, what a fucking great dynasty.  But still not the greatest.  I mean, Wang Mang pretty much screwed up the second half of the thing, plus there was this whole Confucian emphasis that threatened to limit the power of the emperor.  Don’t worry folks, the best is yet to come.  Stay tuned for my future post on the #4 most impressive dynasty.

YXS


Great Men of Shanxi: Judge Dee

July 22, 2008

Ah, what a busy summer it has been!  I have been unable to update you, my dear reader, with the regularity you must surely crave, but here is a quick recap:  It has been most horribly hot here in Taiyuan, and not even my wives constant fanning and continuous service from my robotics division has been enough to keep me cool.  The heat, I must admit, has gone to my head on several occasions.  Why, just last week I flew off into a rage and had 25 communists executed via hay chopper, only to later learn they their Lu Xun study group was actually a study group and not a cover for anti-Yan Xishan activities.  Whoops!  Speaking of the dreaded Pink Threat, the JPA has been busy in that regard too.  But after months of constant battles, the Commies have finally retreated to Yan’an to share their peasant wives and pop sleeping pills.  Can final victory be just around the corner?  Stay tuned my friends.

With the lull in fighting, I have decided to educate you, loyal reader, about the greatness of Shanxi.  What’s that you say?  You already know that since I hail from this province, it must be great?  How true.  But here is what you do not know–I am not the only great man to be born from the warm bosom of Shanxi.  No, Shanxi has a long tradition of producing the finest men in China (which of course means we are the finest men in the world!).  To wit, please meet my Shanxi brother, Judge Dee–a native of Taiyuan:

Now, Judge Dee (real name Di Renjie) was an official during the Tang Dynasty.  Well, actually he served under Empress Wu’s Zhou Dynasty, but I would rather not dwell on that fact.  I mean, serving a female ruler?  Not my style.  But my boy Renjie, despite this flaw, was all man.  He was known for laying down justice, Chinese style.  Which is to say he tortured anyone he pleased, then afterwords had a few drinks and and a delicious meal.  And when I say torture, I mean torture!  Talking back to the judge?  How about 100 lashes of the heavy bamboo?  Looking suspicious?  That will be 40 lashes with the whip against your bare back. Don’t want to confess even though I know you must be guilty?  How about I slowly turn your ankles into jelly until you admit I am right about everything?

And while he served a woman, Judge Dee had what my General Bragg, my US military advisor, would call a “strong pimp hand.”  Check out his interrogation of a beautiful-yet-murderous woman:

Who knew justice could be so wonderfully raunchy?  Nowadays, thanks to brainwahsed Westernized liberals like Song Qingling, we are supposed to pretend in things like not torturing people, but this is not the Shanxi way.  Hell, it is not even the Chinese way!  Here we have a simple philosophy about justice: No evidence?  No problem!

With such a great heritage, is it any wonder that Shanxi has produced a Yan Xishan?

YXS


#6 Most Impressive Dyansty: the Ming

May 15, 2008

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, Founder of the Ming

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?

Indeed.

YXS

PS–Note to self, make sure my offspring are not total fuck ups.


#7 Most Impressive Dyansty: the Zhou

April 6, 2008

Eternal Fans of the Powerful Yan Xishan,

I know what you are thinking. It probably goes something along these lines: “Damn Yan Xishan, how can you keep me waiting for so long between your brilliant posts? My life is fucking stupid without your wisdom to brighten my day!”

Yes, I know it has been a long time. But what can I say, I have been distracted as of late. First, Wang Jingwei is attempting to bribe me, hoping I will join up with his puppet-ass state. No way that will ever happen–Yan Xishan put Shanxi together proper like, and Yan Xishan only trusts Yan Xishan–but it is fun to get his hopes up. Shit, he has not been this optimistic since Hu Hanmin got sent to Russia back in 1925. I will probably string him along for a few more weeks, as I am quite enjoying the sake he has been sending me. I have also been a bit busy with one of my newest JPA recruits. I will not go into detail, but let’s just say she sure knows how to polish my Mauser. Hmm, that is kind of filthy. Let’s just say she sure knows how to establish hegemony over my territory. That does not quite work…. Let’s just say she sure knows how to dredge my wasteland, reclaim it as a productive agricultural field, rent it out at high rates, and avoid taxes on it to boot.

Now that we are all caught up, here is my latest JPA history lecture in my “Top Dynasties” series. We are at number seven, and (drum roll please) the number seven spot goes to the Zhou dynasty. Now, I am sure Confucius is spinning in his grave (unless the Commies have somehow managed to dig up his grave and use his bones as drumsticks in their hippie drum circles) as I write this, because that damn Kongzi was all about praising the Zhou dynasty to anyone who would listen. I have already explained how Confucius was a punk here and here, but suffice it to say he was, like all educators, a total assfrog. So you will have to forgive me for disagreeing with Confucius and telling you that the Zhou dynasty was not the imperial equivalent to sliced mantou.

Why was this the case? First of all, the Zhou founders were moralistic bastards. They overthrew the Shang because they were power hungry, but used sissy moralist rhetoric to justify their actions. Thus they called out the Shang for loving to party, and those of us who love booze and whores have been fighting for repsect ever since. Check out this painting of the Shang rulers:

Tame comapred to Taiyuan

Now, I do not know about you, but if you ask me these guys look like they know how to party. And while they seem a bit tame when compared to myself and my inner circle, I bet they could at least go a few rounds before passing out being dragged out of my Taiyuan citadel.

Having unjustly overthrown the good-time-party-boys of the Shang, the Zhou had to explain why they did so, and what they came up with was the “Mandate of Heaven.” Basically, this theory holds that Heaven is always judging you, and if the ruler has too much fun Heaven finds some one to replace him. In retrospect, all I can say is what a bunch of fucking idiots. Sure, Kings Wen and Wu, you sure explained why you did what you did. But guess what? Now every hungry peasant with a half-assed army is going to be trying to overthrow you and every other ruler, claiming to have the Mandate of Heaven backing them up. Way to think that one through buddy. Bad enough to think Heaven is up there judging me for doing body shots of fenjiu with various ladies with low moral standards, but to think that this sort of behavior would make me lose power? Total bullshit, but thanks to the Zhou there is probably some starving peasant, standing in his own filth, ranting about how they are the new Son of Heaven.

Now, why is the Zhou even on this list? Well, one reason people love the Zhou is because it lasted so damn long–1122 BCE-256BCE–but let’s not kid ourselves. They Zhou ruling house was only in power for a small part of their dynasty. This brings us to the real reason this period rocked–lots of small states fighting for control of the world (in other words China). Sound familiar? Yes my dear readers, there is much in common between the latter part of the Zhou (known as the Warring States period) and the current warlord era (soon to be known as the Rise of Yan Xishan Era). In both times we see great men enjoying the hunt, the battle, and the spoils of war. All this death and destruction made for some great philosophy, which you can learn about here. But beyond that the Zhou saw the rise of the autocratic state, focused solely on destroying other autocratic states. Without their advances in taxing and recruiting peasants, where would I be?

I tell you where I would not be–kicking back in my war room, getting an anmo from a young JPA recruit, and getting my beer served by a robot. Thanks for that King Wen. I am sure that is what you had in mind when you cut off the head of the last Shang king.

YXS


#8 Most Impressive Dyansty: the Yuan

December 12, 2007

Loyal Readers:

I got a letter from Jiang Jieshi the other day. I opened it, and read it, it said he was a sucka. True story, thought you should know.

Last week I was giving the latest installment in my 10-part lecture series on the greatest dynasties of all time to the JPA when I had a strange thought. Now normally I keep my thoughts to myself–did not the great Han Feizi warn us that the ruler must be mysterious and unknowable?–but I like you, so I think I can let you in this one time.

Well, but first I have to tell you about the lecture, which is the whole point of this blog post, so here it goes. The lecture concerned the #8 Most Impressive Chinese Dynasty, the Yuan. Now I know what you are thinking (you see, unlike me, you are not so mysterious). You are wondering how I could consider the Yuan to be a great dynasty, when not only was it a short lived dynasty, but a foreign dynasty as well! And not just a foreign dynasty, but a dynasty created and ruled by the the most dirty and dastardly of the barbarians, the Mongols!

Of course these are all fine complaints. What good is supreme power if you cannot hold onto it long enough to make at least 10 generations of peasants truly miserable? And yes, Mongols are Mongols. I mean, sure I enjoy the dirty and dastardly company of certain shapely members of the “Golden Horde” but those are merely professional relations. I certainly would never let them place me third on a social stratification scheme, nestled between random foreigners and rice munching southerners.

That said, look at this beautiful map:

mongols map

Oh my, ain’t she a beaut? And this is why, even though the dynasty was as short-lived as a bottle of fenjiu in my liquor cabinet, we must give proper respect to the Yuan. They knew how to conquer. If it wasn’t for some dumb luck, they would have finished off Europe as well. I am actually glad that they never got around to that… I imagine this will be my legacy, and it would be rather tainted if some yurt-dwelling fool beat me too it.

A few things we can learn from the Yuan. First, killing people is good. Killing lots of people is even better. Why? Because after you kill lots of people, other people will be afraid of you and give you shit, like their homeland to rule. How sweet is that? Second, if you cannot defeat an enemy, get some of the enemy to join you so you can kill the rest of their people. Which leads me to number three, people are stupid. I mean, come on Song China! Which one of you douchebags said “Hmmm, the Mongols can never defeat us without a navy. Well, I better see about getting them a navy!”

The Mongols also showed us the wisdom in hiring laowai to do shit for us. They hired a bunch of laowai, except then they were called semuren. I got some laowai working for me. No, not just the working girls, I got a truckload of American military advisers. Does not seem fair, they got Marco Polo, I get General Bragg and his “fight Japan” bullshit.

Well, back to the strange thought I had. During my lecture, I was talking about how the Mongols, being idiots, originally wanted to convert all of north China into pastures for their horses. Luckily they were talked out of it by an intelligent (which is to say non-Mongol) official. This plan would have called for the extermination of all the residents of north China–my people would have been wiped out, my beautiful Shanxi made to look like pony heaven–and Yan Xishan never would have existed. Funny how history works sometimes.

Well, guess what Mongolia? You missed your chance, cause I am alive and kicking! You best believe I will not shed a tear for your would-be grandchildren after I turn your grasslands into the world’s biggest poppy field.

Like I said, funny how history works sometimes.

YXS