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:
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.