The Book of Lord Shang

商君书 (The Book of Lord Shang) by 商鞅 (Shang Yang) of the Warring States. is an ancient Chinese text from the 3rd century BC, regarded as a foundational work of “Chinese Legalism” 法家. It was a banned book that only nobles were allowed to read. The main theme of the book is:

Empowered people = weak country. Powerless people = powerful country.

The 5 keys for governing people. 1)stupefy 2)weaken 3)impoverish 4)exhaust 5)humiliate.

  1. Inculcate faith in the rulers. The function of the people is to work for the country during peacetime and fight for the country during war.
  2. Limit the people’s access to news, knowledge and metal tools that can be used as weapons.
  3. Confiscate “excess wealth”, making sure that the common people have just enough to get by. People who are too comfortable will harbour “evil thoughts”.
  4. Conscript people and exhaust their energies with massive engineering projects.
  5. Take away the people’s privacy. Get neighbours to tell on neighbours. Impose collective punishment.

Humiliate and weaken people so they would respect authority. Impoverish them so they would crave rewards. When the people have low self esteem, they will respect nobles and authority.