Mencius and Mozi on the Government

“Why must the king speak of profit? There are humaneness and rightness, that is all. If the king says, ‘How can I profit my state?’ the officers will say, ‘How can I profit my house?’ and the gentlemen and the common people will say, ‘How can I profit my person?’ Those above and those below will be competing with one another for profit, and the state will be imperiled…the king should speak of humanness and rightness. Why is it necessary to speak of profit?” (Sources of Chinese Traditions (Vol.1): Selections from the Mencius P.116, 1A:1)

“In caring for the people, presiding over the alters of the soil and the grain, and ordering the state, the ruler and high officials these days strive for stability and seek to avoid any error. But do they fail to perceive that honoring the worthy is the foundation of government?” (Sources of Chinese Traditions (Vol.1): Selections from the Mozi P. 66, Section 9)

Both Mencius and Mozi provide a roadmap for an efficient and effective state by putting the ‘worthy’ individuals and decisions as the foundation of a good governance. By honoring the worthy individuals in a close-knit and family oriented Chinese society of that time and encouraging selfless government policies provided effective policy framework to the Kings to manage a vast and diversified Chinese empires. Both Mozi and Mencius seek to establish selfless and worthy governance and seem to compliment each other’s views. Early philosophers of China like Mozi and Mencius played an essential role in forming then Chinese society. Its interesting to realize that their intellectual premises still hold a valid position in establishing a viable and good governance system anywhere in the world; however, the current Chinese governance policies may be far from these teachings.


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