The New Chinese Classics
The Mician Program for Ancient China
A Taeko Brooks and E Bruce Brooks
Opposition to war is nothing new, in ancient or in modern times. What is unique about Chinese antiquity is the existence of a sub-elite and yet literate group, which from the 04c onward identified itself with the enigmatic leader Mwo Di and called the Mwo-jv (Micians), which formulated, and over time extensively developed, a plan for a society which would be without war. Not only did they conceive of such a society, they attempted by persuasion and direct opposition to implement that plan in the world around them. In this they failed, and the war governments proceeded on their way, irked but not much hampered, until in 0221 only one of them was left standing, and the Chin Empire came into being, This book explores in detail the nature, evolution, and final compromises of the Mician program, which included not only an ethical program (based on a subsistence rather than a display economy), but an antiwar military movement, which sought to strengthen city defenses and thus slow, or ideally halt, the process of political unification by warlike means.
The Mician writings, which are among the more voluminous of the school texts of Chinese antiquity, are organized in four divisions. First, and argumably most important, are the ethical writings,which spell out, and argue for, basic social values of the peaceable state; the state which does not need to go to war to maintain itself. As they develop, these writings call on a variety of proofs of their principles, starting with supernatural sanctions of a distinctly folklike character, the local deities of the land, the family ancestors, and the avenging spirits of those who had been wronged by the oppressive elite. One entire chapter (the oldest, probably a speech of the early leader Mwo Di) is presented entire, together with key passages of later ones.
Next in the canon come what are called the logical or didactic essays, which turn out to proceed from a distinct segment of the Mician movement, one which did not accept the argument by supernatural sanctions, but instead sought a logical grounding for their statements in careful epistemology (only sense data are admitted), and cautious extrapolation from the statements based on sensory experience of the real world. These cryptic statements include advice on the process of persuasion itself, including a recognition of cases where the two opponents lack common assumptions, and so cannot reach agreement.
Third are some reports from a Mician branch in Lu, which imitated the style of the Analects, and sometimes responded to new material in the Analects, and engaged in spirited argument with the Confucian proponents of extravagant customs such as the extended mourning for parents.
Fourth and last are the military writings, which have been partly sampled in the earlier volume, Arts of War. They are here revisited briefly, to show the non-Mician origins of this antiwar kind of war, the progressive technical escalation in the arts of attack and defense, and the extreme discipline (not less brutal than that of the attacking army) which at the end was imposed on the city and its civilian residents by the visiting team of military organizers.
No antiwar movement has ever gone further, over a longer period of time, than the Micians, whose detectable activities cover some two centuries. This volume gives direct access to a representative sample of their literary heritage.
Table of Contents for Waging Peace:
The Peaceable Society
1. First Stirrings (05c)
2. A Speech of Mwo Di (MZ 17, c0390)
3. The Early Program (early 04c)
4. Supernatural Sanctions (mid 04c)
5. The Appeal to Antiquity (late 04c)
6. Defining the Doctrine (early 03c)
Preaching the Doctrine
1. A Window in Lu (MZ 46, mid 04c)
2. A New Line (MZ 47, late 04c)
3. Controversies (MZ 48, early 03c)
4. (MZ 49, mid 03c)
The Logical Basis
1. The First Logical Canons (MZ 40, mid 04c)
2. Further Logical Canons (MZ 40, late 04c)
2. The Late Logical Canons (MZ 41, early 03c)
3. A Late Treatise (MZ 45, mid 03c)
War Against War
1. The Precursors (mid 04c)
2. Technical Escalation (late 04c)
3. Total Defense (early 03c)
Assimilation and Transmission
1. The Last Ethical Writings (MZ 7-1,mid 03c)
2. The Mician Farewell (MZ 50, c0250)
3. A Distant Echo (The Golden Rule)
Chinese Romanization Table
It has been noticed that what became the cardinal ethical principle of the Christian movement, the Golden Rule, has Chinese parallels, but it is not widely recognized that this principle actually arises, not with "Confucius" as is sometimes said, but rather with the Micians. It comes out of their long experience as a trading people, in getting along with others, including others from an entirely different culture.Waging Peace ends with a probable scenario for the way in which this basic idea was introduced, over the trade routes, to the Mediterranean world. Students of peace, including peace as it is now and then preached by religions and other organized ideological movements, may find this not the least important part of the book.
Waging Peace serves as a counterpart Arts of War, the preceding volume in this series. A brief selection of the Mician material for the general reader is available under the title No More War, in the parallel series Ancient China in Context.
A TAEKO BROOKS is Research Associate, and E BRUCE BROOKS is Research Professor of Chinese, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Waging Peace: The Mician Program for Ancient China
Approximately 256 pages
Tentative $49.95 cloth. ISBN 978-936166-30-5
Tentative $26.95 paper. ISBN 978-036166-70-1
Release Date: Expected February 2016
When announced, this book may be ordered from a link that will be provided here.
18 June 2013 / Contact The Project / Exit to Publications Page