There are a variety of ways that Legalism has fundamentally shaped Chinese society and politics. It is, I would contend, impossible to isolate the historical effects of Confucianism without reference to Legalism. And it could be the case the Legalism has actually had a greater impact and longer lasting presence in Chinese life (the authoritarianism of the CCP has certain resonances with the Legalist past, as Mao was willing to admit…) than Confucianism. Thus, it seems to me, that China is at least as much a “Legalist society” as it is a “Confucian society.”
But we don’t say that. Perhaps because we don’t want it to be true. Confucianism is nicer, more humane. It is a moral theory that strives toward a better world. And it is certainly an important part of Chinese tradition. But that does not change the fact that Legalism, too, has had a profound presence in Chinese history. It is largely responsible for the centralized, bureaucratic state, which plays such a central role in defining and reproducing Chinese society and culture over the centuries. And it lives on (unfortunately in my view) in the continuing experience of authoritarianism in Chinese politics. We might want to say, and believe, that China is a “Confucian society,” but I am afraid we must accept the dreary reality that China, too, is a “Legalist society.”
Why Don’t We Call China a “Legalist Society”? | The Useless Tree
One day, high above Arizona , we were monitoring the radio traffic of all the mortal airplanes below us. First, a Cessna pilot asked the air traffic controllers to check his ground speed. ‘Ninety knots,’ ATC replied. A twin Bonanza soon made the same request. ‘One-twenty knots on the ground,’ was the reply. To our surprise, a navy F-18 came over the radio with a ground speed check. I knew exactly what he was doing. Of course, he had a ground speed indicator in his cockpit, but he wanted to let all the bug-smashers in the valley know what real speed was… ‘Dusty 52, we show you at 620 knots on the ground,’ ATC responded.
The situation was too ripe. I heard the click of Walter’s mike button in the rear seat. In his most innocent voice, Walter startled the controller by asking for a ground speed check from 81,000 feet, clearly above controlled airspace. In a cool, professional voice, the controller replied, ‘Aspen 20, I show you at 1,982 knots on the ground.’
Flying the SR-1 Blackbird
It is possible that the public will not fall on the iPad, as I did, like lions on an antelope. Perhaps they will find the apps and the iBooks too expensive. Maybe they will wait for more fully featured later models. But for me, my iPad is like a gun lobbyist’s rifle: the only way you will take it from me is to prise it from my cold, dead hands. One melancholy thought occurs as my fingers glide and flow over the surface of this astonishing object: Douglas Adams is not alive to see the closest thing to his Hitchhiker’s Guide that humankind has yet devised.
The iPad Launch | TIME