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Ancient Chinese nepotism

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theSinitic View Drop Down

Joined: 08-Jun-2014
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    Posted: 23-Sep-2014 at 02:19
Nepotism seems to be a problem throughout the world.  In Chinese history, the first nepotists which can be distinguished were the operators of the Zhou dynasty.  In the previous eras, people were chosen by merit to become emperors.  For example, a man's genius whose knowledge helped to avert a disaster helped him rise in the political ranks.  The rulers of Zhou were not chosen this way.  They rose to power by ousting the Shang on a note which resonated with the much later Mukden Incident by the Japanese to start tensions with China.

In this wiki passage, we can gain a clear idea what the Zhou thought of the Shang and the extent reached to portray them as despised and wicked.  They had to resort to mythical exaggeration just to enforce their bigotry about prohibition.

Alcohol lake

According to Liu Xiang’s book Lienü zhuan written much later, around 18 BCE, Jie was corrupted by his infatuation with his concubine Mo Xi (妺喜 or 末喜), who was beautiful, but completely lacking in virtue.[7][8] Among other things, she liked to drink, enjoyed music, and also had a penchant for jugglers and sing-song girls. Apparently, she had Jie order a lake of wine made.[8] They both sailed about in the alcohol lake in an orgy of drunken naked men and women bathing and drinking.[9] She then commanded 3,000 men to drink the lake dry, only to laugh when they all drowned.[8][9] This event was also recorded in the Han Ying’s book Han shi waizhuan.[9][10]

Although the story of alcohol lake is the myth according to which the Xia were necessarily ousted by the Shang it is nonetheless a reference to which we can assign to the Shang as the last ruler of Shang was supposedly corrupted by women and alcohol also.  This is because the Xia was not a recorded dynasty and the Zhou were merely fabricating the precedent where the earlier rulers had even greater reason to fail and be taken over by Shang.

The custom as it was, before the fall of Shang, was for an overcrowded community to bid farewell to sons willing to embark fortunes elsewhere.  In the past there was no "credit" so wealth had to be increased through solid means or else be redistributed.  People moving out of a community ensured that wealth could be preserved within the family and within the community setting whilst they headed developing a new community.  Collectively they were unsung heroes.

By contrast, when the Zhou arrived to displace the Shang dynasty elites their Tibeto-Burman populations increased in number.  Instead of building their own communities they spread across the land onto communities already built in order to rule them and redistribute them as fiefs.  Once meritocracy was trashed by the Zhou complete disregard for rules was certain to escalate.  China was soon broken up into hundreds of warring states during the Warring States Period out of which many unable kingdoms ran by useless kings and princes and their royal brethren were absorbed by 7 great states.  There was Qin, Chu, Zhao, Wei, Han, Yan, and Qi.

In addition, we can ask how were Tibeto-Burmans able to overwhelm China?  Well, they had the means of other ethnicities further west and north whom had unparalleled command of horses.  The trend where China got conquered by barbarians on horseback was a recurring event throughout its history.

Other ethnicities would not cater to Tibeto-Burman Zhou unless of course they were somehow better equipped to lead the campaign.  This opportunity came in the form of the Tibeto-Burman language which was linguistically closer to the Sinitics' which would imply they were better equipped as negotiators.  The Zhou had received influenced by the Sinitics early on during the Shang dynasty during which they had traded horses to the Shang as they were mmediately to their west, in the Guangzhong pass and beyond.  The horses which were traded to Shang to help their military were soon used by the Zhou's forces as they rose up in defiance with other barbarian allies.

In conclusion, I would count cronyism alongside nepotism.  The Zhou dynasty never proved any more civilized than the barbarian nations which came after them.  Their aim was to conquer China for themselves and their barbarian aides.  The rightful people of China had been descendants of the Shang, but for their loss the remnant Shang elites were stationed in a location not far from the later warring state of Chu.  In time the Chu people harbored deep resentment of those usurpers from the northwest and were mindfully aware as they executed the entire Qin army during the Qin dynasty's final days.

Liangzhu was typified by hallmarks which glorified 5000 years of China.
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