Study Guide

Tao Te Ching Power

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The Tao Te Ching has tons of advice for all you rulers out there, the key point being that the more you try to control your people with force, the more they'll slip from your control. From the TTC's perspective, you'll actually be lucky if they slip from your control.

There's been more than one tyrannical dictator to get taken out in a bloody rebellion led by either dissatisfied civilians or another dictator-to-be. We can also use Tao Te Ching's advice in our own lives, even if we aren't the ruler of a country. How? Click on, dear Shmoopers, and all mysteries shall be revealed.

Questions About Power

  1. What are some examples of rulers in history whose power-hungriness caused their downfalls? How does the best kind of ruler rule according to the Tao Te Ching? The worst? The ones that are sort of so-so?
  2. What's the TTC's view on taxes?
  3. What does the TTC predict will happen to rulers who rule through cunning and manipulation?

Chew on This

The Tao Te Ching is naive to think that any ruler can rule without using manipulation; a totally transparent government isn't actually good for the people.

The Tao Te Ching correctly points out the way in which stricter and stricter laws create crime and stifle a country's productivity.

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