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-> -> -> Weakening the People

《弱民 - Weakening the People》

English translation: J. J. L. Duyvendak [?]
Books referencing 《弱民》 Library Resources
1 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
A weak people means a strong state and a strong state means a weak people. Therefore, a country, which has the right way, is concerned with weakening the people. If they are simple they become strong, and if they are licentious they become weak. Being weak, they are law-abiding; being licentious, they let their ambition go too far; being weak, they are serviceable, but if they let their ambition go too far, they will become strong. Therefore is it said: 'To remove the strong by means of a strong people brings weakness; to remove the strong by means of a weak people brings strength.'

1. 強 : Another version reads: "弱". 《意林》引作「弱」。

2 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
The people, if they are benefited, are harmonious, and if they are loved, they are serviceable; being serviceable, they receive appointments, and being harmonious, they are not deficient. Receiving appointments, they will enrich themselves in government positions, the ruler will abandon the law and allow things to be done for the benefit of the people. Thus criminals will be numerous. If the people are poor, they will be rich in strength, and being rich in strength, they become licentious; being licentious, they will suffer from the parasites. Therefore, if the people are rich and unemployed, they should be made to obtain titles by means of their grain and every one of them will certainly become strong. Then there will be no derogation of agriculture, and the six parasites will not sprout out, and thus, the state being rich and the people orderly, there will be twofold strength.

3 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
An army easily becomes weak, but it is difficult to keep it strong. The people enjoy life and feel happy in leisure, but find it difficult to risk death in dangers. If they find it easy, they will be strong. If there are things that one is ashamed of doing, in the case where there are many crimes and few rewards, there is no loss, and in the case where there are many crimes and the suspicion falls on the enemy, the loss will certainly become gain and the army will become extremely strong and redoubtable. If there are no things which one is ashamed of doing, it is of advantage to use the army, and if one retains the advantage for a long time, one's position will become assuredly supreme. Therefore, if one's army accomplishes what the enemy dares not accomplish, one becomes strong, and if affairs are undertaken which the enemy is ashamed to perform, one obtains advantage.

4 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
If there is law and the people are quiet, changes made by the ruler are relegated to the second place, so that affairs become well organized; the country is interested in maintaining peace and quiet, but a ruler in wielding his authority and privileged position; thus a ruler values many changes, but the country values few changes. If the profit leaks out through only one outlet, the state will have many products, but if it leaks out through ten outlets, the state will have few products. If only one outlet is preserved, there will be orderly government; but if ten outlets are preserved, there will be disorder. Orderly government brings strength, but disorder brings weakness; when there is strength, products are imported, but when there is weakness, products are exported. Therefore a state that imports products is strong and one that exports products is weak.

5 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
If the people live in humiliation, they value rank; if they are weak, they honour office; and if they are poor, they prize rewards. If the people are governed by means of punishments, they enjoy service, and if the people are made to fight by means of rewards, they scorn death. Therefore if, in war, one's army is efficient, one is called strong. If the people have private honours, they hold rank cheap and disdain office, if they are rich, they think lightly of rewards. Orderly people are ashamed of humiliations, and if they are made to fight by means of punishments, they will fight; if in fighting people are afraid of death and behave in a disorderly manner, the result will be that soldiers and farmers will be lazy and the country weak.

6 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
Farming, trade and office are the three permanent functions in a state. Farmers open up the soil, merchants import products, officials rule the people. These three functions give rise to parasites, six in number, which are called: care for old age, living on others, beauty, love, ambition and virtuous conduct. If these six parasites find an attachment, there will be dismemberment. If farmers live in affluence, they seek leisure in their old age; if merchants have illicit profits, there will be beauty and love, and these will harm the means for enforcing the law; if officials are set up, but are not utilized, ambition and virtuous conduct will be the end. If the six parasites become a pervading custom, the army will certainly suffer great defeats.

7 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
If the law is crooked, order turns into disorder; if reliance is placed on virtue, there is much talking; if government measures are numerous, the state is in disorder; and if there is much talking, the army is weak. But if the law is clear, government measures are limited; if reliance is placed on force, talking ceases; if government measures are limited, the country enjoys orderly administration; and if talking ceases, the army is strong. Therefore, in ruling a great country, it becomes small and in ruling a small country, it becomes great. If the government takes such measures as the people hate, the people are made weak, and if it takes such measures as the people like, the people are made strong. But a weak people means a strong state, and a strong people means a weak state. If the government takes such measures as the people like, they are made strong, and if strong people are made even stronger, the army becomes doubly weak; but if the government takes such measures as the people hate, they are made weak, and if weak people are made even weaker, the army becomes doubly strong. Therefore, by strengthening the people, one becomes doubly weak, and perishes; by weakening the people, one becomes doubly strong and attains supremacy. With a strong people to attack the strong brings weakness, whereas on the other side strength remains; with a weak people to attack the strong brings strength, whereas on the other side strength is removed. If strength remains on the other side, one perishes, but if strength is removed on the other side, one attains supremacy. Therefore, with a strong people to attack the strong brings dismemberment, but with a weak people to attack the strong brings supremacy.

8 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
The way in which an intelligent ruler uses his ministers is by always giving them employment for merits, which they have acquired, and by always fully recognizing their exertions by rewards, and if a ruler of men makes his people believe in this, as firmly as they do in the sun and moon, then he will have no equal.

9 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
Now Li Lou could see the tip of an autumn's hair, but he could not transfer his sharp vision to others; Wu Huo could lift the weight of 1,000 jun, but he could not transfer his great strength to others. So sages and men of talent are bound to their personality and nature, which cannot be transferred to others.

10 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
Now, those who administer affairs in our times, all desire to be more than sages; there is much talk of setting the law on high, but they rule in defiance of the law. This is like carrying a heavy load along a far road without having a horse or an ox, or like crossing a wide river without having a boat or oars.

11 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
Now, to have a numerous population and a strong army is the great capital of an emperor or king, but if he does not have clear laws by which to keep them, he is next-door to peril and ruin. Therefore an intelligent ruler studies the law and thus understands how to bring it about that the people within his borders have no perverse and depraved hearts, that idly-living scholars are pressed into the battle line, and that the ten thousand subjects are alert in ploughing and warfare.

12 弱民:
Weakening the People:...:
The people of the state of Chu, who were alert and well-balanced and fast as a whirlwind, were, with their iron lances made of the steel from Yuan, as sharp as a bee's sting. As armour they wore the skin of sharks and the hide of rhinoceros, which are as strong as metal and stone. The Yangtze and the Han Rivers were its moats, and the Ru and the Ying its boundaries, the Forest of Deng was its screen, and the Wall of the Fang Mountains was its frontier. Yet when the army of Qin marched on Yen and Ying, it took those cities as easily as if it had been merely the shaking of a dead tree. Tang Mie met his death at Chui-sha, Zhuang Qiao rose in the interior, and Chu was divided into five parts. This was not because its territory was not large or that the population was not numerous, or that the armour and weapons and resources were not many, but the reason, that in fighting it did not win and in defending it was unable to hold its own, was due to the fact that it did not have law.

URN: ctp:shang-jun-shu/weakening-the-people