A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government
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A Discourse by Three Drunkards on Government takes the form of a debate between a spokesman for Western ideals of democracy and progress, and an advocate for adherence to traditional samurai values. Their discussion is moderated by the imperturbable Master Nankai, who loves nothing more than to drink and argue politics. The fiction of the drinking bout allowed Chomin to debate freely topical political issues, in a discussion that offers an astute analysis of contemporary European politics and a prophetic vision of Japan's direction. This lucid and precise translation of a delightful work has been designated one of the UNESCO series of classics of world literature.
conscious effort. Even so, human nature cannot be erased completely. Therefore, when they have a chance to show their feelings without any harmful effects, they become arrogant and thus compensate for their everyday servitude. Such is the natural psychological tendency of a human being. Some Westerners say that the citizens of a free nation are gentle and do not quarrel with others, but that those in a despotic country are arrogant and domineering. Clearly, the saying is true. “In view of what
No enemy bullet or enemy sword could harm them. But it was madness to try to overturn existing systems at a single stroke and to replace them with the principle of equality. “Napoleon was successful a hundred times in his hundred expeditions and won a thousand victories in his thousand battles. None of the forces of Prussia, Austria, Russia, or Great Britain could oppose him. This was partly because his military strategies were superb, but it was also because Frenchmen at that time were
under Louis XIV attacked and conquered Germany without provocation. Later still, Prussia under Frederick II defeated France and thus took its revenge. Then France under Napoleon Bonaparte again attacked and defeated Germany without provocation. More recently, Prussia under Kaiser Wilhelm defeated France and again took its revenge. If two nations continue to attack each other for revenge, generation after generation, where will the fighting end? Prussia under Kaiser Wilhelm and France under
we cannot rule out the possibility that if given the chance China might form an alliance with strong European nations to exclude our country and make us a prey of strong nations for its own profit. But in my view, China’s thinking has not gone that far. In many cases, one nation’s hostility toward another is caused not by real situations but by false rumors. If one examines the real situation, there is no need for suspicion. But if one’s conjectures are based solely upon rumor, the situation may
907. All of these dynasties are known for their long reigns, well-governed at the start but gradually disintegrating into tyranny and disorder. 6. This is a quotation from the Zhuangzi (Chuang-tzu), Book 1 (Xiaoyaoyu). 7. The Ryukyu Islands, which include Okinawa, were under the rule of both Japan and China until 1871, when Japan arbitrarily annexed them. China refused to recognize the annexation until after Japan’s invasion of Taiwan in 1874. Chōmin most likely has these events in mind in