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Authority and Welfare in China: Modern Debates in Historical by Michael Twohey (auth.)

By Michael Twohey (auth.)

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2, p. 117). If wealth were not redistributed, according to Xunzi, if the lower classes were relegated Xzmzi and Ancient Chinese Authority 23 to a state of poverty, then they would not be able to contribute to the state surplus. The state would not only become poorer but the ruler would lose his legitimacy to rule (Xzmzi, Vol. 2, pp. 121-2). Yet Xunzi did not believe that relations between the classes would on their own be so harmonious as to ensure that adequate food, goods and wealth got to all parts of the kingdom.

The economic conscience of the country would be driven not by incentives to labour, which Xunzi felt were the key to producing a surplus, but by a belief that scarcity was so widespread that the only solution was a system of strict budgeting and frugality. According to Xunzi, this was precisely the attitude that led to the deprivation in which the people were living because it failed to produce adequate supplies of food and goods to meet their needs (Xunzi, Vol. 2, pp. 128-9). Rather than lowering demands, which Xunzi said was inherent in Mozi's system, Xunzi believed that the goal of the state was to expand supplies: ...

The Ancient Kings ... caused the various classes of people of the world to realize that what they desired and longed for was to be found with them, and this is why incentives worked .... When incentives work ... then goods and commodities will come as easily as water bubbling up from an inexhaustible spring .... How indeed could the world have the misfortune of inadequate supplies? (Xunzi, Vol. 2, pp. 129-30) Xunzi's hierarchical system was a way to respond to man's desires but also a means by which to redirect these desires into a motive force for further production.

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