Unlikely Passage of the Month

By the Left Coast Rebel 

Timeless words of wisdom translated to English, from the 6th century BC:

If you want to be a great leader,
you must learn to follow human nature.
Stop trying to control.
Let go of fixed plans and concepts,
and the world will govern itself.

Hat-tip Charles, Doo Doo Econ
The more prohibitions governments have,
the less virtuous people will be.
The more weapons governments have,
the less secure people will be.
The more subsidies governments have,
the less self-reliant people will be.

Therefore the wise governor says:
I let go of the law,
and people become honest.
I let go of economics,
and people become prosperous.
I let go of religion,
and people become serene.
I let go of all desire for the common good,
and the good becomes common as grass.

-- Lao-tzu, from page 57 of Tao Te Ching (Book of the Way)

Hat-tip Doo Doo Economics


  1. :). Now, if only there were a way to get a majority to by into these words of wisdom. Not likely to happen. I mean, after all those years...

    One word explanation, POWER.

    Hey, sort of reminds one of Rand. In a nutshell.

    1. that's why Rand is so brilliant (and timeless). The truth that she speaks to has been spoken for thousands of years. Or even more recently in world history" our Founders echoed Rand; and yet Rand echoes our Founders. Lao-tzu echoes Rand. Countless philosophers and thinkers in world history (those that advocate human liberty) have too. We do too. And it doesn't matter if only one of us out of 5 billion knows reality and objective truth: we have to be steadfast in what is right.

  2. I am very happy to have brothers and sisters who can see the truth which glares at us.

    I did take a small liberty with Mitchell's translation but only to make the passage easier to understand.

    1. Me too, Doo Doo. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.

  3. Nice pick! I believe the comments drawing comparisons Ayn Rand do a grave injustice, though. I believe that perhaps Ayn Rand's greatest achievement is the place she has earned herself as the shining example of pseudo-intellectualism.

    The aesthetic achievement above is remarkable and is precisely why it remains a significant part of the literary canon. Furthermore, depth in wisdom found by many in Lao-tzu's work also add to its continued relevance. The perceived wisdom divined by Rand withers quickly to the well-read person. The well-read person soon notices shortfalls in her logic and ill-attempted rebuttals of alternative beliefs. What remains of Rand's body of work draws the well-read individual to the first-rate intellectuals that she relies upon so desperately to breathe originality into her work. She is unsuccessful in this as well!

    This said, look at Ayn Rand, sure she has her followers (as does L. Ron Hubbard- and millions of books sold to prove their followers' (inflated?) existence. Nonetheless, observe the lack of merit given to Rand's works by both literature and philosophy departments at any major universities as some benchmark of the significance of her work. Left-wing conspiracy? Hardly! Robert Nozick, Edmund Burke, and H. L. Mencken have remain relevant in the academic setting. Sorry Rand admirers!


Commenting here is a privilege, not a right. Comments that contain cursing or insults and those failing to add to the discussion will be summarily deleted.