The Tao of Politics Anthology is a compilation of four books in one volume. Three of the books – The Tao of George W. Bush, The Tao of Red States and Blue States, and The Tao of Politics – were published previously. The Tao of America is published here for the first time. Each book has its own explanatory notes, so I refer you to those (below) for more information about the books individually.
Collectively there is more than a little variety to be found, from the humor in The Tao of George W. Bush, to the analysis in The Tao of Red States and Blue States, the philosophy in The Tao of Politics, and finally the patriotism in The Tao of America. There is therefore ample opportunity for the reader to find something herein to which he can relate, either positively or negatively.
I write a daily online blog, The Tao of Politics (http://taoofpolitics.blogspot.com) In many ways this book serves as the theoretical underpinning of my blog. You don’t have to read this book to understand the blog, but reading this book will certainly give you a lot to think about, and a lot to talk about as well.
The Tao of George W. Bush
This is not a book of quotations by George W. Bush. Rather, it is intended to illustrate and parody how the author imagines the President might react to or interpret the Tao Te Ching if he were to read it. This is therefore a work of the imagination. It is not just a book about George W. Bush, however. It is also an authentic, somewhat tongue-in-cheek reading of the Tao Te Ching. The reader would benefit (i.e. gain more understanding) by becoming better acquainted with the ideas of both George W. Bush and the Tao Te Ching.
During the course of writing this work I consulted the 1891 James Legge translation of the Tao Te Ching. It is a rather antiquated translation, and my work owes much of its style to it. The italicized passages in this book were taken directly from the Tao Te Ching, and from Mr. Legge’s commentary. The numbering scheme corresponds to the numbered sections of the Tao Te Ching. The reader can refer to the original in order to better understand the context of the excerpts.
I tried not to be too disrespectful to George W. Bush or to the Tao Te Ching.
President George W. Bush attended the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in October of 2003. In preparation for that trip he wanted to try and understand the Oriental mind. He therefore took a copy of the Tao Te Ching on vacation with him in August. He thought reading that book would help. Well, a day turned into a week, and a week turned into a month. When his vacation was finally over, he had finished reading and making notes on the Tao Te Ching. These notes were collected by Secretary of State Powell, and they form the text of the book before you now, unedited and direct from the pencil of the President.
Reading the Tao Te Ching and making comments on its verses was challenging and tedious for the President at best, touch and go at worst. He was only able to persevere with a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches and milk, not to mention various forays onto the campaign trail to raise money for his re-election. When his vacation was over and he had finished reading the Tao Te Ching, with a little help, no doubt, from Dr. Rice and others, he had less respect for the Oriental mind than he had to begin with, and he felt better justified in going out and telling the Pacific Rim countries what to do.
The Tao of Red States and Blue States
Everyone who watched TV or read the news during the last two Presidential elections has heard of Red States and Blue States. Basically the Red States were the ones won by George W. Bush, and the Blue States were those won by his opponents – Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004.
Thinking about Red States and Blue States reminded me of Chinese Philosophy. As the reader may know, yin/yang is a concept that deals with opposites such as dark/light, female/male, night/day, etc. The Red States and Blue States have qualities that are antithetical to each other too. In this book we will examine some of those qualities, particularly as they relate to the teachings of the Tao Te Ching, a 2000 year-old Chinese manuscript of wisdom and advice.
The Tao of Red States and Blue States is not intended to be a scholarly work. It is more a work of art. It is also an opinion piece of sorts. In writing this book I relied on the knowledge and beliefs I acquired while following the news for the past several years. I also relied on my imagination and on a detailed reading of the Tao Te Ching.
The Tao of Red States and Blue States is not a theory of politics. It is a theory of, or philosophy of a media image, of dynamics between the two major political parties, and of election results, all from a Taoist perspective. The focus, therefore, is quite specific.
I hope this book will stimulate the reader to think and to do research for himself. He may find it interesting to read the Tao Te Ching in conjunction with reading this text. Each passage in this book is essentially based on a passage in the Tao Te Ching. I have therefore numbered my passages to correspond with their numbered counterparts in the Tao Te Ching. The reader also may find it interesting to read the Tao Te Ching independently. I consulted the 1891 James Legge translation while writing this book, but there are many other translations available that are more modern and readable. Those of Stephen Mitchell and Ursula K. Le Guin come readily to mind.
Finally, I tried to be impartial while writing this book. I hope I succeeded.
Here are two websites that the reader might find interesting and edifying:
There may be other references via Google or other search engines. One good thing about the internet and other research tools is that you never know what you’ll find until you start looking.
The Tao of Politics
The Tao of Politics was conceived while I was writing The Tao of Red States and Blue States. I realized then that I wanted to do a closer examination of political theory, but not at all from a traditionally Western point of view. There is enough of that out there on the airwaves and in the Blogosphere. Politics in this country and in this century seems so polarized, much like the yin/yang of Chinese Philosophy, that I decided there must be more moderate ways to approach it. It never hurts to look at subjects from different, non-traditional points of view. When we do we often arrive at different understandings, different conclusions. That is what The Tao of Politics seeks to accomplish.
I hope this book will stimulate the reader to think and to do research for himself. He may find it interesting to read the Tao Te Ching, a 2000 year-old Chinese manuscript of wisdom and advice, in conjunction with reading this text. Each passage in this book is essentially based on a passage in the Tao Te Ching. I have therefore numbered my passages to correspond with their numbered counterparts in the Tao Te Ching. The reader also may find it interesting to read the Tao Te Ching independently. I consulted the 1891 James Legge translation while writing this book, but there are many other translations available that are more modern and readable. Those of Stephen Mitchell and Ursula K. Le Guin come readily to mind.
This book is not the last word on the subject of politics. There is a lot more that could have been written, and a lot more waiting to be written. With that in mind I have started a new political blog: www.TaoOfPolitics.blogspot.com, where we will continue to seek alternative ways of looking at and talking about issues of current interest. Join us there when you get tired of politics or media coverage as usual.
The Tao of America
Much has been written about America. I did not consult any of those other works while writing The Tao of America. Instead, I relied, for my inspiration, on the 1891 James Legge translation of the Tao Te Ching. That shouldn’t seem too odd. If one is going to write “The Tao” of anything, he should consult Lao Tzu’s book, which I did. Consequently I owe most of my debt to him, to my imagination, and to my many years of being an American.
The reader may find it strange to use a book of Eastern philosophy to help in discussing something as quintessentially Western as America. The Tao Te Ching is more universal than one might realize. What it lacks in universality can be made up for by interpreting some passages more broadly, and by ignoring certain passages altogether.
When I began, I wanted to think and write about America, land that I love. I could have used any number of models to guide me. I chose to use the Tao Te Ching because I wanted to explore the subject in a different way than had ever been explored before. As a result, I think I have something different here: a rather unconventional book about America. I hope it stimulates people to think about, and reflect on, what it means to be an American. I don’t want people to take sides politically as a result of reading this book. The Tao of America is not Red or Blue. It is Red, White, and Blue.
NB: When you are finished reading this book, or really anytime that the spirit moves you, join me online at The Tao of Politics (http://taoofpolitics.blogspot.com) where we take a somewhat more partisan approach to the discussion of issues important to America.
There you have The Tao of America. Much more could have been said. In fact, the number of things that could be said about America is only limited by the number of Americans you ask. They all have opinions. This book expresses some of mine. The reader can agree with me, disagree, or add to what I have said. But one point upon which there can be no disagreement: it’s great to be an American.
And there you have The Tao of Politics Anthology. I hope reading it has stimulated your thinking, and I hope that as a result you will find more opportunities to express your opinions as I have expressed mine. Write letters to newspaper editors. Join me at The Tao of Politics (http://taoofpolitics.blogspot.com) for more reading and discussing. Visit other blogs, or start your own blog. Everyone has a right, even a duty, I think, to express his or her own opinions. The world will be a better place if we do.