There's always a way

Posted by Spandrell on

There's a nifty book in China called the 三十六計. The "36 stratagems". Nobody knows when the book was written, though it must be old, the first mention of it goes back to the 5th century AD, when it was attributed to Tan Daoji 譚道濟, a general for the Liu Song Dynasty. The consensus is that he did indeed write it.

The 36 stratagems are organized as six different scenarios, with six stratagems each. Each stratagem is phrased as a catchy four letter idiom, the staple of Chinese vocabulary, and most of them have since become common idioms known even by small children. The book also quotes extensively the Yijing 易經, the Book of Changes, the famous book on divination. For no good reason really, but it does sound cool.

The six scenarios vary on the balance of power they apply to. Generally speaking half the stratagems apply to when you have an advantage in the war, when you are stronger than your enemy, while the other half are for when you are in a weaker position.

The last scenario is outright called 敗戦計 "tactics for when you're losing the war", and describe crafty attempts to gain an advantage or reverse the course of the fight. You may not be able to fight your enemy head on in the open, but that doesn't mean there's nothing you can do. There's plenty of tactics that a committed force can use even when fighting a vastly stronger enemy.

For no reason in particular, certainly nothing to do with current events, I am going to make a series of posts translating the last 6 stratagems in the book, those to be used when you're losing the war. Interestingly the 6 last stratagems are the only ones not phrased as with 4-letter idioms. They are instead titled with two letters each, with the last one being three. I guess the author wanted to make the point that when you're losing the war you have no time for florid language and witty metaphors: just get to the fucking point.

And that he did. I'll translate the very last stratagem, also the most famous during the ages, being quoted in many pieces of literature since the book was written 1600 years ago.

On the translation: First line is the name of the stratagem. Second line is the original text, purportedly going back to the 5th century. Then comes the "按語", an elaboration written much later, probably in the mid Ming (15-16th century). I like my translations as literal as possible.

走為上To run is best.全師避敵 左次無咎 未失常也Avoid the enemy with all your troops. There is no fault in retreat, no loss of normality in it.敵勢全勝,我不能戰,則必降,必和,必走。降則全敗,和則半敗,走則未敗,未敗者,勝之轉機也。如宋畢再遇與金人對壘,度金兵至者日眾,難與爭鋒。一夕拔營去,留旗幟與營,豫缚生羊懸之,置其前二足於鼓上,羊不堪倒懸,則足擊鼓有聲。金人不覺,相持數日,始覺之,欲追之,則已遠矣,可謂善走者矣。If the enemy is achieving total victory, and we are unable to fight, one must surrender, make peace, or run. Surrender means complete defeat. Peace means half defeat. Running means no defeat. To be undefeated can be turned into victory.Like the Song dynasty general Bi Zaiyu, who fighting the Jurchens, realized the Jurchen army was growing stronger every day and he couldn't compete. One evening he dismantled his camp, leaving his army banner in place, then got a sheep and hanged it from a rope, so that its front legs would be on top of an army drum. The sheep, distressed at hanging in the air, would hit the drums with its legs and make them sound [TN: as if the troops were still around]. The Jurchens didn't realize what was happening, waited in place for days until they finally noticed the retreat. They wanted to pursue the Song army but it had run too far by then. We can say he did well by running.

That's it for now, more stratagems to come later this week.

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  • "The book also quotes extensively the Yijing 已經, the Book of Changes" Caught a typo. 易经

  • Looking forward to this

    • Ah, but Bi Zaiyu had someplace to run to/i>.

    • Interesting. I've always assumed the popular saying meant "of the 36 stratagems, to run is the best one". Who would have thought that it's literally the full statement of one of the stratagems? Who would have thought?

      • But how are you going to run away from international Big Gay Empire?

        • by running faster than everyone else, and never stopping

          • Running away can loosely be defined as making yourself not a target. When you think of it that way, there are many practical applications. Camouflage yourself. 1. Change your name to Alberto Jimenez, get all your government IDs changed, amend your birth certificate if possible, and so on. Given that Biden isn't gonna patrol the border, you could just buy a drivers license printer and a bunch of blanks from China and print yourself fake IDs. As long as you're not using it to buy contraband or evade debts/arrest, it's not illegal. 2. Become a tranny (you don't actually need to take hormones or chop your dick off, just change your name and get a gender-neutral haircut/wardrobe). 3. Join the nearest LGBTQ+ group as a non-binary person, make perfunctory donations ($5) to the Anti Defamation League and similar groups, join the local democrat/commie/DSA party and make perfunctory donations to the same, and plaster cheap Amazon made-in-China flags of the same all over your property. It's not like voting Republican will help and you can't beat them, so why not join them? Make yourself a smaller target. 1. Become illegible aka "The Italian Strategy". Get a cash-only job, or charge people you trust to use your home gym. You can do what illegals do and work under the table or run a speakeasy while getting food stamps, section 8, disability, and so forth. Put all the money back into your property, generate your own electricity, and use it to mine monero or various shitcoins. Even just shit like selling custom leather goods or sewing fursuits is great, provided you can get avoid paying taxes on it. Advertising via word of mouth or via newspaper classified is actually useful in this case. 2. Go insane. Do something that will get you locked up in a psych ward cause the voices told you to do it (mild self-harm is great, but read up on schizophrenia at your library first). Unusually easy given that many of our actual beliefs vis a vis vaccines, Fauci, anything @LokiJulianus tweets are perfect schizo fodder. As long as you keep your story straight and learn how to draw an analog clock incorrectly you're golden. Useful for disability too, just avoid the fucking meds as they can permanently fuck up your endocrine system. 3. Become mobile. Van living sucks, but living on a boat is pretty nice provided you're okay with everything being moist 100% of the time. 4. Build a hidden bunker on a property you intend to rent, with multiple redundant exits, and live there while you rent out the main part of the property. A guy on 4chan did this a few years ago, as did an uncle of mine. Though my uncle built the bunker underneath a mother-in-law cottage, then lived in the cottage+bunker while he rented out the main place to families and college kids. He died in his underground workshop, and the smell gave it away. 5. Put your house/car/business in a corporation's name, and live there. Takes quite a few steps to pull off and it's somewhat expensive, but it's possible to disappear. Very fun to do it as a religious corporation (or a homeless shelter or in-patient rehab program), because then you can get all your good-for-nothing cronies to layabout and play dominoes all day while avoiding taxes and perhaps even getting a stipend/tax-breaks from the state for providing extremely perfunctory services. You could actually do the rehab/homeless-shelter/halfway-house thing if you're sociable enough, and make it fascist indoctrination program. There are various homeless shelters - Christian and far-left - that do the same for their ideologies. 6. Change your name to the most generic name for your race. Become a double agent 1. Doctor evidence of random libs you know doing naughty things and saying the Gamer Word, then snitch on them in exchange for money or sell it to the ADL. 2. Same as above, but do it to random RINOs and especially dickish cops. 3. If you can program web/mobile apps, make a pseudo-honeypot and populate it with bots using fake credentials and send journalists on wild goose chases. Mix in a few libs/RINOs here and there to keep things real. Make sure you get high class meals, expensive clothing, vacations, vintage alcohol, and sloppy journalist slut blowjobs out of it. 4. Run for political office as an IRL antisemitic caricature from der sturmer. If you can't pull that off, run as a caricature of whatever you can do - fag, tranny, various shades of feminist, nu-male, hippy flower child (very powerful), never trumper (probably pointless now), chickenhawk neocon, muslim, whatever your ethnicity if infamous for, and so forth. Goal is not just to avoid scrutiny, but also to run honeypot ops of your own against people around you in power and to sow dissent, confusion, and despair. 5. Pretend to be retarded and record how people treat you. Use this for nefarious purposes.