Here at the frontier, the leaves fall like rain. Although my neighbors are all barbarians, and you, you are a thousand miles away, there are still two cups at my table.

Ten thousand flowers in spring, the moon in autumn, a cool breeze in summer, snow in winter. If your mind isn't clouded by unnecessary things, this is the best season of your life.

~ Wu-men ~

Friday, April 25, 2008

The 36 Strategies: #26 Point at One to Scold Anohter

Next to Sun Tzu's The Art of War, the 36 Strategies is probably the world's best known classic on the art of strategy. Where the Art of War is really a methodic overview of the whole subject of strategic thought, The 36 Strategies attempts to teach by giving 36 specific maxims. Here is #26.

26. Point at one to scold another

You criticize indirecly, getting your point across without confrontation.

This can be applied more widely. If you make an example of A, you can send a message to B. This is a way to confront powerful rivals indirectly, lessening the chance of an accidental outright conflict.

When the Mongols were sweeping through Asia, any city that resisted them would be obliterated. The city would be razed and the all the citizens would be executed. Word of this spread quickly. Fewer and fewer cities put up any resistence. It made more sense to simply join them.

The other side of this is that the intended recipient of the message must be aware enough of what's going on to take the meaning of a message being delivered to someone else. This implies a certain degree of sophistocation and awareness among all the parties involved.

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