Half an answer

Confucius said that Duke Ling of Wei didn’t follow the Way. Ji Kangzi said: “If this is the case, how come he has not lost his state?” Confucius said: “He has Zhong Yuzhen looking after guests and foreign delegations, Zhu Tuo taking care of the ancestral temple, and Wangsun Jia in charge of defense. With such officials as these, how could he possibly lose his state?”

Confucius had history with the notorious Duke Ling of Wei, including an ill-judged, if not downright suspicious, audience with the duke’s scheming concubine Nanzi (南子) in Chapter XXVIII of Book 6 of the Analects.

Confucius responds quite cleverly to Ji Kangzi by saying that the duke has a strong team of officials supporting him, who presumably compensate for his failings as a ruler. At best, however, it is only half an answer. He doesn’t even attempt to explore the fundamental reasons why a leader who doesn’t “follow the Way” is so easily able to hold on to power.

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