The Proper Application of Cruelty and Evil
Hanshi Stephen Kaufman
On Controlling All Aspects of the Realm:
The Shogun Scrolls of Hidetomo Nakadai,
Court Counselor to Minamoto Yoritomo, 1st Shogun of Japan
When a man aspires to greatness, he must inevitably use cruelty to attain his ends. This cruelty must be wisely applied. Not to use cruelty indicates a lack of purpose. The proper use of cruelty can be used to turn defeat into victory and the intelligent application of cruelty explains things to others without the need for debate.
Cruelty takes many forms and does not always have to be physical. To indicate your attitude of expected behavior from your subjects, the possibility of severe punishment must be in their consciousness. Mental cruelty, if not properly dispensed, can provide an enemy with an avenue of retaliation. The development of previously unknown character traits can help him to depose you.
Torture should never be dispensed with an attitude of arrogance. Physical torture can destroy a man and should be used when applicable. It should be used immediately if no worth is seen in the recipient. And, as with all things, timing is essential. It might be fortuitous for you to be patient and wait until the right time. This requires contemplation.
The application of cruelty and evil also requires an understanding of men, which is something that certain shoguns of old did not know of. Known throughout his realm as a man of severe intemperance, his subjects were always under a threat of physical torture — evidenced by his handling of any disobedience. He would not think twice when it came to dealing out what he considered to be just retribution and would unconscionably order court suicides and executions that included anyone associated with the person he was angry with. His people greatly feared him and would do anything they could to assuage his anger. They began to lie, give unverifiable accounts of the province, and generally not care for anything related to him. He was eventually decapitated by one of his inner guard.
Your understanding of, and ability to apply cruelty shows your determination to ascend to the highest levels of greatness, with or without the recognition or assistance of your subjects. This includes your immediate entourage and inner guard. They too must realize the virtue of intelligent cruelty and thereby, will prefer to concur with your wishes. If they decide to abandon you they must know you will use whatever means are necessary to exhort retribution, while at the same time you will maintain the gratitude of those not being injured, regardless of their relationship to the offenders.
You must be sure to be constant in your convictions, and you must be capable of acting on those convictions without hesitation. There are no friends when one attains to the summit; there are only those who will assist if they are guided accordingly. When you seek friends with minds like your own, you are seeking acceptance by those empathetic towards your aspired greatness. This will cause you to weaken yourself.
Dispensing cruelty must be considered a form of virtue, otherwise the act will lead to arrogance, conceit, and false pride: the deadliest of errors in self-definition and self-determination. This is to be construed as truly evil and must be guarded against, lest your subjects act on your orders through exaggerated fear. Cruelty should only be applied when it will gain you an advantage. You must be careful not to permit the application of torture to become a personal pleasure. If it is used callously it will become a device without meaning except to generate terror among your people. You will lose their enthusiasm toward your ambitions.
Torture can be applied in ways other than to the physical flesh. It can be the removal of properties and the restriction of armaments. There are also methods of creating poverty. Once a subject has been deprived of the things necessary for him to conduct his affairs, he will have a hard time persuading others to lend him support to regain his position. The application of torture must permit the shogun to sustain his authority. Cruelty must be used to indicate that your actions are just and that those who would assist the deposed will suffer the consequences.
Once you make the decision to apply restrictions to a subject, he must never have the opportunity of enjoying a reversal of your decision. This will accomplish nothing and will show the rest of the domain that your leniency can possibly turn to indulgence. This will cause the people to seek to overthrow your authority. You must rule with an iron fist. Compassion should only be used when it is appropriate, perhaps based on the possibility of misunderstanding that can only be excused once. You must be wise and have deep intuition.
There is a great difference between cruelty and evil. They should not be confused with each other. Savage and barbarous acts do not enable a man to be counted among the truly excellent and wise. While it may be necessary to depose the non-sympathetic by any means, you must differentiate between gaining control through terror and being respected by your subjects. This is accomplished through elements of fear or cruelty and not through acts of barbarism that will perhaps temporarily enable you to maintain control. If you are unwise in dispensing justice to your people, an avenue will eventually present itself for your overthrow by underlings, which can result as a reversal of your own fortune. Here is an example.
The daimyo of a western province, during the Tokugawa era, is a perfect example of not respecting his own domain and causing his own downfall. It was the most foolish of situations that brought him down. The Lady Hana, his consort, was indiscriminate in one of her alliances and news of her unfaithfulness reached the ears of the daimyo. He reacted in a most hideous way by having the Lady strangled publicly in front of her clan. He then ordered her body to be left on display in the poorer section of one of his villages. I do not have to elaborate on the manner in which her body was disrespected. He continued to publicly disgrace everyone in her clan until finally, the Lady’s cousin took revenge and had an assassin decapitate him. It would have been much smarter for the daimyo to have her hair cut off and then banished to a monastery where the punishment could have been less physical but certainly more severe and lasting.
Deception is not considered evil unless the means by which it is employed destroys the foundations of the newly acquired clan and its environs. This is not self-serving to your cause. Although deception is necessary to instill obedience, you must be sure to maintain the good faith of your subjects. Random and senseless acts of killing those not in agreement with you should be restricted to those indicating overt gestures of rebellion. Actions must never be gratuitous. Such behavior indicates a weakness of character. The need for evil increases instead of lessens, as it must, unless the correct application of controls is established early at the outset of an acquisition.
One way to bring corrective measures to the new domain is to recognize and acknowledge the injustices perpetrated by the old regime. That these injustices must be alleviated is essential, and it must be shown to the people that they were evil. This reinforces your position by maintaining ease of control at the outset, when the people see you are sincere in alleviating their hardships. Your actions on their behalf must be carried out as quickly as they are determined to be detrimental. This reduces the fear that occurs if correcting conditions take place over a long period of time. If it is done correctly it will throw the people into a state of chaos, and they will see the advantage of following you. If you are not swift in your decisions it will be necessary to maintain a defensive position at all times. If your actions do not fall into sensible patterns of conduct, your ministers will wonder when your wrath will fall on them and they will act accordingly. It will also permit those being acted against to forewarn others to take up arms to protect themselves in the eventuality of your vengeance or instability.
It is better to have change over and done with quickly and suffer the anxiety of the moment, rather than needlessly tormenting the people over a long period of time. When punishment is meted out over a long period of time, those that feel they may be in line for corrective action will become clever in their attempt to cover themselves. When punishment is meted out too late the results are never virtuous. Do it all at once and get it over and done with. The resentment of the people will be short-lived, as they will have no further concerns for themselves. They will believe the new daimyo took care of all the potential problems. They will feel they are fortunate not to have been part of the scourge.
Regardless of your good intentions, and even if cruelty is dispensed intelligently, it will still be considered evil by anyone associated with the receiving end. It will be acknowledged as an unnecessary evil and not the necessary cruelty that your wisdom will dictate.
©Stephen F. Kaufman/Hanshi Wisdom Press