There is much that can be learned from the fall of any people. The Shang Dynasty is, obviously, no exception. It fell because of their last leader, Di Xin. Before him, although there were rough patches, it was a fairly prosperous nation. I think we can learn a lot from the actions of Di Xin, and especially from the political system that gave him so much power. He was put into power because of heredity and not ability, something we should stay away from. He also had too much power: he made all laws with no input from others. His corruption came later in his reign, so it was fairly unexpected, and being a monarchy; there was no way to then remove him from power. We need to make sure that no one person ever has enough power to destroy a nation's lives again.

Di Xin was put in power because he was a descendant of Cheng Tang, the Dynasty's first emperor. He was the youngest of three brothers but got the throne because his brothers were the sons of concubines (//Absolute Astronomy//). Because of this political system, corrupt people come into power as often as good leaders did (although the same could be said for any system. At least in democracy the corrupt rulers are picked by the people over more corrupt rulers). It’s important that we never go back to a monarchy, at least not one where the King or Queen has any real power.

On top of having power he never earned, he had far too much of it. He answered to nobody, meaning no one was there to correct him or make sure he never strayed too far from the path his subjects wished for. People tried to advise him, but it was his choice to listen or not and he chose not to, often killing those that tried. Even his prime minister, Chiang Tai Kung, wasn't much help: he wanted to over-throw Di Xin, but was waiting for rebels to come to ask him for help (//Barbless Hooks Without Bait//). Eventually he did help over-throw Di Xin, but not until the people of Shang had become too scared to speak out against Xin.

A ruler in a monarchy never leaves their throne until death. Because of this, Di Xin stayed in power despite his corruption. In our society, we have impeachment as a means of removing power from corrupt individuals. Most people don’t want blood on their hands, even if it means saving the lives of many more, so if the only way to remove someone from power is to kill them, people are going to wait until things get very bad before even considering it. All societies should have a way of removing people from power before things get dire. In the end, they defeated him in battle and killed himself (//Absolute Astronomy//). The only person willing to kill him was him.

In conclusion, we should make sure no person controls our lives and futures, much less one that only gained that power by birthright, and we should make sure that we can always easily remove cruel leaders from their positions. Anything less will likely one day lead us into turmoil and death.



~Lara~
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