8. When Historical
Components Sprawled
Far and Wide

For most Chinese, the universe operates harmoniously. If something goes wrong, someone must be responsible. For the period of prolonged disunity, the Chinese have found a villain in Cao Cao (right). Even Qian Mu, perhaps the greatest among those who have carried China's historiographical tradition into our time, has not forgiven Cao's deeds as a usurper. The reason is understandable. Under the imperial system, Natural Law worked its way from the top downward. When the ruler was said to hold the Mandate of Heaven, it implied that he alone embodied universal virtue and wisdom. In practice, details of conditions on the lower levels could not always be ascertained. It is even doubtful that the divergent interests over the enormous realm

-78-

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