This chapter contains more wisdom than it seems to possess at first sight. The same idea is expressed in the English saying that by stooping one conquers. It is also echoed in the New Testament where Jesus says that he who wishes to be the master of all should be their servant. In an empire or confederacy of states that state takes the lead which renders the greatest service to the others. For instance Prussia took the
lead in Germany because through its systematic administration and well-organized army it offered protection and other advantages to the smaller states and so served their interests. In the same way Athens gained and lost ascendency in Greece; its downfall dates from the time when it ceased to serve the others and began to misuse its power. Since the loss of the thirteen American colonies England has adopted the same maxim of serving the interests of her dependencies. This policy which has proved successful and has repeatedly saved the British empire from dismemberment, was pronounced by Lao-tze in plain terms two and a half millenniums ago.