It has only been 1400 years since Taizong, founding emperor of China’s Tang dynasty, penned this simple defense of the rule of law over the rule of men. Democracy may not have been in his mind, but good governance was, and he recognized that the basis of good governance was to have the rule of law rather than laws to serve the ruler [My Paraphrase of 國家法律不是帝王一家之法]. [Baidu Baike.]
Whether or not Tang Taizong achieved that level of good governance, certainly few have since. China, once again a rising global star, is not remotely close to this standard and indeed hardly seems to recognize it as a standard, while the world’s current superpower, which has been the world’s self-professed champion of the “rule of law,” appears to find it ever more of an inconvenient truth.