Politicians love to hate him.
We should hate that they love him.
It’s fascinating how Machiavelli has earned an evil reputation from those who employ his tactics most often. The people who fling his name as an epithet then go on to preach “pragmatic” solutions to our problems…
Machiavelli was indeed a preacher of ruthless pragmatism. But, only under certain circumstances.
For many of us our exposure to Machiavelli is limited to The Prince. Often the instructors who assigned this brilliant gem did not understand it, or if they did they chose not to present their students with the piece in context. The Prince was an application for employment. Nothing more. Niccolo had bills to pay, just like we do. He needed work and at the time the only need for a political advisor was by a monarch (Lorenzo de’ Medici). So he wrote “the rules” on how to be a prince hoping to get a paying gig.
His “solutions” to princely problems were simple for the most part. Kill anyone who has claim to the throne along with their family… (lest you be killed.) Tell your subjects whatever they want to hear then do what you need, or want, to do to manage your kingdom… (lest you be killed.) Isolate and blame an external enemy, real or imagined, for any and all problems within the kingdom… (lest you be killed.) Make compacts and or create ties with the powerful and wealthy kingdoms that could pose a threat to yours… (lest you be killed.) There’s more… but I think you get it.
Considering this was the only type of working government in existence at the time, and one could assume a Prince valued his life, then these rules make sense when spelled out, right?
Aside from monarchy in principle and design, where is the evil? We’re told it lies in the idea that “the ends (not being killed) justifies the means.” I might agree… if a prince could just quietly slip away without fear that these rules would be applied upon him from another prince. But at the time that was not an option.
That was then, this is now.
Fast forward… Look around you and see all of the examples of these rules being used when there is no threat of death, only the loss of power.
The people we should fear most call this “Just Politics”.
The Statists champion free speech only so long as it’s speech they agree with. Political administrations promise to “investigate and bring to justice” those who create the housing depressions, kill diplomats and sell guns to drug cartels, when it was they who did it and continue to do things similar. The “occupy protesters” who preach love and tolerance yet grab, push, shout down and spit on those who disagree with them. You see it in every politician who champions individual freedom yet insists you are too stupid to make decisions for yourself and must be led, or “nudged” to the “right” answers. It’s every leader who creates diversions, changes the meaning of words and combines multiple issues in order to leave you, the public, confused and uninformed.
These are the tactics of Princes in waiting. The only problem is our current leaders have nothing to lose but power over you. Nobody is waiting in the wings to wipe them and their family out of existence. This fact makes their behavior… well… Sinister.
Our politicians are fully aware such behavior buys them time until you lose interest. Once you lose interest you forget. When you forget, you vote for them again, and they keep their power…
Fortunately, today’s politics is not about life and death. Unfortunately, today’s politics is about getting and keeping one’s power over others. It’s about amassing huge amounts of wealth based on using government force to benefit your friends and punish your enemies. (The U.S.Costitution, if followed and enforced, was designed to protect us from this.) Based on his writings in Discourses on Livy, Niccolo believed that a republic was the preferred structure for government. Although he doubted it could ever be sustained.
I think he may be right.
(Originally Posted 020312)