Skip to comments.Machiavelli - Quotes Justify the Man
Posted on 04/22/2002 5:41:17 PM PDT by PsyOp
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It will be purchased NLT this weekend for sure.
Stay Safe !
Applause and acclaim for Psyops for his tireless efforts to prevent Bad history from repeating itself, for the umpteenth time!!!
Pinging some other correspondents just this once for maximum distribution of the Discourses...If you have already seen this post, I apologize, but isn't it cool?
The high school exposure was boring, mainly because it was after an exaustive disection of Dante's Hell, the teacher was uninspiring, and graduation was near. I also remember that the teach had us copy The Discourses from her copy into our notes.(so in a sense, I have felt your pain. ;-))
My college Professor on the otherhand was a riot, and I have him to thank for a lot of my Weltanschauung(world view)
The sad thing is I can remember her name, but not his. There's a message there for all you educators...be boring and they will remember just your name...be interesting and they will remember what you taught them and maybe your name....(his name may comeback to me if I think on it long enough.)
Thanks for you efforts to make this a permanent part of FR, I'll put a link to the thread on my FR profile page.
"Mach" was the ultimate political historian, and therefore also the ultimate political prophet.
Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan:
Part IV. Of the Kingdom of Darkness
Chap. xlv. Of Demonology and other Relics of the Religion of the Gentiles
 And whereas a man can fancy shapes he never saw, making up a figure out of the parts of divers creatures, as the poets make their centaurs, chimeras and other monsters never seen, so can he also give matter to those shapes, and make them in wood, clay or metal. And these are also called images, not for the resemblance of any corporeal thing, but for the resemblance of some phantastical inhabitants of the brain of the maker. But in these idols, as they are originally in the brain, and as they are painted, carved moulded or molten in matter, there is a similitude of one to the other, for which the material body made by art may be said to be the image of the fantastical idol made by nature. (Hobbes, p 444)
You said it. I loved "The Prince."
Too bad that most of the "sheeple" haven't read his books.
Thanks for the quotation. Funny, I was just this a.m. catching up on the April issue of Harper's. It has Lapham's annual "Notebook" column on the World Economic Forum, and his usual, beautifully written, pointless satire of lost soul global-businessmen. This time he worried about the commercialization of patriotism at the Superbowl (which he watched from Bill Clinton's Harlem office, of course). He ends the column with a reminder that the Leviathan can't read.
Then on to an article, "Eternal Winter," on the fading Aral Sea. Another wonderfully written piece that concludes we're all a bunch of scoundrels, the Americans only a little less since we can afford to clean up our messes.
Both are wrong. They're wrong because they can't understand, as Machiavelli tells us, a free people take care of themselves. And I'm not sure I don't mind putting it on the face of a building.
I really think that, when you look at modern Western Civilization, you are seeing a relatively think layer of Christianity over a foundation of Roman civilization. Islam fails to understand that, to its peril.
The visible layer promotes tolerance, "love thy neighbor", "turn the other cheek". But when our civilization itself is threatened, the fundamental layer shows through -- the Roman layer.
When Carthage fundamentally threatened Rome, Rome responded with an army that utterly destroyed Carthage. They took Carthage and killed all the men. The women and children were enslaved and dispersed throughout the Empire. Then they leveled the city so that not one stone stood on top of another, and spread salt on the ground so nothing could ever grow there again. Rome did not have any further trouble with Carthage.
"The Prince" is the appetizer. "The Discourses" is the main meal. Be prepared to spend the weekend wading through it, and the next few weeks reflecting on it.
Ya'll Stay Safe !
You perceive these developments as a loss of objective and a focus on method for its own sake. The movement away from the original American objective has been, however, completed into a logical sense of the word: from Founding Fathers' America to the socialist one. Of course, in reality, that transition is not yet complete, which is why we still have a chance to reverse it. But the objectives have been substituted; new methods serve new objectives.
Yours is a very interesting and intriguing proposition. Having thought about it a little, I came to somewhat different conclusions, however.
to begin, we cannot talk about more than Western civilization as one entity in political-administrative terms. Fiske, one of the most deep and prolific historians of the XIX century, advanced a view that history has witnessed three ideas all of at national organization: he called them Oriental, Roman, and English. In brief, under the Oriental scheme, that conqueror enslaves the conquered. The Romans, in contrast, have made those whom they conqueror equal and elevated them to the administration of the Empire. The English idea, which he emphasizes as essentially Teutonic because the team from the German tribes, is the idea of representation in government. This idea took hold on the Isles when the English conquered them and was subsequently strengthened by the English-speaking peoples, most notably, of course, on the American continent. The degree to which that idea is accepted on the European continent is smaller, and this, I believe, is the fundamental reason (besides the cultural ones) why we and the Europeans come to odds in international affairs. In other words, we do not react to the world changing events in the same manner; there is no common reaction to them on the part of the Western civilization.
The second observation is regarding they layer of Christianity that you so correctly observe to be present in the Western civilization. I think we speak here about a layer only because Europe is largely post-Christian, as they are fond of referring to their continent. Since the middle of the XIX century, the socialist ideas have penetrated the European psyche. In international affairs, too, the socialist ideology for other than that Christian beliefs are a driving factor. When we peel their layer of Christianity, therefore, we find not the Roman view of the world, as you suggest, but the socialist mentality.
Islam fails to understand the Western civilization to its peril, you say? This well may be, but given its largely socialist content, Western civilization fails to understand itself as well. That is why my concerns are equal to those that the Europeans must have had in the XVI century, when Islam was at the gates of Vienna.
This can get carried to extremes, for example the idea that killing in self-defense is wrong because the killer has just as much right to life as the victim (I don't subscribe to this mentality)
Underneath this layer, however, is the attitude that one's own self, family, group is more worthy of life than an attacker, and (in the extreme) an attacking group may be exterminated, if necessary, to preserve one's own. This is what I'm talking about when I speak of "the Roman foundation" -- the will to survive that can unleash extreme savagery when the layers of charity, consideration, and politeness are stripped away
In order to maintain a civilization, within the civilization it's necessary to maintain certain concepts, to limit the extent of conflict so that the civilization does not rip itself apart. When survival demands that these concepts are removed, the result can be very ugly
That's because he has been so thoroughly smeared they wouldn't consider it. Can you imagine suggesting to someone like Katie Couric that she read Machiavelli? She'd wrinkle her nose in disgust and say something stupid.
Well Said. If you go to my profile page you will find links to the other quotations I have posted. I'll also add you to the bump list for future such posts.
Most of the people like Gimbel, Couric, and the like never read anything deep in their lives. So, before the fame of Machiavelli scares them away, it it the requirement to think that does that.
You're so right. I stand corrected.
FYI. Machiavelli was in the process of finishing the discourses while in exile from government (three volumes, usually publised together), when the opportunity arose to for him to try and regain favor with the Medici's. He halted work on the discourses and and condensed what he felt were the essential points into "The Prince."
Unfortunately, he did not do as good a job as he might have. Some of the ideas in "The Prince" that were misinterpreted and got him in trouble are better explained in the discourses and leave far less room for interpretation.
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