Families that Discuss together, stay together

Families that Discuss together, stay together
Families that Discuss together, stay together

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Response to Machiavelli's, The Prince

Machiavelli seemed to reject the whole philosophical and theological tradition of generations past. Biblical history showed that obedience to God provided security and Divine protection wherever His children lived. Greek philosophy taught that justice was compliance with natural order. Creating and maintaining individual happiness was the purpose of the Platonic and Aristotelian State and virtue was the means to that end. In contrast to godly obedience, happiness and virtue, Machiavelli pushed aside the old belief in the gods and turned the face of the world in the direction of humanism. He felt that the state's fundamental purpose was power in the state itself.

His letter to the reigning Medici family inclined to favor arbitrary power. With the zeitgeist moving in the general direction toward a new humanistic approach, Machiavelli's The Prince, became an important political step towards the Renaissance. Machiavelli wanted to understand politics in a rational way—what is, is what is. The truth is, wrote Machiavelli, that men want power and they do not get it from the gods, angels and demons. Using speed and strength the Prince had magnificent power to conquer and maintain the State. Power should be an end in and of itself, according to Machiavelli. And yet, time has demonstrated the catastrophic implications of such a leader through modern rulers such as Mao, Mussolini, Hitler and many others. Arbitrary power, when used on a human being creates either resentment or it transforms them into a temporal being who lacks desire for individual growth and progression, thus remaining in their childish state—precisely what a Machiavellian prince desires.

Machiavellian thought transformed the world from theocratic politics to the new cynical approach to power and towards modern political science. Were his writings intentionally to teach kings or were they to open the eyes of an enlightened people to the workings of all levels of tyranny? Rousseau postulates, “Machiavelli was a proper man and a good citizen; but, being attached to the court of the Medici, he could not help veiling his love of liberty in the midst of his country’s oppression. The choice of his detestable hero, Caesar Borgia, clearly enough shows his hidden aim; and the contradiction between the teaching of The Prince and that of the Discourses on Livy and the History of Florence shows that this profound political thinker has so far been studied only by superficial or corrupt readers. The Court of Rome sternly prohibited his book. I can well believe it; for it is that Court it most clearly portrays.” Whether Machiavelli was a realist or satirist, it is evident that the rulers of today strongly favor his opinion. One current example is the power assumed in the Executive branch of the United States over the Health Care issue. Decisions were made behind closed doors and the power went to the minority.

His ideas influenced Marxism in view of the fact that people could be molded and manipulated to think and do what the powers above desired. No longer were people completely responsible for their lives or choices, but were shaped into what the State needed at the time. “Machiavelli seems to agree with Aristotle by saying that one cannot establish the desirable political order if the matter is corrupt, i.e. if the people is corrupt, but what for Aristotle is an impossibility is for Machiavelli only a very great difficulty: the difficulty can be overcome by an outstanding man who uses extraordinary means in order to transform a corrupt matter into a good matter. Matter (human matter) can be transformed from without.” (Strauss, Three Waves of Modernity). The doors have been closing in on human freedom for many centuries, but it does not have to continue. Wise and interested parties can restore the sovereign back to the people. I believe the answer exists in a classically educated and moral people.
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