Machiavelli Is Alive and Well

07 Jan

San Diego — It is clear the democrats have boned up on their basic Machiavelli.  Writing for his prince, Lorenzo the Magnificent, he was among the first to note that in the arena of political authority over a people, “power” was not the result of money; in fact money was a by-product of power.  True power came, instead, from dependency.

It is an incredibly simple and inescapable concept: if you are dependent on someone, then that someone exerts a degree of power over you.  And the more you are dependent, the more critical to your needs and wants that dependency is, then the more power that someone will have.  I personally think that exemplifies true evil, but have to admit that even a cursory review of history shows that it works… every time.

Machiavelli also wrote that although one could rule based on love or fear, fear was better because it was far more predictable and controllable.  Ruling from love was a good way to start and get the people on your side but if you wanted to keep your throne, at some point you had to turn that love to fear.  And once you have established dependencies through goodies or the promise of goodies, then the ultimate fear is that you will take back those things.  He wrote that periodically the ruler should “turn loose his dogs on the people” so they will be so grateful when he calls them off.”

The goal was to not let the fear become unbridled hatred because that often led to rebellion and revolt.  Only fear and dependency was the proper mix.  And his advice has well served authoritarian-minded rulers from Lorenzo d’Medici to Stalin, Mao, Nixon, and now Obama.  But it works better in a demographic that has never known better than the servitude in a system in which the people are required to give their all for the government and to then be happy with what the government is willing to dole back out to them.

It almost always starts with the government largesse that creates the “love” part and then when the dependencies are established and locked into place, the largesse is inexorably removed a bit at a time with fear replacing it.  Freedom is among the first on the chopping block but that is OK for a populace besotted with entitlements; real freedom means you are responsible for yourself and that is something to be avoided at all costs.

it is also important that the goodies must not be removed too quickly or hatred will result.  Instead, the goodies must be reduced at just the right pace to keep key dependencies in place and the fear that even those will be taken away if one gets out of line.

Thus far, in our century and in this country, the fear applied and promoted is not of being sent to the rack, to the acid showers of Saddam, being flayed to the bone by the lash, or dragged to the stoning pit.  We modern Americans are so soft of spirit that such grim effort is not necessary; all that is needed is to threaten us with having to accept the responsibility of taking care of ourselves and, worse, live or die with the consequences should those efforts and those decisions fail.

Whether a Caesar, a Duke in Florence, a medieval King, a Tsar, a so-called President for Life, or as is supposed to happen in our country, a more or less honestly elected president runs it, a government is not a business that produces money.  I suppose one could argue that way back a government produced money by looting and pillaging the neighbors.  But even then the bottom line was that the only way a government makes money is by taking it away from the people who have actually produced and earned it.

Therefore the only money available to give out in “entitlements” or other dependency-generating bribes is money extracted from those who were able to actually earn some by their own skills and/or labor.  Whether it is directly pillaged loot, indirect loot in the form of ‘tribute’ to forestall further pillaging, or taxes, every cent of the government’s money comes from someone else who has delivered it over to the government at the point of a threat of some sort of consequence that seems worse than the loss of the money.

Those old time, “divine-right” kings held and enforced the idea that ALL means of production belonged to them in the first place so obviously what was produced belonged to them but, out of their kindness, they would allow the serfs to keep enough to stay alive so they could continue to work and produce for the monarch.  That was fairly easy when only the monarch (or local Lord who then had to pay the monarch) had a standing army that was as adept at terrorizing its own citizens as it was at toppling neighbors to enforce the concept.

When anything that seemed, on the face of it, to express the politically heretical idea that the King did not, in fact, deserve all of the fruits of your labor was seen as treason and punishable by death in such festive manners as drawing and quartering, it was pretty easy to understand how toeing the royal line and handing over your produce or earnings was a better choice.  But in our enlightened modern world where we engage in the pretense of honestly electing our rulers for a finite period (in theory at least) and, at least in America, enough members of our culture are not that far removed in time from the mind-set that does have some ‘line in the sand’ past which the imperious ruler dare not go lest we rise up in a body and help him or her to remove themselves from the seat of power, the want-to-be prince must be a little more devious.

Thus far at least, turning the armed forces loose on the civilian population is almost guaranteed to create that revolt.  The Constitution does allow for the militia to be used to quell any seditious insurrection but it would take some fast talking to sell the public on peaceable dissent as insurrection.  But even if the ruler did not care, at best it would be an incredibly messy and risky undertaking until the populace can be so domesticated as to offer no more risk of rebellion.

That may take at least another presidential term though I see us, especially after reading the pure idiocy and political naïveté of many of my acquaintances on that infamous social network, right at a tipping point.  So today and maybe for a few years more, our ruler has to be smarter than to simply apply blunt force trauma to the body politic.

The answer?  Create a large enough segment of the voting population that is, or thinks it is, dependent on the government for the slop in its favorite trough then you can rule not through fear of torture but through fear of an even greater horror: having the trough removed.  And some of us have grown so dependent on even the concept of the government trough that we are terrorized by the thought of having future troughs not be created.  They are so stupefied by the poison swill in that trough they refuse to accept the comment by Jefferson that a government powerful enough to give you everything is also powerful enough to take it all away.

This coming election cycle will, I believe, see the most horrific vitriol spewing forth that we have seen in a long time.  Counting on us being a population whose collective brain is numbed by TV sound bites and an overwhelming desire to not have to actually think for ourselves, the demonizing attack ads will just come pouring out and be completely unburdened by any connection with reality.  The makers of those horrid bits of offal do it because they know their partisan followers will accept it all at face value if it comes from a source they recognize as being philosophically incestuous with their own primary issues.

Despite protestations that negative campaigning is repugnant, we have already seen that they will probably be successful.  For a party with only a smoke and mirrors ‘record’ to run on, the only workable approach will be to convince the viewers that those other guys are going to remove the troughs and stop the flow of swill on which their followers have become dependent and addicted. So we will see a demonization of candidates the likes of which have not crossed the public’s eyes for a very long time.

Already the lock-step pabulum is being repeated on Facebook without a shred of fact checking or, worse, without a shred of real debate on issues that effect the future of this country.  The polarizing emotional issues will be blasted at us to garner all of our attention while the issues that may effect the financial stability of the country are avoided.  This group who cries sad tears about how we do not recognize our place in the global society do not, themselves, recognize that the global society is a dangerous place that wishes us ill and is getting themselves geared up to act on those wishes.

They will vote based on a candidate’s personal beliefs on narrow issues related usually to the important emotional troughs in the voter’s life.  Hearing a candidate is personally opposed to that trough is all it takes, whether or not that assertion is true.  And even if true, when that candidate has categorically asserted that they will abide by the law if it is contrary, it does not matter.  The issues facing the country be damned so long as the personal issues are rightly expressed.  Never mind that if the country falls those issues will be the least of one’s worries…

And at the same time they will ignore that another candidate who shares their narrow view and has promised to keep the swill flowing, even when the promises were broken and that candidate has proven themselves to be ideologically inflexible as well as unconscionably unqualified in the economic arena and in the foreign policy arena — the two most critical arenas we as a country can face – may take us further into ruin and vote for them.

I normally just throw away the trash from the union that constantly assaults my mailbox and email, but this last month an article caught my eye.  The core of it was about how, due to the pervasive technology that confuses ease of communication with depth of communication, we are losing our ability to enjoy true solitude.  So what?  Well that author suggests, and I agree, that it was only from solitude that we can honestly reflect and analyze ideas and propositions.  Without engaging in the reflective thought that only comes during solitude, all we have left to inform us and our conclusions is the constant drum beat from others.  And in this partisan, polarized world, we seem more and more addicted to the drum beat coming only from our own camp.

But one cannot engage in a meaningful debate unless they understand the truth of the other side.  Knowing only what a propaganda spinner from your side tells you about the other side is unlikely to reveal the truth.  You can only get the truth of what someone believes directly from that person since both their friends and enemies will spin it to suit themselves.

So I predict this election will turn not on issues that impact the future success of this country on the world stage geo-politically, or on the local stage economically, but on whether or not a candidate promises to keep the swill flowing, promises to feed the addicted dependency or force others to get on board and help support the self described victims and entitled pet causes.

And they will not think about what happens to the country when ALL of the citizens become entitled and feed at the trough; they wil not think to ask where will the tribute come from then?  Whose treasury or granary will be left to pillage and bring home for the trough?  What happens when they run out of other people’s money?

Their answer, based on their actions and posts is, “Who Cares?”  Who cares, as long as for the expected life of the voter clamoring for their place at the trough, the swill keeps flowing.  After that?  Who cares? if the system is doomed to collapse under its own weight but only the kids or grandkids will have to deal with it and not them, then who cares?

We were founded by people who did care.  They cared about the future and the lives of future generations.  They were people willing to sacrifice everything up to and including their lives for the bigger picture of a country.  They had their own petty squabbles by and between each other on smaller point but when the country was at stake, those got set aside, if only temporarily, for a bigger picture.

What my idiot (yes, “student,” I said it again) – what my idiot friends and students on Facebook who have swallowed the Kool-Aid, have proven to me, is that people such as those who founded this country… are dead.  Maybe all of them.

What I read, sadly, is a narrow take, viewed from a kneeling position in preparation for the public troughs, some of which have yet to be built, that is pounding nails in the coffin of this country.  But it may well be that the coffin was already filled and you are simply and happily, even purposefully, sealing the lid so we can get on to that great social utopia you think will follow.

Good luck with that.  And to keep your spirits high, do not ever risk engaging in the type of solitude away from texting and tweeting and face-booking where you can discover that such a plan has never worked in the history of mankind’s attempts at government. Thus far ignorance has been bliss for you.  If I were you I would hang on to that ignorance and advise further that you keep your eyes closed in blissful song with others singing from the same choir book.

So keep on singing.  As one of the belwethers among the sheeple you just keep leading them up the loading ramp.  But don’t complain when you realize, too late, what that strange hammer is for.


Posted by on January 7, 2012 in Uncategorized


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2 responses to “Machiavelli Is Alive and Well

  1. Robert M. Bennett

    January 8, 2012 at 8:08 am

    I was interested in the quotation from Jefferson, so I “googled” it. I found that one site indicated that it was incorrectly attributed to Jefferson and that it was actually said by Gerald ford to a joint session of congress. That just didn’t sound correct to me so I looked further and found another source that attributed the quote about government giving and taking away was attributed to David “Davy” Crockett.

    Lastly, I found a site that contained memorable things said by individuals about government, some of whom I recognized, but many of whom I did not know. They uniformly support the theme of your blog!

    Interestingly enough I thought I’d find some quotations supporting government as a panacea, or at least something positive. I found none. Maybe I didn’t look long or had enough … or maybe the truth lies in Davy Crockett, Jefferson, Ford, or Goldwater’s quotation.

  2. ndking

    January 8, 2012 at 6:27 pm

    I love it! i don’t doubt that Ford said it but I am sure it predates him by a lot. I would truly love it if Davy Crockett was the originator but I’m not sure; his speech, as i recall, was a lot more “countrified” than that. i’ve also heard it attributed to Andrew Jackson. Crockett, Jackson, and Jefferson were all of a particular time range but it may go back even further. Possibly Locke or Burke??? it is a sentiment all of them shared so it is possible ALL of them uttered some variation of it. But whoever actually originated it, the truth and accuracy of the sentiment seems to be somewhat self evident.

    The idea of government as a panacea might be best expressed by Wilson or FDR, or even Hillary’s village metaphor but by very few deep thinkers or historians. Godwin, Rousseau, Marx, all saw goverenment as the savior of one sort or another but that was bnecause they saw human nature as essentially good and altruistic just waiting for the proper governmental environment in which to let us all be good to one another. A beautiful thought; i wish it were true, but i don’t think history supports it.

    Anyway, if i could write stuff and engender some objective research by a significant number of readers, regardless of the conclusions they reached, then I think i would have accomplished a good thing.


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