Friday, March 13, 2015

A warning from The Prince

a major award                                                 

The Prince

“When one considers how much corruption there was in those kings, if two or three successive reigns had continued the same way, and that corruption which was in them had spread to members of the body politic, it would no longer have been possible to reform [Rome].”

That was Niccolo Machiavelli, commenting in his Discourses on Livy published in 1517, almost 500 years ago, on what might have happened if the ancient Roman monarchy had not been overthrown by Brutus and a republic established. Although better known for his masterpiece of political violence, The Prince, here in Discourses Machiavelli’s clear preference for republican government and liberty can be found.

But, writes Machiavelli, freedom has a prerequisite, and that is virtue — a love of liberty. Lacking this virtue, then, a people become ambivalent to politics and those who wield power. Politics becomes the province of the powerful that participate, and lacking power, is something to otherwise be avoided out of fear. There are those who have access, and then there is everyone else.

If such a form of government persists for long, the freedom of the republic as a whole is ultimately lost, and the people themselves are corrupted. Not in the sense that they are accepting bribes — although public forms of subsistence duly enacted can be common in these cases to sweeten the deal of wearing a yoke — but in that inherent inability and unwillingness of the people and their representatives to affect the outcome of public ... [Full]

All that article did for me was trigger a feeling of futility about engaging in political discourse.  It will be useless when debating "Progressives" to cite from, say, the The American Colonist's Library when your opponent will rebut by citing Rachel Maddow. A couple of years ago I found what I think is the perfect analogy in Plato's Allegory of the Cave.  So I'll just resubmit.


"Plato has Socrates describe a gathering of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall by things passing in front of a fire behind them, and begin to ascribe names to these shadows. According to Plato's Socrates, the shadows are as close as the prisoners get to viewing reality."

When one of the chained is released into the real world, he is astounded.  When he goes back to the cave to tell his brethren that everything they've learned from the shadows is false, they would kill him if they could for questioning what they learned in Professor José Ángel Gutiérrez's classroom.


OregonGuy said...

Anonymous said...

He's dead on. The fourth branch of government - millions of unelected bureaucrats in a multitude of agencies - run the country. Congress has abdicated its power and responsibility over the past century as it created or approved these agencies and gave the agencies rule making power that has the force of law.

All they could do without the President's approval is defund the runaway agencies, and the Congress gave away that power when they created the abominable baseline budgeting scam back in the 70's that allows them and the president to skip budget reviews and approval and still have the government run with automatic COLAs. No President who values his near kingly powers will approve a repeal of that or the abolition of the agencies, since they all work for him.

The Congress proved in the latest debates over DHS funding that they are a penis without testicles - an appendage not good for anything but pissing around. I fear that is OK with most of them; they get to be players in the kabuki theater of DC, making them feel important, get attention and live with lots of perks.

I feel your dismay, Rodg, and I fear it will take a rebirth of the minute men to effect real change, but I also fear there are not enough of them willing to risk all to engage.
Most of us go quietly about our lives hoping the crocodile ignores us long enough to run out our string in this world.
Lt. Col. Gen. Tailgunner dick

Anonymous said...

There is nothing I could lose that would prevent me from becoming one of the minute men. I have a lot of stupid crap, and in the end, it is all meaningless.

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