Thursday, January 12, 2006

New book Serialization

I have decided to serialize Bernard Hery Levy next on the Beakerkin book section. The problem we conservatives face is that we love the same authors to death. It is important that we read other authors as well as the standards. The title of the book Is War Evil and the End of History. It takes us through a series of smaller conflicts
including Columbia, Angola and Sri Lanka.

Levy has a philosophical side and like Naipul he is a professional writer. However, I prefer the writing style of Monica Crowley who has sadly written two books. Her style is direct straight forward with a hint of elegance . The last book by Flynn was simple direct and to the point with no meandering. Coulter's books are machine gun style where the reader is machine gunned with facts punctuated with brilliant sarcastic quips. The all time best was in her last book How to talk to a Liberal if one must .A suspect from the Central Park Jogger case was found with semen and grass in his underwear. Coulters quip was he must have been fertilizing the lawn.

I was thinking about the mess in Africa in the eighties. Where were the protests from these bufoons when Cuba sent troops to Angola and Eithiopia. In fact where was the mention of Cuban aid to Marxist rebels in the Contra aid era. The left wants to gloss over the fact. China invaded and settles hundreds of people in Tibet and the left hyperventilates about Isreal on land that Jews are the indigenous people. Indigenous people are not indigenous when in conflict with Islam is the creed of the left. We heard ad nauseum about Vietnam and Iraq but scarcely a peep about Cuban and Soviet invasions. Hezbollah is an Iranian creation in Lebanon devoted entirely to terror and we hear nothing from the left.

The silence about the bigotry and hypocrisy of the far left ends at this blog.

Beamish in 08, Ducky to Peking and 167 to the Gulag where he can sing "Those were the Days"

61 comments:

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I was looking forward to your serial on Flynn's views of Ayn Rand and Leo Strauss.

beakerkin said...

When I get back I will do those chapters. Hey I didn't even mention
those chapters you don't have a copy there.

I will put those together. In short
Flynn mocks Strauss for circular logic. Straus searches for hidden meanings saying that if an author faces persecution those few sections that disagree are the authors real opinions.

Flynn does mention that the hysteria that Strauss followers hijacked foriegn policy is off base.He notes the history of faulty intelligence.

His critique of Rand is based on the doltish slave like mentality of her followers. Naming kids after Rand Charachters . The slavish devotion of some portrayed by Flynn was comedic. People mimicing Rand's odd tastes she likes Charlies Angels but hates Shakespeare.

Rand was apparently an egotist and took her work way too seriously. Her personal behavior as portrayed by Flynn bears eerie similarities to typical Communist controls. Reading people in history of her movement and star chamber type acusations were recounted by Flynn.
It is ironic that a woman who despised communism often emulated their tactics. The comedic part was she carries on a twenty year affair with a protoge wrecks the marriage. The protoge leaves Rand for a younger model and Rand demands to see the mans exwife. Rand was guilty of being self centered to the point of comedy and exceedingly rude.

beakerkin said...

I am sure Ducky will be along any second to pounce on the Rand and Strauss quotes.

beakerkin said...

I will also have to do a synopsis review of Flynn's book but I was peeved when a comercial site lifted my review of a Naipul book.
I do not mind if another blogger links a post but a site that sells books seems a different animal.

Mr. Ducky said...

Protest? When the white pimps in South Africa were funding the war in Angola (with our help) there was hardly any reason to condemn Cuba. It was also ironic that the largest source of arms form the South African apartheid government was the Israeli Apartheid Regime.

I'm sure you have your own explanation of why Mandela was sympathetic to Castro for aiding the struggle so we'd love to hear it.

And now we sit back and watch the troubles in Africa while (correctly) blaming the innefctive and corrupt leaders in many African states without taking the responsibility for having supported them during the Cold War for so long (much as we supported Hussein when it served our purpose). We may even cut funding for the next round of Holocaust memorials (jews were the only people it happened to according to Beak, well known denier) and build something that commerates our involvement in the millions of deaths in Congo.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I just know from an Amazon.com review that Flynn took on Rand and Strauss as well, which I found interesting because Strauss in particular was not a leftist, and hence was physically incapable of being an "intellectual moron" like Ducky and his fellow fascist, eugenicist, racist, and genocidalist heroes.

Rand can be dismissed easily with nine words:

"You're grounded to your room until you grow up."

beakerkin said...

The South African Government manufactured their own arms ome of which are world class. Aparthied in Israel is funny from a supporter
of regimes that are Judenrhein and becoming Christianrhein daily.

I do not Deny the Holocaust I leave that for Commies. Eath to Ducky my family is from the Ukraine and more then familiar with events there. You also never mention who caused the starvation but that is obvious.

Anonymous said...

Leo Strauss was a genius. Anyone who doesn't believe Strauss' theory about persecuted writers has never read the primary sources Strauss makes examples of.

The contradictions between what Livy wrote in his "Histories" and what Machiavelli "said" Livy wrote are quite stark... and these differences are things it takes an "educated" reader to spot. This had to have been done deliberately and appears to have been Machiavelli's way of lending "authority" to his own un-PC viewpoints without drawing the heat of having said them himself.

Pooh-pooh Stauss all you want. But he was one of the very few men of today who actually understood the "ancients" as they knew themselves. And the ancients eat post-modernists for breakfast.

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Anyone that doesn't understand that Machiavelli's The Prince was the highly sarcastic satire penned by a man quite familiar with Medici torture chambers really ought not be allowed to express an opinion on political ethics until their time behind a book exceeds their time behind a Nintendo controller.

Anonymous said...

satire...LOL!

You quack me up! Have you ever read anything Machiavelli wrote "other" than "The Prince"? Perhaps those who haven't read NEARLY EVERYTHING Machiavelli penned, including his short stories and plays, should go back to their Nintendo controllers and cease all efforts to express an educated opinion on the subject.

Mr. Ducky said...

Machiavelli merely informed The Prince of one way to behave. It's quite clear that Machiavelli preferred the republic, clear enough in The Discourses.

Go the way of The Prince and you get stuck in the same materialist mess that we have now.

Anonymous said...

Machiavelli to Lorenzo Strozzi ( a gentleman of Florence) from the "Art of War"...

But because military institutions have become completely corrupt and far removed from the ancient ways, these sinister opinions have arisen which make the military hated and intercourse with those who train them avoided.

And I, judging, by what I have seen and read, that it is not impossible to restore its ancient ways and return some form of past virtue to it, have decided not to let this leisure time of mine pass without doing something, to write what I know of the art of war, to the satisfaction of those who are lovers of the ancient deeds. And although it requires courage to treat of those matters of which others have made a profession, none the less, I do not believe that it is a mistake to occupy a position with words, which may, with greater presumption, have been occupied with deeds; for the errors which I should make in writing can be corrected without injury to anyone, but those which are made with deeds cannot be found out except by the ruin of the Commanders.


-FJ

Anonymous said...

Machiavelli, "Discourses on Titus Livy"...

When I consider how much honor is attributed to antiquity, and how many times, not to mention many other examples, a fragment of an antique statue has been bought at a great price in order to have it near to one, honoring his house, being able to have it imitated by those who delight in those arts, and how they then strive with all industry to present them in all their work: and when I see, on the other hand, the works of greatest virtu which Historians indicate have been accomplished by ancient Kingdoms and Republics, by Kings, Captains, Citizens, Lawgivers, and others who have worked themselves hard for their country, to be more readily admired than imitated, or rather so much neglected by everyone in every respect that no sign of that ancient virtu remains, I cannot otherwise than wonder and at the same time be sad: and so much more when I see in the civil differences that arise between Citizens, or in the maladies which men incur, they always have recourses to those judgments or to those remedies that have been judged or instituted by the ancients. For the civil laws are nothing else but the decisions given by the ancient Jurisconsults, which reduced to a system presently teach our Jurisconsults to judge and also what is medicine if not the experience had by the ancient Doctors, (and) on which the present Doctors base their judgments? None the less in the instituting of Republics, in maintaining of States, in the governing of Kingdoms, in organizing an army and conducting a war, in (giving) judgment for Subjects, in expanding the Empire, there will not be found either Prince, or Republic, or Captain, or Citizen, who has recourse to the examples of the ancients. Which I am persuaded arises not so much from the weakness to which the present education has brought the world, or from that evil which an ambitious indolence has created in many Christian Provinces and Cities, than from not having a real understanding of history, and from not drawing that (real) sense from its reading, or benefiting from the spirit which is contained in it. whence it arises that they who read take infinitely more pleasure in knowing the variety of incidents that are contained in them, without ever thinking of imitating them, believing the imitation not only difficult, but impossible: as if heaven, the sun, the elements, and men should have changed the order of their motions and power, from what they were anciently. Wanting, therefore, to draw men from this error, I have judged it necessary to write upon all those books of Titus Livy which, because of the malignity of the times, have been prevented (from coming to us), in order that I might judge by comparing ancient and modern events what is necessary for their better understanding, so that those who may read these Discourses of mine may be able to derive that usefulness for which the understanding of History ought to be sought. And although this enterprise may be difficult, none the less, aided by those who have advised me to begin carrying this load, I believe I can carry it so that there will remain for others a short way to bring it to its destined place (end).

-FJ

Anonymous said...

mr ducky,

Yes, Machiavelli "favored" republics, but I suspect his "Florentine Histories" bring out this partiality to a much greater extent than his "Discourses".

But just to argue the statement that to "Go the way of The Prince and you get stuck in the same materialist mess that we have now"... the "way of the prince" is also, in many respects, the way of the "republic". And so the advice given to the prince is also useful to the leader of a "republic" for he teaches the prince how to deal with several different kinds of "states" (ie-Mixed) including his own.

And so, perhaps there is "no way out" of this materialistic "mess" we have. Face facts, mr. ducky, your utopia is a "pipe dream".

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I understand, as FJ has pointed out, that Machiavelli wrote while mindful of the threat to him if his writings offended those he was writing against.

The only way anyone can see Machiavelli as cozying up to the Medicis in The Prince (as idiots "teach" it in college level Poli Sci classes) is if they are ignorant of the facts that the Medici court imprisoned and tortured Machiavelli before the book was ever written, and the book was never published until after Machiavelli's death (which defeats the purpose of it being a sop to the Medicis for favor, doesn't it?)

No, The Prince was political satire, and had the Medicis read it while Machiavelli was alive, well, they would have killed him.

Anonymous said...

LOL! The de Medici's would have killed him? Did you know that the de Medici's were a great patron of his and Cardinal Giulio de Medici(eventually) comissioned his "Florentine Histories"? Did you know that Machiavelli was a great admirer of Lorenzo the Magnificent? Did you know that Machiavelli's "heroes" were mostly dictatorial strong men like Caesare Borgia, et al (ie - "The life of Castruccio Castracani of Lucca"), men of "virtu"? Did you realize that as much as Machiavelli may have preferred "republics" over "principates", the history of Florence swung back and forth between the two forms many times, and that Machiavelli was first and formost a Florentine "patriot"?

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Did you know the Medicis imprisoned and tortured Machiavelli for alleged involvement in a plot against them?

Did you know Machiavelli's period of service in the government of Florence was during a republican period before the Medicis returned to power and dissolved that form of government, quickly moving to suppress dissent?

Go back to your Nintendo, "Anonymous." You're out of anything even remotely resembling "your league" here.

Anonymous said...

Slight revision...

Machiavelli was not only a "Florentine" patriot, but also an "Italian" patriot who dreamed of reuniting Italy, expelling all foreign armies (of Spain, France, Swiss) and their mercenaries (the cause of much mischief and ruin on the Italian peninsula due largely to the popes who frequently calling on them for "aid" against forces that might unite Italy or threaten the papal states).

The church, often Machiavelli's personal savior and patron, eventually banned Machiavelli's writings (and I suspect because he wrote like a Ghibelline, and not because they were "amoral").

But the de Medici popes were hardly "Christian" (the ceiling of the Sistine chapel ought to convince you of that).

Machiavelli probably saw the de Medici's as Italy's "last great hope" for Italian unification and the restoration of a more "Roman" and less "Christian" government.

Anonymous said...

mr beamish,

You take a single event from a man's life and project it onto everything he later does.

I, on the other hand, point to everything he later does and writes, and arrive at the exact opposite conclusion.

Which do you suppose, is the better approach?

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

How did we get from Beakerkin to Flynn to Strauss to Machiavelli without talking about Plato anyway?

Anonymous said...

I don't know... but let's drag him in. Cossimo and Lorenzo de Medici are largely responsible for re-discovering and desseminating translations of Plato's work, along with those of many other ancient authors. In fact, they founded a second "Plato's Academy" in Florence. I believe that this is what lead to the Italian Renaissance. Lorenzo was also patron to many of the great artists of his day, and Lorenzo's death and the subsequent expulsion of the de Medici family lead to Machiavelli's first political positions as a member of the resulting Florentine "Republic" under Andriani.

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

FJ,

Maybe I'm misunderstanding you, but I don't thing we're in disagreement. I view the Prince as satire primarily because telling "the Prince" that he needed to kill every member of the royal court to guard against plots against him could only come from the mouth of a plotting sycophant, which is what Machiavelli had been accused of being during his imprisonment / torture.

I guess I have a somewhat "Straussian" view of a hidden meaning inside the Prince - the means are justified by the ends - because the means were applied on Machiavelli in a Medici torture chamber.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Machiavelli's advice was a recommendation that he himself be put to death. Does that make him a "plotting syncophant", for as you say, Machiavelli never delivered this manuscipt to his Prince.

What Machiavelli advocated in "The Prince" was nothing different from what the ancients frequently did to maintain their power. In the case of a hereditary monarchy, you kill all potential heirs that might challenge your authority. In the case of a republic, you destroy the "system" and impose something radically different. But you do it upon your ascendency to the throne... and then rule "justly" so as to give your subjects no "new" reasons to revolt. Not the advice a "typical" Christian might offer, but defintely something an "ancient" minister might recommend. And Machiavelli "knew" why he wasn't (and shouldn't be) readily trusted, and why he should have been killed and not merely detained and tortured.

You also take "hostages" from the royal families of your allies to secure and guarantee their faithful allegiance. If your ally refused to support you or proved treacherous, you either killed the hostages, or (since they were raised by you and were loyal to you) killed the unfaithful ruler and used the hostage to "usurpe the monarchy". This was common and accepted practice in ancient times.

Machiavelli might have been born into the remnants of a Guelphic family and quoted Dante (another Guelph) in his letter of introduction, but like "Plato", had ideas that did not coincide with his family heritage and their historical interest (the attributes that recommended him for service in the days of the Florentine republic).

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

It is better to be feared than loved.

I think Machiavelli feared the Medici family.

Anonymous said...

I suspect you are correct, and with good reason. They were a family of potential "Princes" with little use for the morals and morality of a "Republic"... for after all, the Republic kept "banishing" the de Medici's instead of killing them... and they kept coming back... hmmm. Perhaps the ancients weren't so dumb after all.

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Also look at everyone Machiavelli held up in the Prince as an example to emulate. All of them were failures, losing their legacies or worse.

It was sarcasm, I tell ye!

Anonymous said...

also interesting is the fact that in the Prince, Machiavelli discloses the means necessary to "overthrow" a Prince. Perhaps this is one of the reasons the de Medici never received his treatise, and therefore it wasn't sarcasm, but a serious "how to" manual...

Machiavelli, "The Prince"

I answer that the principalities of which one has record are found to be governed in two different ways; either by a prince, with a body of servants, who assist him to govern the kingdom as ministers by his favour and permission; or by a prince and barons, who hold that dignity by antiquity of blood and not by the grace of the prince. Such barons have states and their own subjects, who recognize them as lords and hold them in natural affection. Those states that are governed by a prince and his servants hold their prince in more consideration, because in all the country there is no one who is recognized as superior to him, and if they yield obedience to another they do it as to a minister and official, and they do not bear him any particular affection.

The examples of these two governments in our time are the Turk and the King of France. The entire monarchy of the Turk is governed by one lord, the others are his servants; and, dividing his kingdom into sanjaks, he sends there different administrators, and shifts and changes them as he chooses. But the King of France is placed in the midst of an ancient body of lords, acknowledged by their own subjects, and beloved by them; they have their own prerogatives, nor can the king take these away except at his peril. Therefore, he who considers
both of these states will recognize great difficulties in seizing the state of the Turk, but, once it is conquered, great ease in holding it. The causes of the difficulties in seizing the kingdom of the Turk are that the usurper cannot be called in by the princes of the kingdom, nor can he hope to be assisted in his designs by the revolt of those whom the lord has around him. This arises from the reasons given above; for his ministers, being all slaves and bondmen, can only be corrupted with great difficulty, and one can expect little advantage from them when they have been corrupted, as they cannot carry the people with them, for the reasons assigned. Hence, he who attacks the Turk must bear in mind that he will find him united, and he will have to rely more on his own strength than on the revolt of others; but, if once the Turk has been conquered, and routed in the field in such a way that he cannot replace his armies, there is
nothing to fear but the family of this prince, and, this being
exterminated, there remains no one to fear, the others having no
credit with the people; and as the conqueror did not rely on them
before his victory, so he ought not to fear them after it.

The contrary happens in kingdoms governed like that of France, because one can easily enter there by gaining over some baron of the kingdom, for one always finds malcontents and such as desire a change. Such men, for the reasons given, can open the way into the state and render the victory easy; but if you wish to hold it afterwards, you meet with infinite difficulties, both from those who have assisted you and from those you have crushed. Nor is it enough for you to have exterminated the family of the prince, because the lords that remain make themselves the heads of fresh movements against you, and as you are unable either to satisfy or exterminate them, that state is lost whenever time brings the opportunity.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Anyway, back to Strauss. I like his works, but Flynn's got him listed in his book "Intellectual Morons." Too much crap has been written to disparage the man, hell and entire anti-neocon conspiracy theory / pulp fiction industry has been constructed around making him the Antichrist. So I was wondering if Flynn treated Strauss fairly or just cribbed talking points from Lyndon LaRouche.

"If everything is relative, then cannibalism is a matter of taste." - Leo Strauss

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

FJ,

The "serious how-to manual" interpretation of the Prince is not without merit, but I disagree only because Machiavelli spent his final days trying to live down the fouled reputation it caused for him when people who did see it in his lifetime regarded it as a "pro-Medici" work.

Anonymous said...

I think Strauss has been demonized by the Left and others on the Right primarily because it represents a real threat to their "neo-liberal" progressive philosophy... and even what we might call "enlightenment" values. It "unties" the hands of politicians to do in "foreign relations" what they find "morally reprehensible", not properly understanding that the rest of the world operates with "untied hands" and will perform these same acts (and worse) against them.

Strauss believed that America was founded upon principle's which were the mirror opposite of those principle's found in Machiavelli's "The Prince", but that American "success" has been largely due to the ability to occassionally "violate" those principles and due what is "necessary" for the survival of her people.

Hence at the Alito hearings, the Democrats keep asking whether or not the President "must" adhere to the laws they make... and Alito deftly responds that he must act in accordance with those laws that are "Constitutional"... knowing that Presidential War Powers are ill- defined... and permit the President to do things like other ex-Presidents have done in the past under trying war-time conditions... suspend Habeus Corpus... detail potential enemies (Japanese Internment)... torture enemy combatants (say under threat of a domestic nuke being set to go off)... etc. Virtues in wartime often become vices that lead to your defeat. One rule/law doesn't fit ALL circumstances, there are times when one must do the "opposite" in order to survive, for if a law fit all situations, we would have no need for "judges" to adjust "sentences".

And Strauss (and the Founding Fathers) realized (but did not officially acknowledge) the necessity to do so. Like Plato's "Nocturnal Council", the President must do what is necessary to protect and defend the people of the United States. Yes people might get "paranoid" if these powers were ever precisely "enumerated", therefore they remain "vague" and often "unstated".

Those committed to the rule of law on the right and left have reasons to fear Strauss. For like Plato and Machiavelli, Strauss understood that "nature" and the world ARE "amoral" and that "good and evil" can be sometimes "circumstantially" dependent and man-made laws "violated".

But at the same time, Strauss recognized the circumstances (war) that required LIMITED moral relaxations and reversals. And so not "everything" was relative and cannabalism was not simply a matter of "taste". For he moral is essential for the institution and self-enforcement of "peace".

-FJ

Anonymous said...

Again, Machiavelli had to distance himself from the de Medici's in his later years because he now wished to rejoin the "recently victorious" Republic in an "official" ministerial capacity.

But who can trust a man (an ancient) who will NOT be bound by law or convention (as evidenced by his "Prince" and "Discourses") and knows what it takes to cause a revolution and/or seize power for himself?

And this is largely why people distrust "Straussians" as well. They are "unmoved" by others and know what it takes to "move" others. They have a philosophy that appears "inconsistent" and "self-centered", and can appear to be very "nationalistic" and "amoral". I prefer to think of it not so much as "amoral", as "realistic". And this allows them to think "outside" the moral box most people live in and offer alternatives that may prove necessary for our survival as a nation under changeable and adverse circumstances.

They are a "nocturnal council", and therefore a threat to those who would threaten the state... and those who wish to "change" it (so-called "progressives").

-FJ

Mr. Ducky said...

I decided to watch a film last night and pulled "Network" out of my library. That tells us a good deal more about what's happening than the rather archaic Machiavelli.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a discussion of precisely "how" Network informs us "more" than Machiavelli. If you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, Machiavelli tells you what you must do to "act" sucessfully and thereby become "less mad". And if you aren't willing to do what he recommends, I'm afraid you're going to have to be satisfied with being "mad as hell" for a long, long time.

-FJ

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a discussion of precisely "how" Network informs us "more" than Machiavelli. If you're mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, Machiavelli tells you what you must do to "act" sucessfully and thereby become "less mad". And if you aren't willing to do what he recommends, I'm afraid you're going to have to be satisfied with being "mad as hell" for a long, long time.

-FJ

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the double post...guess I'm just "faster" than the "network". LOL!

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

FJ,

I've always taken Strauss' cannibalism quote as an indictment and rejection of relativism via reductio ad absurdia.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I don't think Ducky will get much further along than screaming out his window at all the people unmoved by his prophecies.

Anonymous said...

I think it was his way of saying that everything really is relative, even cannabalism, but that in order for there to be "peace", our "moral" society cannot accept a strict adherance to the principle of a "strict" adherence to truth (relativity). We must "bend" the truth if we desire the cooperation of our fellow man.... and not resort to actually "eating" him.

But perhaps I'm reading too much into it... just as I view the "straight walls" on the lower half of our Congress as an attempt to adhere to truth and laws... but that the unoccupied dome is curved and reaches into heaven for "inspiration" with a tholos on top representing "forethought".

-FJ

Anonymous said...

mr. beamish,

Screaming out the window does seem to be mr. ducky's forte. Perhaps we shouldn't encourage him to read the writings of his "betters". It might turn him into a "liber-al".

-FJ

Anonymous said...

mr. beamish,

I take Machiavelli at his word in Chapter XXVI, as to "why" he might join forces with the de Medici's. I think I expressed this in terms of Machiavelli's "patriotism" earlier...what do you make of his "exhortation" in Chapter XXVI of "The Prince"?

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

The Strauss cannibalism quote is formulated as an "if, then..." statement, probably as a parody of the amoral musings of logical positivists (which Strauss was decidedly opposed to).

The connotations carried by cannibalism as a taboo would seem to weigh against "everything (all) is relative," thus anyone who views cannibalism negatively would have to argue decidedly against relativism and for a rigidly defined moral system, i.e. "cannibalism is wrong because..."

On the other hand, "Cannibalism is not wrong because some people are cannibals" - relativism - can't judge any action on moral grounds.

Strauss forces the reader to think, which is the point.

Anonymous said...

You are absolutely right. To think and not immediately exclude options on moral (right-eousness)grounds. Plato's "right" opinion vs his "true" opinion. Machiavelli and Nietzsche's call for "new orders" and "tables of values" as defined by a strong new leader (or prince).

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

FJ,

If I'm remembering military history correctly, the Spanish and Swiss armies Machiavelli is referring to as "barbarians in Italy" were forces loyal to Papal authority.

Sarcasm, me tell ya :)

Anonymous said...

...foreigner who often opportunitically usurped the territories and controlled many Italian city states. Their mercenary generals often defected and set up principalities of their own. Italy was a mess.

But if you want to believe it was sarcasm, so be it. It makes for an interesting conversation and has provided me an excellent opportunity to refresh some of my memories on the subject. Thanks.

-FJ

Anonymous said...

...and even though Giulio de Medici was a "pope" he was hardly a "Christian". The "Lutherans" of the time found the papacy to severly "lacking".

-FJ

Anonymous said...

What Machiavelli was sick of...

Italian Wars

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

I say it was sarcasm in the sense that it was Machiavelli saying "look at how absurd we are." Any system that is perpetuated by political intrigues and power struggles can not be made into a self-sustaining body. There's always going to be coup being plotted or implemented. It's hard to keep the assassins happy after the marks are all dead. So new marks, and new assassins emerge. No one has time to warm the throne with their butt, as it were. One has to be the biggest shark in that pool.

To "exhort" Italy to shrug off the only thing maintaining a semblance of order there - the Papal-backed foreign mercenaries (with all their intrigues and divisive politics) - was essentially a call for the Pope to overthrow the Pope.

No wonder the Papacy deemed Machiavelli "evil." His satire was damning, to those who understood it.

Anonymous said...

...even in his "Republican" days, Machiavelli favored Italian militia over foreign mercenaries. Remember the Pisa campaign? He hardly thought of the mercanaries as a source of "stability".

When Piero Soderini was elected chief magistrate of Florence, Machiavelli quickly earned his favor, and was able to achieve his military goals with his influence over the leader of Florence. One goal Machiavelli pushed for was the formation of a state militia because he believed that troops from your own land serve you better than common mercenary troops. A council in charge of the militia was formed, with Machiavelli as its head.
In 1508, Machiavelli got an opportunity to test his new militia. Florence decided to recapture Pisa and Machiavelli went to the front lines to command his troops. In June 1509, the city of Pisa was recaptured with success primarily owed to Machiavelli's militia.


-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Exactly. National identity / self-determination, the minimal standard of a republic, is but empty words without a people devoted to them.

THe old cliche "The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire" comes to mind.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Machiavelli thought the status quo Italian Wars absurd. But they were absurd only to the extent that Machiavelli knew the way out of the absurdity, and shared that way out with the world... his "short-cut" of trying to support a philosopher-king pope (just as Plato attempted in Syracuse w/Dion) (The Prince), and his longer-term solution of re-establishing the Roman Republic (Discourses on Titus Livy).

-FJ

Anonymous said...

...and the founding of Rome was largely dependent upon having a war-like "Romulus" immediately followed by a peace-loving and religious Numa...from the Discourses...

Whoever should examine, therefore, the building of Rome if he should take Eneas for its first ancestor, will know that that City was built by foreigners: (but) if Romulus, it would have been built by men native to the place, and in any case it would be seen to have been free from the beginning without depending on anyone: it will also be seen (as it will be said below) to what necessity the laws made by Romulus, Numa, and the others had constrained them; so much so that the fertility of the site, the convenience of the sea, the frequent victories, the greatness of the Empire, could not corrupt her for many centuries, and they maintained her full of so much virtu than any other republic has ever been adorned. And because the things achieved by them and that are made notable by Titus Livius, have taken place either through public Councils or private (individuals) either inside or outside the City, I shall begin to discourse upon those things which occured inside; and as for the public Council, which is worthy of greater annotation, I shall judge, adding all that is dependent on them; with which discourses this fast book, or rather this fast part will be ended.

-FJ

PS - Perhaps this why Machiavelli dedicated his Discourses to TWO of Florence's private citizens.

Anonymous said...

There is some contention by historians as to which book was completed first, his "Prince" or his "Discourses". Some say that Machiavelli started writing the Prince...stopped... then wrote the Discourses... and then finished writing the Prince.

That he never printed the Prince or delivered it to the de Medici's indictates to me that the books were NOT meant to be satire, and appears to me to have been a conscious decision that perhaps the longer term Republican solution was the "way" Machiavelli decided to go... and so he kept the "Prince" out of circulation and never had it printed (although there were several copies made of it that were shared with others during his lifetime).

If Machiavelli had intended satire, why didn't he publish the Prince? Then he could become a renowned author like Horace or Juvenal or Petronius and gather world acclaim for his brilliant satire... for once the de Medici were removed from office, what better way to regain republican "confidence" than to make "comedy" out of one's former enemies?

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Indeed...

"There is a great deal of scholarly contention as to whether Machiavelli started The Discourses, then wrote The Prince, and then finally finished the rest of The Discourses. Much of the debate hinges on Machiavelli's supposed mention of The Discourses in The Prince, when he says that he will not talk about republics, because he has talked about them at another time. Hans Baron and David Wootton argue this is not a reference the The Discourses. If Machiavelli had been working on The Discourses during this time, he would have surely mentioned it to Vettori in his letters, which he did not. Wootton even goes as far as to argue that Machiavelli was making a dry, off-color joke when he said he had mentioned republics at another time; Wootton argues that Machiavelli was referring to his confessions of republicanism while he was being tortured." - [From Wikipedia, Machiavelli article]

One of "history's mysteries" I guess.

Then we can get into the extant plagiarisms of the Prince circulating in Machiavelli's time, and make a conspiracy theory so huge that Machiavelli possibly might not have written what we today attribute to him. (I don't subscribe to that view) But, it's heady, trippy stuff nonetheless.

What we can gather is that the Prince, in whatever way Machiavelli intended it, was not well-recieved.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

Now for the juicy question:

Was Machiavelli's advice for "the Prince" evil?

Anonymous said...

imo, Heck no. It was "practical" and set the criteria/limits for action.

It seems to be the primary purpose of modern government is to perform those "evils" that are necessary for keeping the citizenry "good". We empower government to use the "force" we cannot be entrusted to wield on our own. To spy upon and defeat/deceive our enemies in war. To judge and punish criminals in peace. I believe it was Joseph de Maistre who wrote a pangyric to "the executioner", whom he thought formed the very foundation upon which the social order rested.

In ancient times, the populace was more inclined to achieve "justice" on their own. Aeschylus' "Oresteia" is a trilogy which documents the shift from a justice system of "personal vengeance" to "trial by jury".

Plato found the shift somewhat "emasculating" and cowardly. Hence in Plato's "Laws", their are positive laws that force the citizens to enforce the law themselves. It's a step "down" from having the "Republic's" guardian class. But is also left some "unprotected" from abuse (UNLESS THE NOCTURNAL COUNCIL WERE TO MONITOR AND ACT).

I therefore favor Aeschylus' "Olympian" values. But that also opens the government up to the temptation to over-reach... and to actually become OR SIMPLY APPEAR TO BE "evil".

-FJ

Anonymous said...

Joseph de Maistre quotes...

On the Executioner...

“Who is this inexplicable being, who, when there are so many agreeable, lucrative, honest and even honorable professions to choose among, in which a man can exercise his skill or his powers, has chosen that of torturing or killing his own kind? Is there not something in them that is peculiar, and alien to our nature? Myself, I have no doubt about this. He is made like us externally. He is born like all of us. But he is an extraordinary being, and it needs a special decree to bring him into existence as a member of the human family--a fiat of the creative power. He is created like a law unto himself.

“Consider what he is in the opinion of mankind, and try to conceive, if you can, how he can manage to ignore or defy this opinion. Hardly has he been assigned to his proper dwelling-place, hardly has he taken possession of it, when others remove their homes elsewhere whence they can no longer see him. In the midst of this desolation, in this sort of vacuum formed round him, he lives alone with his mate and his young, who acquaint him with the sound of the human voice: without them he would hear nothing but groans....The gloomy signal is given; an abject servitor of justice knocks on his door to tell him that he is wanted; he goes; he arrives at a public square covered by a dense, trembling mob. A poisoner, a parricide, a man who has committed sacrilege is tossed to him: he seizes him, stretches him, ties him to a horizontal cross, he raises his arm; there is a horrible silence; there is no sound but that of bones cracking under the bars, and the shrieks of the victim. He unties him. He puts him on the wheel; the shattered limbs are entangled in the spokes; the head hangs down; the hair stands up, and the mouth gaping open like a furnace from time to time emits only a few bloodstained words to beg for death. His heart is beating, but it is with joy: he congratulates himself, he says in his heart, `Nobody quarters as well as I.' He steps down. He holds out his bloodstained hand, the justice throws him--from a distance--a few pieces of gold, which he catches through a double row of human beings standing back in horror. He sits down to table, and he eats. Then he goes to bed and sleeps. And on the next day, when he wakes, he thinks of something totally different from what he did the day before. Is he a man? Yes. God receives him in his shrines, and allows him to pray. He is not a criminal. Nevertheless no tongue dares declare that he is virtuous, that he is an honest man, that he is estimable. No moral praise seems appropriate to him, for everyone else is assumed to have relations with human beings; he has none. And yet all greatness, all power, all subordination rest on the executioner. He is the terror and the bond of human association. Remove this mysterious agent from the world, and in an instant order yields to chaos: thrones fall, society disappears. God, who has created sovereignty, has also made punishment; he has fixed the earth upon these two poles: `for Jehovah is master of the twin poles and upon them he maketh turn the world.'... (I Samuel 2:8).”

---

Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists.


-FJ

Mr. Ducky said...

I believed little Antigone threw a wrench into the works, Farmer.

Anonymous said...

Why, because she wanted BOTH her brothers buried, not only the "patriotic" one. What is so powerful about the concept of "G_d" is that it gives people the courage to stand up for their moral beliefs and OPPOSE truth... the fact that Antigone was "powerless" to enforce her will... and so she suffered the fate of going "underground" and being buried alive...(in the human subconscious)... "justice" confounded (but at the same time, her personal moral conscience satisfied).

There isn't a one-size fits all solution to life mr. ducky. Sometimes it is to our "benefit" to proceed in accordance with the true. Sometimes it is to our benefit to proceed in accordance with the "good". And circumstance should dictate the appropriate action to be taken, and NOT some hard and fast law or rule.

-FJ

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

As an aside to the Executioner, there is the modern tale of the psychiatrist who became a septic tank repairman because he got tired of dealing with other people's crap.

Mr. Beamish the Instablepundit said...

My answer to the juicy question:

Machiavelli's advice to "the Prince" was evil, in the sense that to follow it would only lead to ruin.

Anonymous said...

...and the "rub" is that to NOT follow it at times, will also lead to ruin.

-FJ