On Machiavelli and the Ends Justify the Means to Liberal Fascism

mchvlIt is better to be feared than to be loved. 

I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.

~ Machiavelli

Biography

Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (1469-1527) was an Italian Renaissance writer, humanist, diplomat, philosopher, historian, and politician, centered in Florence. As an official in the Florentine Republic, with formal duties in diplomatic and military matters where he was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were forced out of power. Machiavelli’s ideas form the bases of modern political science and political ethics. A prolific writer he also composed works including monographs, comedies, carnival songs, poetry and political philosophy. He wrote his magnum opus, The Prince (1513), after the Medici had seized power again and he no longer held a political patronage position in Florence. The book was dedicated to the legendary giant of the Renaissance and patron of the arts, Lorenzo Medici.

The Prince

While conventional political theorists addressed their analysis of the state in moral terms of achieving its purpose of promoting the common good and maintaining justice, Machiavelli was more concerned in empirically examining the manner and methods the state could most forcefully exert its power (ends and means; dirty hands) to preserve law and order (political science). The term “Machiavellianism” is generally thought to be an adverse term to describe immoral, dishonest and deceitful politicians and rulers of the kind Machiavelli defined in The Prince. The book itself achieved legendary fame and a broad audience because the author promoted the radical idea of authorizing evil and dishonest acts both to obtain personal political power and by destroying ones political enemies by any means necessary. For example, Machiavelli in chapter 15 of The Prince describes the general theme of the book, indeed the major purpose of a prince—the seizing and welding of pure, raw power for revenge, glory and survival—can rationalize the use of immoral means to achieve those ends: “He who neglects what is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his preservation.” Ergo, “the ends justify the means.”

Scholars like Leo Strauss and Harvey Mansfield have established that the Prince can be interpreted as having a purposeful comical irony and often stated that Machiavelli venerates instrumentality in statebuilding—a method personified by the maxim that “the ends justify the means.” Targeted, tactical, even gratuitous violence may be needed for the successful balance of power, to launch revolution, or the introduction of different legal and political institutions by force of arms. Machiavelli favored violence and force as the preferred methods to purge the landscape of political competitors, to intimidate and silence popular opinion, and to systematically remove strong men of character as potential rulers since they may eventually try to supplant the ruler or dictator.

Last year was the 500th anniversary of Machiavelli’s The Prince, a diabolical book which has given the world proven tactics and substantive strategies for every would-be dictator since that time to undermine legitimate government, seize power and rule over the masses with an iron fist. Tyranny, fascism and liberalism; this is Machiavelli’s ignoble legacy from where we get the political scored earth policy of “Machiavellian.”

Aristocracy and Democracy – Oligarchy and Tyranny

The editors of Great Books of the Western World in their essay on Aristocracy cited a prevailing equality which existed throughout history that radically separates aristocracy from democracy. From Socrates down to Montesquieu, Rousseau, and to the modern era, equality has been accepted as the characteristic component of democracy. Discounting slaves who, for the ancients, were political pariahs, Aristotle defines liberty as a primary aspect of democracy (where at least in theory all freeman having, apart from wealth or virtue, an equal claim to political status) nevertheless in an earlier essay I chronicled that Aristotle considered democracy second only to tyranny (fascism) as the worst political system imaginable. As “the principle of an aristocracy is virtue,” Aristotle writes, so wealth is the principle “of an oligarchy, and freedom of a democracy.”

To the establishment politicians who today who profess the virtues of democracy, ancient or modern, aristocracy, tyranny and oligarchy stand at least negatively as a trinity of evil government, in that each political system patently rejects of the principle of equality. To the defenders of aristocracy, oligarchy and tyranny are as far distant as democracy from Veritas (truth) for all three disregards or ignores the critical significance of virtue and morality in creating the state.  Yet likewise tyranny, oligarchy and democracy are all characteristic perversions of aristocracy and the Republic. Therefore government systems that places power in the hands of the few, sacrifice virtue, liberty, freedom, natural rights and natural law established in the Judeo-Christian traditions of Europe and America, yet for Machiavelli, political expediency was the standard.

From the anti-Christian genocide of the French Revolution (1789-99) which was the apotheosis of liberalism and the end of the Age of Enlightenment (1600-1800) to the Modern Age (1900 –  ), history has repeatedly demonstrated that aristocratic governments, including oligarchy and democracy of necessity devolves into tyranny and fascism. This view of history, no matter how obvious is seen as extremist rhetoric and unacceptable to the liberal and progressive minds, therefore they reject the belief that aristocracy or a “pure” democracy has ever existed in principle—that the governing few have ever been selected merely for their virtue. Machiavelli assumes aristocracy to be a largely a fait accompli; a recognized, irreversible state of affairs that “the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people . . . and give vent to their ambitions.”

Scholars have argued that Machiavelli was a major indirect and direct influence upon the political thinking of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Anti-federalists, Benjamin Franklin, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson followed Machiavelli’s republicanism when they opposed what they saw as the existing tyrannical democracy and the emerging neo-aristocracy that they feared  Alexander Hamilton was creating with the Federalist Party. Hamilton learned from Machiavelli about the importance of foreign policy for domestic policy, but may have broken from him on morals grounds regarding how materialistic a democracy needed to be in order to survive, thus he with the other Framers chose a government based on the Republic model.

Man, War and Peace

Machiavelli repeats many stories from Plutarch and Pliny regarding the comparable mentality of animals and men. Montaigne’s syllogism of the dog using deductive reasoning to find his master from three possible paths is illustrative. However, unlike Montaigne Machiavelli appears to suggest that men and animals are alike (Darwin) not in having reason, but in lacking it (Hobbes, Rousseau, Berkeley, and Hume). The unrestrained will (Nietzsche) and desires dictate behavior. Intelligence exhibits itself largely as deception or cunning in gaining ends set by the passions. Man is no less the savage in principle because in the jungle of society he frequently gets ahead by scheming and duplicity rather than by force. Machiavellian Man may have more deceptiveness than the fox, but lacking protective armor he likewise has less power than the lion. The prince, Machiavelli writes, “Being compelled knowingly to adopt the beast, ought to choose the lion and the fox, because the lion cannot defend himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.”

To the degree that even those who condemn war are skeptical of long-term peace, Machiavelli may not be too skeptical a realist when he recommends the prince that he “ought to have no other aim or thought, nor select anything else for his study, than war and its rule and discipline. . . . When princes have thought more of ease than of arms they have lost their states.” The prince “ought never, therefore, to have out of his thoughts this subject of war, and in peace he should addict himself more to its exercise than in war.” The prince who neglects preparations for war especially in times of peace to keep himself and his nation from war makes a severe tactical error. War, Machiavelli declares to him, “is not to be avoided, but is only deferred to your disadvantage.” 

The Zeitgeist of Machiavelli in Modern Times 

Scholars often note that Machiavelli glorifies instrumentality in statebuilding—an approach embodied by the consequentialist saying that “the ends justify the means.” Violence may be necessary for the successful stabilization of power and introduction of new legal institutions through radical politics and revolution. Force may be used to eliminate political rivals, to coerce resistant populations, and to purge the community of other men strong enough of character to rule, who will inevitably attempt to replace the ruler.

Machiavelli is sometimes seen as the prototype of a modern empirical scientist, building generalizations from experience and historical facts, and emphasizing the uselessness of theorizing with the imagination. He is loved by liberals, socialists and progressives for having emancipated politics from theology and moral philosophy, which they despise. According to writer Joshua Kaplan, Machiavelli “undertook to describe simply what rulers actually did and thus anticipated what was later called the scientific spirit in which questions of good and bad are ignored, and the observer attempts to discover only what really happens.” Even if Machiavelli was not himself evil, Leo Strauss declared himself inclined toward the traditional view that Machiavelli was self-consciously a “teacher of evil,” since he counsels the princes to avoid the values of justice, mercy, temperance, wisdom, and love of their people in preference to the use of cruelty, violence, fear, and deception.

Here is the summation of Machiavelli’s ideas: when he says “I’m not interested in preserving the status quo; I want to overthrow it.” What ‘status quo’ exactly does he wish to overthrow and by what means—reason, democracy, debate, and replace them fascism, war and ‘perpetual revolution’ (Trotsky)? By status quo Machiavelli clearly means replacing morality, civilization and its Judeo-Christian traditions with his ends/means paradigm politics or what Darwin would define centuries later as “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest.” We see this clearly exemplified in the policies of the Democrat Socialist Party going back to the 1700s whereas traitorous Loyalists having failed to prevent the birth America they moved on to try to prevent the birth of freedom for everyone by their insistence on maintaining the slavery issue. (Chief Justice Roger B. Taney: “…the Negro has no rights that the white man is bound to respect,” Dred Scot v. Sandford (1857).

Last year the 40 anniversary of Roe v. Wade (1973) demonstrated the current viability of Machiavellian tactics on a public policy level whereby progressives and feminists achieved success at preventing the birth of between 65-80 million pre-born babies who all possessed a singular will to live. Even today under the Obama administration the ideas of Machiavelli are displayed in every speech, every policy, directive, law, judicial opinion, and executive decree where liberal fascism (which Reagan called FDR’s “New Deal” ‘fascist’) reigns supreme and the God-given natural rights and natural law bequeathed to the people by America’s constitutional Framers have for over 100 years been buried under the dust of forgetfulness, ignorance, cowardice and neglect.

*N.B.: This essay is based in part on ideas from Great Books of the Western World, Robert Maynard Hutchins, Editor-in-Chief (University of Chicago, 1952), Vol. 2, Chap. 3—Aristocracy; Vol. 3, Chap. 51—Man, Chap. 98—War and Peace; Vol. 23–Machiavelli and Hobbes.

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