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Posts Tagged ‘CAESARE BORGIA’

THE MAYOR AND MACHIAVELLI

In Bureaucracy, History, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on May 5, 2020 at 12:05 am

Ask the average person, “What do you think of Niccolo Machiavelli?” and he’s likely to say: “The devil.” 

In fact, “The Old Nick” became an English term used to describe Satan and slander Machiavelli at the same time.

The truth, however, is more complex. Machiavelli was a passionate Republican, who spent most of his adult life in the service of his beloved city-state, Florence.

Florence, for all its wealth, lacked a strong army, and thus lay at the mercy of powerful enemies, such as Cesare Borgia. Machiavelli often had to use his wits to keep them at bay.

Machiavelli (1469 – 1527) is best-known for his writing of The Prince, a pamphlet on the arts of gaining and holding power. Its admirers have included Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.

Niccolo Machiavelli

Contrary to popular belief, Machiavelli did not advocate evil for its own sake. Rather, he recognized that sometimes there is no perfect—or perfectly good—solution to a problem. 

Sometimes it’s necessary to take stern—even brutal—action to stop an evil (such as a riot) before it becomes widespread:Related image

In Chapter 19 of The Prince, he outlines: “That We Must Avoid Being Despised and Hated.” According to Machiavelli:  

He is rendered despicable by being thought changeable, frivolous, effeminate, timid and irresolute—which a prince must guard against as a rock of danger…. 

[He] must contrive that his actions show grandeur, spirit, gravity and fortitude.  As to the government of his subjects, let his sentence be irrevocable, and let him adhere to his decisions so that no one may think of deceiving or cozening him.  

And in Chapter 17, he advises rulers to not fear taking decisive—even brutal—action when public order is threatened:

 …A prince, therefore, must not mind incurring the charge of cruelty for the purpose of keeping his subjects united and faithful.  For, with a very few examples, he will be more merciful than those who, from excess of tenderness, allow disorders to arise, from whence spring blood and rapine. For these as a rule injure the whole community, while the executions carried out by the prince injure only individuals.

The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli 9780486272740 | eBay

The mayor of Stillwater, Oklahoma, would have done well to remember that. 

On April 30, Mayor Will Joyce issued an emergency proclamation, requiring the use of face masks in stores and restaurants by both customers and employees.

With more than 60,000 Americans dead of the Coronavirus pandemic, this no doubt seemed like a prudent course of action. 

But common sense is not a quality characteristic of the radical Right—particularly among the followers of President Donald Trump.

For weeks, demonstrations have erupted across the country against stay-at-home orders issued by mayors and governors in a desperate effort to halt the spread of COVID-19.

While those protesting have claimed they’re “fighting for my Constitutional rights,” the real reasons come down to: Ignorance and egotism.

Less than 24 hours after issuing the emergency declaration, the mayor backed down.

“In the short time beginning on May 1, 2020, that face coverings have been required for entry into stores/restaurants, store employees have been threatened with physical violence and showered with verbal abuse,” City Manager Norman McNickle said in a statement. “In addition, there has been one threat of violence using a firearm.

“This has occurred in three short hours and in the face of clear medical evidence that face coverings helps contain the spread of Covid-19.”

In a series of tweets, Mayor Joyce wrote: “I hate that our businesses and their employees had to deal with abuse today, and I apologize for putting them in that position. 

“I am not the kind of person who backs down from bullies, but I also will not send someone else to fight the battle for me,”

Mayor Joyce works to strengthen link between OSU and Stillwater

Will Joyce

The proclamation issued on April 30 required businesses to require patrons to cover their faces to protect others from possible spread of COVID-19.

Joyce’s amended emergency declaration now encourages, not requires, face coverings for customers. Face masks are still required for store employees and are now “strongly recommended” for customers. 

Oklahoma statute § 21-1378 states that it is unlawful to attempt or threaten an act of violence that is intended to cause severe bodily harm or death to another person. Such an act is a felony. A threat to kill or harm someone is a misdemeanor.

But laws are useless without the capacity for enforcement. And clearly Joyce was unwilling to order police to arrest and jail the threat-makers.

Instead, Joyce resorted to Twitter to “strike back” at those who posed a clear and present threat to public safety:

“To the people who resort to threats and intimidation when asked to take a simple step to protect your community: shame on you. Our freedom as Americans comes with responsibilities, too.”

In a similar gesture of official impotence, City manager Norman McNickle said:”The wearing of face coverings is little inconvenience to protect both the wearer and anyone with whom they have contact. It is unfortunate and distressing that those who refuse and threaten violence are so self-absorbed as to not follow what is a simple show of respect and kindness to others.”

GIVING ADVICE SAFELY—THE MACHIAVELLI WAY

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 17, 2018 at 12:15 am

Ask the average person, “What do you think of Niccolo Machiavelli?” and he’s likely to say: “The devil.” 

In fact, “The Old Nick” became an English term used to describe Satan and slander Machiavelli at the same time.

Niccolo Machiavelli

The truth, however, is more complex. Machiavelli was a passionate Republican, who spent most of his adult life in the service of his beloved city-state, Florence.

The years he spent as a diplomat were tumultuous ones for Italy—with men like Pope Julius II and Caesare Borgia vying for power and plunging Italy into one bloodbath after another. 

Florence, for all its wealth, lacked a strong army, and thus lay at the mercy of powerful enemies, such as Borgia. Machiavelli often had to use his wits to keep them at bay.

Machiavelli is best-known for his writing of The Prince, a pamphlet on the arts of gaining and holding power. Its admirers have included Benito Mussolini and Joseph Stalin.

But his longer and more thoughtful work is The Discourses, in which he offers advice on how to maintain liberty within a republic. Among its admirers were many of the men who framed the Constitution of the United States.

Most people believe that Machiavelli advocated evil for its own sake.

Not so. Rather, he recognized that sometimes there is no perfect—or perfectly good—solution to a problem. 

Sometimes it’s necessary to take stern—even brutal—action to stop an evil (such as a riot) before it becomes widespread:

“A man who wishes to make a profession of goodness in everything must inevitably come to grief among so many who are not good.  And therefore it is necessary for a prince, who wishes to maintain himself, to learn how not to be good, and to use this knowledge and not use it, according to the necessity of the case.”

Related image

His counsel remains as relevant today as it did during his lifetime (1469 – 1527). This is especially  true for politicians—and students of political science.

But plenty of ordinary citizens can also benefit from the advice he has to offer—such as those in business who are asked to give advice to more powerful superiors.

Machiavelli warns there is danger in urging rulers to take a particular course of action: “For men only judge of matters by the result, all the blame of failure is charged upon him who first advised it, while in case of success he receives commendations. But the reward never equals the punishment.” 

This puts would-be counselors in a difficult position: “If they do not advise what seems to them for the good of the republic or the prince, regardless of the consequences to themselves, then they fail to do their duty.  

“And if they do advise it, then it is at the risk of their position and their lives, for all men are blind in thus, that they judge of good or evil counsels only by the results.” 

Thus, Machiavelli warns that an adviser should “take things moderately, and not to undertake to advocate any enterprise with too much zeal, but to give one’s advice calmly and modestly.” 

The person who asked for the advice may follow it, or not, as of his own choice, and not because he was led or forced into it by the adviser.

Above all, the adviser must avoid the danger of urging a course of action that runs “contrary to the wishes of the many.  

“For the danger arises when your advice has caused the many to be contravened. In that case, when the result is unfortunate, they all concur in your destruction.”

Or, as President John F. Kennedy famously said after the disastrous invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in April, 1961: “Victory has a hundred fathers and defeat is an orphan.”

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John F. Kennedy

By “not advocating any enterprise with too much zeal,” the adviser gains two advantages:

“The first is, you avoid all danger.

“And the second consists in the great credit which you will have if, after having modestly advised a certain course, your counsel is rejected, and the adoption of a different course results unfortunately.”

Finally, the time to give advice is before a catastrophe occurs, not after. Machiavelli gives a vivid example of what can happen if this rule is ignored.

King Perseus of Macedon had gone to war with Paulus Aemilius—and suffered a humiliating defeat. Fleeing the battlefield with a handful of his men, he later bewailed the disaster that had overtaken him.

Suddenly, one of his lieutenants began to lecture Perseus on the many errors he had committed, which had led to his ruin.

“Traitor,” raged the king, turning upon him, “you have waited until now to tell me all this, when there is no longer any time to remedy it—” And Perseus slew him with his own hands.

Niccolo Machiavelli sums up the lesson as this:

“Thus was this man punished for having been silent when he should have spoken, and for having spoken when he should have been silent.”

Be careful that you don’t make the same mistake.

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