Friday, September 30, 2005

George W. Bush And "The Prince"

"The Prince" is a thin volume. The hardcover version runs only 92 pages. Since its publication in 1515, this book has been read and studied assiduously by the heirs of the world's ruling elite. It's required reading at most universities and war colleges at the highest levels of academe. Yet, the average citizen probably never heard of it. History reveals only its author is deemed more notorious. That person just happens to be the infamous Niccolo Machiavelli.

Machiavelli was born during the Renaissance in Florence on May 3, 1469. From 1500 to 1512, he was a diplomat to the northern cities of Italy. He served in France and Germany, as well. When the Medici returned to power in 1512, Machiavelli was relieved of his duties. Because his name appeared on a list of treason suspects, he was imprisoned and tortured. Despite the rigor, he always professed his innocence. Upon release the next year, he fled to the countryside. While there, he spent his days writing his most famous work "The Prince." In his final years, Machiavelli attempted to ingratiate himself with the Medici and later with the leaders of the restored republic. Perhaps, he hoped to regain his former positions at court. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, he was never trusted again.

Machiavelli's objective in penning "The Prince" was probably patriotic, but the exclusion of moral reference in his approach to politics has historically associated his name with all that's diabolical in public and private policy. Through the years, "The Prince" has been considered somewhat of a manual for tyrants. Nevertheless, the sons and daughters of the ruling classes everywhere are familiar with its observations, even here in America.

"The Prince" opens: "All the States and Governments by which men are or ever have been ruled, have been and are either Republics or Princedoms. Princedoms are either hereditary, in which the sovereignty is derived through an ancient line of ancestors, or they are new. New Princedoms are either wholly new...or they are like limbs joined on the hereditary possessions of the Prince who acquires them...The States thus acquired have either been used to live under a Prince or have been free; and he who acquires them does so either by his own arms or by the arms of others, and either by good fortune or by merit."

In Chapter VIII, Machiavelli states a Prince can also come to power, "by paths of wickedness and crime; and the favour of his fellow-citizens." In Chapter XI, he speaks of Ecclesiastical Princedoms...being upheld by the venerable ordinances of Religion...inasmuch as they are sustained by agencies of a higher nature than the mind of man can reach...they are set up and supported by God himself...Machiavelli further elaborates in Chapter XII: "How Many Different Kinds Of Soldiers There Are, And Of Mercenaries;" in Chapter XIII: "Of Auxiliary, Mixed, And National Arms" and Chapter XIV: "Of The Duty Of A Prince In Respect Of Military Affairs."

The remaining chapters are very important because they elaborate on the image a Prince should project. He's either praised or blamed and considered either liberal or miserly. He rules with either cruelty or clemency and whether it's better to be loved or feared. In Chapter XVII, "Comes in the question whether it's better to be loved rather than feared, or feared rather than loved...we should wish for both; but since love and fear can hardly exist together, if we must choose between them, it is far safer to be feared than loved...Nevertheless, a Prince should inspire fear in such a fashion that if he do not win love he may escape hate."

In Chapter XVIII, Machiavelli asserts, "...Princes who have...known how to overreach men by their cunning, have accomplished great things, and in the end got the better of those who trusted to honest dealing...there are two ways of contending, one in accordance with the laws, the other by force; the first of which is proper to men, the second to beasts...It is necessary, indeed, to put a good colour on this nature, and to be skillful in simulating and dissembling. But men are so simple, and governed so absolutely by their present needs, that he who wishes to deceive will never fail in finding willing dupes."

Chapter XIX is titled: "That A Prince Should Seek To Escape Contempt And Hatred." In it, Machiavelli writes, "...a Prince...should consider how he may avoid such courses as would make him hated or despised...A Prince...sooner becomes hated by being rapacious...with the property and with the women of his subjects...For so long as neither their property nor their honour is touched, the mass of mankind live contentedly...A Prince is despised when he is seen to be fickle, frivolous, effeminate, pusillanimous, or irresolute, against which defects he ought...most carefully to guard, striving to bear himself that greatness, courage, wisdom, and strength may appear in all his actions."

Machiavelli closes his volume by quoting Petrarch:--

'Brief will be the strife
When valour arms against barbaric rage;
For the bold spirit of the bygone age
Still warms Italian hearts with life.'

In the Afterword, Gregory Tietjen concludes: "The burden of The Prince's claim to originality is its insistence that political action should be freed from oversight by ordinary moral considerations... Machiavelli stipulates that the morality germane to...politics should emerge from politics itself. The central ethical teachings of the West instruct that the moral standards appropriate to daily life should mandate the norms of political behavior, too. But, Machiavelli will have none of it. Behavior proscribed by morality is vital to survival in the political arena; for as Karl von Clausewitz, a Machiavellian of a later century, reminds us, war is the continuation of politics by other means. Machiavelli's arguments...break with classical humanism and Christianity...a distinctively new, modern accent on the individual is at work in Machiavelli's thinking. The Individual, signified by...the new prince, is sovereign and unbound by moral or social constraints in pursuit of his personal glory."

Does any of this sound familiar?

Since George Bush is loathe to reading anything printed on paper larger than a postage stamp, it would be fair to suggest Karl Rove read "The Prince" for him. In fact, it would be safe to say Rove used this book primarily as an instruction manual to advise Bush on how to establish his administration and behave as president. The passages above, among many dozens in the book, strongly match Bush's behavior and Oval Office decisions. Even Bush's Iraq war mantra, "We must fight them over there, so that we don't have to fight them here," is a direct quote lifted from "The Prince." In this light, it appears Karl Rove is no genius. He's simply a run-of-the-mill Svengali who prods Bush to dance to Machiavelli's tune.

The horrific mess America faces today is the twisted result of Rove trying to transform the frog-like Bush into The Prince. It hasn't worked so far and the possibility of a successful transformation is near zero. It's not enough to be of royal blood. George W. Bush was born the ugliest of ducklings. It's not his fault he was born with this fate. Simply put, he isn't swan or presidential material. The greedy creatures who shoved Bush into the White House are the greatest threat to America's future since the Civil war. We, the people, must confront them. And the sooner, the better.

The Machiavellian madness Karl Rove and his ilk unleashed on our nation will be reversed. The spectacular resilience of the American people and our constitution will be sorely put to the test. If we truly believe in the American Dream and liberty and justice for all, we must defeat the slave masters who seek to conquer the world. The choice is clear. It's either liberty or slavery. Cold-blooded cretins, like George Bush, are walking, monstrous nightmares. All we need to do is wake up from this bad dream and open the windows to let the sunshine in. Also, it wouldn't hurt to read "The Prince" to learn how this nightmare began once upon a time.

Franklin L. Johnson


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