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Article :: Supporting Evidence

Machiavailli Reconsidered

The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli


Why The Kingdom Of Darius, Conquered By Alexander, Did Not Rebel Against The Successors Of Alexander At His Death

CONSIDERING the difficulties which men have had to hold a newly acquired state, some might wonder how, seeing that Alexander the Great became the master of Asia in a few years, and died whilst it was yet scarcely settled (whence it might appear reasonable that the whole empire would have rebelled), nevertheless his successors maintained themselves, and had to meet no other difficulty than that which arose among themselves from their own ambitions.

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.[1]

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 the 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.[2]

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.[3]

Now if you will consider what was the nature of the government of Darius, you will find it similar to the kingdom of the Turk, and therefore it was only necessary for Alexander, first to overthrow him in the field, and then to take the country from him. After which victory, Darius being killed, the state remained secure to Alexander, for the above reasons. And if his successors had been united they would have enjoyed it securely and at their ease, for there were no tumults raised in the kingdom except those they provoked themselves.

But it is impossible to hold with such tranquillity states constituted like that of France. Hence arose those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors. And when fighting afterwards amongst themselves, each one was able to attach to himself his own parts of the country, according to the authority he had assumed there; and the family of the former lord being exterminated, none other than the Romans were acknowledged.

When these things are remembered no one will marvel at the ease with which Alexander held the Empire of Asia, or at the difficulties which others have had to keep an acquisition, such as Pyrrhus and many more; this is not occasioned by the little or abundance of ability in the conqueror, but by the want of uniformity in the subject state.[4]

  • Ponders why Alexander The Great's empire did not fall to rebellion after his demise (loss of controlling power)
  • Two types of principalities, distinguished by method of internal division of powers:
    • The first type is controlled by a prince, who has a monopoly of power. It is organized as a top down controlled hiarchy with the prince at the apex and appointed servants (ministers) below, executing the princes policies, process and will. Although the ministers perform the management function of rule, everyone is servile to the prince. The prince decrees and everyone else is a slave. Although ministers are obeyed, they are representing the will of the prince. Obedience is to the prince and to none other.
    • The second type is a balance of power between dominent prince and nobles, each with their own states and power hiarchies, enslaving their own subjects. Nobles are not appointed by the prince, they have heriditary states and subjects of their own.
  • The first type, where power is monopoly controlled has the following attributes:
    • The monarchy of the Turk (Ottoman Empire) is of this type.
    • The prince shifts and changes ministers as he chooses, presumably to prevent them from becoming entrenched and corrupt, defined as choosing self-interest, at the expense of the princes interests.
    • Such states are difficult to conquor, but easy to hold.
    • Difficulty of conquering arises because there are no nobles (disunion of powers) to foster discontent, nor to ally with. The inner circle of the prince cannot be induced to rebellion because, although slaves, they are well treated and selected for loyalty. Ministers may be able to be corrupted with difficulty, but, they, being slaves, have no power nor support, making them useless. Thus, a conquerer faces a strong, unified state, with no possibility of weakening it by inflaming internal dissent.
    • To conquor such a state requires brute force, relying on your own resources, with no internal support. Once the slave armies are routed beyond replacing, there is no power to fear except the prince and his family who should be exterminated.
    • The government of Darius, prior to being conquored by Alexander was this type and was thus easily held, not falling to rebellion. Any tumults were due to ambitions of power holders who inherited power, creating internal divisions and not from the people whom were adapted to servitude.
  • The second type, where power is distributed has the following attributes:
    • In France, the King governs but rules through barons is of this type.
    • Nobles have power and support of their own subjects.
    • Nobles have their own prerogatives which the king cannot take away except at his peril.
    • Where power is distributed, controlled by a dominent power, there is always discontent and some power to ally with, to create internal divisions, to weaken the state and achieve easy victory.
    • Holding such a state is fraught with infinite peril, both from those whom have assisted you demanding reward whom you cannot appease and, those whom you have crushed.
    • It is insufficient to exterminate the family of the prince, since the remaining nobles all seek to be "top dog", and will continuously cause troubles, at your expense.
    • Such states, with independent powers are inevitably lost, when time creates opportunity. Not stated, but should have: continuous rebellion is an attrition cost, destroying any whom dare to resist the basic drive to freedom of mankind.
    • Histotically, those frequent rebellions against the Romans in Spain, France, and Greece, owing to the many principalities there were in these states, of which, as long as the memory of them endured, the Romans always held an insecure possession; but with the power and long continuance of the empire the memory of them passed away, and the Romans then became secure possessors
  • Thus, states in which power is distributed are impossible to to hold. Only by assuming a central power and making everyone servile, plus the long passage of time to make people adapt to servitude and forget is able to rule such a state.
  • States in which power is centralized and later decentralized fall to infighting and disunion, the creation of decentralized powers, making it impossible to rule.
  • Conclusion: The only way to achieve stable rule of any longevity is to destroy all powers capable of competing, by ONE prince, enslaving everyone. An alliance of rulers will inevitably face ambition and fall to disunion. Such a rule can, due to unity be strong, difficult to conquor.

[1]Machivailliu makes a key distinction of the nature, source and organization of power in the power hiarchy of states. One type is a state ruled by a single individual, with all power being delegated by the ruler to ministers and functionaries whom have no power and thus, no autonomy of their own. All power of officials is delegated by the ruler and can be revoked at will. "Consent of the governed" (to servitude, by not rebelling) is given to and distributed by the ruler. The other type is an ad-hoc alliance of barons, under a ruler, a "division of rule" power sharing arrangement with barons having their own sovereign domains and "Consent of the governed" (to servitude, by not rebelling). The barons have self-interests and their own power to achieve them. Such power sharing arrangements are unstable, since the ruler maintains power by "consent of the barons", wielding their own "Consent of the governed". Such arrangements take a very adroit ruler to balance baronial interests such that the ruler remains "king of the hill", where the barons are perfectly capable of conspiring to "deal with" the ruler, should it be perceived a "better deal" can be had. In the first case, allegiance of the people and state functionaries is to the ruler. In the second case, allegiance of the people and baronial functionaries is to the barons.

[2]In the first case, all power and choices flow from the ruler, with all others, functionaries included being slaves to ruler whim, to be replaced at the first sign of dissent. All slaves in the power hiarchy have adapted to the ruler's rule and are in a stable "comfort zone" which they will be reluctant to lose. An usurper will meet very stiff resistance with no internal allies to harness. Such principlities exhibit very strong singularity of purpose, requiring great force to overcome. If such a force prevails and amputates the head by exterminating the ruler and his family, as previously recommended, only a directionless, adapted to subservience mindless body will remain. The power hiarchy will be ripe for new control either by bribing existing functionaries with the "old deal" or appointing new functionaries. The people, being adapted to serfdom, will have no other option but to place their allegience with the "new boss", since the "old boss" is a corpse.

[3]In the second case, since the state is an ever shifting balance of power of independent barons, there will inevitibility be divisions to exploit, to get a toe-hold to power in this state. Should you prevail, you still must deal with the independent barons whom will plot and overthrow you unless you appease them to the same extent the previous ruler did. This leaves the slight problem of recouping your conquest expenses and paying off your supporters whom assisted. Machiavailli correctly claims that, from the perspective of rulers, states composed of independent powers are nothing but trouble, easily lost. Best to prey on single power states.

This observation (independent powers are unconquerable and unrulable) by Machiavailli was well noted by the US Founding Fathers, whom, rather than creating a republic of sovereign baronies, created a republic of free, sovereign individuals, to pursue "life, liberty and happiness", enforced by Rule of Law, now long rationalized away by predators on the bench. The US is now, for all practical purposes, a distributed (hidden) power state, with all politicians and leglislators secretly enslaved, most likely to some combination of security apparatus blackmail, powerful domestic interests, bribes and international bankers.

[4]In summary:

  • From the perspective of a single or group of rulers, seeking absolute control: "there can only be one" (dominating ideas, compelling choices of all others). Only then can the entire state be organized with and have the strength of single purpose, a hiarchical organization of slaves, where all power flows by top down decreee, the rest are easily replaced slaves, compelled to obey.

    It should be noted that "party discipline" in democratic parties performs the function of making the "party leader" an autocrat, to achieve this singularity of purpose, destroying all ability of democratic representatives to represent their constituities. Achieving this singulatority of purpose in a Potempkin democracy is also why speech, media and education must be subverted and tightly controlled, lest any dissenting / heretical ideas such as freedom and equality under law gain prominence. Note also that, once this central control is in place, replacing a single autocrat at the top is equivalent to a brain transplant, taking the people god knows where, since political lies, although dangerous frauds are "tolerated" and not legally actionable. Note also that democratically elected party leaders, are, by their consistent failure to keep the promises they were elected for, are, with a high degree of probability, pawns to hidden powers / coercions.
  • The only way to achieve stable rule of any longevity is to destroy all powers capable of competing, by ONE prince, enslaving everyone. An alliance of rulers will inevitably face ambition and fall to disunion. Such a rule can, due to unity be strong, difficult to conquor.
  • From the perspective of the ruled, seeking to control their own lives and affairs, to achieve freedom, self-determination and the pursuit of "life, liberty and happiness", this is a goal that is and must be thwarted by autocratic rulers for the simple reason that rulers are parasites, producing nothing, precluding honest, mutually agreed (civilized) trade, leaving only force / fraud as goal-seeking methods. Machiavalli, as a frustrated tax eater provided rulers with the script that is required to be effective predators, a bible for the political classes that has withstood the test of time.

    Note that, after Machiavailli's time, as the dark ages were thrust off by the "Age of Reason", these predatory methods of rulers were decreed illegal by the Rule of Law. It took corruption of the law (decreeing anarchists on the bench, using "judicial discretion) which restored a state of ruler anarchy to once again make Machiavailli's observations regarding ruler methodology pertinent.
  • When force and fraud are tolerated to be legitimate methods of goal seeking, what is good for rulers is bad for the people. It is NOT a matter of who appears to be in control, but who is actually in control. Or, in other words, whose goals are REALLY being achieved, according to the ancient maxim of "cui bono".

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