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Article :: Supporting Evidence

Machiavailli Reconsidered

The Prince

by Nicolo Machiavelli


Concerning New Principalities Which Are Acquired By One's Own Arms And Ability

LET no one be surprised if, in speaking of entirely new principalities as I shall do, I adduce the highest examples both of prince and of state; because men, walking almost always in paths beaten by others, and following by imitation their deeds, are yet unable to keep entirely to the ways of others or attain to the power of those they imitate. A wise man ought always to follow the paths beaten by great men, and to imitate those who have been supreme, so that if his ability does not equal theirs, at least it will savour of it. Let him act like the clever archers who, designing to hit the mark which yet appears too far distant, and knowing the limits to which the strength of their bow attains, take aim much higher than the mark, not to reach by their strength or arrow to so great a height, but to be able with the aid of so high an aim to hit the mark they wish to reach. [1]

I say, therefore, that in entirely new principalities, where there is a new prince, more or less difficulty is found in keeping them, accordingly as there is more or less ability in him who has acquired the state. Now, as the fact of becoming a prince from a private station presupposes either ability or fortune, it is clear that one or other of these two things will mitigate in some degree many difficulties. Nevertheless, he who has relied least on fortune is established the strongest. Further, it facilitates matters when the prince, having no other state, is compelled to reside there in person.

But to come to those who, by their own ability and not through fortune, have risen to be princes, I say that Moses, Cyrus, Romulus, Theseus, and such like are the most excellent examples. And although one may not discuss Moses, he having been a mere executor of the will of God, yet he ought to be admired, if only for that favour which made him worthy to speak with God. But in considering Cyrus and others who have acquired or founded kingdoms, all will be found admirable; and if their particular deeds and conduct shall be considered, they will not be found inferior to those of Moses, although he had so great a preceptor. And in examining their actions and lives one cannot see that they owed anything to fortune beyond opportunity, which brought them the material to mould into the form which seemed best to them. Without that opportunity their powers of mind would have been extinguished, and without those powers the opportunity would have come in vain.

It was necessary, therefore, to Moses that he should find the people of Israel in Egypt enslaved and oppressed by the Egyptians, in order that they should be disposed to follow him so as to be delivered out of bondage. It was necessary that Romulus should not remain in Alba, and that he should be abandoned at his birth, in order that he should become King of Rome and founder of the fatherland. It was necessary that Cyrus should find the Persians discontented with the government of the Medes, and the Medes soft and effeminate through their long peace. Theseus could not have shown his ability had he not found the Athenians dispersed. These opportunities, therefore, made those men fortunate, and their high ability enabled them to recognize the opportunity whereby their country was ennobled and made famous.

Those who by valorous ways become princes, like these men, acquire a principality with difficulty, but they keep it with ease. The difficulties they have in acquiring it arise in part from the new rules and methods which they are forced to introduce to establish their government and its security. And it ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them. Thus it happens that whenever those who are hostile have the opportunity to attack they do it like partisans, whilst the others defend lukewarmly, in such wise that the prince is endangered along with them.[2]

It is necessary, therefore, if we desire to discuss this matter thoroughly, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves or have to depend on others: that is to say, whether, to consummate their enterprise, have they to use prayers or can they use force? In the first instance they always succeed badly, and never compass anything; but when they can rely on themselves and use force, then they are rarely endangered. Hence it is that all armed prophets have conquered, and the unarmed ones have been destroyed. Besides the reasons mentioned, the nature of the people is variable, and whilst it is easy to persuade them, it is difficult to fix them in that persuasion. And thus it is necessary to take such measures that, when they believe no longer, it may be possible to make them believe by force.

If Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus had been unarmed they could not have enforced their constitutions for long — as happened in our time to Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was ruined with his new order of things immediately the multitude believed in him no longer, and he had no means of keeping steadfast those who believed or of making the unbelievers to believe. Therefore such as these have great difficulties in consummating their enterprise, for all their dangers are in the ascent, yet with ability they will overcome them; but when these are overcome, and those who envied them their success are exterminated, they will begin to be respected, and they will continue afterwards powerful, secure, honoured, and happy.

To these great examples I wish to add a lesser one; still it bears some resemblance to them, and I wish it to suffice me for all of a like kind: it is Hiero the Syracusan. This man rose from a private station to be Prince of Syracuse, nor did he, either, owe anything to fortune but opportunity; for the Syracusans, being oppressed, chose him for their captain, afterwards he was rewarded by being made their prince. He was of so great ability, even as a private citizen, that one who writes of him says he wanted nothing but a kingdom to be a king. This man abolished the old soldiery, organized the new, gave up old alliances, made new ones; and as he had his own soldiers and allies, on such foundations he was able to build any edifice: thus, whilst he had endured much trouble in acquiring, he had but little in keeping.[3]

  • People are a "monkey see, monkey do" species. The intelligent seek to understand and emulate the successful.
  • The ambitious always aim higher than they can see. They may not achieve their goals, but will increase abilities by trying and certainly exceed lessor goals, had they been chosen.
  • In establishing a new principality (previously unruled), the ease of establishing and holding it is directly proportional to the ability of the ruler and / or the degree that fortune favors the endeavor.
  • A ruler who relies less on fortune and more on ability applied to reality is established the strongest.
  • Rule of new principalities will be much more successful if the ruler resides there in person, asserting direct control. A new ruler has no other place to go.
  • In considering historical examples of excellent rulers whom have acquired or founded kingdoms, there is little evidence of their relying on fortune, apart from the provision of opportunity.
  • Opportunity created by fortune makes available the resources and conditions required (environment) and possibility of success.
  • Opportunity is useless unless there is ruler of intelligence and will capable of recognizing, siezing and moulding the opportunity.
  • Without opportunity, power of mind is extinguished. Implies that intelligence and skills are developed by siezing opportunity and, without taking the initiative, lost. Developing power of mind is an adaptation to an environment of adversity and, overcoming it.
  • Do not act or imply in a manner that may be interpreted as contrary to publicly believed dogma, or contrary to the interests of those who create / maintain the dogma for, presumably, power and control. Evidenced by Machiavailli's reluctance to discuss Moses as a successfull ruler, attributing his success as a ruler to god, a special case, not to be discussed for reasons of reverence.
  • Opportunity is a combination of perceived need / want on the part of your potential supporters combined with weakness in those whom are suppressing the needs / wants. For example, that Cyrus should find the Persians discontented with the government of the Medes, and the Medes soft and effeminate through their long peace.
  • The fact that the "Medes were soft and effeminate through their long peace" is further confirmation that, "powers of mind" are developed by overcoming adversity and, like a muscle, if not exercised, lost. This is consistent with intelligent choice.
  • Principalities are established by rulers of extraordinary ability with extreme difficulty and held with ease:
    • Difficulty of acquiring arises for the following reasons:
      • New rules and methods are required to establish the new government and its security. Force must be used to emforce and overcome opposition.
      • Introducing a "new order" is fraught with peril, since it interferes with existing balance of powers and the people's "comfort zones" to which they are adapted and consider to be neccessary for survival.
      • Innovaters have enemies of all whom have done well under the old order.
      • Support for innovators is lukewarm because the "old order" has the law on its side, posing a risk and people are very skeptical of change, not believing in change and ruler promises until the promises are kept (become real) and people become adapted to the new environment.
      • Thus, those who oppose change, presented with opportunity, attack, behaving like partisans, while the defense of supporters is lukewarm at best. This endangers the ruler, who is a lightening rod for dissent, considering him as "a problem" to be eliminated.
    • Ease of holding arises for the following reasons:
      • After pervailing, change becomes real by kept ruler promises and people become adapted to the new environment and "comfort zone" which they will then equate with their survival.
      • After pervailing, those who envied rulers their success are exterminated, they will begin to be respected, and they will continue afterwards powerful, secure, honoured, and happy.
  • Machiavailli addresse the question of whether innovating rulers can rely on others (prayer, fortune) or, is self reliance and force neccessary:
    • Relying on others (fortune):
      • History offers no examples of unarmed innovaters prevailing. All have failed badly.
      • Unarmed innovaters are destroyed.
      • People are easily fooled (defrauded) into believing, but time and reality exposes all lies, destroying false beliefs, requiring force and threats thereof to compel people to at least behave as if "they believe".
      • Relying on the people's belief is relying on others, an unknown variable, a matter of fortune.
    • Relying on self and force:
      • Those who rely on self and force, assuming sufficient rarely fail
      • Armed innovaters conquor.
      • The "new order" is a constitution, a promise, a Social Contract. Without ability to enforce and compel "belief", once people no longer believe, the entire endeavor fails.

[1] Machiavailli is stating the fact that we are a "monkey see, monkey do species" and, the intelligent and successful emulate the choices of the successful while the un-intelligent and unsuccessful emulate or repeat the choices (Einstein, Insanity: Doing the same thing, over and over again, expecting different results) of the unsuccessful. He also points out that emulating successful choices is not a sure path to success. An implication of Evolution and Charles Darwin in Intelligent Choice proves the reason for this: correct choice is dependent on varying environmental factors and correct choice requires the intelligence (and freedom / accuracy of information) to identify all pertinent factors at any instant in time.

He also states the credo of those who wish to be excellent, or, the best they can be: Aim higher than you can see. Only then will you truly know yourself, your capabilities and develop your skills to the fullest. You may not meet your goals, but you will certaintly exceed any goals, had you aimed lower.

[2] Machiivalii reiterates the ancient Chinese truism: "problems are opportunities", so much so that 21st century rulers create problems, to extract rent by providing false "solutions", to satisfy their addictions for absolute power. According to history, the degree to which these tyrannical goals are met is the same degree to which our rulers will be destroyed, with the rest of us and civilization being "collateral damage".

Machivailli points out the basic truth that the achievement of great goals requires an environment providing opportunity (eg: discontented populations) and the skill, intelligence and courage to sieze the opportunity and meet the goals. Exactly as proven by Intelligent Choice.

Machiavaillii also reiterates the inertia to overcome resisting change in human affairs: habitual choice and your average person being too lazy and reluctant to take risks, preferring to remain in the "comfort zone" they are adapted to, no matter how bad it is or how obvious the exit strategy is.

[3]Incorrect: Force is able to rule

  • This is the source of now obsolete political knowlege, such as Mao Tse-Tung's "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.", or US rulers believing that the biggest and most guns will secure a stable, unchallenged position as "king of the hill", planetary ruler. This knowlege is obsolete due to the nature and limitations of political force which is: ability to destroy, bully, threaten and coerce. In particular, political force has zero ability to produce anything other than destruction or some semblence of order (favoring rulers), based on corecive threats of destruction for dissenters.
  • In Machivailli's time, there was some truth to this opinion since rulers survive by tribute, stealing the productivity of others. The only thing to steal was produce of farmers (let them feel secure, strike after harvest), the work of artisans and trade goods, easly acquired using force to monopoly control land and trade routes. Those whom force and bullying were insufficient to motivate to productivity could always be bribed with a portion of the plunder of those who tolerated being plundered.
  • Today, political supporters (read: welfare state) are also bribed with a portion of the plunder, at least until the seed corn of civilization is consumed and the honesty and productive values required to maintain civilization (the rules by which we peacefully cooperate for MUTUAL self-interest) are destroyed.
  • Today, force is insufficient to compel people to be productive and the ad-hoc organization, redundancy and impossibility of controlling information on the internet is forcing a reorganization of all of civilization's organizational structures from hiarchical top down controlled to ad-hoc, peer to peer, goal (as opposed to process) orientated. This organization was first forced on business by economic efficiency opportunities / demands. The internet has adapted us to ad-hoc, peer to peer, social / economic organization. Force is ineffective against such organizations, since it provides no "archetectural control points" allowing central control, the reason that rulers INSIST on a "top down" controlled hiarchical social / ecomomic organization, the only possible way for the few to control the many. When hiarchical organization becomes extinct, or, is re-inverted back to "bottom up" control (by the people) there will be no control points for force to be applied, redundant paths will "route around" any impediments force may attempt to impose.
  • Clearly, controlling or eliminating the internet is a "must achieve" goal, a ruler "survival imperative" if rulers are to rule us, as opposed to free peoples ruling ourselves.
  • In general, since the REAL goal of those who use force / coercion (the REASONS they claim are false pretexts / excuses) is to secure a survival advantage for them and their favored cronies, at the expense of all of the rest, there must be a reaction / consequences. Survival, being a measurable, real quantity and the fact it is traded makes the exercise of force / compulsion an economic phenomena. The nature of life, mankind included is to adapt towards maximal survival. The ad-hoc organization outlined above is a collective adaptation to the survival threat posed by arbitrary power. If this adaptation is successful in countering arbitrary power, great. Arbitrary power will also adapt / react, perhaps by destroying a great percentage of us, making humanity incapable of running a high tech civilization.
  • If arbitrary power manages, independent of methodology to place the productive under the yoke of servitude with no escape (planetary governmernt), mankind will still not be down and out. We must and therefore will adapt. If there is no personal survival advantage in being productive, there will be no productivity. The grim reaper of Mathematics of Rule proves that the productive must and therefore will adapt such that "crime does not pay". Justice will be done. The collateral damage will be incredible, the largest "crime against humanity" by rulers to date.

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