Monday, April 5, 2010

Machiavelli on Afghanistan or any New Order

To Machiavelli in this passage, the innovator is the conquering prince, bringing new laws:

 ". . . . 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 partly arises from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity [disbelief] of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have a had a long experience with them.

[the partisans will be of the old order]

"It is necessary, therefore, to inquire whether these innovators can rely on themselves, or have to rely on others. . . . can they rely on prayers or do they have to 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."
--Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (1513) Fifth Chapter 'New principalities'
Trans. W.K. Marriott, Everyman Library


Momma Fargo said...

Deep thoughts from a famous man...who knew back then that we refer to his name all the time!

Bob G. said...

I agree...he was ahead of his time, or at least realized that if people DO NOT learn FROM history, they WILL repeat it in some fashion.

Christopher said...

And this may ring true in no place more than Afghanistan, where allegiances change quicker than Lady Gaga between sets. And yet, is it really any different in any Western political situation? The only difference is we don't play polo with goat heads.

And for shame too, because right about now that sounds more exciting than the Cubs season I have to look forward to.

Ann T. said...

Dear Momma Fargo,
It does amaze me how useful his words are, and so clear. The first part of the book is a big suck-up to his patron, which means he wasn't sure how it was going to go, either!

Dear Bob,
And it always amazes me, like you, that we have these people who 'got it' around, and plenty of historical record, and blam. Down the tubes again!

But I also posted it for me, fighting zombie weirdness in the basement. The problem I have in the basement is nothing compared to what our troops have in Afghanistan, so I mean to give the partisans a hell of a fight.

Dear Christopher,
And that's what you meant about applying it everywhere. I imagine you see it every day in your work.

But just because the 'denizens' do it, doesn't mean you get to shift your loyalty from the Cubs! That would be amoral to the max.

I would like to see that goat-head game, though. In Afghanistan. There are a ton of things I'd like to see there!

Thanks to all for writing in!
Ann T.