Machiavelli and Marx Debate III

Machiavelli’s First Rebuttal

Chronicled by Theosophus

We /conservatives/ believe that America is a superior society not because Americans are superior human beings, but because our culture was founded on a recognition of our God-given natural rights—the “unalienable rights” referred to in the Declaration of Independence.  From that awareness flows a basic, shared respect for humanity, individual liberty, limited government, and the rule of law.                                                                                                   Sean Hannity

History has demonstrated time and time again that disciplined, just societies prevail, while weak, utopian systems crash and burn. . . .  The world is, and always has been, a struggle between good and evil. Bill O’Reilly

The fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives is: Conservatives believe man was created in God’s image; liberals believe they are God.                                                                                                                                               Ann Coulter

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Machiavelli bent awkwardly forward in his chair while Marx spoke.  His face still wore Dick Cheney’s condescending sneer.  But, unlike Cheney, whose demeanor is perpetually languid, Machiavelli was clearly agitated.  Every now and then his right leg pumped nervously. Springing to his feet the moment Marx finished, he rushed to the podium and began speaking before Marx got back to his seat.

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Machiavelli: “Velo!”

“Dr. Marx insists he’s a scientific materialist.”

”But he has given us ample material proof that he’s not!”

“A scientific materialist deals with reality/with ‘truth’!

“Not Herr Marx!”

“In Marx’s bizarre world ‘truth’ is whatever individuals and communities acting in defense of their interests say it is.”

“In his world the questions: ‘What would it benefit me to believe?’ and ‘What is objectively true?’ are the same.”

For a scientist, truth is ‘discovered!’ For Marx, it’s not discovered, it’s ‘created.’”

“It is this wondrous proposition that truth doesn’t exist which holds all the pieces of Dr. Marx’s elaborate theory together.”

“Yet, he hasn’t offered us one scintilla of empirical evidence in its support.”

“He simply posited that the earliest hunting and gathering communities understood truth and practical solution to be one, then conjured his way to the idealistic conclusion that their relativistic consciousness will be universal in the post-capitalist world his too-fertile imagination describes.”

(Giving Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly and Neil Cavuto, a meaningful ‘we’re-all-in-this- together’ look, Machiavelli continued . . . ).

“Like the great majority of people, no doubt like most of you, I place Marx’s amazing hypothesis about the non-existence of truth in the same category as a belief the moon’s inhabited, or, that Planet Earth is flat.”

“Science, he forgets, is based upon the conviction objective truths exist—independently of what anyone might want—and, that it’s a scientist’s obligation to determine what they are.”

“Unlike Dr. Marx, I am a scientist!”

“To repeat Paul Mattick’s apt characterization of my position: ‘A true Machiavellian separates scientific questions concerning the truth about society from moral disputes over what type of society is most desirable.’”

“Adopting Marx’s peculiar theory would not only mean abandoning science, it would mean discarding its universally spoken language as well.”

“Science defines ‘truth’ as: ‘synonymous with observer-independent facts’, i.e., with ‘reality.’”

“’Those are only fictions,’ Marx protests.”

“Scientists speak of views which are ‘biased’ or ‘distorted;’ meaning they are biased away from/distortions of, ‘the truth.’”

“’More fantasy’, says Marx.  No observer-independent ‘objective truths’ exist which one’s personal views might be ’biased away from’ or ‘distort’.”

“Scientists caution against false prophets:’ people (like Dr. Marx?), who present deceptively appealing arguments that misrepresent reality/distort ‘the truth.’”

”Science honors ‘geniuses:’ individuals who discover fundamentally important features of reality.”

“‘False prophets?’  ‘Geniuses?’ ‘Objective’ and ‘impartial’ understandings’?”

“They’re all mythical conceptions, according to Marx’s abstract logic; leaving those of us committed to science not simply puzzled, but stunned; since, according to the dictionary: ‘myths are distinguished by their failure to be based on fact or scientific study.’”

“One is left wondering what Marx intends when he speaks of ‘fantasies’ and ‘myths’. What does he suppose an idea which isn’t ‘fantasy’ or ‘myth’ is, if it’s not an idea that’s objectively true?”

“He agrees leaders often lie.  But what is there to lie about, other than ‘the truth?’”

“Dr. Marx calls himself a ’dialectical’ materialist.”

“But central to the belief that reality and our consciousness of it are dialectic is the proposition that knowing what things are involves knowing what they are not: i.e., being able to identify their opposites.  Hot is the opposite of cold; east, the opposite of west; up, the opposite of down; big, the opposite of small; good, the opposite of evil.  And error?  What can that be, pray tell, if it isn’t the opposite of truth?

“’All truths are relative!’, Marx insists; though he apparently believes that particular assertion alone to be ‘absolutely true?’”

“Dr. Marx’s paradigm literally makes my head spin, and I suspect your head may be spinning too.”

“Let me try to bring the debate back to reality with a genuinely materialist consideration of socio-economic-political truth.”

“To begin with, lacking any empirical evidence how the first homo sapien communities thought, we can only speculate.  However, I find it reasonable to suppose that, like hunters and gatherers today, they had voodooists, shamans and medicine-men, whose principal function was to discover ’the truth’; however convinced you and I may be that they often failed at the endeavor.”

“As for subsequent nomadic-slave and feudal communities, we have several thousand years of material evidence that one-and-all of them were absolutist where truth was concerned.”

“They were religious communities, and a belief in objective truth has always been a pivotal feature of every religion.”

“According to Christianity’s Holy Bible, God commanded Adam and Eve not to eat fruit from ’the tree of the knowledge of good and evil,’ revealing he had not granted humans the authority to decide for themselves what was truly good and what was truly evil.”

Genesis describes merely presuming to have such omniscience as diabolic.”

“When Satan told Adam and Eve if they ignored God’s proscription and ate the forbidden fruit they would ‘be as gods, knowing good and evil,’ he wasn’t proposing they’d acquire the ability to differentiate between good and evil. That’s a faculty Christianity, like other faiths, grants to everyone. Choosing good over evil is considered critical for Christians if they would enter into the kingdom of heaven.”

“No, the Bible describes Satan’s appeal as, well, downright Satanic.”

“By eating the forbidden fruit, he urged, Adam and Eve would gain that ultimate power religions grant only to their gods: the power to dictate the very nature of good, and evil.”

“Capitalist country scientists generally distinguish their industrial-world metaphysics from those of nomadic slave and feudal states by proposing values are indeed relative, while facts are not.”

“However, unlike Dr. Marx, they do not dispute that values, too, have observer-independent, objective dimensions.”

“Common sense tells us if they didn’t we would not be able to identify them, or give them names, or, point to instances of their application.”

“It is because values have an objective existence, that people with different values always dispute the facts which they claim support their own.”

“This is everyone’s material reality, and there are no exceptions!”

“Marx and I are agreed, then, that both the values and the interpretations-of-fact of communities with clashing economic, social and political interests will also be in conflict.”

“Where we disagree is that Marx proposes all fact-value understandings are equally valid and cannot be given an authoritative justification.”

”Being a scientist who believes in objective truth, I hold that the facts and values of  individuals and communities can be dispassionately identified, then, defended or opposed.”

“As I emphasized in my opening remarks, an objective look at the world reveals the primary value of a leader is the preservation of his state, upon which the lives and well-being of his people depend.”

“An objective look also reveals that while there may be times when preserving his state requires a leader to employ authoritarian methods, over the long run, he will not be able to do it unless he has the voluntary/democratic support of his people.”

“Which is why I endorse the current U.S. foreign policy.”

“No other country has so faithfully defended the democratic values spelled out in the American Bill of Rights: freedom of speech, religion and assembly, freedom from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures,’ the right to bear arms, and the right to a speedy trial by a jury of one’s peers when accused of a crime.”

“Now, let’s take an objective look at Dr. Marx’s fanciful theory of history:”

“Understand!  While I believe it to be wrong, I recognize his reasoning is logically consistent; just as I recognize Ptolemy’s reasoning about the physical universe was logically consistent, but wrong.”

“Google ‘Copernicus’ and you’ll discover there are still Ptolemaists; as, remarkably, there are still a few people who believe Earth is flat.”

“However, scientists understand that the Ptolemaic system, like the flat Earth theory, is not a materialist explanation. It does not objectively describe our solar system, let alone the universe.”

“Consider, then. a few of the empirically indefensible conclusions Marx syllogistically drew from his bizarre metaphysics.”

“Having convinced himself all socio-economic-political consciousness is defensively created, accepted, modified or rejected, it followed that ‘classes’ are but: communities of people who find maintaining their social existence requires them to join forces and deny other communities of individuals the opportunity to do the same.”

“In The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte Marx said of the peasantry: ‘Insofar as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests, and their culture from those of the other classes and put them into hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class.’”

“Similarly, in The German Ideology he and Engels wrote of the bourgeoisie: ‘The separate individuals form a class only insofar as they have to carry on a common battle against another class; otherwise they are on hostile terms with each other as competitors.’”

“According to Dr. Marx’s relativistic metaphysics, if you tell a peasant, a worker or a capitalist he’s a member of a class and he rejects your designation, it is you, not he, who are wrong. His very rejection tells you that, under existing circumstances, for him to battle as a member of a peasantry, a working, or a capitalist class, is not the least disruptive way to preserve his social existence.”

“In writing and in speeches Marx, quite logically, directed his most aggressive attacks not against feudal lords or capitalists, but against Proudhon, Feuerbach, Left Hegelians and other absolutist liberals who, treating ideas and reality as independent of one another, proposed to rescue the masses by bringing them objective truth; something Herr Marx argues does not exist.”

“Marx was often scathing in his denunciations, writing:”

“’Since the Young Hegelians consider conceptions, thoughts, ideas, in fact, all the products of consciousness, to which they attribute an independent existence, as the real chains of men . . . the Young Hegelians have to fight only against these illustions of the consciousness.  Since, according to their fantasy, the relationships of men, all their doings, their limitations, are products of their consciousness, the Young Hegelians logically put to men the moral postulate of exchanging their present consciousness for human, critical or egoistic consciousness, and thus of removing their limitations. . . . They forget . . . that they are in no way combating the real existing world when they  merely combat the phrases of this world. . . . All forms and products of consciousness cannot be dissolved by mental criticism, by resolution into “self-consciousness” or transformation into “apparitions,” “spectres,” “fancies,” etc., but only by the practical overthrow of the actual social relations which gave rise to this idealistic humbug; . . . not criticism, but revolution, is the driving force of history, also of religion, of philosophy and all other types of theory.’”

“Marx insisted the masses would acquire an egalitarian consciousness only when defending their social existence made it imperative for them to do so.”

“On the other hand, being a utopian idealist, he deemed that magical situation was at hand.”

“The capitalist order of production and distribution was nearly drained of viability Dr. Marx reasoned, and workers would soon find themselves in the desperate circumstances which would turn them into a class: the proletariat.”

“To quote his wildly exaggerated description of the mid-19th century workers’ situation:”

“’Along with the constantly diminishing number of magnates of capital, who usurp and monopolize all advantages of this process of transformation, grows the mass of misery, oppression, slavery, degradation, exploitation; but with this too, grows the revolt of the working-class, a class always increasing in numbers, and disciplined, united, organized by the very mechanism of the process of capitalist production itself.’”

“After becoming a unified proletariat, Marx enthused, the workers were going to raze the capitalist productive-distributive system; then, they would build an egalitarian order in its place.”

“And they would do these things not because someone won them over to a revolutionary consciousness by bringing them ‘the truth’.  They would do them because they had to in order to survive.”

“’Things have now come to such a pass,’ Marx wrote, ‘that the individuals must appropriate the existing totality of productive forces, not only to achieve self-activity, but, also, merely to safeguard their very existence.’”

“’/I/t becomes evident’ he, again very logically, but  also very mistakenly concluded, ‘that the bourgeoisie is unfit any longer to be the ruling class in society, and to impose its conditions of existence upon society as an overriding law.  It is unfit to rule because it is incompetent to assure an existence to its slave within his slavery’.”

“I suppose if you’re a diehard supporter of Dr. Marx’s distorted logic you might protest it was nevertheless found indispensible, therefore ‘true,’ during and after the Russian and Chinese revolutions.’”

“If so, you would be wrong!”

“Consider the fate of Marx’s linchpin proposition respecting the nonexistence of truth.”

“In the late 1800s, Alexander Bogdanov, a philosopher, a physician, and a prominent member of the Bolshevik Party, began promoting that epistemological nonsense in Russia.”

“Bogdanov argued his relativistic-Machian interpretation of Marx’s theory—he called it  ‘Emperiomonism’—was correct, writing three volumes on the subject.  By the early 1900s Bogdanov’s popularity among Bolshevik leaders had become second only to Lenin’s.”

“Whereupon Lenin penned his famous rebuttal, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism; scornfully, but on this occasion, I would add, correctly observing:

“’The “naive realism” of any healthy person who has not been an inmate of a lunatic asylum or a pupil of the idealist philosophers consists in the view that things, the environment, the world, exist independently of our sensation, of our consciousness, of our self, and of man in general . . . . /O/utside us, and independently of us, there exist objects, things, bodies, and . . . our perceptions are images of the external world.’”

“Which epistemological construction of Marx’s theory won the day?  Which was said to empirically represent the Russian experience? “

“Vladimir Lenin’s, hands down! “

“Bogdanov the relativist was expelled from the Bolshevik Party in 1909, and played no role in the Russian Revolution.”

“In brief, in order to give Dr. Marx’s theory relevance, Lenin had to turn it back into the very kind of objectivist logic Marx himself had railed against.”

“The proletariat would not ‘create’ its own way forward, the Leninists decided. The  ‘way forward’ would have to be discovered by leaders, and the workers would need to be led.”

“In 1903, fourteen years before the Russian Revolution, Lenin wrote:”

“’The history of all countries bears witness that by its own resources alone the working-class is in a position to generate only a trade-union consciousness . . . The teaching of socialism has grown out of philosophical, historical and economic theories worked out by educated representatives of the possessing classes, of the intelligentsia.  The founders of contemporary socialism, Marx and Engels, belonged themselves by their social origin to the bourgeois intelligentsia.  Similarly in Russia the theoretical teaching of social-democracy has arisen altogether independently of the spontaneous growth of the workers’ movement, has arisen as the natural and inevitable result of the development of thought among the revolutionary-socialist intelligentsia.’”

“Post-1917, Lenin’s objectivist-Marxism became, to use Marx’s own terminology, the ‘Spiritual Quintessence’ of the Soviet Union’s self-understanding.  Reality possessed an observer-independent form, Soviet leaders thereafter contended; a form which, using their absolutist interpretation of Marx’s arguments, their ideas would reflect.”

“’Marxism,’ the Russian theorist V. Afanasyev reiterated in 1967: ‘is a science dealing with the ways and means of destroying capitalism, with the laws governing the creation of the new communist society . . . it is a science dealing with the conscious, purposeful, direction of social processes in the interests of man.’”

“During and after China’s revolution, Mao Tse-tung and other Chinese Communist Party leaders embraced the same objectivist , dare I say ‘deformation’?, of Dr. Marx’s theory.”

“’Facts’ are all the things that exist objectively.’ Mao instructed. ‘Truth’ means their internal relations, that is, the laws governing them’.  ‘We should proceed from the actual conditions inside and outside the country, . . . and derive from them, as our guide to action, laws that are inherent in them and not imaginary, that is, we should find the internal relations of the events occurring around us.  And in order to do that we must rely not on subjective imagination . . . but on facts that exist objectively’.  ‘We are Marxists, and Marxism teaches that in our approach to a problem we should start from objective facts, not from abstract definitions, and that we should derive our guiding principles, policies and measures from an analysis of these facts.’”

“Of course, I vigorously disagree with most Leninist and Maoist depictions of socio-economic-political reality.  But at least Russian and Chinese leaders have had the intelligence to recognize reality exists!”

“What, then, has been the fate of Dr. Marx’s theory in the West?”

“With very few exceptions, Western Marxists have given their high priest’s ideas the same absolutist construction it received in the East.”

“The British Marxist-philosopher Maurice Cornforth stipulated that by ‘truth’ he meant a ‘correspondence between ideas and objective reality.’”

“George Novack, a popular American Trotskyist, wrote an entire book distinguishing his ‘Marxist’ conviction truths are ‘demonstrably anchored in objective reality’ from pragmatist-philosopher John Dewey’s view that they are merely utilitarian constructs.”

“Respecting Dr. Marx’s most passionate anti-objectivist arguments, Western Marxists often felt it was important to explain he hadn’t really intended them to be interpreted that way.”

“Shlomo Avineri, an Israeli theorist, observed Marx’s ‘historicist attitude did not . . . lead Marx to mere relativism.’ Similarly, Melvin Rader, a leftist University of Washington philosopher stressed: “It would be a mistake to classify Marx as no more than a relativist.’”

“Louis Althusser, a French philosopher who from the late 1960s to the early 1980s spoke for much of the Left in France and Italy, carried the objectivist understanding of Marxism still further.”

“Perhaps finding it difficult to reconcile the relativism manifest in Dr. Marx’s writing with his own absolutist perspective, Althusser decided most of Marx’s theory remained to be formulated.”

“’Marxist philosophy,’ said Althusser: ‘founded by Marx in the very act of founding his theory of history, has still largely to be to be constituted, since, as Lenin said, only the cornerstones have been laid down. . . . The Marxist theoretical practice of epistemology, of the history of science, of the history of ideology, of the history of philosophy, of the history of art, has yet in large part to be constituted.’”

“’/W/e so miss the Dialectics which Marx did not need and which he refused us,’ Althusser continued, ‘even though we know perfectly well that we have it, and where it is: in Marx’s theoretical works, in Capital, etc., yes, and of course this is the main thing, we can find it there, but not in a theoretical state!’”

“Even more problematic, Althusser amusingly proposed, Marx himself often failed to think like a Marxist.”

“After agreeing with Hegel that experience and consciousness are ‘a unity,’ Marx made his famous observation that he’d found Hegel standing on his head and righted him.”

“Hegel reasoned history moves because communities of people come up with new ideas which prompt them to alter their behavior: consciousness leads experience.”

“’He had the process upside down!,’ Marx exhorted. History moves because communities of people discover they must formulate, then act upon, new strategies in order to maintain their social existence: consciousness, including revolutionary consciousness, never leads, it follows. ‘The existence of revolutionary ideas in a particular period presupposes the existence of a revolutionary class!’

“Althusser described this particular argument as ambiguous’, saying: ‘A man on his head is the same man when he is finally walking on his feet, and a philosophy inverted in this way cannot be regarded as anything more than the philosophy reversed, except in theoretical metaphor.’”

“Recognizing that Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts do represent an inverted Hegelian dialectic, Althusser concluded: ‘That is why the rigor of this rigorous text is not Marxist;’ suggesting the inversion makes more than just a metaphorical difference after all.”

“Regarding the humanistic/anti-objectivist passages in Capital, Althusser said he was able to determine they ‘had no theoretical significance.’”

“As for Marx’s eloquent relativistic observations in his Theses on Feuerbach, Althusser affirmed: ‘One day we will have to show that these eleven deceptively transparent theses are really riddles.’”

“Althusser also took a swipe at two prominent European philosophers who were viewing Marx’s arguments through a relativistic prism writing:”

“”Theses like those defended by John Lewis and Jean-Paul Sartre prevent the development of existing scientific knowledge. These things are an obstacle to the development of knowledge. Instead of helping it to progress, they hold it back.  More precisely, they drag knowledge back to the state it was in before the scientific discoveries made by Marx and Lenin.  They take us back to a pre-scientific philosophy of history.’”

“Marxist scientists, Althusser counselled, must concentrate on identifying the objectively ‘essential’ and ‘inessential’ components of the historical process, then isolate the latter in order to understand the former more fully.”

“Since Marx had not provided adequate instructions for accomplishing this critical task, Althusser advised Marxists they would need to ‘listen to his silences’ in carrying out their investigations.”

“To sum: it’s objectively obvious that, with few exceptions, Marxist political leaders and political theorists East and West have ignored the very essence of Dr. Marx’s theory; that relativistic epistemological glue which holds all his axioms together.”

“Marx, they determined, did not describe the real historical process. “

“Now I’d like you to answer a simple question: If a self-styled meteorologist never got the weather right, or a chemist was never able to predict the results of his experiments, would you consider him ascientist’ nevertheless, his effortsscientific?’”

“If not, why, then, should anyone listen to Marx?”

“Dr. Marx made that most rudimentary of mistakes, the one we scientists continually warn against: He allowed his personal values to distort his reading of the world.”

“More than 160 years have passed since Herr Marx made his failed predictions. Unfortunately, idealists seem to be unruffled when the world doesn’t conform with their analyses, and Marx has said nothing this evening which suggests he’s having second thoughts.”

“He still proposes reality’s form is creative, that political theories become true insofar as they constitute the least painful and disruptive strategies for maintaining the social existence of the individuals and communities who call them that.”

“Since the U.S. war in Iraq is a primary subject of this debate, I’d like to direct your attention to the present objective situation respecting the war. Then, I’ll explain why it is that objective situation exists.”

“As you know, for the past several months the number of U.S. troops being killed in Iraq has been plummeting, prompting Senator John McCain, the Republican candidate for president of your country, to declare: ‘The war is being ‘won’!”’

“Polls show the majority of Americans agree with McCain’s blithe appraisal.  That is, they agree to talk of ‘winning,’ despite the empirical fact that Iraq’s infrastructure and economy have been destroyed, over a million Iraqis have been killed, 6 million have been severely wounded, and 4 million more have been driven from their homes.”

“Let me place these figures, and the references to victory,’ in a dispassionately objective context for you.”

“Imagine that a war occurred here in the United States in which Americans suffered a proportionate loss: The nation’s infrastructure—highways, hospitals power plants, bridges and waste disposal systems—would be destroyed; streams, lakes and rivers would be badly polluted; eleven million Americans would be dead, 66 million gravely injured.  In addition, 44 million Americans would have been driven from their homes, 22 million of them exiled from the country.”

“Now suppose the invaders were heard to speak of ‘winning.’”

“What would any objective observer conclude about the aggressors in particular, and, humanity in general?”

“I submit they would reach the conclusion stated in my Discourses on Levy.

“’ . . . all men are bad, and  they will use their malignity of mind every time they have the opportunity . . . the same desires and passions exist in all cities and people, and  always have existed.’”

“Is it not obvious to you no people has ever declared:”

“This is the maximum number of children our consciences will permit us to slaughter; this, the upper-most number of women and old people we would ever terrorize, maim or kill; this, the greatest number of innocent people’s homes we could justify destroying; this, the largest number of their hospitals we would bomb; this, the greatest number of their lakes, rivers and streams we would pollute.  Beyond these stated limits we will never go!”

“Is it not objectively apparent there are no limits?”

“During the last century: the Japanese celebrated the slaughter of more than a million Chinese; the Germans cheered butchering 4 to 6 million Jews, along with 5 million Poles and Romanians, and 20 million Soviets; Americans applauded the slaying of between 1 and 2 million Japanese, and, with Britain, they toasted the killing of more than 5 million Gerrmans; under Stalin, the Soviet majority approved murdering over 10 million of their own countrymen, and the Chinese did the same under Mao; during the administrations of presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon, Americans tolerated, many of them praised, the massacre of 3 million Vietnamese, Laotians and other South East Asians.”

“Today, Americans, British, Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis and others are doing it all over again in the Middle East.”

“Open your eyes and confront the reality of our species!”

“We are evil by nature!”

“Moreover, thousands of years of human history objectively prove it’s as impossible to change our nature as to change the nature of a hippopotomus, a pine tree or a stone.”

“Stalinist Russia and Maoist China gave brutal demonstrations that movements which attempt to do it cause more suffering, not less.”

“Let me make myself clear!”

“I’m not suggesting leaders shouldn’t strive to be good, and to make their people good.”

“As I argued in The Prince, both with his people, and in his dealings with other nations, a leader ‘should if possible, be merciful, faithful, humane, upright and religious.’”

“’He should not diverge from the good if he can avoid doing so!’”

“But, it is critical for him to understand that in the endless struggle between good and evil, he will never confront a clear and unqualified choice between the two.”

“He will always be forced to choose between actions which are ‘better’ or ‘worse,’ ‘more or less evil’.”

“As I observed in my opening remarks, ‘sometimes nations must make war, and in war all people do things which are evil.’”

“When he is compelled to protect his state and his people by doing evil, it is therefore critical for a leader to ‘know how to go about it.’”

“’You must know there are two ways of contesting,’ I wrote in The Prince. ‘The one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second.  Therefore it is necessary for a leader to understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man.’”

“Defending his state, particularly during a time of war, makes it imperative that a leader keeps his people unified and supportive of his policies.”

“Whenever possible, he should do this by using ‘the method proper to men’: laws.”

“Unfortunately, as I noted in Discourses, while the laws required will be ‘very well understood by prudent men, they do not contain evident reasons capable of persuading others.’”

“‘Wise men who want to remove this difficulty therefore have recourse to God.’”

For a leader to secure his people’s obedience to the law through fear of him is difficult, and will not work for an extended period of time.  For that reason, it is vitally important that he keep them obedient through religion and a fear of God.”

“’As the observance of divine institutions is the cause of the greatness of Republics, so the contempt of it is the cause of their ruin, for where the fear of God is lacking it will happen that the kingdom will be ruined.’”

(Chancing to glance at Ann Coulter, I was startled to see her face had assumed the beatific expression of a Jehovah’s witness, a Scientologist, or a Moonie).

“’Princes of Republics, /leaders of nations/, ought, therefore, to maintain their Republics’ religions well and united.’”

“‘They ought in all things which arise to foster it, and even if they should judge them false, to favor and encourage it: and the more they understand natural things, so much more they ought to do this.  Because this practice has been observed by wise men, there has arisen the belief in miracles that are celebrated in Religion, however false; for the prudent leaders have increased their importance from whatever origin they may have derived, and their authority gives them credence with the people’.”

(Ann’s beatific expression just as suddenly changed to one of puzzlement when Machiavelli referred to a leader fostering religion and a belief in miracles ”even if he believes them to be false”).

“I’ve already explained why I believe it to be the path of ’least evil’ for the Cheney-Bush government to take firm control of the Middle East’s oil, and, what it must do to realize that objective.”

“Today, I propose Senator McCain is right.  The U.S. is winning.”

“As I argued was necessary for seizing control of Iraq’s oil, its economy has been destroyed; the Sunni elite and middle class have been killed or driven into exile;  and maleable, corruptible individuals have been permitted to assume power over religious and tribal communities whose members are sufficiently poor that their ways of life can be sustained with a minimal amount of oil money and a use of the velvet glove.”

“In my opening remarks I also explained that all people resist seeing themselves as evil, regardless of how deeply evil they become; that to avoid seeing themselves as evil they will avidly seek to be deceived; and, for this reason, particularly in a time of war, a leader must be adept at deception.”

“When it’s necessary to ‘avail himself of the beast,’ ‘he must know how to disguise this characteristic, how to be a great pretender and dissembler.’”

“By the end of this debate you will have formed an opinion about which of us, Dr. Marx or myself, most objectively describes the world.”

“To help you decide, I’m going to close this first rebuttal with a citation from an article by Paul Craig Roberts.”

“Once a conservative, Dr. Roberts is now a leading voice on the American Left.  You’ll recall that Marx quoted him in his opening statement.”

“My reason for citing Roberts is simple.  For 500 years I’ve had to tolerate being described as reactionary, rather than realistic, and quoting someone on the Right would do nothing to dispel that misconception.”

“Each of you will be able to judge for yourself how well my theory of politics accords with the events Dr. Roberts describes; events he disparages, but which I understand and respect.”

“Roberts’ begins by discussing Sami Al-Arian, a Palestinian professor of computer engineering at the University of South Florida, who the Department of Justice charged with ‘conspiracy to assist the cause of Islamic Jihad’.”

“I’ll let Dr. Roberts take it from here:

“’The charges against Al-Arian were rejected by a jury, but the Bush Regime could not accept the obvious defeat.  If Al-Arian was not a terrorist, then other of the Bush Regime’s fabricated cases might fall apart, too . . . . The Justice Department itself knows that it is persecuting a totally innocent person for reasons of a political agenda—the need to convince gullible Americans of an ongoing terrorist threat . . . . The Al-Arian case proves that terrorists are in short supply and that the Bush Regime has had to create them out of total innocents. The “war on terror” is a hoax used to justify war crimes and the overthrow of America’s civil liberties. . . . The anthrax scare is one more example of the Bush Regime’s use of disinformation to advance an undeclared political agenda. . . .The Bush Regime stands against the truth. . . . We now know for a fact that the “terrorist anthrax attack” had nothing whatsoever to do with Muslim terrorists. . . . Many Americans lack the mental and emotional strength to confront the facts.  The facts are too unsettling and many are relieved when the “mainstream media” spins the facts away.  Many Americans find it too appalling that any part of “their” government, even a rogue operation, could possibly have been involved in any way in the anthrax attacks. No evidence—not even full confessions—could convince them otherwise.  Many Americans have welcomed their brainwashing by the neoconservatives: Åmerica is pure; her shining virtue causes evil men to attack her; they hate us because we are good and they are evil.’”

“I contend Roberts is correct, albeit naive.  Through a selective use of duplicity and persecution the Cheney-Bush government is successfully molifying and unifying Americans behind its global strategy; a strategy I believe is at once both an imperative, and, the lesser evil.”

“With that, for the moment, I rest my case.”

(Having remained animated throughout this first rebuttal, Machiavelli looked visibly tired as he returned to his seat.)

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One thought on “Machiavelli and Marx Debate III

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