Saturday, August 20, 2011

Machiavellian Morality and The Isthmus

Machiavelli famously said that a Prince, given the choice between being feared or loved by his subjects, cannot be both feared AND loved therefore it is better for him to be feared than loved.

This brings into question the ethics of love, a greatly herlalded sentiment amongst those who put their faith in a Marxian "Change" ethic, and it's ability to act as a force for the proper rule of a republic.

Love certainly falls, for after laughter inevitably comes tears. These tears are more authentic than laughter, as one can chuckle at any given proposition with either a whim or snarl- but to shed tears one must, by it's nature, be profoundly moved by either overwhelming happiness or a deep felt sadness.

So the question is, does love fall under the scrutiny of Machiavelli's moral system? The answer is, of course it does. As a matter of fact, Machiavelli says some quite nasty things about the Christian conception of love. It is merely that the much touted injustices of those in positions of power are both necessary and just, and to instill fear in the hearts of those who seek to subvert a Princes authority is not only an act of compassion for his subjects as a whole, but a necessary component to keeping ones status and position within a republic.

It takes a certain amount of character to become feared rather than loved, and one makes sacrifices when one becomes an object of the fear of ones subjects- but certainly there is much to gain from this position.

Freidrich Holderlin wrote a poem of the title "The Isthmus", in which he describes an imminent fire that burns at the place where Hercules rested to drink water. This is, indeed, a way of addressing the unique ability of a flame to both harm and comfort.

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