Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Anton, Modern Machiavelli

The link is to an excellent, though maybe a little esoteric article by Michael Anton, the esteemed author of the "Flight 93 Election". 

Machiavelli has a poor reputation in Christian circles for obvious reasons, however, just because you don't agree with a lot of a person's thinking is no reason to trash all of it.  

Machiavelli faced a challenge so startlingly similar to ours that it almost seems as if history does repeat itself. To put it as succinctly possible, he sought to liberate philosophy and politics—theory and practice—from a stultifying tradition and corrupt institutions.
The following quote can be thought of as somewhat equivalent to the idea that Christians may need to use "unsavory tools" (like violence)  to protect their families, the weak, and the eternal souls of billions.  This is also dangerous, but possibly necessary. One of my mottos -- "safety first when lighting fires with gasoline"!
They had to admit in other words that in an important respect the good has to take its bearings by the practice of bad cities or that the bad impose their law on the good.
A quote directly applicable to our times; 
Our institutions are rotten. For those needing details on how, I lay it out in chapter 3 of The Stakes. For two fresher examples see, first, the way the government colluded with hedge funds to crush small online investors trying to block an all-too-typical financial sector wealth-extraction power play; second, look at Anthony Fauci’s transparently false denials of having funded COVID research in China, and the media’s (and government’s) shameless attempts to cover it all up. There is really not one institution left in America that is not corrupt in both senses: borderline incompetent, but also venal, self-serving and lawless.

Here is my review of "The Stakes".

As a conservative technologist this really hits home: 
The classics were for almost all practical purposes what now are called conservatives. In contradistinction to many present-day conservatives however, they knew that one cannot be distrustful of political or social change without being distrustful of technological change.

 The discussion of "sophistry" vs "propaganda" is illuminated in "The Ethics of Rhetoric". Basically, sophistry is "fake news", and "propaganda" is more like "long term marketing speech", normally linked with institutions once trusted, and for the uninformed, still trusted.  

Whereas sophistry is the art of persuading a particular democratic assembly on a given issue on a specific day, propaganda aims to shape public opinion broadly and, if not permanently, for as long as humanly possible. Strauss is saying that the classics’ reluctance to innovate—their dispositional conservatism—made them vulnerable to conquest via this new weapon. The conquest happened. Christianity waged a spiritual war against the classical world which the latter proved unable to resist
Machiavelli played the very long game ... which Christians likely need to play today, but with a completely different foundation. 
He proposes to do this via a popular-philosophic alliance in which the people are convinced by a new type of propaganda, disseminated by Machiavelli’s successors, to allow the philosophers to rule (indirectly) in exchange for philosophy providing what the people most want: material plenty and a modicum of security (P 25). Fat and happy, they will forget God, or at least bestow their gratitude on others. (Though there’s a lot more to it than just this.)

So philosophy begat science/technology which caused the masses to forget God and worship science.  Like most best laid plans of man, it is doubtful that Niccolo thought that philosophy, and even the concept of metaphysical truth, would be buried under the "stuff" and entertainment heaped on man in unbelieveale (at Machiavelli's time) plenty. 

A worthy read. 

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