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Machiavelli. 15 August 2008. The stability of states. Stability is resilience in the face of internal and external conflict Rome as the model. Internal conflict. Two “humours” in every society The people want not to be oppressed: they want security for their private life

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15 August 2008

the stability of states
The stability of states
  • Stability is resilience in the face of internal and external conflict
  • Rome as the model
internal conflict
Internal conflict
  • Two “humours” in every society
    • The people want not to be oppressed: they want security for their private life
    • The “nobles” – the ambitious and rich – want to oppress
  • These are necessarily in conflict
resilience in the face of internal conflict
Resilience in the face of internal conflict
  • “Simple” political regimes are either unstable or otherwise tyrannical
  • The best regime is republican: it is a mixed regime that is both stable and preserves liberty
    • It does not give the upper hand to any group
    • It is sustained by the efforts of many rather than the skill of few
  • Liberty means two different things:
    • For the people, it means security (the ability to enjoy private life)
    • For the “nobles”, it means the ability to command and engage in enterprises that will bring them power and glory
  • In simple regimes, liberty for one group means oppression for the other
liberty and conflict
Liberty and conflict
  • In a republic, institutions are set up so that the ambitious competition of the “nobles” does not result in the oppression of the people
  • Not harmony, but the right sort of internal conflict, is necessary to maintain liberty
liberty and conflict1
Liberty and conflict
  • Public indictments vs. false accusations
external conflict
External conflict
  • The world is a dangerous place
  • The right sort of internal conflict sustains the ability of republics to defend themselves
corruption and liberty
Corruption and liberty
  • A people is corrupt when it no longer defends the institutions that guarantee its liberty
corruption and liberty1
Corruption and liberty
  • Corruption means internal instability and external danger
    • Factional conflict and accumulations of power rather than conflict between the two humours
    • Love of private advantage rather than love of country means the Republic becomes easier prey for outside enemies
corruption and security
Corruption and security
  • External security can produce corruption
the problem of corruption
The problem of corruption
  • How do you ensure that the people are not corrupt?
  • Religion for Machiavelli is instrumental to civic life: it is necessary to prevent corruption
  • Is Christianity useful to civic life?
    • The values of Christianity encourage private life, humility, and contemplation, not public spiritedness
    • The church is corrupt: it gives a bad example
roman religion
Roman religion
  • Was Roman religion adequate?
    • It encouraged public spiritedness and public trust
    • It encouraged a certain savagery through animal sacrifices
    • It enabled skilled leaders to manipulate the people for useful ends
roman religion1
Roman religion
  • Nevertheless, Roman religion could also become corrupted: when the auguries started to speak with the voice of the powerful
machiavelli s pagan values
Machiavelli’s “pagan” values
  • Christianity values “private” life
  • The “pagans” valued public life: honor, freedom, glory
  • These two value systems are incompatible: one must choose
glory and founding
Glory and founding
  • Who deserves praise?
    • Founders of religions
    • Founders of republics or of long-lived kingdoms
    • People who have enlarged their own countries
    • Men of arts and letters
    • Others
  • Who deserves blame?
    • Destroyers of religion, republics, kingdoms, culture
founding republics
Founding Republics
  • The necessity of a “prince” to found an enduring republic
  • Good men who are also bad: these are rare
    • Men who are willing to be bad but who also look towards the common good
    • Men who do not try to establish hereditary succession but institutions which are supported by many
  • Crimes are justified for the sake of creation, not of ruining things
founding republics1
Founding republics

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