(A repost from the sci-fi blog. A tiny bit of sci-fi content is deleted below)
Xi Jinping thought he could inculcate moral values in his atheist officials by forcing them to study his important speeches… Now the party is having to install a parallel system of inspectors to monitor and punish officials who violate the rules. But what motivates the inspectors? The CCDI’s complained that people already tasked with oversight often just go through the motions and turn a blind eye to violations… Perhaps yet another layer of inspectors will be needed to inspect the inspectors. Officials probably should shift some of their study sessions from Marx to Machiavelli.Dim Sums
Granary funds feed big “rats” and “worms”
I don’t care for Machiavelli and his rule of Powerful Men above all things… and especially above God’s Law-Word.
That being said, China would leap ahead light years if they dumped Marx in favour of Machiavelli.
Self-serving, self-interested hereditary Ruling Elites are to be favoured far above a Ruling Party who is quite willing to crush and kill any amount of Commoner Trash, not just for the sake of personal power, but also to build some abstract ideological utopian dreamworld.
In contrast to the Collectivists, the Aristocracy actually values the lives of their subjects:
“How else are you going to generate wealth? What else are you going to tax? Is there another way to man your military, or strengthen your tech base, or build up your markets – and, indirectly but materially, the wealth, power, and honour of your House?”
No Marx, Just Machiavelli
A) Machiavellian Managers
Just out of curiosity, I skimmed Gary North’s site with the keyword “Machiavelli”.
Some interesting results from Keeping Amused in the Lockdowns:
The lockdowns have reminded us that the combination of executive power and bureaucratic enforcement is not good for society.
But is it a conspiracy? No. It is government anti-business as usual. It is a disaster for all concerned, especially the public schools.
In the 1980’s, the Brits ran the greatest sitcom of all time: “Yes, Minister.” It dealt with the combination of politics and bureaucracy.
The scriptwriters were masters of humor. They were also masters of bureaucratic operations.
Antony Jay was a scholar. He wrote books on management theory, including the best-selling Management and Machiavelli. He also wrote Householders’ Guide to Community Defence Against Bureaucratic Aggression.
He was knighted by the Queen. He was a conservative.
Jonathan Lynn was an actor and a director. He directed My Cousin Vinnie. He was closer to Labour.
I bought the “Yes, Minister” series on DVD. It is cheap. It is hilarious. It is making the lockdown more tolerable.
“Yes, Prime Minister” is available on DVD. A used set is cheap.
Buy the U.S./Canada version.
You can rent it on Amazon Prime — just right for a Prime Minister.
This will help you make the best of it. Keep a stiff upper lip, the Brits say.
But it’s hard for me to keep a stiff upper lip when I am roaring with laughter.
My pick-ups from the article:
Management and Machiavelli looks like a worthy read to me. Especially if I was a business manager.
Sadly, you’ll have to fight hard, in Britain, to get a copy of Householders’ Guide to Community Defence Against Bureaucratic Aggression. (But I spotted a copy for $140… on eBay, in Australia.)
B) Machiavelli Against the Left
Quote from Political Correctness and Voter Resistance by Gary North.
Written in 2017, a.k.a. “Before the elitist COVID-19 puffed-up tantrum against Trump and Brexit.”
In October, I published an article about Angelo Codevilla’s article, “After the Republic.”
He has done it again.
Codevilla accurately goes back to the writings of Machiavelli in search of the modern concept of political correctness. Machiavelli recognized that the revolutionary state had to control, suppress, and ultimately replace the existing attitudes of the public toward morality and culture. But it is not easy to do this. If the state pushes too hard, there will be push back.
This is what modern PC advocates, who are leftists and progressives, refuse to acknowledge. They believe that they can push and push and push against the standards of Western civilization, and the peons of the general public are going to have to go along with it. But they aren’t, and they won’t, and we are now seeing significant political resistance. The progressives are not prepared for this. They have nothing but contempt for the standards of the broad mass of the American people: “bourgeois morality.” They expect to be able to control the public because they control the media. But as the Trump election indicates, the Left is incorrect. This is why this article is so important.
Let me tantalize you with the conclusions.
Consider our ruling class’s very latest demand: Americans must agree that someone with a penis can be a woman, while someone else with a vagina can be a man. Complying with such arbitrariness is beyond human capacity. In Orwell’s 1984, as noted, Big Brother’s agent demanded that Winston acknowledge seeing five fingers while he was holding up four. But that is small stuff next to what the U.S. ruling class is demanding of a free people. Because courts and agencies just impose their diktats, without bothering to try to persuade, millions of precisely the kind of citizens who prize stability have become willing to take a wrecking ball to what little remains of the American republic, not caring so much what happens next.
It is surprising that, in 2015-16, our ruling class was surprised by Donald Trump. Though he remained obedient to most of P.C.’s specific demands and remained largely a liberal Democrat, it sufficed for him to disdain P.C. in general, and to insult its purveyors, for Trump to become liberalism’s Public Enemy Number One. William Galston’s column in the Wall Street Journal barely begins to get a sense of how his class’s Leninist seizure of America’s culture has miscarried.
[Trump’s] campaign has ruthlessly exposed the illusions of well-educated middle-class professionals–people like me. We believed that changes in law and public norms had gradually brought about changes in private attitudes across partisan and ideological lines….
Mr. Trump has proved us wrong. His critique of political correctness has destroyed many taboos and has given his followers license to say what they really think. Beliefs we mocked now command a majority in one of the world’s oldest political parties, and sometimes in the electorate as a whole.
The point is not Trump, but the fact that though the ruling class pushed Western civilization aside, it did not replace it with any cultural hegemony in the Gramscian-Machiavellian sense. Rather, by pushing P.C. defined as inflicting indignities, the progressives destroyed the legitimacy of any and all authority, foremost their own.
My 2010 article for the American Spectator, “The Ruling Class and the Perils of Revolution,” argued that “some two-thirds of Americans–a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents–lack a vehicle in electoral politics.” Resentment of the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes with which the ruling class has permeated American life, along with its cultural war enforced by P.C., meant that “Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled.” I noted: “Unfortunately, it is easier for anyone who dislikes a court’s or an official’s unlawful act to counter it with another unlawful one than to draw all parties back to the foundation of truth.”
That is because a majority of Americans–realizing that the Constitution and the laws have ceased to protect them from unending injuries to their way of life; aggravated by being insulted as “irredemable” and “deplorable” racists, sexists, etc.; eager for relief and, yes, for payback with interest; knowing that the ruling class is closed to argument from those it considers its inferiors–have no option but to turn the tables in the hope that, suffering the same kind of insulting oppression, the ruling class might learn the value of treating others as they themselves like to be treated. More likely, doing this would be one more turn in the spiral of reprisals typical of revolutions. And yet, there seems no way of avoiding this.
What is to be done with a political system in which no one any longer believes? This is a revolutionary question because America’s ruling class largely destroyed, along with its own credibility, the respect for truth, and the culture of restraint that had made the American people unique stewards of freedom and prosperity. Willful masses alienated from civilization turn all too naturally to revolutions’ natural leaders. Donald Trump only foreshadows the implacable men who, Abraham Lincoln warned, belong to the “family of the lion and the tribe of the eagle.”
In short, the P.C. “changes in law and public norms” (to quote Galston again) that the ruling class imposed on the rest of America, rather than having “gradually brought about changes in private attitudes across partisan and ideological lines” as the ruling class imagined (and as Gramsci would have approved) have set off a revolution–of which we can be sure only that it won’t be pretty.
The decentralized social media have created a decentralized wall of resistance to the Left: walls of resistance. The Left does not know what to do about this.
You can humiliate the typical American into silence. This works for a long time. But push him beyond where he wants to go, and you get this: “You and who else?” The Left is now there. The Left is apoplectic about Trump. But it is really apoplectic about Trump’s deplorables. Yet the Left by its very nature cannot stop whining, cannot stop demanding silence. It has no self-restraint.
The fat lady has not yet sung, but she has started to hum.
The far lady won’t sing, until the welfare state goes bust.
Already, the European-style government health care programs are looking quite ill.
When the Free Stuff stops going to the ghettos and the projects, the fat lady will have started up.
When the pension checks – and other Free Stuff – to the middle class ends, the lady will be singing, good and loud.
When the corporate welfare gravy train derails, the fat lady would have earned her paycheck, the last round of applause would be fading away… and the reasons for the government to exist would have shrunk dramatically.
Perhaps to nothing at all.
After all, following Machiavelli, the government had zero interest in justice: it was just a wealth, power, and status redistribution plan, from those who generate such goods to those who consume it.
(“Wealth consumers” includes more than a few corporations. You might want to talk to Pfizer about that.)
C) Machiavelli and the Divine Right of States
Now, let’s head back to Machiavelli and his core idea: the rule of Powerful Men about the rule of God and His Law-Word.
From North’s article Robert Nisbet: Conservative Sociologist
The central political issue for medieval society was not contract. It was covenant. People made covenants with each other before God. The marriage covenant, the church covenant (baptism), the legal covenant (liege loyalty) were permanently binding and officially immune from lawful annulment or revision by another covenantal hierarchy, except by highly specific customs. These covenants could not be broken unilaterally at the will of the covenanting parties, for God was seen as a partner in the covenant.
For earthly sovereignty to apply, someone had to represent God as the voice of God. No one person or institution represented God in medieval political or social theory. In this highly specific sense, medieval culture was pluralistic: plural God-delegated sovereignties. There was an irreducible messiness about legal authority in the Middle Ages, a messiness rejected by modern political philosophy and social theory. Medieval messiness was the basis of local pockets of liberty. There was no earthly agent who possessed final sovereignty in theory, and therefore did not possess power limited only by technical or functional restrictions. There was also no possibility of empire. The medieval Holy Roman Empire, as the canard goes, was neither holy, Roman, nor an empire.
What made the system both tolerable and internally consistent was the medieval concept of God’s temporal sovereignty. Appeal beyond history to eternity could always be made to God: prayer, and in some cases, lawful resistance in the name of God. God, as the final judge, is the final sanctions-bringer: heaven and hell. But medieval theologians did not restrict God’s role as sanctions-bringer to the final judgment. God’s judgment is temporal as well as eschatological. So, there is no divine right in history, no final court of earthly appeal. God intervenes in history to overcome evil.
Modern political philosophy since the days of Machiavelli has steadily abandoned the idea of God, especially God as a temporal sanctions-bringer. It has therefore sought to lodge final temporal sovereignty in a sanctions-bringing institution. Because the state has the power to kill people, it has been seen as the final sovereignty: the divine right of the state, beyond which there is no legitimate appeal.
Nisbet opposed such an operational view of the divine right of the state. So have classical economists and other Whigs. But he, as they, was unwilling to invoke the medieval West’s justification of the judicial sovereignty of intermediate institutions, church and family. That justification was theological in its original, pre-modern formulation.
Nisbet adopted a functional pluralism. He believed that intermediate institutions are indispensable for the maintenance of civil liberty: church, state, family, kinship groups. Without these, the state becomes tyrannical. The unitary state must not be trusted. This is why he detested Rousseau’s vision.
Nisbet was a self-conscious heir of Edmund Burke. He was skeptical of pieces of paper called constitutions whenever those pieces of paper are not matched by strong, local, voluntary institutions that are outside the jurisdiction of politics. Yet, also like Burke, his concern throughout his career was the maintenance of civil liberty. This is why I regard him as a liberal in the Whig sense. He trusted the free market’s ideal of voluntary association and contract more than he trusted the state.
Nisbet’s writings constitute a large body of material that challenges many of the reigning assumptions of our age. The Present Age presents his case against modernism by presenting the case against the warfare state. He had no use for the welfare state, either, but he believed that modern man’s commitment to the messianic state begins with his commitment to war, not socialism.
If he was correct — and I believe he was — then making the case against the modern messianic state is a far greater task than merely marshalling graphs and data — let alone equations — to show that the free market is more efficient than the centrally planned economy. Hayek pointed out half a century ago that businessmen who were brought into the planning systems of World War II never lost their taste for the planned economy. The taste for power is fed more by war than by any other human event, and power is consented to in the name of war more readily by the masses than for any other reason. Nisbet recognized this more clearly than any other scholar in the conservative movement.
An interesting set of statements:
“[Nisbet] had no use for the welfare state, either, but he believed that modern man’s commitment to the messianic state begins with his commitment to war, not socialism.”
“Hayek pointed out half a century ago that businessmen who were brought into the planning systems of World War II never lost their taste for the planned economy. The taste for power is fed more by war than by any other human event, and power is consented to in the name of war more readily by the masses than for any other reason. “
A good insight.
However: war needs young men as the fresh meat, the blood sacrifice to keep the state young and virile.
I would suggest that the sexual revolutions — plural — are tied to war. Ask the Russia rape-murderers for one reason as to why: but there are many other reasons as well. Not unrelated is the fact that public & private reverence to God always declines after a war: all wars are secularizing events.1
A reasonable enough outcome, as they all insist on blood sacrifices to the One True God, the State.
A problem: the needed supply of vast numbers of disposable young men are on the sharp downturn. As is family formation, the deeply-hated (by the Establishment) foundation of nations and civilization.
No young men, coupled with nuclear arms, plus a declining economy, plus cultural decentralization, plus elite and political delegitimization, points to far fewer large scale wars in the future. I wouldn’t be surprised to see various insurgencies and rebellions pick up some of the slack, though… but non-violent rebellions are usually more successful than violent ones.
(Non-violent marches and non-compliance campaigns also preserve the Commoner’s limited supply of men and wealth. A good idea, overall.)
Russia and China are the last major sources of disposable young men for a large government. Russia is burning off her future right now. I don’t think that China will follow suit.
A comment from the China Update video, above:
On paper the CCP (through mandates to provinces) reserves grain in quantities sufficient to feed the entire population for well over a year. Yet corruption is an intractable problem. I do wonder if these reserves are for the most part fictional, so much so that famine is a genuine risk.
Obviously the Chinese are concerned as well. Somebody in the Chinese government realised last decade that there are a lot of factors involved if they get into a global conflict. Food and energy security are definitely at the top of the list. What I find really interesting is the backtracking on trade with Australia. Quitting Australian trade cold turkey was probably a strategic choice because it was clear that Australia would not supply them during a conflict. If they could learn to survive without Australia, they’d be more self-sufficient in a war.
This pivot towards a reconciliatory stance is quite interesting. They must’ve come to the conclusion that China is just far too populous for Australian energy supply to be ignored. In the same vein, an increased focus on food security seems to indicate that they have some huge internal issues coming down the pipeline. My guess, and it’s a complete guess, is that they’ve come to the conclusion that a global conflict with the Western world would be practically impossible to wage with such a large population. A major disruption in food and energy supply could lead to one of the worst human mass dying the world has ever seen.
The last month or so has had me quite optimistic that we’ve averted a world war 3 style catastrophe. I’m hoping the CCP has seen the light and realised that they can have success and prosperity playing by our rules in a more friendly competition.
The Chinese government has many faults. However, their Foreign Ministry is usually quite skilled. Or at least it was skilled, before the rise of the Wolf Warriors.
It is possible that an Old Guard senior bureaucrat crunched the numbers, factored in the West’s sanctions against Russia — and the superiority of Western arms — and persuaded The Leader against making a grab for Taiwan.
The Party doesn’t really care about the number of Chinese that die in war or famine, so long as its grip on power is nice and tight. The problem is that the authority of the Party is a good deal weaker than it was pre-COVID lockdowns, and a major famine is more likely to turn the masses against the Party, than to fuse the Ruling Party and the Disposable Commoners against the Evil Outsider.
This is especially true if the famine is tied to a major failure in Chinese arms: and invading Taiwan in the face of American, Japanese, and Taiwanese opposition is going to be a high-risk venture.
Massive Party delegitimization would follow the combination of military defeat and famine, promptly resulting in a huge surge of Party officials relocating themselves and their families to Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, etc., just ahead of the hungry, furious mobs.
Note that Russia — unlike China — faces no risk of famine in their war of choice. Enduring poverty and steady economic decline, yes… but this is not a huge change for most Russians, used as they are to enduring poverty and steady economic decline.
1 With the possible exception of defensive wars, on your own land to protect your own people. Maybe.