Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Discuss historical events and information concerning any culture, time, or location in our world (or even the frontier beyond).

Who would you vote for?

Machiavelli
15
83%
Gandhi
3
17%
 
Total votes : 18

Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby bodidley » Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:23 pm

If Machiavelli and Gandhi were competing to be elected president, who would you vote for and why?
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby Liao Ce » Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:14 pm

Since I'm not too afraid to sound ignorant, Imma go ahead and admit that I'm not sure I even know who Machiavelli is.
But Gandhi is way to pacifist for a presidential position. Gandhi is the type of guy that you would want as one of your chief advisers if you were a ruler or a president. Like MLK jr. But I wouldn't want either in the actual position.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby TooMuchBaijiu » Sun Dec 18, 2011 10:58 pm

I think it'd be best for Gandhi to be named King, and Machiavelli to be his Prime Minister. Match made in heaven-Gandhi being the moral center of the nation, and Machiavelli to manipulate that to the state's advantage. They would also compensate for each other's weaknesses-Gandhi wasn't the strongest in handling foreign affairs (consider his inability to stop the partition of India) and Machiavelli's lack of charm and essentially being the patron saint of Evil Overlords worldwide. Hopefully, they could refrain from killing each other.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby bodidley » Mon Dec 19, 2011 9:35 am

Liao Ce wrote:Since I'm not too afraid to sound ignorant, Imma go ahead and admit that I'm not sure I even know who Machiavelli is.
But Gandhi is way to pacifist for a presidential position. Gandhi is the type of guy that you would want as one of your chief advisers if you were a ruler or a president. Like MLK jr. But I wouldn't want either in the actual position.


Machiavelli was a statesman, historian and philosopher in 16th century Florence, Italy. He was an advocate of citizen-soldiers in an age where most armies were composed of mercenaries. When the Medicis were forced out of power and Florence became a republic Machiavelli led the citizen army to victory over Pisa, but the republic was eventually overthrown when the Pope and Spain collaborated to crush it. He's most famous for his treatise on statecraft, intrigue and strategy called "The Prince," which is why when people say "Machiavellian" today they mean clever and ruthless.

I would also disagree that Gandhi was a pacifist. Oh, and WHY ISN'T ANYONE VOTING!!!!!!!!!! :rangry: VOTE OR DIE! :devil:
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby Zhuanyong » Mon Dec 19, 2011 6:41 pm

I almost voted for Gandhi but then I thought about all of the potential pitfalls a nation could have with him as it's chief leader. I agree with TMBJ, that he would need to be 'king' or the supreme ruler for him to work as a leader or, otherwise, he may be assassinated or overthrown. Would he be so pacifistic that if someone said, 'you aren't good enough to rule, I'm better now rollover and appoint me the new president', he would give up what was given to him? I don't believe he was the most pacifistic person ever to grace the planet but he may be too meek and humble for that sort of role. I agree with making him a chief advisor.

I voted Machiavelli because there wasn't a 'neither' or 'other' option.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby bodidley » Mon Dec 19, 2011 10:01 pm

Was Gandhi really a pacifist? I think we ought to consider the real man rather than the popular ideal. Gandhi promoted non-violent resistance and civil disobedience as the path to Indian independence but he supported the continuation of British rule and the British war effort until the end of WWII. Don't you suppose it's possible that fears of a violent entanglement in a huge sub-continent (influenced by Indian participation in the attempted Japanese invasion, no doubt) motivated the British relinquishment of India and Gandhi merely provided a the means for convenient exit with honor?

Of course, being perceived as a wussie can be a very real problem.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:00 am

Zhuanyong wrote:I almost voted for Gandhi but then I thought about all of the potential pitfalls a nation could have with him as it's chief leader. I agree with TMBJ, that he would need to be 'king' or the supreme ruler for him to work as a leader or, otherwise, he may be assassinated or overthrown. Would he be so pacifistic that if someone said, 'you aren't good enough to rule, I'm better now rollover and appoint me the new president', he would give up what was given to him? I don't believe he was the most pacifistic person ever to grace the planet but he may be too meek and humble for that sort of role. I agree with making him a chief advisor.

I voted Machiavelli because there wasn't a 'neither' or 'other' option.


I agree with bodidley here, actually. (No surprise...)

The thing I think a lot of people don't really 'get' about Gandhi, Badshah Khan, Dr King, Dorothy Day and the like is that the meekness and the humility are tactical insofar as they are aimed at clear political goals and are an exercise of political power. These people were not pushovers, but hard-headed 'realists' with clear goals, to use the language from Mark Kurlansky's History of a Dangerous Idea. Kurlansky observed that violent responses to non-violent protests generally tended to end badly for the attacker - and this was as true of the Nazis and the Soviets as of the British - when the goals of the protestors were apparent. Nonviolence is nothing more and nothing less than the exercise of power - indeed, the very term satyagraha translates (loosely) as 'truth force'. After all, Gandhi said:

Mohandas Gandhi wrote:It is better to be violent, if there is violence in our hearts, than to put on the cloak of nonviolence to cover impotence.


I think that pretty much covers his view of 'pushovers' - so to the question '[w]ould he be so pacifistic that if someone said, "you aren't good enough to rule, I'm better now rollover and appoint me the new president", he would give up what was given to him?' the answer is a pretty clear 'no'. More likely, Gandhi would go public with the threat by the newcomer and allow the people to decide who the better ruler is.

Machiavelli is problematic in that his materialism and resurrection of paganism contra the Scholastics does not allow him to grasp these truths. The Prince takes a tragic view of power that ultimately ends in the 'death' of the prince before his subjects; I think to some degree Machiavelli realised the weaknesses of his own thought.

bodidley wrote:Of course, being perceived as a wussie can be a very real problem.


Only at first, remember. 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.' Remember that the Sunzi Bingfa cautioned its reader: 'to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting'; this was the moving principle of Gandhi's political campaign, and the British fatally underrated him when they first ignored, then laughed and then attacked. If the enemy perceives one as a wuss without that actually being the case, he will lose ten times out of ten.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby Zhuanyong » Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:48 am

WeiWenDi wrote:I agree with bodidley here, actually. (No surprise...)

The thing I think a lot of people don't really 'get' about Gandhi, Badshah Khan, Dr King, Dorothy Day and the like is that the meekness and the humility are tactical insofar as they are aimed at clear political goals and are an exercise of political power. These people were not pushovers, but hard-headed 'realists' with clear goals, to use the language from Mark Kurlansky's History of a Dangerous Idea. Kurlansky observed that violent responses to non-violent protests generally tended to end badly for the attacker - and this was as true of the Nazis and the Soviets as of the British - when the goals of the protestors were apparent. Nonviolence is nothing more and nothing less than the exercise of power - indeed, the very term satyagraha translates (loosely) as 'truth force'. After all, Gandhi said:


I suppose I should have read up on Gandhi before making my decision because I really don't know much about the man or what he said. What little I do know was the driver for me to vote otherwise more than what Machiavelli provided. If I see something that would cause me to change my vote, then I'll do so. The poll does appear to allow for that.

As a note, I did say --

Zhuanyong wrote:I voted Machiavelli because there wasn't a 'neither' or 'other' option.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby bodidley » Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:18 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:Machiavelli is problematic in that his materialism and resurrection of paganism contra the Scholastics does not allow him to grasp these truths. The Prince takes a tragic view of power that ultimately ends in the 'death' of the prince before his subjects; I think to some degree Machiavelli realised the weaknesses of his own thought.


I think it's easy to underestimate the depth of Machiavelli's understanding considering how he exists in our minds as a stereotype. He's portrayed as the ultimate authoritarian a la Lord Shang but remember that he was reviled because he had been a threat to authoritarianism, not republicanism. Machiavelli said that fortifying towns was useless, because if the people didn't support you they'd throw you out anyways, and if they did, they'd throw out the occupying enemy.

WeiWenDi wrote:Only at first, remember. 'First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they attack you, then you win.' Remember that the Sunzi Bingfa cautioned its reader: 'to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy's resistance without fighting'; this was the moving principle of Gandhi's political campaign, and the British fatally underrated him when they first ignored, then laughed and then attacked. If the enemy perceives one as a wuss without that actually being the case, he will lose ten times out of ten.


Right, but that's an example of having to fight and winning because you've been underestimated. To win without fighting you may be weak but perceived as strong. Isn't that how the hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period operated? While Duke Huan and Guan Zhong had to fight occasionally, they used good faith to make their neighbors cooperate. If Qi would have had to fight all its neighboring states into total submission when it was a the height of its power, it certainly would have been exhausted and destroyed rather than leading the other states.
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Re: Machiavelli or Gandhi for President?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Fri Dec 23, 2011 2:24 am

bodidley wrote:I think it's easy to underestimate the depth of Machiavelli's understanding considering how he exists in our minds as a stereotype. He's portrayed as the ultimate authoritarian a la Lord Shang but remember that he was reviled because he had been a threat to authoritarianism, not republicanism. Machiavelli said that fortifying towns was useless, because if the people didn't support you they'd throw you out anyways, and if they did, they'd throw out the occupying enemy.


What makes you think I'm a republican? I'm a fan of Plato, after all...

I'm not sure, however, how great of a threat Machiavelli was to authoritarianism per se. Like I said, his materialism causes him to subscribe to a form of fatalism that allows for a privileged place for political opportunists and manipulators (since the favoured Prince will be a person who is not necessarily characterised by wisdom, by humaneness or by traditional rights, but by charisma - his ability to seize upon his fated moment, even if that moment is fleeting in the face of an impersonal pagan notion of 'fate'). Even if you subscribe to a more liberal reading of Machiavelli, his basic presumption that all politics takes place in a world that is driven by power as the prime consideration is the greatest possible asset to the authoritarian (in the modern sense), in that moral suasion becomes only an instrument to legitimacy rather than as a source of legitimacy itself. Rather than virtue being the source of power (as with Gandhi), with Machiavelli power is the only 'real' virtue worthy of consideration.

bodidley wrote:Right, but that's an example of having to fight and winning because you've been underestimated. To win without fighting you may be weak but perceived as strong. Isn't that how the hegemons of the Spring and Autumn period operated? While Duke Huan and Guan Zhong had to fight occasionally, they used good faith to make their neighbors cooperate. If Qi would have had to fight all its neighboring states into total submission when it was a the height of its power, it certainly would have been exhausted and destroyed rather than leading the other states.


I agree with your example, but would argue that it is equally mortal to the opponent's will if they see you as weak when you're actually strong, or if they see you as strong when you're actually weak; in either case one may win without actually fighting. The Khudai Khidmatgar did not fight, but they won over the British even though the British did not see them as a threat.
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