“Everyone sees what you appear to be, few experience what you really are.”Machiavelli, The Prince
Anything goes. The political landscape in America is so divided that there is nothing that can be forgiven. Every aspect of the culture is a red versus blue atmosphere where if one were to show their face at any rally on either side of the political spectrum, the other side will retaliate. That retaliation may come in the form of doxing, loss of employment, or even violence. This use of intimidation to hurt the average American without legal reprocussions for their political beliefs is the dominant strategy for political or personal gain. It is also the prologue to possible civil war.
Is it worth it in this country to divide one another based on race, gender, and sexual orientation? Do the ends truly justify the means to the point where a random woman is no longer allowed to nod her head in approval of the president’s speech? Maybe young men can no longer smile. Someone’s hat perhaps might result in physical assault. Does society really wish to tolerate this blatant disrespect of the average person’s existence through intimidation and deception?
This Machiavellian strategy that has been used repeatedly to win any argument against one’s political enemies is not new. It is unhealthy, but more common than one would wish to believe. The focus of this post will lie on the idea that Machiavellianism has been one of the most influential philosophies in Western civilization to the point where its methods are used today in all manner of discourse. To begin, Machiavellianism will be explored briefly focusing on its origins and influence in the past.
To begin the course of analysis on the concept of Machiavellianism, it must be understood that it is both a philosophical and psychological term, both of which harbor somewhat different meanings. What will be scrutinized here is the political philosophy. The political philosophy of Niccolo Machiavelli relies on a pragmatic approach towards being a ruler or political figure. Machiavelli was a political figure for over 20 years, so his life was deeply involved in politics. He was known as the father of modern politics.
The most famous text to understand Machiavellian philosophy is Nicollo’s book, The Prince, which is widely available to this day. Although the book was widely received as having a huge influence over politics even in the present, Machiavelli’s ideas were considered immoral or politically incorrect in many circles, especially among religious figures. He wrote the book as an instruction manual to help a prince retain the newly acquired power they have obtained. Machiavelli thought little of human nature almost to the point of pessimism. He believed in many cases that humans were irrational to the point of not knowing what is actually best for them. Machiavelli believed that this self interest of human nature was worth exploiting if one were to be a good ruler.
His rules for maintaining power were controversial to say at the least. One of which, which was that it was better to be feared than loved, would’ve been considered tyrannical by today’s standards. Another of his rules stated that people weren’t ready for the truth when it came to politics. Most people claimed to want the truth and transparency in politics, but Machiavelli felt that humans preferred pretty lies that made them feel good over objective truth. Machiavelli simply wanted to do what worked to rule as opposed to what was morally correct according to the dominant culture. Now that Machiavellian political strategy and philosophy has been briefly discussed, it would be best to analyze Machiavellian priniciples in present and possible future use.
Machiavellianism in the Present and Future
If honest discussion about politics and social interactions in the present are possible, the world is going to have to acknowledge that Machiavellianism in social interactions have become almost second nature. Every scandal, mistake, or act of defiance to the current social order gets scrutinized to degrees most never thought imaginable. A woman can’t nod her head without being doxxed by the mainstream media because of her politics. A politician’s son’s laptop can become the ruin of said politician’s chances of winning the election.
The first method for estimating the intelligence of a ruler is to look at the men he has around him.Nicollo Machiavelli
Everything in politics today is a winner take all strategy. Civility is all but gone. People will more likely judge someone by the company they keep rather than the character of the individual. Black and LGBT conservatives or libertarians are the perfect example of this. How often will a black conservative be called a racial slur for disagreeing with someone on Twitter? How often do you people being rude to celebrities online when they have an opinion the mainstream media doesn’t approve of? People have lost their jobs and their lives based on their opinions and associations since Trump became president. Politics in 2020 is nothing more than a somewhat sanitized version of gang culture.
“Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince
Deception is applied regularly as mainstream media and big tech continue to censor and outright fabricate stories to have influence over public opinion. Companies work overtime to push a narrative of endless racism, COVID-19 scares, and other issues without giving the audience the whole story. A change of headline, video clips without context, or fake witnesses are all it took for rioters to burn entire cities and kill people resulting in over a billion dollars in damages.
One who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.Nicollo Machiavelli
What would happen if people did receive the truth? Would it matter in some cases? There are people who don’t change no matter how many facts you give them. If something doesn’t fit their narrative, that person either stops engaging with the content or finds something else that fits their worldview. These people don’t want to be educated or grow. They simply want to win. How many online arguments have actually changed anyone’s perception? Very few is the most likely answer.
Machiavelli’s influence is smeared all over current culture. Everything in the art and entertainment industry is largely run by the Left. If the news can lie to their audience, they will. Never has a society thought so lowly of the people who live within its borders. This election cycle has revealed the worst in people, political parties, and corporations where now everyone wants to become a hero by demonizing their rival. Politicians have always attacked their political opponents to some degree, but now it has become so hostile that their supporters are murdering each other over political differences.
Is this the result of Machiavellianism’s influence or is it just proving Nicollo’s points about people in general? Machiavelli wasn’t particularly evil. He simply divorced politics from ethics which was unheard of before his arrival. How many political figures to this day does one see that live up to the ideals they claim to have? Every politican that claims to be Christian doesn’t really behave according to the Bible’s teachings. Donald Trump for example has had affairs with other women despite being loved by the evangelical Right. Joe Biden claims to be Catholic yet supports the ideas of trans kids and abortion. Clear hypocrisy from our politicians is swept aside so long as said politician appeases the masses. Machiavelli had EVERYTHING to do with that and just about everything else when considering the behavior of modern politics.
Nicollo knew that it didn’t matter as long as the country was run correctly. People will do whatever it takes to win their little internet arguments or influence the current culture. Politicians are willing to play video games with fans now to encourage them to vote. People who think that gravitating towards popular culture is a stupid strategy don’t understand exploiting people’s passions to gain influence by appearing relateable. Machiavelli wouldn’t have written off gaming culture like it was some nerdy activity. He would’ve had his own Twitch account just to win the public over.
The future may require some form of Machiavellian strategy to ironically undo the damage Machiavellianism might have caused. People may have to be lied to for the right changes in society to be made. Individuals are smart enough on their own, but in large groups are unfortunately rather simple to control. It sounds like a dirty tactic to incorporate Machiavellian strategy, but sometimes, the only way to win is to play dirty.