Corrupt people and good state in “Discourses” by Machiavelli | Nick ...

December 4, 2017 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Documents
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Corrupt people and good state in “Discourses” by Machiavelli Niccolo Machiavelli is well known as one of the most import...


Corrupt people and good state in “Discourses” by Machiavelli

Niccolo Machiavelli is well known as one of the most important and earliest realist thinkers and promoters. To be honest, I share realists’ ideas and may call myself as a realist. This was the reason why I selected Machiavelli’s work for discussion leading in our class. I enjoyed my reading, because it contained many ideas and thoughts that could be useful till today. As other ancient and medieval writers Machiavelli in his work discusses a lot of themes in general framework of good state: establishment of a city, rule of law, good and bad governor, role of religion in society, virtue and corrupt people and many others. In this work I would like to pay close attention to Machiavelli’s thoughts about corrupt people and their interdependence with good state. First of all I want to clarify what does Machiavelli mean when uses the terms “corrupt” and “corruption”. Sometimes, very rarely, he uses “corruption” as a synonym of “bribery”. But in general “corruption” and “corrupt people” for Machiavelli in this book are antonyms of “virtue people”; “corrupt” people are bad, spoilt citizens that live only for their own profit, that don’t respect laws or adopt new laws for become even more corrupt, the “corrupt society” lives without respect among participants, in such society the rich become richer and the poor become poorer; the richest class usurps the power and doesn’t permit to good people that will work for entire society benefit come to the power. In Chapter XVII we can read “In corrupt societies the power has the strongest and the richest, while the most meritorious abstained from being candidates from fear.” So the corrupt society becomes worse because people that can improve community don’t have the possibility and opportunity to do anything. Such society becomes more corrupt and it seems to be more difficult to change the regime. Machiavelli tells us a lot about transformation of corrupt state to a good one. He sees two various scenarios: impossible and conditionally possible. I want to start form the impossible one, which implies that transformation is completely difficult. Author tells about the way to power. Machiavelli states that it is strange if someone comes to power using bad means even if he serves for good aims in the future. The person that is able to use such means for obtain power in the state can use them against the people of the state. This question is very complicated from moral point of view. Is man still virtue if he behaves as a corrupt one? I don’t think so, because it is very difficult to earn authority (I mean respect, not power) and very easy to lose it. Even he will make good things the way he came to power doesn’t allow him to do a lot and govern long for two reasons.

First, the corrupt people will think that he is also corrupt as they are, and will not understand and support him in his reforms towards good virtue society, because they are against such reforms; they just overthrow him. Second, virtue people will not believe him and that’s why will not support him too. So, it is impossible that one came to power through bad means could reform the society. If corrupt person comes to power, it will be impossible that such person will serve for good goals of whole society. It is versus his nature to do good things, although he will try positive results will not be achieved, because his understanding of “good” doesn’t coincide with the universal one, so all things he will do and that will be virtue for him won’t be really good. So this scenario is impossible too. Also there are some scenarios of social transformation that are possible with some conditions. One of them is a situation when corrupt state becomes be governed by virtue prince or governor. In this case Machiavelli states that for transformation the society needs two or three virtue successors of a wise governor, otherwise people relapse to the prior corrupt state after the first virtue prince dies. The reason is long duration of changes in social patterns. We can see this nowadays, our parents’ generation still lives or wants to live in Soviet society, they are accustomed to live there and it becomes difficult for them to change their mind. It is true that they changed their social paradigm but those changes are slight. Our generation mostly grew up in independent states, but we know a lot about that period. So we can meet many memories of so-called “Soviet legacy” in our everyday life: bad service in shops, statesmen’s behavior, and common workers. We may call ourselves as a transition generation. And only our children or even grandchildren that will grow up in environment with small number of Soviet period witnesses will be generation that one can call as “democratic” one. Other condition to carry out the transformation is concentration of power at one person’s arms. If someone wants to change the society, he has to become prince and collect all power for being able to realize such reforms. It is necessary because every great social shift will face strong opposition within society; and one will see it difficult to repair anything without all necessary tools and with resistance. But in this situation the prince, even he is virtue, must keep in mind that with the power he also receives responsibility for good end of transformation. As a contemporary example of a necessity to collect all power for realize social transformation I would like to look at the Kazakhstan President Nazarbayev’s actions after the collapse of Soviet Union (I cannot call Kazakhstani population corrupt or virtue at that time, but I think that this example will demonstrate very well how it is important for a

grave social shifts if the only one person with all power and responsibility). As other formerSoviet republics Kazakhstan had serious problems in every sphere and needed fast and decisive measures and laws to face the crisis and improve the situation; but many politic and business groups inspired by democracy and freedom of voice discussed a long time new laws and regulations that were so necessary for our country. They were wasting time in Parliament debates while the population suffered a lot from that situation. So Mr. Nazarbayev signed the decree that permitted him to take all power over the country and full responsibility. Many laws and normative acts were adopted since that, the situation was stabilized and we passed years of economic development. Of course I cannot state that during last 20 years Kazakhstani society became better or worse from Machiavelli’s point of view, but at least it became stable, prosperous and more predictable that can be a good base for further transformation. So it is obvious that only one governor may realize transformation more effectively. As the most possible way to transform the society Machiavelli considers the supreme power of law. As he says in Chapter III “law makes men good”. But he contradicts himself declaring in Chapter XVII that “where corruption has penetrated the people, the best laws are of no avail”. In other words, the best way to transform corrupt individual into good person is through the good law, but at the same time for govern corrupt people even the best law is useless. Vicious circle. So we can say that this way is not appropriate for make corrupt people good. So I can say that it is almost impossible to carry out transformation of corrupt society into good one. Some methods offered by Machiavelli are impossible, some of them need complicated conditions, some – unreal. For this reason we have to care about our society and if it is good and virtue or corrupt; because according to Machiavelli to get liberty and virtue is easier that to stay free and virtue after it. When we are going to some goal a put all our forces to achieve it, we dream about our life when we obtain the desirable. But when we are at the finish and have our dream completed we don’t know what to do, we are confused and return to the initial state. Let’s look at the situation when one climbs to the mountain; he wants to achieve his goal, to be at the top. But when he is at the very top, he faces some problems that he couldn’t imagine before: the high wind that can throw that individual and small square of the top that it’s difficult to stay there without any support. And man can fall from the bottom, harm himself and find himself in the state even worse that before climbing: at the bottom of the mountain and hurt. This allegory shows us that to stay virtue is even more difficult that to achieve virtue.

After reading of some selections from “Discourses” by Machiavelli, which I considered as realist, I was surprised that shared idealist ideas too, the rule of supreme law in every society for maintain it as a good one is an example of such ideas. The only conclusion I can make is we have to read the works of thinkers, theorist and philosophers for evaluate ourselves which glide he belongs to and don’t follow the perception of other persons.

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