N Listen to part of a lecture from a political science class.
P: During this class we’re going to be talking about a very important name in political thought. He’s actually known outside of the field, although his reputation Is not all that wonderful. But, that’s going to be what we’re going to look at for the next couple of classes: Does this guy deserve his nasty reputation? Who am I talking about? OK. I’ll end the suspense. I’m talking about Niccolo Machlavelll, author of the most famous book on politics, “The Prince.” Although the book is widely read, the author never gained anything from it but fame. Written In 1532, It was not published until five years after his death. Now, I’m sure that at least some of you know about this guy, because of the expression “Machiavellian.” Usually, when we use this expression to describe a person, we mean a person who has no morals, a person who will do anything to succeed. Is this a fair use of the name?
In many respects, the answer is yes. Look, the man was not trying to write a book on how to be a good person. He was, instead, trying to present the methods a ruler must use in order to successfully gain and maintain control over others, There were no questions about the morality of the decisions a ruler must make. There was only the pursuit of power. According to this way of thinking, the method, any method, that produces the best results for the country and Its ruler is the best choice. Now, remember that the title of the book was “The Prince,” because Machiavelii was writing for rulers, not the ruled. Should the average person be moral? Sure. Moral behavior helps societies to function. Everyone agrees with this idea, even the rulers, which Is why we have laws to punish people who hurt others through Immorality. Machiavelii even told rulers to maintain the appearance of morality, because this would encourage the ruled to follow their examples. One of the most often quoted sections of the book explains that, “It Is better to be feared than loved although It is not better to be hated, nor to eschew virtue and justice when this poses no threat to power.” That last part there, where he talks about “eschewing,” means that you should be virtuous and just because It sets a good example, but only do it when It won’t affect your power.
Now, uh, what are the exact qualities of a good ruler? Not worrying about morality Is one. The others? Well, leaders must be good students of history and be willing to act like the emperors of ancient Rome. They must make clear to the ruled the value of government, be careful with their money, and only ask for advice when absolutely necessary. You’ll notice, I hope, that a lot of these qualities are the same ones business schools try to teach.
Most importantly, they must maintain a complete monopoly of violence. And, this is something that others have talked about as well. Take, uh, Max Weber, for example. OK. Only the military, which Is controlled by the ruler, Is allowed to have guns and enforce the laws and make war on other communities. What is the end result? Well, If you ask Machiavelii, he’d say that what you would have would be a nice, peaceful community. No one can challenge the ruler, so there is political stability. Also, people cannot get more power than their neighbors. Everyone Is equally powerless under the ruler, This means that they will simply focus on trade and making money. That makes the ruler happy, because he can tax the citizens and add to the state’s wealth. All right. My original question was, “Does Machiavelii deserve his bad reputation?” Part of the answer Is yes, although part of it is also no. Everyone, to some extent, uses Machiavellian techniques in their everyday lives, including making and breaking rules, telling the truth and lying, misdirecting people. We use, and sometimes need, all of them. In fact, some psychologists now believe that those who suffer from autism may actually lack “Machiavellian Intelligence,” which is needed for both cooperation and deceit.
N Listen to the following conversation between a student and a professor.
P: Yes, come in. Oh, hi, Rachel. We missed you in class yesterday. Where were you?
S: Sorry about that, Professor Jones, I had a big biology test I had to study for. I won’t miss your class again.
P: Well, If there is something you want to talk about, It’ll have to be quick. I’ve got a staff meeting In about five minutes.
S: Well, I talked with Jane, the girl who sits beside me in class, and she said that you guys watched a movie about the history of jazz music in America. I was wondering if I could borrow the tape from you. I know I missed class, but I don’t want to get too far behind.
P: Well, I guess I could lend you the tape. Do you promise to bring it back as soon as you’re done with It? There were a few other students missing from class the other day. I’m expecting them to come looking for the tape, too.
S: Sure. I’ll watch it in the audio-visual room in the library right now and drop it off on my way home. How long Is the movie?
P: The class was fifty minutes long, and we got through the movie and had about twenty minutes of discussion … so I guess it’s about thirty minutes long. Please, try to get It back to my office within an hour, OK? Did you get any notes from Jane?
S: No. I saw her just for a minute in the student lounge. I don’t think she had her notes on her anyway. She had her bag with her, so I guess she was on her way home. Can’t I just take notes as I watch the movie?
P: I guess you could, but there was a lot that we covered In class that was not In the movie. Like, do you know where the word jazz comes from?
S: No. Was that in the movie?
P: No, It wasn’t. Actually, it’s sort of a trick question. No one knows where the name comes from. Some think that it comes from an African world, but others suggest it comes from an old song that slaves used to sing when working in the fields. What about, “Who are the greatest jazz musicians of the last fifty years?” Do you know the answer to that one?
S: Well… isn’t that in the movie?
P: Nope. It was another trick question. Look, the guy who made that movie actually had a lot of complaints about that part. He Included the history of jazz from Its very beginnings to about 1960. Everything that happened since 1961 all the way up to the present was left out, Even a lot of stuff about Miles Davis was not included.
S: Why? Isn’t Miles Davis one of the most famous people In jazz?
P: Sure, but only time will tell If he was one of the greatest. The director claimed that although we can come to conclusions about the past, It’s impossible to do that for the recent past. It’s sort of an Interesting Idea, actually. What I’m trying to say here Is that I think you’re going to need the notes from class, not just the movie.
S: Well, I guess I could watch the movie now, take some notes as I do that, and then talk with Jane on Monday.
P: OK. And one more thing: don’t miss any more classes, ok? Listen, I have to run to that meeting I was telling you about. Here’s the tape. Bring It back in an hour, and I’ll see you In class on Tuesday.
S: Ok, Professor Jones. See you then