On Corruption and Government – Part I Niccolo’ Machiavelli

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The Roman historian Titus Livius (59BC – 17AD), better known as Livy, wrote, “History is full of fine things to take as models, and base things, rotten through and through, to avoid.”

The thread than connects the three Books and dozens of chapters in Niccolo’ Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy is his continual comparison of the ideal to the corrupt. By corrupt is not meant so much the embezzler of public funds, who, in well-designed republican Rome posed little threat to freedom, but more importantly the inevitable assaults and high crimes on free institutions which, over time, led to the republic’s demise.

Like Livy’s portrayal of early Rome, American patriots tend to view their founding era and early republic as one with many heroes and few knaves. These myths, in which I personally revel, serve as the sheet anchor from which I take the measure of America 2017. Like Tacitus, I shake my head in disappointment of our governing form. At least for now, thanks to the election of Donald Trump, modern America needn’t fear a horror like that of latter 1st century Rome under the Emperor Domitian.

But President Trump is at best a respite from rampaging progressivism. Last November, just enough Americans in the right states saved the remains of our republic from certain globalism, open borders, and accelerating sharia. To survive post-Trump America, we would do well to consider the observations and lessons drawn by those who recognize the unchangeable nature of man and his relationship to government. Machiavelli is among my favorite authors. I find in his Discourses a go-to resource for an America that remains near the precipice of tyranny. The translation in my hands, by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella, is an easy read and highly recommended.

Machiavelli found that one man standing alone is usually required to create a republic or lead the reform of an old and corrupted body politic. The quality that enables these rare men to undertake and accomplish their feats is masculine virtu’. Not to be confused with modern virtue, ancient virtu’ translates as ability, talent, strength, power, skill, and ingenuity. For their accomplishments to continue after their departure from office, citizens must step up and protect reformed institutions from ever-encroaching corruption. Machiavelli put it this way, “The salvation of a republic or a kingdom is not, therefore, merely to have a prince who governs prudently while he lives, but rather one who organizes the government in such a way that after his death it can be maintained.”

The virtu’ of ancient founders Romulus and Lycurgus is only matched by our modern republican founder, George Washington. Not only did he save the American Revolution, he stepped out of retirement twice, once to shepherd the draft Constitution through the federal convention, and again to set the example of a proper republican chief executive. Will Donald Trump assume the mantle of republican savior? Does he understand that lasting solutions are beyond the reach of elections? As deep state operatives betray their oaths of office and continue, as they did under Obama, to undermine all that is good, I pray President Trump will conclude that even he isn’t big enough alone to take on and overcome Progressive corruption of a once free republic. I trust he will draw from his virtu’, call out his enormous following, the people who honored him with the presidency, and lead them to an Article V Convention of States. As per Livy, and after two thousand years, we know the fine things history offers to keep free government.

We are the many; our oppressors are the few. Now, it is our turn. Be proactive. Be a Re-Founder. Join Convention of States. Sign our COS Petition.

Reference: Machiavelli, N. (2008). Discourses on Livy, Translated by Julia Conaway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella. Oxford: Oxford University Press.