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NJ Gov. McGreevey bribe scheme AND the meaning of "Machiavelli"
NY Post plus a ^ | September 16, 2004 | NY POST, Jason Vines, Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield

Posted on 09/16/2004 6:38:13 PM PDT by Calpernia

TRENTON — A fund-raiser for New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey pleaded guilty yesterday to charges he solicited $40,000 in cash and campaign donations as part of a shakedown scheme in which the governor has been implicated.

David D'Amiano, 44, entered his plea to two fraud charges 10 weeks after being charged with extortion, bribery and other offenses in an indictment that also said an unidentified state official used the code word "Machiavelli" to show that political officials were helping.

McGreevey acknowledged he is the state official referred to.

But he insisted he did nothing wrong, and said the mention of Machiavelli was an offhand literary reference. He has not been charged.

The donations were solicited after McGreevey was elected.


A Paper on Machiavelli's The Prince

by Jason Vines

“Killing to Acquire and Secure Power, for Dummies” would be an apt subtitle for Niccolo Machiavelli’s book The Prince. Within this work, Machiavelli advocates the unrestrained pursuit of power as its own end, without allowing such paltry things as ethics to interfere. If massacring a slew of people will help one get power, one should by all means do it, according to Machiavelli.

These advocacies of violence for one’s own selfish ends are not Machiavelli’s only breaks with the teachings of ancient philosophy and Christianity. Machiavelli also put forth a conception of the world whereby no natural order exists. God or luck is not around to guide the world or anyone on it. Humans and their own initiative are responsible for shaping and changing the world. Consequently, if one wants to acquire anything, one must fashion or achieve it himself, without relying on divine providence or luck.[1]

Agathocles the Sicilian, King of Syracuse, whom Machiavelli describes in the middle of The Prince, is a paragon of Machiavellian philosophy.

This man was born of non-royal lineage to poor parents; his father was only a potter. Agathocles lived a lifetime of crime, but his sins were of “such virtue of spirit and body” that he rose through the ranks of the military to become praetor of Syracuse. And then, Agathocles decided he wanted to become Syracuse’s leader. He naturally sought to achieve this goal with the same criminal methods that brought him to prominence in the military.

After warning Hamilcar the Carthaginian, a general fighting in Sicily, what he was planning, Agathocles summoned the senators and populace ostensibly for a discussion of important public issues. But when everyone had gathered, Agathocles commanded his soldiers to slaughter all the senators and wealthiest people of Syracuse. With them then dead, Agathocles took control of the city as its prince.

Despite the brutality of Agathocles’s rise to power, however, there was nary a public complaint about the affair. Agathocles was secure in his position during his reign as well.[2]

This all demonstrates the Machiavellian principle that violence and criminality are the means by which one obtains power. “To kill one’s citizens, betray one’s friends, to be without faith, without mercy, without religion” are not ethical, says Machiavelli, but they constitute the path to empire and dominion. So any overlord who employs these methods is not the inferior of any other leader.[3]

One might think this is nonsensical, for violent actions do not inspire love, and are not good leaders ones who are loved? Machiavelli contends this is not true. Love relies on “a chain of obligation,” that men will break because they are evil. Therefore, a prince who must use a people’s love for him to rule lives upon a shaky foundation. Also, seeking love paradoxically inspires hatred, because funding beneficent works for some people requires either taking property from other people or financing the works oneself. The latter makes one poor, and ergo weak and contemptible. And the former enrages those from whom money must be taken.

Instead, says Machiavelli, inspiring fear within one’s subjects is the better course of action. If the people fear their leader, they shall retain that fear into perpetuity, rather than forgetting it as they do love when convenience strikes. The violence that instills this fear will not cause a country to hate its leader, either. The prince need only take care to show justification for his endeavors, and to refrain from touching men’s property and women. After all, Machiavelli proclaims, “Men forget the death of a father more quickly than the loss of a patrimony.” (This ties into why taxation to fund good works, in the pursuit of love, instills hatred instead.)[4]

Additionally, to avoid hatred, a leader must ensure he commits most of his atrocities swiftly as he is assuming power. This is necessary “to secure oneself.” Afterwards, the prince should discontinue routine violence and only use it for “utility for the subjects.” Otherwise, if cruelties persist, one’s people will not feel secure, and so they will despise their leader.[5]

Agathocles demonstrated Machiavelli’s philosophy of violence very well. He wrested supreme power for himself with a swift flash of brutality. But he refrained from seizing anyone’s property, and his thirst for blood did not run rampant during his administration. This is why, according to Machiavellian values, the people of Syracuse feared Agathocles but did not hate him. Consequently, Agathocles gained and kept power without significant opposition.

Another Machiavellian principle Agathocles showed during his seizure of power was caution of the aristocracy. The rich always scheme for more possessions and more control, says Machiavelli. Whereas “the people want not to be oppressed,” the aristocrats “want to oppress.” Should any opportunity arise, “the great” as Machiavelli calls them, will betray their leader for their own gain.[6] Thus, when Agathocles executed the richest citizens of Syracuse, he eliminated what could have been a threat to his rule, as per Machiavellian guidelines.

Machiavelli also emphasizes relying on oneself, instead of on fortune or on other people. Fortune, after all, does not exist; humans are the makers of their own fates. And other individuals are wicked schemers who will take advantage of one’s reliance on them.[7] The only force or person, on which one can depend, is oneself.

Agathocles receives praise from Machiavelli for his self-reliance. Agathocles did not rely on anyone’s help as he rose to power. Instead, he climbed through the ranks of the military by his own efforts, experiencing “a thousand trials and hardships.” After Agathocles staged his coup d’etat, he maintained his rule himself through “many spirited and dangerous policies.” He did not depend on others or on any public love of him.[8]

He also did not rely on luck when, into his reign, the Carthaginians twice defeated him in battle and eventually laid siege to Syracuse itself. Instead, Agathocles took the initiative to defend his city, and turn the tide of the war against Carthage. While keeping some troops in Syracuse to withstand the Carthaginian siege, Agathocles slipped out of Syracuse with the rest of his men and assailed Africa, where Carthage stood. Agathocles beat Carthage on its own soil, thereby freeing Syracuse and forcing the Carthaginians to concede Sicily to him.[9]


[1] Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, trans. Harvey C. Mansfield. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998): 98-101.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Front Page News; Government; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: New Jersey; US: New York
KEYWORDS: machiavelli; mcgreevey; newjersey

1 posted on 09/16/2004 6:38:15 PM PDT by Calpernia
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To: Calpernia
I can hardly order a cup of coffee or yell at my dog without uttering "Machiavelli."

It's an indespensible word, really.

2 posted on 09/16/2004 6:43:10 PM PDT by dead (I've got my eye out for Mullah Omar.)
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To: Calpernia

I believe this was in the Onion, but it is funny as poop:


3 posted on 09/16/2004 7:26:42 PM PDT by Screaming Eagle Red Leg
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To: Liz


4 posted on 09/16/2004 8:30:08 PM PDT by endthematrix (STAND BY........New Tag Line In Progress..........STAND BY......New Tag Line in)
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To: Calpernia

So indictments against the gay gov to follow?

5 posted on 09/16/2004 8:30:42 PM PDT by Rockitz (After all these years, it's still rocket science.)
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To: Calpernia
Ah, if only more people woke up to the truth about ManGravey, that his "Gay America" speech was a smokescreen for his corrupt administration.

Of course, my relatives in Sopranostan just shrug it off as another in a long line of corrupt politicians.

6 posted on 09/16/2004 9:14:37 PM PDT by Clemenza (I LOVE Halliburton, SUVs and Assault Weapons. Any Questions?)
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To: Clemenza

My husband is the same way. Since we grow up under corruption, he sees it as normal.

7 posted on 09/16/2004 9:44:41 PM PDT by Calpernia (
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