New Civilization News: The Anti-Machiavel    
 The Anti-Machiavel3 comments
picture10 Jul 2002 @ 22:17, by Quidnovi

"It was the wind that gave them life. It is the wind that comes out of our mouths now that gives us life. When this ceases to blow we die. In the skin at the tips of our fingers we see the trail of the wind; it shows us were the wind blows...."
-----Translated from the Navajo by Washington Matthews, 1897

Thoughts of the wind come easily to mind as I think of that past Saturday which was somewhat of a "forum butterfly" day for me as I took some time fluttering around from board to board, feeling where the wind blows (taking the pulse of the web, if you will.) And sometimes, just like a butterfly, I do bring back something with me... pollen...the fertilizing element of the blossoming web.

"I put my feet down with pollen
as I walk.
I place my hands so,
with pollen.
I move my head with pollen.
My feet my hands, my body
are become pollen,
and my mind, even my voice."
(Navajo Traditional saying)
-----Roger Zelazny, Eye of Cat

In any case, I ran into the following bit which I thought would be of interest to NCN. It's about Friedrich Hohenzollern who had been the second king of that name in Prussia, and who, interestingly enough, is the author of a treatise known as the Anti-Machiavel (Source: Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany: 1648 - 1849 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1966):

"Frederick wrestled with the conflict between welfare and power all his life. In his conscience, it presented itself as a problem of the conflict of individual and political ethics. In the years before his accession to the throne, he had believed himself able to refute Machiavelli's teachings that a prince could only act in accordance with the interests of power, and that this raison d'état overrides all considerations of law and ethics. In his treatise of 1740, best known under the title of "Anti-Machiavel" given to it by Voltaire, he attempted to demonstrate the applicability of the moral law to all, or at least almost all, circumstances of politics."

Whereupon, of course, once he became king, his own actions were unfortunately not controlled by this moral philosophy nor even completely by the interest of the state.(I suppose, there is a lesson to be learned there.) I find him a fascinating fellow nevertheless. I quote:

"When, in 1746, Frederick returned to Berlin from the second Silesian War, people acclaimed him "the Great" for the first time, and soon Europe joined in this accolade. However, many of his contemporaries called him 'Frederick the Unique,' which expressed admiration mixed with a certain bewilderment at his complex personality. His many-sided and paradoxical nature was perplexing. This complexity explains the conflicting interpretations of his personality, though some of them must be adjudged mere political legends. Frederick was a highly sensitive, originally even perhaps sentimental, human being. There was much in him that drew him to an esthetic and contemplative life. At the same time, he was driven to action that would impress people around him. This quality proved to be his strongest trait. The eminent German historian Friedrich Meinecke has rightly stated that the future ruler in Frederick was developed earlier than the philosopher. Though it is true that Frederick wished to work for objectives that would stand up in the light of philosophical reflection, his boldness as a statesman often carried him over the hurdles that philosophy placed in his way. Philosophy to him was a means for gaining fresh strength and seeing himself and his activity as part of a more comprehensive order of natural and historical events."

What always bothered me about Machiavelli is the paradigm, on which operates his philosophy, that politics are an unpredictable arena in which ambition, deception and violence render the idea of the common good meaningless. It is however difficult to realistically conceive of a politically successful "Anti-Machiavel" in the world we live in. But I also know that what cannot be done within one worldview may be accessible within another.

"You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore."
---Tibetan Proverb

Paradoxes are fascinating as they entice us to look farther and sometimes open to us glimpses of attractive and undiscovered places. Bringing close what was remote is just a matter of spanning the gap between dream and reality. Isn't this after all what mankind has been doing all along, again and again?

And where are the creative forces that will leap up to span the gap?

I think they are here already, right at our fingertip, right onto that screen that you are looking at now as you surf the Internet or read each other's posts.

Mankind can "freeze" experience and products of its creativity in the form of language then "unfreeze" them later; in this way, we have learned to use "minds" and nervous systems miles and centuries away. Because of this ability, Alfred Korzybski classified man as a "time-binder."

"I hear music and see men of the past and future.
I see wise men and poets and scholars and artists
Harmoniously building the hundred-gated cathedral of Mind."
---Hermann Hesse ("The Bead Game")

Some all too easily dismiss such vision as a dream, forgetting that truly we DO live in a Dream---the collective dream and individual dreams of the men and women who shaped the familiar world we live in today and that we call reality---America is one such dream!

Joseph de Maistre once said that society gets the leaders that it deserves. And while I confess that the ideological pragmatist in me has sometimes taken some comfort whenever a cause I supported had been able to advance from the political know-how of one crafty "Machiavellian Intellect" or another, the idealist in me, however, has, like most people, always been hoping for more and better than that. And so that stubborn dreamer in me just keeps dreaming and wondering whether it could happen, whether they could make it into our world, those politicians of the future, those men and women who could become one day the politically successful Anti-Machiavelli of which Frederick dreamt.

"...Politics are dead. The ideologies and philosophies are dead from which politics pretend to have originated. We know very well that Western humanism is bankrupt. (...) Absolute cynicism are all that remain that keep (our) leaders in power active in the struggle for power and world supremacy."
---Ionesco (1984)

Gandhi was, along with Bertrand Russell and Albert Einstein, the catalyst of an age that believed that spirituality and reason would one day prevail.

For love of domination we must substitute equality;
for love of victory we must substitute justice;
for brutality we must substitute intelligence;
for competition we must substitute cooperation.
We must learn to think of the human race as one family."
-----Bertrand Russel

Where are such legendary and momentous figures nowadays?
Can catalysts such as they were still manifest in today's world? And if so, would we know about them, if they did???

The world is changing fast. The writing is on the wall. We are running out of time. Humanity cannot afford to play the same old tired games any longer. We need to rewrite the rules and break free from the spell of those who will have us repeat the mistakes of the past. The world is dying of politics.

"There is a path which no bird knoweth,
and which the vulture's eye hath not seen."
----Job 28:7

Looking back upon his life, Einstein said, "I sometimes ask myself how did it come about that I was the one to develop the theory of relativity. The reason, I think, is that a normal adult never stops to think about problems of space and time."

I believe the same thing can be applied to creative thinking in politics. A conservative politician will not stop to think about the real issues that are at the heart of the problem! He can't. The rules of the game politicians play are ruthless and the NEED to win at all cost comes at too high a price. We pay for power with our souls, and ultimately politics swallows all those it touches.

"One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them."
----Tolkien, Lord of the Rings

Politics is the one game I will not play. I do not trust myself enough for that (I am too much of a gamester), and I do not forget that in the end even Frodo was tempted by the Ring. (If I recall correctly, the only character immune to the power of the ring, it seems, was Tom Bombadil. "Could we not still send messages to him and obtain his help?" asks Erestor in The Fellowship of the Ring, "It seems that he has a power even over the Ring", "No, I should not put it so", replies Gandalf, "say rather that the Ring has no power over him. He is his own master. But he cannot alter the Ring itself, nor break its power over others..." Hmmm…Reminds you of Ghandi, doesn't it? The Ring cannot affect Tom Bombadil because he is outside the whole issue of Power and Domination.)

Only fools crave power for the sake of power---those are the one who become the Nazguls or Ringwraiths---as they were already hollow in the first place, the ring finds very little resistance as it eats them inside out.

But things are never quite that simple nor are they entirely all that black, or entirely all that white, are they?

"Not all men are corrupt,
life brings joy as well as sorrow.
The cynic's pronouncements are
merely half-truths, the dark side
of wisdom."----David Farlan

ButterflyKiddo in her post, "A Letter to the World Community", got it right. I quote: "We need spontaneous people, happy people, optimist people, we need people who are pure of heart, and we also need warriors of the mind, people who are deeply aware of the process that we have to go through, deeply conscious of the need for a new clarity, people who are willing to try new strategies, and people who say, "We will do it. We know what is needed, and we will do it."

Do such people exist? They do! I just summoned back a few names from the past and I am sure that we all can conjure at least one or two such inspiring names from the present. As a matter of fact, I propose that we all start drafting and sharing a collective list of such people and possibly keep a record of it in a special section of NCN dedicated to recognizing their efforts and monitoring their progress (or lack thereof.)

Do creative people possess certain attitudes and personality patterns, which dispose them to behave differently? (I am planning to come back to that subject in a future post, as I feel the topic needs to be expanded since it happens to be very relevant to NCN and the kind of people NCN seems to have collected around itself.)

Baron observed that "the creative individual is one who not only attempts complex solutions of problems external to himself but also attempts to create himself through commitment to a complex personal synthesis."

Erikson (1968) commented that "the creative mind seems to face more than once what most people once and for all settle in late adolescence or young adulthood."

These statements also suggest that the establishment of identity may not be a simple process for creative individuals and that it may differ from that of other persons.

Einstein once confided to his friend Jonas Plesh (Clark, 1971), "When I examine myself and my methods of thought I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." Yet, poets, artists, parents, teachers and child psychologists frequently have noted that many children begin sacrificing their creativity along with socialization training.

Generally, this decrement in curiosity and creative functioning has been perceived as a natural and quite desirable consequence of socialization. Even those who have been disturbed by it and see it as the result of man-made changes rather than purely genetic ones have conceded that when the child enters school he must be drawn into group activities and be impelled by its rules and regulations, thus surrendering his creativity (Pulsifer, 1963)…and conveniently becoming, in the process, a dull, obedient, unquestioning little sheep of consumerism (this last part was not in the study but I just had to let it out.)

"We all are vulnerable to the unexplored."---Talmud

"Come to the edge, he said.
Come to the edge, he said.
They came to the edge.
He pushed them
They Flew"

I have been looking all around for some sign of an awakening...People are talking...I feel the wind "in the skin at the tip of my fingers." I am being told that a new efflorescence is blooming. And, yet, if this is spring, why do I feel so cold, still?

Is it the chilling specter of the totalitarian menace of a new world order gone awry? Or is it the desolate sight of the new international and domestic political and ecological Barren Grounds that we will be inheriting from the current administration? Who knows how the flowers of the future that we are planting today, and will be planting tomorrow, will take hold in this washed-out ground?

Let's put our feet down with pollen
as we walk.
Let's place our hands so,
with pollen,
move our heads with pollen.
Our feet, our hands, our bodies
are become pollen,
and our mind, even our voice.

We were pioneers, once.


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10 Jul 2002 @ 23:48 by shawa : We still are pioneers.
Thanks for this very rich entry. Positive change is maybe closer than we seem to think.  

11 Jul 2002 @ 21:30 by istvan : Thank you.
I am deeply impressed with your vigor and insithts of your post. Will contact you.  

12 Jul 2002 @ 04:18 by tdeane : Great Log, Quidnovi!
When you think about, can a mind be truly creative without belief in equality? The very thought process eliminates possibilities. A poignant example of this is the "Suggestion Boxes" corporations/business enterprises employ. Unequal employees, being told that they have equal voice have come up with some of the most simply brilliant ideas the profitmakers have profitted by. Socialization? What's that? I've never tried it (chuckle). Look forward to more insights from you, Quidnovi.  

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