The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

That's French for "the ancient system," as in the ancient system of feudal privileges and the exercise of autocratic power over the peasants. The ancien regime never goes away, like vampires and dinosaur bones they are always hidden in the earth, exercising a mysterious influence. It is not paranoia to believe that the elites scheme against the common man. Inform yourself about their schemes here.

The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:24 am

The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu
by Maurice Joly
© 2002 by Lexington Books, Translated, edited and with commentary by John S. Waggoner




Table of Contents

• Preface
• Acknowledgments
• Introduction
• Translation
o Title Page
o A Short Introductory Statement
o Text of the Dialogue
 First Part
 Second Part
 Third Part
 Fourth Part
• Commentary
o Part I: The Machiavelli-Montesquieu Debate
 Chapter 1: The Essential Differences between Machiavelli and Montesquieu
 Chapter 2: An Elaboration of the Respective Political Teachings
o Part II: The New Machiavellian Founding
 Chapter 3: The Political Revolution I
 Chapter 4: The Political Revolution II
 Chapter 5: The Economic Revolution
 Chapter 6: The Moral Revolution
o Part III: The Saint-Simonian Elements in the New Modes and Orders
 Chapter 7: The Saint-Simonian Historical Element
 Chapter 8: The Saint-Simonian Religious Element
o Part IV: The Drama of the Dialogue
 Chapter 9: The Portrait of Machiavelli
o Part V: The Dialogue and History
 Chapter 10: Solving the Enigma of Louis Napoleon
 Chapter 11: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion
• Appendix: Macaulay's Machiavelli
• Bibliography
• Index to Dialogue in Hell
• Index to Commentary
• About the Author
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:25 am


Maurice Joly is the author of the Dialogue in Hell, the major source of the world's most infamous forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The present consideration of Joly follows precedent by first mentioning this association and briefly discussing the Protocols. The fact remains that it is principally through the Protocols and not as an author in his own right that the name Maurice Joly ever became known to later generations.

The Protocols was concocted at the turn of the century, about two decades after Joly's death. This anti-Semitic tract had a formative influence on many of the principal founders of the Nazi regime in Germany. In the face of evidence proving the Protocols' fraudulence, Hitler himself still tried to vindicate the essential "truth" of its teaching about the Jews. He also put the Protocols to frequent use as propaganda and intended to indoctrinate future leaders of his Reich by having it read in his "Youth Schools."

The Protocols purported to tell the real purpose behind the Congress of the Zionist Movement, which met in Basel, Switzerland, (1897) and was called by Theodor Herzl to explore the possibilities for founding a Jewish homeland. The "secret protocols" of that Congress were presented as evidence of a political project of a wholly different character from that framed largely in response to the aspirations of a beleaguered and persecuted people. The Protocols would have the Basel meeting understood as only the latest convocation of Jews who, dispersed to key centers of influence around the world, secretly met to coordinate their activities in pursuit of their common goal of universal domination. Nazi propaganda used them as stunning "proof" of the existence of a Jewish world conspiracy, then supposedly on the verge of bringing to fruition an age-old dream of universal rule.

The Protocols, remarkably enough, has been connected with many of the more prominent political figures of the twentieth century as well as some of its most cataclysmic events. Scholars have surmised that the Protocols was fabricated in Russia to influence the direction of policy under Czar Nicholas II. Its revelations were meant to serve a dual purpose of impressing the gullible Nicholas and mobilizing mass support for a counterrevolutionary move against the agents of liberalism and change. Key figures in the government of Nicholas were said to be the tools of the Protocols conspiracy to undermine the Czar and Holy Russia.

The Czar was impressed by the Protocols and apparently kept it close at hand. The Bolsheviks even found a copy in his family's immediate possession at the time of its bloody assassination. The role it played in several of the more infamous pogroms of the era give evidence of its capacity to incite the Russian masses. After the 1917 Revolution, White Russian emigres evidently brought copies of the Protocols to Germany. There it found wider publication and quickly appeared in translation in most of the literate countries of the world.

The influence of the Protocols did not end with the fall of the Third Reich. It has found a new lease on life among the enemies of Israel in the Middle East. An updated version, tailored to the politics of that region, is today making new converts to its teaching. It is also back in vogue in Russia among the many far-right groups that have mushroomed in the troubled times of post-Communism. Brisk sales of the Protocols have been reported in other areas of the world. It was linked to neo-Nazi movements that plagued Argentina when the anarchy of the 1970s momentarily opened the door to power for Fascist groups that eerily patterned themselves on the doctrines and tactics of Hitler. More recently, the Protocols has found its way to Muslim countries in Asia and have reportedly even appeared in Japan. Mahatin bin Mohammad of Malaysia appeals to a mindset, not too distant from the Protocols, when he purports to see the economic crisis in Southeast Asia at the end of the century as a product of global capitalism led by Jewish financiers. Such events remind us of the continued virulence of political anti-Semitism and its capacity to break out anew long after the end of the Nazi era and far from the borders of Israel.

It is important to emphasize that Joly himself is not an anti-Semite. [1] Moreover, the Dialogue shows him to be an intransigent enemy of the kind of tyrannical politics which, ironically, the Protocols served in a later century. The present study endeavors to restore the integrity of Joly's intentions in writing the Dialogue and to fairly assess his still timely contribution to the understanding of modern politics. It is the first attempt at a full commentary on the Dialogue in Hell. Repressed in Joly's own time, it largely remains in an unwarranted obscurity today because of its unfortunate association with the infamous forgery that continues to overshadow it.



1. According to Hans Speier, "The Truth in Hell: Maurice Joly on Modern Despotism," Polity 10 (1977): 32, "genocidal anti- semitism" is "the only trait of modern totalitarianism that Joly did not foresee." Yet, "ironically enough," it was "precisely that which his book -- perverted by forgers -- helped so much to promote."
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:25 am


Early television had a show, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, and Ted himself acted as impresario for all the talent that graced this deservedly acclaimed and widely watched telecast. There appeared a nervous little girl from Hoboken who shed her nervousness as she passed deeper into raucous song -- Lady of Spain -- hands simultaneously pumping and gliding along the keys of her accordion, as body rocked on tapping feet. She concluded to much applause and Ted asked the girl her name and if she would like to thank anyone. On cue, she set into her "thank-yous." It began with her parents and continued in machine gun fashion. The television audience could hear "and Aunt Bertha and Uncle Sam." It was all gathering speed, as she was about to descend into cousins, teachers, schoolmates, then friends, neighbors, and domestic pets. But Ted intervened and our little lady of Spain faded from the screen. He was obliged to cut away to pitch for an American elixir that promised the elderly faithful, nodding before magnified television screens, "to feel stronger ... fast!"

When I worked in the State Legislature of Massachusetts, I remember very well a conversation I had with an old "pol," who was unsurpassed in his knowledge of how "the Game" was played "up there on Beacon Hill." He told me: "Never get into any long list of 'thank-yous.' The ones you thank don't give a (expletive deleted) and the ones you don't remember to thank get ticked off."

The wisdom of the "pol" is probably unassailable and I risk being classed among the "re-tahds," which, in case you don't know, was State House for persons of very meager intelligence. But I stand with the kid from Hoboken. The heart too has to have its say and I'm willing to risk ridicule and take some time doing it.

I would first like to thank Prof. David Lowenthal. I remember the day the secretary, with uncharacteristic formality, summoned me to "The Chairman's Office." I had many a "summons" in numerous other such offices through the years.

For example, I had never quite made "The Dean's List" as an undergraduate but my name periodically found a place on a certain Dean's list. It was this the Dean himself waved at me while peering over spectacles. And if my name appeared again on it, he would be forced to take the "appropriate action" that he threatened the last time. The same anecdote could be recounted about my whole sophomore year in high school. I was being watched. Another town, another sheriff. And if I didn't mend my ways, I was being told again, I'd have to pack up and get out of Dodge. To escape such ignominy and avoid taking precipitate leave from friends, I vowed to the Dean right there and then to attend all my classes. And I'm sure I did, for a while.

You can understand how I was momentarily disoriented by the novelty of what Professor Lowenthal was asking. I was, I marveled, being invited to stay on at a school. I joined the Ph.D. program at Boston College. Little did David know, but that day ranks as one of the happier days of my life. I subsequently learned my Montesquieu from him, but even more, he introduced me to Shakespeare and made him a lifetime companion. Can anyone think of a more precious gift?

Professor Lowenthal's invitation allowed me to study with the likes of Christopher Bruell, Robert Faulkner, Father Ernest Fortin, David Manwaring, and Robert Scigliallo, among others. Only someone fortunate enough truly to have had a real teacher can appreciate the gratitude I feel. We at Boston College had many. From them, I learned many sublime things but I also learned to think manfully about certain harsher necessities. We were a Political Science Department, after all.

I later even taught at Boston College. Bob Faulkner imaginatively designed courses for me that I could plausibly teach. He knew I was facing the job market and my thin resume needed some strategic padding.

Unlike many of my more gifted friends and acquaintances, I was not compelled to philosophic studies by keen intellect. I was rather drawn to certain men and women already engaged in them. It was a longish process that tentatively started at Cornell, but was interrupted when all hell broke loose. It also began with great skepticism. I was drawn to them by something inchoate in me which I was not even completely aware of at the time.

And as I subsequently knew these people better and heard them talk, I wanted to be like them. So, on any measure of existential "authenticity," I merit a bad failing grade and wouldn't even try to talk my way around it. They proved to be very wise, appropriately "tough," and like Bob Faulkner, incredibly kind. As with one's parents, I came to call them all by their first names. I am to this day, and in advanced years, still self-conscious in doing so. It somehow affronts the respect I feel for them.

I would also like to thank the people I lived with in the course of my studies. This includes Abe Shulsky, still the smartest individual I have ever met. It also includes Wayne Ambler, Michael Kieselbach, Roger Karz and the late Jim Leake. What a disparate set of hombres. I look back to them all with affection and gratitude for having shared in their special lives.

Wayne is my oldest friend with whom I'm still fortunate to have regular contact. We literally grew up together, intellectually and otherwise. I invited him to my small apartment when I first came to Boston College. It was for a long weekend, mainly to hear Chris Bruell's seminar on Plato's Laws. He immediately enrolled and stayed roughly eight years, both at B.C. and my apartment. We sat in on just about every course Chris subsequently offered. Chris's mind is the most powerful I've ever encountered. Time flew in his seminars. For a brief, exhilarating moment I would be conscious of thinking at higher levels. It is difficult to describe the power and charm of such a mind, set off by an understated manner and quiet humor.

I often wondered what the administration thought about him. A hapless teacher, no doubt. This was because there were typically only two or three graduate students, brave souls, officially registered in his courses. Yet, his classrooms were always full. I remember on more than one occasion hunting for chairs to accommodate the auditors -- anyone within driving distance of his classroom, who, like me, my roommates, and friends, sought the privilege of spending a couple of hours with Xenophon and Plato.

Wayne's misfortune is to have installed his family in Italy a trifle late. He missed the "great Alfonso," who ruled Naples toward the middle of the fifteenth century. Il Magnifico commissioned one Poggio for an unheard of sum (five hundred pieces of gold, to be exact) to translate Xenophon's Cyropaedia. But that was then and now is now. At any rate, I'm sure that Poggio's translation cannot hold a candle to Wayne's.

I would also like to mention and thank Richard Crosby. As with Wayne, the friendship goes back to undergraduate days and has been recently renewed. As an older student back then, he benevolently tried to shape my education. He introduced me to good scotch, great books, and good music. And one part of his lessons, it has to be said, took immediate and fast hold. He also introduced me to Joly and we worked on a translation together for a short time.

While I am at it, I would like to thank Stuart Appelbaum, my best friend and roommate from undergraduate years. To no other person have I ever so unburdened my heart. Though it was an adolescent one, it is, despite encroaching old age and much water under the bridge, still the same one. He would probably be curious to know.

I had come to think that friendship, like love, were mainly affairs for the young. I found an exception in Terence Marshall. Some of my fondest memories of France involve him and his wife, Annie, sitting around a table in Paris or Arcachon about to tuck into French foods, wine, and cheeses. From the very first, Terry was solicitous of my welfare. I had to find appropriate employment. He had me to talk about Joly at the University of Paris and arranged for other speaking engagements on other topics at other universities. If we shook the tree hard enough, an employment "plum" might fall my way. He put me into contact with delightful and very able people.

He is a kind of older brother to me, and had to show me how to survive in France. He has an inflated impression of my talents and I am flattered by this and the kindness he shows me. Who wouldn't be? For me, he is the model of a scholar. But he shows that good humor, in both senses of the term, are compatible with his serious occupations.

We often would gather late Friday afternoons at his apartment to grouse about American politics, French politics, and Franco- American relations. We are very good at these things and there was always much to talk about. We also did justice to the bottle of "unblended" that sat before us. I have had some nibbles through the years regarding publications of my book. But it is thanks to Terry and his connections that it will see the light of day.

I do not have an Aunt Bertha or an Uncle Sam. But I do have an Uncle Jim and an Aunt Margot and would also like to thank them for their interest in me and my education. My debt to my parents is beyond words.

It is an honor to be involved in any project, as I am at Rowman & Littlefield, under the aegis of the likes of Daniel Mahoney and Harvey Mansfield. The latter is the world's greatest interpreter of Machiavelli and the teacher of thinkers I most admire. Of him it can be said: "he is among those who have truly read and understood Machiavelli." The former is becoming one of our most important political thinkers. I share this opinion with the French thinker I most admire, by the way.

I would also like to thank Gilbert Hamamjian at the French Cultural Center in Cairo. Let me explain. It fell to Gilbert to help me prepare my manuscript for what in publishing jargon is called "camera ready" condition. He stands on soil where his great countryman Champollion stood, and, like him, shows incredible patience and genius in deciphering exotic texts.

Computers bought in Cairo have Arabic as the operating mode. A few clicks, he showed me, would bring it into conformity with more familiar tongues. Once, near the end of my long labors, the manuscript suddenly seized. All was instantly transformed into a potpourri of English, French, and Arabic. Accents, aigus et graves, appeared everywhere. Snake like configurations were being emitted at a terrifying rate and were marching across the pages from right to left. Mayday! Mayday! I stabbed the escape key repeatedly with my index finger, as he once counseled me to do. This seemed to make things worse. The squiggles were carrying the day. Mind and pulse raced. For some strange reason I thought of Samuel P. Huntington as the Western languages succumbed. Was this what they talked about when they talked about a deadly virus? And yet I had not opened any electronic mail, which beckoned "I love you" from Manila, or anywhere else, I assure you. (Sickos.) I was face to face with something all my Egyptian acquaintances (including the auto mechanic of the twenty-three-year-old Chrysler I drive) were very loath to admit even existed. Yes, I had a mushkila, big time. In case you don't know, mushkila is Arabic for "problem."

With phone tucked under chin, I composed myself and made a call to Gilbert. "It is normal," he blandly assured me. It was not "normal." "Obviously, all is foutu," I shouted, as if it was his fault. I was sure the manuscript was right then hurtling through cyberspace to that irretrievable bin out there in virtual reality that had inhaled my resume, and other documents of greater and lesser importance. Efforts to correct the mushkila over the phone came to naught. I watched him descend from his cab and I could read the thoughts settling in his mind, as he made his way into the apartment. "The woman is normale but ce mec is really bizarre. How is it that these people are the last hyperpower? It is strange, no?" But he saluted me, as always, in a friendly manner. He made house calls on more than one occasion, and I greeted him like I used to greet the French doctor in the night. First time authors would all be lucky to have a Gilbert.

I would also like to thank the many foundations for their generous support through my long labors. But, unfortunately, I can't. And this brings me to the main reason I am writing these acknowledgments.

There is a simply horrible piece of "folk wisdom" I have heard recounted on more than one occasion here. I can be forgiven retelling it since my openness to all foreign cultures is by now obvious. After all, I worked in the Boston State House for more than five years. It advises that when you go home at night, men, beat your wives! Because even if you don't know why, it is reasoned, they certainly do. My wife has suffered from everything except beatings. In a twist on the above, I would like now to thank her for all the things I know about, and the millions of others she does for us, of which I'm not aware.

I've come to realize that the few good things I've done in life were done because of her. If I flatter myself that this book is among them, it is because it is largely hers. I started it because of her, work was sustained on it because of her, and it was brought to completion because of her.

At cocktail or dinner parties, an innocente would sometimes intone, "What are you writing about?" I would launch into my subject. Ready to pass into a higher gear, I would suddenly be brought to a stall by a swift kick to the shin under the table. It was Sylviane's foot and it acted in deference to host and hostess. She was also intervening once again to save me from myself. She had seen guests' eyes glaze over, jaws slacken, and spoons discreetly being put back to rest on the table. I still think that Joly is important, as is obvious. But by her acts, I've come to look at my book in more realistic terms. It has been a painful lesson that has been delivered forcefully on several occasions. She always steps in when my enthusiasms or moroseness take a dangerous and ridiculous turn.

I never wanted to be misunderstood about such a thing, so I've never breathed this to any other human soul. But, you see, I too have a daimonion. I dedicate my book to it. And I hope that this once she figures out that I'm not kidding her.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:26 am


Biographical information on Joly is sketchy at best. [1] There are numerous inconsistencies even concerning the year of his birth and death. A recent writer on the Dialogue takes this as indicative of the cavalier way in which posterity has treated Maurice Joly [2] He was in fact born in Lons-le-Saunier, France, in 1821. He died in 1878. His father was French and served for a time as Councilor General of the Jura and his mother was Italian. Joly was not of Jewish descent as was later asserted by Nazi apologists who, after the revelations of the Protocols forgery, still sought a Jewish connection to that work.

Joly's moralism, which was later to degenerate into misanthropy, was evident at an early age. He was known for his sharp tongue and biting wit that had for its target many of his closest associates. As an adolescent, he was a habitual truant, having run away from his boarding school no less than five times. He was described as fitting the classic mold of a rebel.

To support himself in higher studies, he had to work for seven years in a tedious bureaucratic post. He then found employment as a tutor at the Ecole superieure du Commerce. He successfully completed a course of study in law and was admitted to the Paris bar in 1859. He was then hired as a secretary to Jules Grevy. A former member of the Constituent Assembly of 1848, Grevy was out of office and practicing law while also involving himself in various republican political causes. Joly was soon to have a falling out with the man who was later to be President of the General Assembly.

Joly's fIrst book was written shortly thereafter and was entitled Le Barreau de Paris, a series of sketches portraying then- prominent lawyers and jurists. It was described as caustic and totally lacking in any indulgence for human foibles. His second work, Cesar, vigorously attacked Napoleon III and anticipates the modern Caesar as he appears in the Dialogue. He was a prolific writer. But his many articles were characterized as "philosophic and severe." They did not suit the literary tastes of his times and were not often accepted by Parisian journals.

The Dialogue in Hell was published in Brussels in 1864. Joly's efforts to have copies of it smuggled into France were compromised by police infiltrators. Arrest followed quickly. Society did not welcome him after his release from prison. Defenders of the Empire denounced him while republicans saw him as someone to avoid -- more a troublemaker than a martyr to their cause. He fell into sullen solitude that he used for research into his L'Art du Parvenir, which pilloried his contemporaries for the acts that brought the profit and esteem he perhaps secretly craved for himself.

He became editor of a new journal, Le Palais, a position that ended after a confrontation with his principal collaborator in the enterprise. After the fall of the Empire in 1870, he sought a government position from Grevy. He failed in this and joined the radical resistance under Louis Auguste Blanqui and Louis Charles Delacruze, after vehemently having denounced the terms of armistice with Germany. In November, he was arrested again but was freed a few months later by the Council of War. During his detention, he wrote an autobiographical sketch that, among other things, is noteworthy for its reference to the circumstances surrounding the writing of the Dialogue. Though he states that he was a revolutionary during the Resistance, he is emphatic in affirming that his motives were patriotic and denying he had any communist sympathies. [3]

For a while, the new Republic seemed more congenial to Joly. In 1872, he was offered a position with the journal La Liberte. In 1878, during the political crisis that saw the Chamber dissolved, Joly publicly attacked Grevy who was a candidate for the Presidency against General MacMahon. He had posters plastered all over Paris that said of his former associate that "he had done all the evil one man can do to another without killing him." He was attacked in return. He brought suit against certain of his detractors charging defamation. Representing his own cause in court, he also used the occasion to assail his political enemies, then important figures in the Republic. He died the same year, by suicide. Near the revolver he used to kill himself was found the manuscript of his novel, Les Affames, published two years earlier.

Beyond scant biographical details, what we can know of this unhappy individual largely depends on a proper interpretation of the Dialogue in Hell, his most complex and far-reaching statement on contemporary politics. In A Short Introductory Statement, Joly professes to be giving voice to the public's "conscience" and to be describing abiding truths about politics. It is his lasting achievement to have uncovered in the analysis of his own times the vulnerabilities of modern politics to a new form of tyranny. His work remains one of the earliest and richest investigations of the essential conditions of modern despotism, the threat of which he sensed in the historic project of Napoleon III.

The Dialogue in Hell rightfully can be viewed as Joly's consummate achievement. The conversation in hell between the celebrated Montesquieu and the infamous Machiavelli draws upon his considerable literary skills and his deep study of political theory. Literary tastes, which he offended in his earlier works, are pleasantly engaged while he elaborates a political teaching to modern men framed in philosophic seriousness and, indeed, world-historic significance.

The court that sentenced Joly for authorship of the Dialogue saw his work mainly in terms of his implied criticism of the policies of the Emperor Napoleon III. Its general thesis had succeeded in showing how "the dreadful despotism taught by Machiavelli in The Prince" could, "by artifice and evil ways," impose itself on modern society. But this concealed a more specific charge against the French government, which was portrayed as having "through shameful means, hypocritical ways, and perfidious contrivances, led the public astray, degraded the character of the nation and corrupted its morals." Machiavelli's "dreadful despotism" was current reality and a theoretical conversation between two philosophers was an expose of the reigning sovereign of the Second Empire. [4]

Napoleon's police immediately confiscated what were probably thought to be all extant copies of the Dialogue. But the text, surprisingly enough, later somehow found its way to Istanbul. It was there, in 1921, that a correspondent of the London Times made the connection with the Protocols when he stumbled upon Joly's work. That prestigious newspaper had previously published the Protocols and was involved in a polemic about its authenticity.

The rediscovery of the Dialogue in Hell in conjunction with the Protocols has seriously affected posterity's treatment of Joly, who has come to be known more as a historic curiosity than as an author and political thinker. His name may surface from time to time in talks of literary forgeries, as it notably did in the 1980s during discussions of the Hitler's supposed diaries, and most recently with regard to the authenticity of the Tiananmin Papers. For the most part, however, he has been consigned to a footnote in intellectual history. Such summary treatment inevitably contributes to misconceptions about Joly while it unfairly associates him with some of history's most unsavory anti-Semites.

Given the momentous legacy of the Protocols, it is not surprising that a "great amount of critical intelligence" has been spent in unraveling the riddle of such a hoax. Humane concerns have combined with devotion to the truth to expose a lie with such murderous consequences. This has resulted in a "truly staggering" number of books and studies on the Protocols. [5] Such scholarly endeavors inevitably placed first-rate thinkers into contact with Joly's Dialogue. Though their overriding concern was with the Protocols and their attempt to piece together all the relevant material and events in its sordid history, such scholars have given Joly large (if passing) tribute as a student of contemporary despotism and an author of considerable talent. Their comments have long pointed the way to a more serious treatment of Joly but the fact remains that Joly's Dialogue has never been read as it should nor extensively commented upon.

Konrad Heiden, one of the earliest and perhaps still the best biographer of Hitler, writes that Maurice Joly

has seen the secret disease of his epoch and that is something that men do not like. Today we read Joly with quite different eyes. Today the evils are no longer secret. To us, living in the present day, some of the sentences of this forgotten work seem like a lightning flash bathing the present in dazzling light.

According to Heiden, Joly's great achievement was to take the thought of Machiavelli and apply its teaching to modern conditions. Joly combines "timeless Machiavellian wisdom, and understanding of domination, with a knowledge of the modern mass and its state of mind." [6]

Heiden does not stand alone among scholars who, drawn to Joly from their study of the Protocols, have come to appreciate the author of the Dialogue. Norman Cohn, whose investigation of the Protocols inspired the title for his most celebrated study -- Warrant for Genocide -- refers to the Dialogue as "an admirable work, incisive, ruthlessly logical, beautifully constructed." He sees Joly not only as a "brilliant stylist," but as having a "fine intuition for the forces which, gathering strength after his death, were to produce the cataclysms of the present century." [7]

Herman Bernstein in his History of a Lie went so far as to translate the complete text of the Dialogue in Hell as well as other documents used to concoct the Protocols. [8] Despite accessibility to English-speaking readers through Bernstein's effort, and the inviting comments of thinkers such as Heiden and Cohn, scholarship continued to deal only sparingly with Joly and the Dialogue. Indeed, as the Nazi era receded and the political influence of the discredited Protocols temporarily began to wane, Joly and his Dialogue seemed to retreat once again into obscurity.

More recently, however, there is evidence that Joly is coming into his own as an author and thinker. The Dialogue in Hell was published in France in 1968 as an integral text. It is there, appropriately enough, that interest in Joly tentatively blossomed, no doubt due in part to the prestige that Raymond Aron, who directed its publication, had lent it. France Culture broadcast a radio presentation of the Dialogue, along with excerpts from other of Joly's works, in 1983. The program was taken from a staging of the Dialogue in Hell at the Theatre de Petit Odeon in 1982 with members of the prestigious Academie Francaise playing the roles of Machiavelli and Montesquieu. It has since been restaged in Paris. Coincidental to such interest is, of course, the incredible revival of the political influence of the Protocols. For different reasons, then, attention is again turning to Joly. This opens the way for the present study and a more thorough investigation of his thought and dramatic art.

Joly's "lightning flash of illumination" impressed Jean-Francois Revel, another member of the Academie Francaise. With the Fifth Republic in mind, this eminent thinker sees something prophetic in Joly's description of the modern media and the use to which it could be put in shaping public opinion. Revel implies that students today will continue to find relevance in Joly's teaching and marvel at the multiple examples of his "startlingly prophetic powers." [9]

Hans Speier, an even more recent commentator on the Dialogue, speaks of the "bitter freshness" of the Dialogue. He remarked that Joly's powers of prediction "can be traced to the paradox that, strictly speaking, Joly's foresight was insight." Speier distinguishes Joly's insight from the statistical extrapolations of the "futurology" studies that are current academic fad.

Instead, it was derived from certain firmly held views of human nature in combination with very close analytical observations of the political scene. Sensitized by his liberal predilections to the hazards of liberty in the industrialized society of nineteenth century France, he described Bonapartism as though it was a prototype of twentieth century despotism. [10]

According to Speier, Joly's fairest and most appreciative critic, no author of distinction has been treated more capriciously than Maurice Joly. Speier's short essay "The Truth in Hell" (1977) intends to redeem the Dialogue from obscurity in order to open the way to a fuller assessment of Joly's contribution to our understanding of modern despotism. The journal Commentaire reprinted a translation of his article in France in 1991.

The present study follows on the enterprise begun by Speier but, beyond him, endeavors to show what in fact is the deepest source of what inspires. "Machiavelli's Politics in the Nineteenth Century" -- the subtitle of Joly's work. This will lead to fresh insights into the mind of Napoleon III while it opens readers to a body of nineteenth century political thought that Joly saw as inspiring the policies of the Second Empire. The threat to liberal freedoms and a path to a radically new form of despotism can be found in Napoleon's implementation of Saint-Simonian doctrine. An examination of its influence on the Dialogue in Hell will provide a key to the full understanding of Joly's work.

Chapters 1 through 6 are devoted to a close analysis of Joly's text. Two chapters devoted to Saint-Simonian thought and its connection to the Dialogue follow them. Chapter 10 is an essay that uses Joly's analysis as an entry into the historical controversy surrounding Napoleon III. There it will be argued that the ambiguities of the Second Empire can be traced to the complex ideological goals of Napoleon that Saint-Simonianism inspired. Chapter 9 treats the Dialogue's drama, an element that goes relatively unexamined by those who have written about Joly. The staging of the Dialogue in Hell in France indicates that the literary talent of Joly has come to be appreciated. However, Joly himself makes clear in his brief introduction that he intends his book to be read and studied as containing political lessons of importance.

Like the staging of Platonic Dialogues, the staging of Joly's Dialogue perhaps risks diverting students from sustained reflection to matters of "aesthetics" -- secondary considerations of all too questionable value. Speier criticizes those readers of the Dialogue who concentrate on such matters, thinking that therein lies the truly worthy element of what is viewed as an "artistic achievement." [11] They are as guilty of misreading Joly as those who, despite his introductory warning, dismiss the Dialogue in Hell as a mere "lampoon" or political satire. The author of the Dialogue surely would have been shocked by the perversion of his thought and the use to which it was put in the Protocols. He probably would have been as much surprised by its appearance later in this century in dramatic form, "sanitized' of the political concerns that prompted him to write in the first place.

The last chapter of the work takes a more detailed look at the Protocols and the Dialogue's connection to it. A short appendix has been added on Thomas Babington Macaulay, a nineteenth-century thinker who was very influential on Machiavellian scholarship, someone to whom Joly, too, may have been indebted.

Readers of Joly today will find his voice still amazingly pertinent. The post-Communist world we live in has been marked, to say the least, by controversy over liberalism and its global relevancy. To a large extent, the preeminent dispute in the Dialogue in Hell is once again our own. Joly raises the whole issue of historical "endism" well before Francis Fukuyama, drawing on the thought of Kojeve and Hegel, made it popularly topical in our day. [12] Our most explicit domestic preoccupation is arguably the culture war between "secularists" and "traditionalists" and there are strong echoes of this in the Dialogue. Until recently, it was a bitter dispute over the merits, even the morality, of deficit financing. And this too figures prominently in its pages. There are even references to the amorous adventures of the ruler, which, if conducted honorably, can have pleasant consequences, short, of course, but also long term. In brief, I have tried (unsuccessfully) to resist giving repeated references to the situation and conditions of today. Otherwise I would never have finished and the readers Joly wanted to reach are not in need of this anyway. [13]

Readers of the Dialogue will work through timeless issues of politics, guided by Machiavelli and Montesquieu. [14] Substantial effort has been made in this book to reintroduce a perhaps forgotten body of political doctrine, Saint-Simonianism, to establish its relevancy to the drama and substance of the Dialogue as well as to the politics of Napoleon III. Joly's text is noteworthy in drawing parallels between the Caesars and the Bonapartes to describe the most ambitious of political projects. As a study of modern tyranny, his work is perhaps unsurpassed. Readers will undoubtedly be prompted at certain points of Machiavelli's and Montesquieu's debate to think of thinkers within Joly's intellectual universe: Rousseau, Constant, DeBonald, De Maistre, Guizot, J. S. Mill, Tocqueville, Marx, Smith, Jefferson, the authors of the Federalist; and to think of others that post-date Joly's world: Galbraith, C. W. Mills, Keynes, Huxley, Orwell, Aron, Niewche, among others. The better-informed reader surely will be drawn to think of additional thinkers and historic personages, I'm sure. The point in all this is to underscore the continued vitality and richness of Maurice Joly and to take seriously his modest plea to read his book carefully, as important to understanding our political situation. For many reasons then, we are in a better position today to appreciate the wisdom of the unfortunate author of Dialogue in Hell, and to assess his contribution to history, both intended and unintended. [15]



1. Most biographical detail of any substance comes from Henri Rollin, L 'Apocalypse de Notre Temps (Paris: Gallimard, 1939) Information on the life of Joly in the "Avant Propos" of the 1968 French edition of the Dialogue is taken from this source. See Maurice Joly, Dialogue Aux Enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu, published in the collection "Liberte de l'esprit" dirigee par Raymond Aron (Paris: Calmann-Levy, 1968), vii-xii. Biographical material for this introduction is taken mainly from there.

2. In "The Truth in Hell," 31, Hans Speier notes these discrepancies in some of the more prominent works on Joly:

The article on Joly in Grande Encyclopedie, Hans Leisegang, Gesprache in der Unterwelt, and Hans Barth, "Maurice Joly," state that Maurice Joly lived from 1821 to 1878. Herman Bemstein gives the dates 1831-1878. Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide, has 1829-1879. Finally, Henri Rollin in his "Avant Propos" to Maurice Joly, Dialogue Aux Enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu, states that Joly was born in 1829 and died 17 July 1877.

To underscore the cavalier manner in which posterity treats Joly, consider that the only English translation until now, that of Bernstein, inexplicably mistranslates even the title of the Dialogue.

3. Excerpts from the "autobiography" can be found in Herman Bernstein, The Truth About The Protocols of Zion (New York: Covici-Freide, 1935), 16-17.

4. See Bernstein for excerpts of the court decision as reported by Le Droit, a Paris newspaper, on Apri1 26, 1865.

5. Walter Laqueur, Russia and Germany (Boston: Little, Brown, 1965), 97. Laqueur also lists "the more substantial investigations" in solving the riddle of what he calls "the greatest politico-literary hoax in modern history." See note 43, 339.

6. Konrad Heiden, Der Feuhrer, tr. Ralph Manheim (Boston: Houghton-Miflin, 1944), 6. We are beholden to Pierre-Andre Taguieff and the monumental efforts he made to collect all important documents relevant to the Protocols. Within his work is a collection of scholarly efforts to bring to light once again its entire sordid legacy. See his two-volume work, Les Protocoles Des Sages de Sion (Paris: Berg International, 1992). The first volume is by Taguieff and is an introduction to the study of the fabrication of the Protocols and the uses to which it was put in this century. The second volume is an impressive collection of Studies and documents under his editorial direction. I refer those who might have further interest in the Protocols to these works, a kind of "one stop shopping" for interested scholars. Taguieff does in a much better way what Herman Bernstein earlier tried to do. He works with much more material. One of the reasons for this is the astonishing influence the nefarious document has again exerted, subsequent to Bernstein's time. See note 8 in this regard.

7. Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1967), 73.

8. The English translation of Godsche's "Jewish Cemetary in Prague," the Protocols itself, as well as the Dialogue can be found in Bernstein, The Truth About The Protocols. Bernstein was the first to trace Godsche's tale to the forgery. More will be said of this connection in chapter 11. Perhaps one of the reasons Joly's text has failed to draw commentary from English speaking readers is the terribly flawed quality of Bernstein's translation. This was the motive for including a new translation as part of this work.

9. See Jean Francois Revel's Preface to the Dialogue aux Enfers, xvii-xix.

10. Speier, "The Truth in Hell," 32.

11. This is the view of Hans Liesegang, the German translator of the Dialogue, who considers it a literary "masterpiece" and compares the author to Dostoyevsky. See Speier, "The Truth in Hell," 31.

12. See Francis Fukuyama, "The End of History?" The National Interest, 16 (summer 1989). His book (1992) drops the question mark but adds "And the Last Man." The idea of an "end" to history comes from Hegel. The idea of "the Last Man" comes from Nietzsche. One might be tempted to think, by his dropping the question mark, that he grew more optimistic about the prospects for liberalism in the interval between the article and the book. And by adding "the Last Man," that he became more reflective of its ultimate conclusions. In the interval, four generations of Communist rule were openly repudiated and the party deposed. The Soviet Union ceased to exist. Power passed from Gorbachev to Yeltsin as President of the Russian Federation. A vigorous reformer and Westernizer was once again in the saddle and he would soon prove himself strong enough to quell any attempt at counterrevolution. News from Asia was still astonishingly encouraging. Things have changed since, to say the least. Internal struggle and external conflict appear everywhere and the upshot of such things can not really be foreseen with confidence. This certainly looks like "history" and the thesis that it is coming to end seems more and more implausible. Such is the fate of any thesis that is tied to unpredictable events. The "phenomena can be saved" if we posit, like the Communists of old, that history's cunning is beyond the ken of naive simpletons. Long term, indeed, now, it seems, over the very long term, things will prove the thesis right. But "in the long term, we are all dead." So, it seems, Fukuyama's thesis will never be proved right by us, or wrong. Joly, we will see, has something to tell us about these things.

13. About two decades ago, in the United States, there was an advertisement about a ragu sauce, if I remember correctly. Not all the power of the woman's movement has been able to purge such things from American culture. A man's voice (the husband) asked: "Are there tomatoes in it? (A stupid question). Is there beef in it? Is there oregano -- and basil in it?" A woman's voice (the wife) would refrain in dulcet voice, ever smugger and more reassuring (or was it really controlled exasperation?) to the repeated queries: "It's in theeeere." With respect to Joly, I would not go as far as this woman would, but almost. I don't want to grate too much.

14. Raymond Aron, one of the last century's greatest thinkers and political analysts, explained why "for over four centuries the quarrel over Machiavellianism has not ceased being of contemporary interest." It is "because at bottom this quarrel is eternal." Aron had planned a multi-volume work on Machiavelli that was to be his magnum opus. He abandoned the work after the war. This quote is taken from a generally favorable review of the work of the Christian, Jacques Maritain, in his quarrel with the Florentine. The reservations Aron expressed give us a sketch of the lines of critique he himself probably would have developed in his abandoned work. It is no wonder that Joly and his Machiavellian teaching saw the light of day in France under the aegis of Aron. He figured prominently in my thoughts as I delved deeper into the Dialogue, as you will see. I also contend that the thought of Montesquieu has particular relevance to today's political dilemmas. Pierre Manent is the finest of Raymond Aron's progeny. He also thinks Montesquieu particularly relevant to us as "decidedly the modern philosopher most capable of losing us as well as saving us." See Aron's essay entitled "FrenchThought in Exile: Jacques Maritain and the Quarrel over Machiavellianism," in Daniel J. Mahoney, ed. In Defense of Political Reason, Essays by Raymond Aron (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield), 53. Manent's quote can be found in his La Cite de L 'Homme (Paris: Fayard, 1994), 109.

15. This book, about freedom and character, was written shortly before the events of September 11. I would have said certain things with different nuance (and more strongly), if I had written it after. But, for many reasons, I decided to change nothing and let things stand as they were written.

I wrote that America had never suffered a tragedy, at least at the hands of others. I still think this the case. September 11 was a personal tragedy for all victims of that day, American and non-American, citizens at peace and at work. We all shared in that deeply. Indeed, it shook our very soul. The nation's real tragedy would be, by gross blunder or weakness of will, to succumb to the forces that were unleashed that day. Writing now six months after the "events," this is not the case.

Abraham Lincoln led us through our only real tragedy. He set high standards for us, in peace, for sure, but in war, also. He waged it vigorously because freedom and other dear principles were at stake. But he also waged it with malice toward none.

The better angels of our nation were in display on that horrible September day. They struck a mystic chord in all of us. I, for one, never thought that they had abandoned our spirit. It's just that they seemed to have sat silent for so long. Looking to the future, we hope, fondly, and pray, fervently, that they continue to play upon us.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:30 am

Part 1 of 2

Title Page



by a Contemporary

Soon we should see a frightening calm during which everyone will
unite against the power which had violated the laws.

When Sulla wanted to give Rome freedom, she was no longer able to
receive it.

(Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws )

Published by A. Mertens and Son
Rue de L'escalier, 22


A Short Introductory Statement

This book delineates certain attributes applicable to all governments. However, it aims at something more precise: the quintessential features of a political system whose practices have not varied a single day since the fatal and, alas, already too distant date of its enthronement.

The appropriate response to this situation is not to write lampoons or pamphlets. The sensibilities of modern peoples are too civilized to accept harsh truths about contemporary politics. The enduring success of certain other tracts is mystifying and cause enough to corrupt integrity itself. But the public conscience still lives, and heaven will some day take an active role in settling scores with those that trifle with it.

Certain facts and principles are better judged when seen outside the framework they customarily appear to us. The change of perspective can sometimes be very troubling!

Here, everything is presented as fiction. It would be superfluous to give the key to it in advance. If this book has significance, if it conceals a teaching, the reader must understand it himself and not have it explained to him. Moreover, reading this will not be without its lively pleasures. Still, one must proceed slowly through it as befits writings that are not about frivolous matters.

No one should ask whose hand wrote these pages. In a certain sense, a work like this is anonymous. It answers a call to conscience. Everyone hears this call. The ideas take form. The author withdraws to the background because he merely records a thought that is generally held. He is merely a more or less obscure instrument of the partisans who seek the good.

Geneva, October 15, 1864


Text of the Dialogue

First Part

First Dialogue

Machiavelli: At the edge of this shore, I was told I would meet the shade of the great Montesquieu. Is this it in front of me?

Montesquieu: The name "great" belongs to no one here, O Machiavelli. But I am the one you seek.

Machiavelli: Among the illustrious persons whose spirits populate this gloomy stopping place, there is no one I wished to meet more than Montesquieu. Forced into these unknown regions by the migration of souls, I thank fortune for finally placing me in the presence of the author of The Spirit of the Law.

Montesquieu: The former Secretary of State of the Florentine Republic has not yet forgotten the language of courts. But what can those who have crossed to these dismal shores have to exchange but anguish and regrets?

Machiavelli: Is this the philosopher, the statesman, who speaks like this? What does death matter to those who have lived by thought, since thought is immortal? For myself, I do not know a more tolerable situation than that which is ours here until Judgment Day. We are delivered from the cares and worries of material existence, live in the domain of pure reason, and are able to converse with the great men whose names have resounded throughout the universe. We may follow from afar the revolutions of states, the fall and transformation of empires. It is open to us to meditate upon their new constitutions, upon the changes brought about in the morals and the ideas of the peoples of Europe, upon the progress of civilization in politics, arts, industry, as well as the sphere of philosophical ideas. What a spectacle to contemplate! What astonishing marvels -- if the shades that have descended here are to be believed! Death is for us like a remote refuge where we can assimilate the final lessons of history and the vindication of human rights. Even the void of death is not able to break all the ties that keep us attached to earthly existence, for posterity still demonstrates its dependence on men like you who have wrought great changes in the human spirit. At this moment your political principles reign over almost half of Europe. Who should be freer from fear in undertaking this somber passage which leads to hell or heaven than someone like you who can appear before Eternal Justice with such pure claims to glory?

Montesquieu: You ought to speak for yourself, Machiavelli. You're being too modest for one who has left behind immense renown as the author of The Prince.

Machiavelli: I think I catch the drift of your irony. Would the great French publicist judge me like the crowd, which knows me only as a name and through blind prejudice? I know that book has given me a disastrous reputation. It has made me responsible for all sorts of tyrannies. It has earned me the enmity of peoples as the hated personification of despotism. It has poisoned my last day, and the reprobation of posterity seems to have followed me even here. But what have I done? For fifteen years I served my country, which was a republic. I conspired for its independence and defended it staunchly against Louis XII, the Spanish, Julius II, and Borgia himself, who, but for me, would have snuffed it out. I protected it against bloody intrigues that riddled it everywhere, combating them with diplomacy when another would have used the sword. I treated, negotiated, made or broke ties in accordance with the interests of the republic which found itself crushed between great powers and which war tossed about like a skiff. And it was not an oppressive or autocratic government but popular institutions that we supported in Florence. Was I one of those who was seen changing with fortune?

The Medici's executioners knew where to find me after the fall of Soderini. I advanced with the rise of liberty and fell with it. I was proscribed and no prince deigned to glance on me. I died impoverished and forgotten. That was my life, and those the crimes that earned me the ingratitude of my country and the hatred of posterity. Perhaps, heaven will be more just toward me.

Montesquieu: I know all that, Machiavelli. That's why I could never understand how the Florentine patriot, the servant of a republic, became the founder of that sinister school which includes all the crowned heads as disciples and is put to use to justify tyrannies' most heinous crimes.

Machiavelli: And what if I told you that that book was only the product of a diplomat's imagination, that it was not intended for print, that the notorious uses to which it has been put are alien to its author. That it was conceived under the influence of ideas which were then common to all Italian principalities and to aggrandize themselves at each other's expense and directed by a cunning politics in which the most perfidious was reputed to be the most skillful. ...

Montesquieu: Are these your real thoughts on the matter? Since you are speaking so candidly, I can assure you that this is what I always thought. Indeed, I share such convictions with those few that know your life and have attentively read your works. Yes, yes Machiavelli, your avowals in this regard do you honor. So, you did not say what you really thought, or you only spoke under the sway of personal feelings which for a moment clouded your exalted mind.

Machiavelli: There you are mistaken, Montesquieu, as are those who have judged this matter like you. My only crime was to speak the truth to peoples and to kings -- not the moral truth, but the political truth, not the truth as it ought to be, but as it is and always will be. I am not the founder of the doctrine whose paternity is attributed to me. It is grounded in the human heart. Machiavellianism preceded Machiavelli.

Moses, Sesostris, Solomon, Lysander, Phillip and Alexander of Macedon, Agathocles, Romulus, Tarquin, Julius Caesar, Augustus, and even Nero, Charlemagne, Theodoric, Clovis, Hugh Capet, Louis XI, Gonzalo of Cordova, Cesare Borgia -- these are the progenitors of my doctrine. I am skipping some even better examples, and of course will not speak of those who came after me. The list would be too long and The Prince would teach them nothing but what they already knew by wielding power. Who in your time has rendered me more brilliant homage than Frederick II? To gain popular favor, he took pen in hand to refute me. While in politics, he rigorously applied my doctrines.

What inexplicable quirk of the human mind would hold what I have written in this book against me? Logic dictates that the scientist should be reproached for investigating the physical causes of bodies that fall and harm us, the doctor for describing diseases, the chemist for cataloguing poisons, the moralist for portraying vice, and the historian for writing history.

Montesquieu: Oh, Machiavelli. Would that Socrates was here to untangle the sophistry couched in your remarks. Although I am not by nature endowed with strong debating skills, it is still not very difficult for me to rebut you. You compare to poison and disease the ills engendered by the spirit of domination, cunning, and violence. But your writings teach the ways to communicate diseases to states. You teach how to distill these poisons. When the scientist, the doctor, or moralist investigates evil, it is not to teach its propagation, but to cure it. As soon as you let out that you do not hold to despotism on principle and that you yourself consider it an evil, it seems to me that by this alone you condemn it and that we agree at least on this point.

Machiavelli: We do not, Montesquieu, for you have not understood my thought in its entirety. I have opened myself to attack by using an analogy that can only too easily be turned against me. Socratic irony itself could not disconcert me. It is sophists who are most skillful in wielding the underhanded weapon of dialectics in such a way. You are not of this school, nor am I. Therefore let's put aside semantics and facile analogies so that we don't lose sight of certain ideas. Here is the essence of my system, and I doubt that you will shake it, because it is composed only of moral and political facts deduced from one eternal truth: the evil instinct in man is more powerful than the good. Man is more attracted by evil than by good, and fear and force have more sway over him than reason. I won't bother to demonstrate these truths. In your country, only the harebrained coterie of Baron d'Holbach, of which J. J. Rousseau was the high priest and Diderot the apostle, attempted to controvert these truths. All men seek to dominate and no one would not be a tyrant if he could. All, or nearly all, are ready to sacrifice another's rights to their own interests.

By what means can these ravenous beasts we call men be restrained? At the origins of societies, it is brutal and unrestrained force; later, it is the law, that is to say, still force, but institutionalized. You have fully investigated the origins of history. Everywhere force precedes right.

Political liberty is only a secondary idea. The need to live is what dominates states as it does individuals.

In certain regions of Europe, there are people incapable of moderation in the exercise of liberty. Prolonged liberty is transformed into license. Civil or social war follows. The state perishes. This happens either when the state fractures and is dismembered as a result of its convulsions, or when its divisions make it the prey of foreigners. In such situations, people prefer despotism to anarchy. Are they wrong?

Once established, states have two kinds of enemies: internal and external. What arms do states use in making war against foreigners? Will two enemy generals inform each other of their battle plans so that each will be better able to defend himself? Will they forbid attacks by night, troops, ambushes, and battles in which the numbers of troops are unequal? Obviously not. Don't you agree? Such combatants would be a laughing stock. But you don't want to use all the traps, artifices, and stratagems that are indispensable to war against internal enemies and factions? Doubtless, this case calls for less rigor but basically the rules are the same. Can pure reason lead violent masses that are motivated by emotions, passions, and prejudices?

Let the direction of affairs be placed in the hands of an autocrat, an oligarch, or the people themselves. No war, no negotiation, no internal reform would succeed without the help of those stratagems that you seem to condemn but which you yourself would have had to use if the king of France had charged you with the least important affairs of state.

What childish condemnation has dogged The Prince! Has politics anything to do with morality? Have you ever seen a single state conduct itself according to the principles that govern private morality? But then every war would be a crime, even when it had fair cause. Given that conquest has no other motive than glory, it would always be a heinous offense. Every treaty in which one power tipped the balance in its favor would be a base fraud. Any usurpation of sovereign power would deserve death. Nothing would be legitimate except what was based on justice! But what I have just related I also maintain even in the face of contemporary history. All sovereign powers find their origin in force or, what is the same thing, in the negation of justice. Does that mean that I proscribe justice? No. But I regard it as having an extremely limited application, both in the relations among nations and in the relations between rulers and ruled.

Moreover, don't you see that this word -- 'justice" -- is infinitely vague? Where do its claims begin? Where do they end? Where should it apply? Where not? I will give some examples. Consider the following state. Its public institutions are poorly organized. It's in the throes of a turbulent democracy. Its laws are powerless before factions. Disorder reigns everywhere -- everything precipitates its ruin.

A bold man springs up from the ranks of the aristocrats or from the midst of the people. He demolishes all constitutional power, takes over lawful authority, reforms all institutions, and gives the country twenty years of peace. Had he the right to do what he did?

Pisastatus seizes the citadel in a surprise attack and prepares the way for the century of Pericles. Brutus violates the monarchical constitution of Rome, expels the Tarquins, and with the thrusts of a dagger founds a republic whose grandeur is the most impressive spectacle that the universe has seen. The struggle between patricians and plebeians, so long as it was controlled, made for the vitality of the Republic but it ultimately leads to its dissolution and brings everything to the brink of destruction. Caesar and Augustus appear. They too are vigilators. But the Roman Empire that succeeded the Republic, thanks to them, lasts as long. It finally falls only after having covered the entire world with its debris. So, was justice on the side of these audacious men? No, according to you. And yet posterity has showered them with glory. In truth, they served their country by saving it. They prolonged its existence through the centuries. You do see that, in states, interest overrules the principle of justice. What emerges from these considerations is that good can come from evil; that one attains good through evil, just as someone is cured by poison, or someone's life is saved by the cut of a knife. I have taken societies as they are and have prescribed rules accordingly.

Considered in the abstract, are violence and deceit evil? Yes, but they will have to be used to govern men, as long as men are not angels.

Everything is good or bad according to the use made of it and the advantage derived from it. The ends justify the means. And now, if you ask me why I, a republican, everywhere give preference to absolute government, I will tell you. In my country, I witnessed the inconstancy and cowardice of the people, its predilection for servitude, its incapacity to conceive and respect the conditions of free life. In my view, the people represent a blind force that dissipates sooner or later, unless taken in hand by a single man. I answer that the people, left alone, only know how to destroy themselves. They are incapable of knowing how to administer, judge, and make war. I tell you that the brilliance of Greece shone only during the eclipse of liberty, that without the despotism of the Roman aristocracy, and later, the despotism of the emperors, the brilliant civilization of Europe would never have developed.

Shall I look for examples among modern states? They are so striking and so numerous that I shall cite only the first that come to mind.

The Italian republics shone under what institutions and under which men? Under which sovereigns did Spain, France, and Germany establish their power. The Leo X's, the Julius II's, the Phillip II's, the Barbarossas, the Louis XIV's, the Napoleons are all men of awesome strength, whose hands were placed more often on the hilts of their swords than on the charters of their states.

But I'm surprised to have to speak at such length to convince the illustrious writer who's listening to me now. If I'm not mistaken, aren't a number of these ideas found in The Spirit of the Laws? Has this discourse offended that sober and reserved man who has dispassionately meditated upon the problems of politics? The Encyclopedists were no Catos. The author of The Persian Letters was not a saint, nor even fervently devout. Our school, which is called immoral, followed the true God more than did philosophers of the eighteenth century.

Montesquieu: I have listened to you attentively. Even your last statement fails to rile me, Machiavelli. Will you be so good as to listen to me and allow me the same liberty to express myself?

Machiavelli: I'll keep quiet and listen in respectful silence to the man they call the legislator of nation.

Second Dialogue

Montesquieu: Your doctrines contain nothing new to me, Machiavelli, and if I experience some difficulty in refuting them, it is less because of their frightening implications than because, whether true or false in particular instances, they have no philosophic basis. I understand very well that you are above all a political man, and that facts impress you more than ideas. But you will agree nevertheless that when the question concerns government, it is incumbent on us to lay down certain principles. You leave no place in your politics for morals, religion, or justice. You have on your lips but two words: force and cunning. A system that can be summed up by saying that force plays a great role in human affairs, and that cunning is a prerequisite for statesmen expresses truisms, you know full well, that need no demonstration. But if you set up violence as a principle and cunning as a maxim of government, and if your calculations take into account none of the laws of human nature, then the code of tyranny you acclaim is no more than the law of the jungle. Animals also are cunning and strong and, in effect, no right is recognized among them other than brute force. But I don't think your reductionist thinking goes that far, for you recognize the existence of good and evil.

It is your principle that good can come from evil, and that it is permitted to do evil when it may result in a good. Thus, you don't say that betraying one's word is good itself, that it is good to put corruption, violence, and murder to use. Rather, you say that a person can be a traitor when it's useful, kill when it's necessary, and take another's goods when it's advantageous. I hasten to add that, in your system, these maxims apply only to princes, and only when it is a question of their interests or those of the state. Consequently, the prince has the right to break his oaths. He may shed torrents of blood to seize and keep power. He may despoil those he has banished, overturn all law, promulgate new ones, then violate these, squander finances, corrupt, repress, punish, and threaten continually.

Machiavelli: But haven't you yourself said that in despotic states fear is necessary, virtue useless, and honor dangerous, that blind obedience is required, and that the prince is lost if he lowers his guard for an instant. [2]

Montesquieu: Yes, I did say that. But when I discovered, as you did, the horrible conditions on which tyrannical power depends, it was to excoriate it, not to celebrate it, to incite a horror in my country, which, fortunately for her, has never bent her head under such a yoke. How is it you can't see that the use of force is only an exception in the conduct of orderly societies and that even the most arbitrary powers are forced to search for their sanction in considerations divorced from theories of force? It is not only in the name of interest of state, it is also in the name of duty that all oppressors act. They violate its strictures but they invoke it nevertheless. It follows that state interests are inadequate of themselves to justify the ends and therefore the means that they put to use.

Machiavelli: Here, I must stop you. You do take such interest into account. And that is enough to justify all those political necessities that are not in accord with justice.

Montesquieu: You invoke raison d'etat. But look, I won't posit for the basis of societies precisely that which destroys them. In the name of such interests, princes and peoples, in their capacity as citizens, will only commit crimes. State interests, you say! But how do I know whether it is really advantageous for the state to commit this or that iniquity? Don't we both know that the interest (if the state most often serves as cover for the interest of the prince and of the corrupt favorites that surround him? I avoid such consequences by positing justice as the basis of the very existence of societies. This is because the notion of justice sets limits that such interest must not pass beyond.

If you were to ask me what is the foundation of justice, I would tell you that it is morality, whose precepts contain nothing doubtful or obscure, because they are written in all religions and are imprinted in luminous characters in the conscience of man. It is from this pure source that all civil, political, economic, and international laws must flow.

Ex eodum jure, sive ex eoded fonte, sive ex eodem principio.

But it is here that the inconsistency of your argument is most flagrant. You are Catholic; you are Christian; we worship the same God. You accept His commandments. You accept morality. You accept justice in human relations. But you trample upon all its rules where the state or prince is concerned. In short, according to you, politics has nothing at all to do with morality. You allow the monarch what you forbid the subject. Depending on whether the same actions are done by the weak or the strong, you glorify or condemn them. They are crimes or virtues depending on the rank of the one who performs them. You praise the prince for having done them and you send the subject to the galleys. You do not consider the fact that no society based on such maxims could endure. Do you believe that a subject will keep his promises for long when he sees the sovereign betray his? That he will respect the laws when he knows that the lawgiver has violated them, and continues to violate them every day? Do you believe that a subject will hesitate to embark upon the path of violence, corruption, and fraud when he constantly sees walking there those who are charged with leading him? Stop deceiving yourself. Each act of usurpation by the prince in the public domain authorizes a similar infraction where the subject is concerned. Each act of political betrayal engenders the same in society at large. Each act of violence in high places legitimates one in low. Note well what happens to the relations among men in civil society.

And as for the relations between citizens and their rulers, I don't need to tell you that it means the introduction of civil war into the bosom of a society already in a turbulent situation. The silence of the people is only the truce of the vanquished, for which complaint is a crime. Wait until the people awaken. You have devised the theory of force. Rest assured. It will sink into the minds of the people. At the first occasion, they will break their chains on the most trifling of pretexts and take back by force what force has wrested from them.

The maxim of despotism is the Jesuitical saying Perinde ac Cadaver -- kill or be killed. That's all there is to its law. Today the people are brutalized. Tomorrow civil war. At least things happen this way in European climes. In the Orient, people doze peacefully in the degradation of slavery.

Thus, princes cannot let themselves do what private morality does not permit. This is my conclusion. It is categorical. You thought that you could confound me by citing examples of many great men who have undertaken bold acts in violation of the laws and given their countries peace and sometimes glory. And from this you draw your great conclusion: good comes from evil. I'm not very impressed by it. It hasn't been proved to my satisfaction that these bold men have done more good than evil, nor that society would not have been saved and maintained without them. The measure of safety that they bring does not compensate for the germs of dissolution that they introduce into states. A few years of anarchy are often much less deadly for a kingdom then several years of stultifying despotism.

You admire great men. I admire only great institutions. For people to be happy, I believe that they have less need of men of genius than men of integrity. But, if you wish, I concede that some violent enterprises that you defend could have been advantageous for certain states. These acts might be justified in ancient societies where slavery and the belief in fate prevailed. They reappear in the Middle Ages and even in modern times. But as manners have grown softer, as enlightenment has spread among the diverse peoples of Europe, and above all, as the principles of political science have become better known, justice has been substituted for force in theory and in practice. Undoubtedly, the politics of free societies will always be stormy and many crimes will be committed in liberty's name. But a fatalistic mindset no longer exists. If you could say in your time that despotism was a necessary evil, you could not say so today, because given the present state of manners and political institutions among the principal peoples of Europe, despotism has become impossible.

Machiavelli: Impossible? If you succeed in proving that to me, I'll agree to start turning my thought around to your direction.

Montesquieu: I will prove it, if you are still willing to give me the lead.

Machiavelli: I'm quite willing. But be careful. I think that you are undertaking quite a task.

Third Dialogue

Montesquieu: A dense mass of shadows is coming toward this shore. The place where we are now will soon be overrun. Come over to this side, or else we'll soon be separated.

Machiavelli: Your last statement is less tenable than your remarks at the beginning of our conversation. I find that you have overstated the implications of principles found in The Spirit of the Laws.

Montesquieu: In that work, I purposely avoided elaborating long theories. If hearsay were not your only access to the work, you would see that the particular developments I mention readily for now from the principles there posited. Moreover, I freely confess that the knowledge I have acquired of recent times has not modified or added anything to my ideas.

Machiavelli: Do you seriously intend to argue that despotism is incompatible with prevailing political conditions in Europe?

Montesquieu: I did not say in every country but, if you wish, I will name the ones where the advance of political science has brought about this grand development.

Machiavelli: Which are these?

Montesquieu: England, France, Belgium, a portion of Italy, Prussia, Switzerland, the German Confederacy, Holland, even Austria, which is to say, as you see, almost all the countries over which the Roman world formerly extended.

Machiavelli: I know a little of what has happened in Europe from 1527 to the present, and I confess I am quite curious to hear you back up your claim.

Montesquieu: Well, listen, and maybe you'll end up being convinced. It is not men but institutions that preserve the reign of liberty and sound morals in states. All the good, indeed all the bad, which redounds to man in society, necessarily depends on the correct or incorrect ordering of institutions. And when I call for the most correct institutions, you understand that, following the fine words of Solon, I mean the most perfect institutions that peoples are able to support. That is to say, I don't presuppose impossible conditions and, consequently, I distance myself from those deplorable reformers who claim to found societies on a purely rational basis without taking into account climate, habits, morals, and even prejudices.

Originally, the role of institutions in nation making was narrowly conceived but has since evolved. Antiquity showed us marvelous civilizations and states in which the conditions for free government were admirably understood. The peoples of the Christian era have had more difficulty putting constitutions in harmony with the dynamics of political life, but they have profited from the lessons of antiquity, and with infinitely more complicated civilizations, they have nevertheless arrived at more perfect results.

One of the foremost causes of anarchy and despotism was the theoretical and practical ignorance that had so long existed in the states of Europe regarding the fundamental principles of organizing political power. At a time when sovereignty rested solely in the person of the prince, how could the right of the nation be guaranteed? How could power not be tyrannical when the person who was charged with executing the laws was also the lawmaker? How could the citizens be protected from arbitrary rule, when the legislative and executive powers were from the first mixed together, and when judicial power subsequently came to be united in the same hands?

I know full well that certain ideas of liberty and certain notions of public rights eventually penetrated the consciousness of even the most benighted. Yet they were but feeble obstacles to the unlimited power of absolute monarchy. On the other hand, the fear of popular anarchy and the gentle disposition of certain kings did lead some of them to make moderate use of the excessive powers with which they were invested. But it is no less true that such precarious guarantees existed at the discretion of the monarch who, in principle, possessed the goods, rights, and person of his subjects. In Europe, the separation of powers has solved the problem of free societies, and if anything can alleviate my anxiety in the hours before the Last Judgment, it is the thought that my time on earth had something to do with this great emancipation.

You were born, Machiavelli, at the end of the Middle Ages, and with the renaissance of the arts, you witnessed the dawn of modern times. But let me point out that the society in which you lived was still quite infected with barbarism. Europe was an arena. The ideas of war, domination, and conquest filled the heads of statesmen and princes. I know that force counted for everything and justice very little in those times. Kingdoms were the prey of conquerors. Within states, sovereigns fought lords; the lords crushed cities. In the midst of feudal anarchy that brought all Europe to arms, the people, trampled under foot, had been habituated to regard princes and nobles as preordained divinities, to whom the human race was delivered. You were born into times filled with tumult but also with grandeur. You observed intrepid commanders, men of iron, and audacious geniuses. And this world of disorder in all its complex and colorful variety appeared to you as it would to an artist whose imagination was more affected than his moral sense. In my opinion, this is what explains The Prince. A short while ago, your Italian deviousness was put to use to sound me out about what I thought about that work. You were amused. But in attributing The Prince to the caprice of a diplomat, you weren't so far from the truth after all. Since your time, however, the world has moved forward. Today people regard themselves as the arbiters of their destinies. The claims of privilege and aristocracy have been destroyed in theory and practice. They have raised in its tead a principle that would be quite novel to you, a descendant of Marquis Hugo -- the principle of equality. They see those who govern merely as their representatives. They have fought civil wars to put the principle of equality into practice and it summons an adamant allegiance. They value these laws as their blood, because these laws have in a real sense cost the blood of their ancestors.

A while ago, I spoke to you of wars. I am aware that they are always raging. But one of the primary indications of progress is that conquered states in today's world no longer forfeit their property to the conquerors. Rights and guarantees that you are hardly aware of in international law today regulate the relations among nations as civil law regulates the relations of subjects in each nation.

After having secured their personal rights by civil laws and international obligations by treaties, people wanted to put themselves in an ordered relation with their princes and so they secured their political rights by constitutions. People were subjected for a long time to arbitrary rule because of the blending of powers. This allowed princes to make tyrannical laws and to execute them tyrannically. Now, the three powers of the state -- legislative, executive, and judicial -- are separated by constitutional demarcations that could not be breached without sounding the alarm to the whole body politic.

By this single reform, itself an immense accomplishment, internal public right was created and the superiority of the principles that constitute it became manifest. The person of the prince ceases to be confounded with the notion of the state. Sovereignty is seen to derive its authority from the very heart of the nation. Power is divided between the prince and other political bodies in a way that preserved their independence. In the presence of such an illustrious statesman, I don't want to go into detail describing what is known in England and France as the constitutional regime. Today it is operational in the major European states, not only because it is an expression of the most advanced political science, but above all because it is the only practicable mode of government given the ideas of modern civilization.

Political society is always governed by laws. This holds no less in tyrannical regimes than in free societies. Therefore, all the safeguards a citizenry enjoys depend on the way the laws are made. If the prince is the sole lawgiver, he will make only tyrannical laws. It would be fortunate if he did not overthrow the state's constitution in a few years but, eventually, we would arrive at absolute rule. If a Senate is the lawgiver, oligarchy is established, a regime odious to the people because it gives to them as many tyrants as there are rulers; if the people are the lawgivers, the tendency is toward anarchy, which is but another route to despotism. If an Assembly elected by the people is the lawgiver, the primary problem is already solved, for this is the very foundation of representative government, which today flourishes in all of southern Europe.

But even an Assembly of the people's representatives, if it alone possessed all legislative power, would not hesitate to abuse its power and expose the state to the greatest dangers. The properly constituted regime, a happy compromise of aristocracy, democracy, and monarchy, simultaneously partakes of these three forms of government through a balance of powers which seems to be the masterpiece of the human mind. The person of the sovereign remains sacred and inviolable. Although he keeps many major prerogatives necessary for the good of the state, his essential role is to be the living embodiment of the bws with responsibility for their faithful execution. He is no longer personally accountable for everything. Responsibility is also assumed by the ministers that he brings into his government. The law, which he proposes alone or concurrently with another body of the state, is drawn up by a council composed of men experienced in affairs of state. It is then submitted to an upper chamber which is hereditary or sits for life and which examines the law's provisions to determine whether they contain anything contrary to the constitution. The law is then voted on by a popularly elected legislative body and subsequently interpreted by an independent judicial body. If the law is bad, it is rejected or amended by the legislative body and the upper chamber opposes Is adoption if it is contrary to the principles on which the constitution rests.

You understand that the mechanisms of this system can be adapted in a thou sand ways according to the temperament of the people to which it is applied. Its great achievement ~ to reconcile order and liberty, stability and change, and to bring about the participation of all citizens in public life, thereby defusing popular insurrection. Such a country is self-governing. When different majorities are elected to the legislature, new ministers are named to form a new government.

As you see, relations between the prince and subjects rest upon a vast system of guarantees whose unshakable foundations are found in the social order. No administrative act can touch anyone's property. The judiciary protects individual liberty .In criminal cases, the peers of the accused sit in judgment. A Supreme Court oversees all lower courts and is charged with reversing unfortunate decisions. The citizens themselves are armed for the defense of their rights by forming citizen militias that complement the work of the police in the cities. By right of petition, the most humble individual can bring his grievance to the door of the sovereign assemblies that represent the nation. Regional districts are ad ministered by elected government officials. Each year, large provincial assemblies, likewise popularly elected, convene to express the needs and wishes of the surrounding populace.

This is the merest sketch, O Machiavelli, of some of the institutions that flourish today in modern states and notably in my beloved homeland. But as access to information is the essence of free countries, none of these institutions could long survive if they did not function in full view. These institutions were given the breath of life by a power unknown in your century and only born in my time. I refer to the press, long proscribed, still decried through ignorance, to which could be applied the felicitous phrase spoken by Adam Smith about credit; it is a public thoroughfare. In effect, along this thoroughfare, all the ideas of modern peoples move. In the state, the press performs functions similar to traditional police powers. It voices needs, conveys complaints, denounces abuses and arbitrary acts. It compels the depositories of power to keep within moral bounds, and to do this, it suffices to place them before public opinion.

In societies regulated in such a way, O Machiavelli, how could you advance the ambitions of princes and the designs of tyranny? I am aware of the agonizing convulsions through which these advances triumphed. In France, liberty, steeped in blood during the revolution, returned only with the restoration. Even then, new disturbances were brewing. But all the principles, all the institutions of which I have spoken had already become a part of the mores of France and the peoples who had come under the influence of her civilization. I've finished, Machiavelli. Today, states as well as sovereigns are governed only by the rules of justice. A minister in the present age, inspired by your lessons, would not remain in power a year! The monarch who tried to put into practice the maxims of The Prince would bring upon himself the reprobation of his subjects. He would be banished from Europe.

Machiavelli; You think so?

Montesquieu: Please. Excuse my bluntness.

Machiavelli: Certainly.

Montesquieu: May I assume that you have changed your ideas somewhat?

Machiavelli: I intend to demolish, piece by piece, an the fine things you have just said and to demonstrate to you that ally my doctrines prevail, even today, despite new ideas, despite new morals, despite your so-called principles of public right, despite all the institutions you have just described. But allow me, first, to ask one question. Your knowledge of contemporary history ends where?

Montesquieu: The information I've collected concerning different European states is current to the end of 1847. My wanderings through these infinite spaces filled with this motley crowd of souls haven't brought me into contact with any one who could tell me anything about subsequent periods. Since I descended into this dismal dwelling place, I've spent about half a century among ancient peoples, and it has only been for a quarter of a century that I've come across great numbers of modern peoples. Moreover, most of these have been from the most remote comers of the world. I don't even know what year it actually is.

Machiavelli: Here the last are indeed the first, O Montesquieu. The statesman of the Middle Ages, the political man of barbarous times, knows more about the history of modern times than the philosopher of the eighteenth century. It is the year of grace, 1864.

Montesquieu: Please, tell right away, I beg you, O Machiavelli, what has happened in Europe since 1847?

Machiavelli: With your permission, not until I have given myself the pleasure of refuting your core theories.

Montesquieu: As you wish, but rest assured that I have no misgivings in this regard. Centuries are necessary to change the principles and form of government under which people have been accustomed to live. No new political teaching could have any effect in the fifteen years that have just elapsed, and, in any case, even if it were possible, the doctrines of Machiavelli would never be the ones that triumph

Machiavelli: That's what you think. Now you listen to me.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:30 am

Part 2 of 2

Fourth Dialogue

Machiavelli: While listening to your theories on the separation of powers and the benefits the peoples of Europe owe to it, I could not prevent myself, Montesquieu, from marveling at the extent to which the greatest minds could be deluded by such a system.

Impressed by the institutions of England, you thought that the constitutional regime could be made the universal panacea for states. But you did not foresee the irresistible movement of history that tears societies today loose from their old traditions. It will not take two centuries for this form of government that you so admire to be merely a memory in Europe, something antiquated and obsolete, like Aristotle's theory of drama and the rule of the three unities of time, place, and action.

First, let me examine your political mechanism in the abstract. You balance the three powers and you limit each to its sphere. One win make the Jaws; an other win interpret them; a third win execute them. The prince win reign; ministers will govern. A marvelous thing-this constitutional seesaw! You have foreseen everything, regulated everything, but haven't provided for movement. No action would result from such a system. If this system functions precisely as you theorize, it would result in immobility. But in reality, things won't happen this way. At the first opportunity, movement win occur by the release of one of those springs that you have so painstakingly compressed. Do you think that the powers will remain for long within the constitutional bounds you have assigned them, and that they will not end up breaking them? Where is the independent Assembly that will not aspire to sovereignty? Where is the court that will not bend to the pressure of public opinion? Above all, where is the prince who win not, in his innermost thoughts, contemplate overthrowing the rival powers that constrain his activities? In reality, you have placed at loggerheads an opposing forces, encouraged usurpation, and given power to all parties involved. You have put the prospect of ruling before all the ambitious and would make the state an arena where factions are unleashed. In a short while there would be disorder everywhere. Longwinded orators would transform deliberative assemblies into debating contests. Audacious journalists and unscrupulous pamphleteers would attack the character of the sovereign every day and discredit the government, ministers, and officials. ...

Montesquieu: I am well acquainted with these criticisms of free governments. To my mind, they carry no weight. Abuses do not constitute a condemnation of the institutions themselves. I know many states that have lived in peace for a long time under such laws. I pity those that are not able to experience them.

Machiavelli: Hold on! In your theories, you have taken into consideration individual social groups. But there are huge numbers of people whose poverty chains them to their work in the same way that slavery did in former times. I ask you, what do an your parliamentary conventions have to do with their welfare? After all, this vaunted political development has merely resulted in the triumph of a privileged minority , elevated by chance, as the former nobility was by birth. What does it matter to the proletarim, bent over his work, oppressed by the weight of his fate, that a few orators have the right to speak and a few journalists to write? For the masses, the rights you have created will forever remain unrealized since they are incapable of putting them to \Be. Theoretically, the law promises the enjoyment of such rights, while circumstances prevent their actual exercise. This merely underscores the bitter irony of their fate. I ten you that some day they win take up their rights and spitefully destroy them in order to give themselves over to despotism.

Montesquieu: What scorn Machiavelli has for humanity and how base he must think modern peoples are! Alrnighty God, I refuse to believe that You have created men so vile. Whatever Machiavelli may say, he is ignorant of the principles and character of contemporary civilization. Today, both God and society sanction work. And far from being a sign of man's servitude, it is what brings men into social groups and is the means by which their equal rights are asserted

Political rights are hardly meaningless for people in states where the law recognizes no privileged class and where an careers are open to individual enterprise. Without doubt, inequality in matters of intelligence and fortunes brings about inevitable inequalities among individuals in the enjoyment of their rights. This would hold true in any society .But isn't the recognition of such rights enough to fulfill the promise of the Enlightenment to assure for men their fullest possible emancipation? For thoe very people destined by birth to the most humble conditions, does the consciousness of their autonomy, and dignity as citizens, mean nothing? But that's only one side of the coin. If the spiritual dignity of peoples is tied to liberty, they are no less strongly attached to liberty by their material interests.

Machiavelli: I was expecting you to bring this up. Your school has posited principles whose ultimate consequences seem to escape you. You believe that they lead to the rule of reason. I am going b show that they bring back the rule of force. As originally conceived, the essence of your political system consists in giving nearly equal influence to each of the various powerful groups composing society, in order to bring an even balance to their social interests. You don't want the aristocratic element to dominate the democratic element. However, the temper of your institutions is to give more power to the aristocracy than to the people and more power to the prince than to the aristocracy, thereby calibrating the powers according to the political capacities of those who are to exercise them.

Montesquieu: That's true.

Machiavelli: You have the different classes of society participating in public affairs according to their aptitude and enlightenment. You put power in the hands of the property-holding classes by giving them the right to vote and they restrain the people through their collective common sense. Freedom of expression empowers popular opinion in such nations. The aristocracy sets the tone by its grand bearing. Through its preeminence, the throne lends majestic brilliance. You tenaciously preserve all traditions, the memory of all great historical events, and the celebration of greatness. On the surface, the society appears monarchical, but at bottom everything is democratic, for in reality there are no barriers between classes and work is the means to all fortunes. Isn't it something like this?

Montesquieu: Yes, Machiavelli. At least you are able to understand thoughts you don't agree with.

Machiavelli: Well, all these things are passe or will disappear like a dream, for you must contend with a new principle that is causing the lightning-like disintegration of all institutions.

Montesquieu: And what is this principle?

Machiavelli: Popular sovereignty. Take it from me. They will find a way to square the circle before the balance of powers will be reconciled with the existence of such a principle in nations where it is accepted. It is absolutely inevitable that the people, one day or another, will take over an power that ultimately resides in them. Will they hold onto it? No. After a few days, they will cast it aside and out of weariness confer it on the first soldier of fortune they come across. You know in your country in 1793 how the French rabble treated the representative monarchy. The people asserted their sovereignty by severing the head of their king. They then squandered all their rights and delivered themselves over to Robespierre, Barras, Bonaparte.

You are a great thinker but you do not appreciate the infinite baseness of the people. I am not describing those of my time but those of yours. They grovel in the face of strength and are without pity in the face of weakness. They are implacable in the face of trifling faults and indulgent toward crimes. They are incapable of tolerating the frustrations of a free society and patient to the point of martyrdom with all the outrages of audacious despotism. They overturn thrones in moments of anger. They hand themselves over to masters in whom they par don outrages which, for much slighter reason, they would have decapitated twenty constitutional kings.

Try to find justice then, try to find right, stability, order, and respect for complicated forms of your parliamentary machinery, when you're faced with violent, undisciplined, faithless masses whom you've told the following: .'You personify justice; you are the masters; you are the arbiters of the state." Oh! I'm quite aware that the prudent, politic Montesquieu, who posited certain principles but was reserved in spelling out all the implications, did not write the doctrine of popular sovereignty into The Spirit of the Laws. But, as you said a short while ago, certain things follow implicitly from the principles you set down there. The similarity of your doctrines with those of The Social Contract is readily apparent. And the day the French revolutionaries, swearing in verba magistra, proclaimed that "a constitution can only be the free compact among equals," monarchic and parliamentary government was sentenced to death in your country. It was useless to try to restore the principles of such government. It was useless for your Louis xvm, upon returning to France, to try to show that his powers had their source in the declarations of '89, which he pretended were but a royal concession. This pious fraud of the aristocratic monarchy flew in the face of history. It was to disappear in the conflagration of the 1830 revolution, as the govern ment of 1830, in its own right. ...

Montesquieu: Come on, out with it.

Machiavelli: Let's not jump ahead of ourselves. What we both know of the past allows me to claim that the principle of popular sovereignty destroys an stability and indirectly consecrates the right of revolution. It puts societies in open conflict with all human authorities and even with God. It is the very incarnation of force. It turns the people into a ferocious beast, which goes to sleep when it is surfeited with blood and then is enchained. And here is the inevitable path followed by societies whose conduct is regulated by that principle. Popular sovereignty engenders demagoguery; demagoguery engenders anarchy; anarchy leads to despotism. According to you, despotism is barbarism. Well, don't you see that peoples return to barbarism via civilization?

And what's more, no matter how you look at it,. despotism is the only form of government really suited to the social conditions of modern peoples. You said that their material interests attach them to liberty. Surely, you jest. In general, what kinds of states require liberty? Those animated by great sentiments and passions, by heroism, by faith, even by honor, as you used to characterize the French monarchy. Stoicism could produce a free people. Christianity, under certain conditions, could do the same. I understand the necessity of liberty for Athenians and Romans, people from nations that thirsted only for military glory, whose every aspiration was satisfied by war, who, moreover, required a most vigorous and enthusiastic patriotism in order to triumph over their enemies.

Public liberties were the natural patrimony of states where manual labor and productive tasks were relegated to slaves and where a man was worthless unless he was a citizen. I also perceive liberty in certain Christian periods, notably in small states, as in Italy or Germany, confederated like the Greek republics. In them, I also find some of the natural causes that make liberty necessary. It was much less problematic when there was an unquestioned principle of authority, when people, working in regimented, tutelary guilds docilely obeyed the beck and call of their pastors. If political emancipation had been attempted then, it would have taken place without danger for it would have been accomplished in conformity with the principles upon which the existence of all societies depend. But your large states depend solely on industry for survival and are populated by the godless and faithless. When popular aspirations are no longer satisfied by war and violent forces turn inward, liberty, and the principles upon which it is founded, can only be a cause of dissolution and ruin. I might add that liberty is no more necessary to the moral needs of individuals than to states.

Bored of ideas and under the shock of revolution, cold and disillusioned societies have emerged, indifferent to politics and religion. They are no longer moved by anything but material possessions and live only in terms of self-interest, worshipping only gold. Their mercantile morals rival those of the Jews whom they have taken for models. Do you really think it is love of liberty itself that leads the lower classes to mount an assault on authority? It is rather hatred for the well-off. Basically, it is to rob them of their riches, the means to pleasures they covet.

The well-off call for law and order, executive energy, and strength. They demand of the state but one thing, its protection against the turmoil that its feeble constitution can not withstand, the security necessary for the maintenance of their possessions and the conduct of their businesses. What forms of government would you establish in societies where corruption has insinuated itself everywhere, where fortune is acquired only by fraud, where morality can no longer be guaranteed except by repressive laws, and where patriotism itself has been extinguished by an amorphous universal cosmopolitanism?

I don't see any salvation for such societies, veritable colossuses with feet of clay, except by instituting extreme centralization, placing all public power at the disposal of those who govern. What is needed is a hierarchical administration similar to that of the Roman Empire, which regulated with machine-like precision all the movements of the individual. It calls for a vast system of legislation that takes back bit by bit all the liberties that had been imprudently bestowed -- in sum, a gigantic despotism that could strike immediately and at any time all who resist and complain. I think the Caesarism of the late Empire answers fairly well to what I would want for the well-being of modern societies. I have been told that such vast apparatuses already exist in more than one country in Europe, and thanks to them, these countries can live in peace, like China, Japan, and India. It's only vulgar prejudice that makes us look down on these oriental civilizations whose institutions one learns to appreciate more every day. The Chinese, for example. are very good businessmen and their lives are very well regulated.

Fifth Dialogue

Montesquieu: I hesitate to respond: Machiavelli, because what you just said is uttered with a kind of fiendish maliciousness that you leave me with the suspicion that your statements are not completely in accord with your real thoughts. Yes, you are capable of devastating rhetorical skins that play with the truth and you are indeed the dark genius whose name is still dreaded by current generations. I also freely grant, however, that too much would be lost if such a powerful mind were to keep its silence. I want to hear you out. And I even want to respond to you, although I now have come to the conclusion that I have little hope of convincing you. You have just painted a truly sinister picture of modern society. I am not able to judge whether it's a good rendering. The least I can say is that it is incomplete. In everything, good is mixed with bad, but you have portrayed only the latter. Furthermore, you have not given me the means to verify the extent to which you are correct. I don't know which people or states you had in mind when you drew this brak picture of contemporary life.

Machiavelli: All right, let's take as a test case the most civilized nation in Europe, which, I hasten to say, should correspond least to the portrait I have just painted.

Montesquieu: Do you mean France?

Machiavelli: Yes, of course.

Montesquieu: You're right, for it is in France that the sinister doctrines of materialism have penetrated least. France has remained the home of great ideas and great passions, the sources of which you think have dried up. Those great princples of public right that you see as having no role in the government of states emanates from France.

Machiavelli: You might add that it's the field of experiment consecrated to political theories.

Montesquieu: As yet I know of no historical experiment that demonstrates any durable benefits from the establishment of despotism, in France any more than in any other nation. Above all else this brings me to the conclusion that your theories on the inevitability of absolute power are quite inconsistent with the reality of things. Until now, I know of only two European states, Turkey and Russia, completely bereft of liberal institutions, which everywhere else have mitigated the pure monarchical element. And yet if you look closely at the internal changes taking place in the heart of Russia, perhaps you'd find intimations of an approaching transformation. I know you predict that in the more or less distant future, peoples, menaced by inevitable disintegration, will return to despotism as to the ark of their salvation. They will bring into being great absolute monarchies similar to those of Asia. But this is only a prediction. How long will it take?

Machiavelli: No more than a century.

Montesquieu: Aren't you the clairvoyant. A century is still so much time gained. But now let me tell you why your prediction win not be borne out. Modern societies must not be seen through the eyes of the past. Everything has changed -- morals, habits, needs. When I come to judging the destiny of modern societies, reasoning from historical analogies is not completely cogent. Above all, one must beware of taking what is contingent for universal Jaws and of transforming what is particular to certain times and places into general rules. Given that periods of despotism in the past have occurred several times as a result of social upheavals, does it follow that despotism must be taken as the rule for government? I grant it has played a transitional role in history but I am far from concluding from this that it is an appropriate solution for the crises of modern times. Isn't it more reasonable to say that different evils call for different remedies; that different problems call for different solutions; and different social mores call for different political mores? The tendency to perfection and progress is a foreordained social law. Eternal Wisdom, if I may say so, has condemned us to it. It has denied them movement in a contrary direction. Societies are fated to progress.

Machiavelli: Or they die.

Montesquieu: Let's not put too much emphasis on extreme cases. Societies never die in the process of generation. When the constituted order is not suited to them, their institutions can subsequently change, fall into decay, and perish. But the process of generating a new social order takes centuries. In this way, the various peoples of Europe have been successively transformed from a feudal to a monarchic system and from a pure monarchy to a constitutional regime. There is nothing fortuitous in this progressive development, whose inherent direction is so clear. It was the necessary result of a progress in thought being translated into practice.

A society's form of government must be in harmony with its principles, and you run counter to this absolute law when you think that despotism is compatible with modern civilization. As long as people regarded the sovereign as a pure emanation of divine will, they submitted to absolute power without complaint. As long as the institutions under which they lived were incapable of assuring their welfare, they put up with arbitrary rule. But, from the moment their rights were recognized and solemnly declared, and more responsive institutions, based on free consent, were able to perform all the functions of the social body, princely politics was brought down. Power came to be regarded as subordinate to public purposes. The art of government was changed into administrative science. Today, things in states are organized so that the governing power merely appears as the engine where social power is generated.

Unquestionably, if you take it for granted that these societies are infected by all the corruption and vices that you just mentioned, they will rapidly disintegrate. But don't you see that this really begs the question? Since when does liberty debase souls and degrade character? These are not the lessons of history, which clearly reveal in the clearest terms that the greatest peoples have always been the freest. If morals are debased, as you say, in some part of Europe unknown to me, despotism must have been the cause, and liberty must have been extinguished. Therefore, liberty must be preserved where it exists and reestablished where it no longer exists.

Don't forget. We are basing our discussion on principles. And if yours are different from mine, they must at least be consistent. But you confuse me when you praise liberty in antiquity and condemn it in modern times, rejecting or accepting it depending on the time or place. Even assuming that these distinctions are justified, the principle remains intact, and I am only concerned with principle.

Machiavelli: I see you, like a skilled pilot, avoiding the reefs by keeping to the high seas. Generalizations are very convenient in arguments. But I confess that I am very curious to see how the sober Montesquieu deals with the problem of the principle of popular sovereignty. Up until now, I can't tell whether or not it's part of your system. Do you or do you not accept it?

Montesquieu: I can't answer a question posed in such terms.

Machiavelli: I can appreciate how the specter of popular sovereignty might well disconcert you.

Montesquieu: You're wrong, Machiavelli. But before answering I must remind you of the character of my writings and the function they served. You have tied my name to the iniquities of the French Revolution. This is quite a harsh judgment of a philosopher who proceeded so prudently in his quest for truth. I was born in a century of intellectual ferment, on the eve of a revolution that was to sweep away the ancient forms of monarchical government. I can say that I saw into all the practical consequences that this change of ideas would entail. I could not fail to see that the separation of powers would one day necessarily shift the seat of sovereignty.

This principle-poorly understood, poorly defined, above an, poorly applied-gave rise to terrible misunderstanding and shook French society from top to bottom. The consciousness of these dangers oriented my works. So while important innovators directly attacked the foundations of authority and unknowingly prepared a momentous catastrophe, I single-mindedly applied myself to the study of free governments to discover the fundamental principles upon which they rest. Statesman more than philosopher, jurist more than theologian, practical legislator-if I may be so bold to use such a word -- more than theoretician, I think I did more for my country in teaching it to govern itself than calling into question the very principle of authority. Yet, God forbid that I raise my self above those who, like me, have in good faith sought the truth! We all have made mistakes. But each bears the responsibility for his works.

Yes, Machiavelli, there is one thing I do not hesitate to grant. You were right when you said a little while ago that the emancipation of the French people had to take place in accord with the fundamental principles upon which the existence of human societies depend. And from this concession you will see how I am going to judge the principle of popular sovereignty.

For me, I don't accept a meaning of popular sovereignty that would effectively exclude the most enlightened classes in the society from rule. We are talking about a crucial distinction, that between a pure democracy and one that is representative. If sovereignty resides anywhere, it resides in the nation as a whole. Therefore, to begin with, I win call it national sovereignty. But this concept of sovereignty is not absolute. It is only relative. When the unrestrained exercise of man's power is viewed as legitimate, a profoundly subversive idea follows-the unquestioned supremacy of man-made law. This is the materialistic and atheistic doctrine that set the French Revolution upon its bloody course, and, after the delirium of independence, imposed a degrading despotism. It's not quite correct to say that nations are absolute masters of their destinies, for their sovereign master is God Himself, and they can never be beyond His power. If nations were absolutely sovereign, they could do anything-act against eternal justice, even against God. Who dares go so far? But the principle of divine right, as commonly understood, is no less deadly a principle in diminishing the people and delivering them over to obscurantism and arbitrary rule. It leads to a system of castes where the people are turned into a herd 'of slaves, led, as in India, by the hand of priests and trembling under the rod of the master. How could it be otherwise? If it is God who designates the sovereign as the very representative of the Divine on earth, he has complete power over the human beings under his sway. This power win admit of no restraint except the general rules of fairness, which will always be easy to evade.

The area between these two extreme positions is occupied by furious partisan conflict. Some cry: "no divine authority!" Others: "no human authority!" O Supreme Providence, I refuse to accept either of these alternatives. They both appear to me blasphemous and contrary to Your wisdom. The truth lies between a divine right that does not include man in its considerations and a human right that does not include God, Machiavelli. Nations, like individuals, are free in the hands of God. They possess all rights and all powers provided they are exercised in accord with the rules of eternal justice. Sovereignty is human in the sense that it is men who confer it and that it is men who exercise it. It is divine in the sense that it is God who institutes it and that it can only be exercised according to the precepts He has established.

Sixth Dialogue

Machiavelli: I'd like to determine exactly what follows from what you've just said. T o what extent does the hand of God control human affairs? Who determines who is sovereign?

Montesquieu: The people.

Machiavelli: It is written: Per me regnes regnant. Which literally means Through Me kings reign.

Montesquieu: Yours is a translation tailor-made for The Prince, O Machiavelli and in this century was the inspiration of one of your most illustrious partisans. But it doesn't come from Holy Scripture. God established sovereignty. He does not determine sovereigns. His almighty hand stopped at that point because it is there that human free will begins. "Kings reign according to my commandments. They must rule according to my laws." This is the meaning of the Holy Book. If it were otherwise, you'd have to say that Providence invests good and bad princes alike. We would have to bow down before Nero as well as Titus, before Caligula as well as Vespasian. No, God did not will that the most sacrilegious reigns could invoke His sanction and that the vilest tyrannies could claim His ordination. He has left to peoples as he has to kings the responsibility for their actions.

Machiavelli: I strongly doubt the orthodoxy of all this. Be that as it may, isn't it the people, according to you, who confer sovereign authority?

Montesquieu: Be careful, in the event you oppose such an argument, that you do not run up against a truth of pure common sense. What we are talking about is no historical novelty. In ancient times, in the Middle Ages, wherever rule was established other than by invasion or conquest, the free will of the people gave rise to sovereign power, originally by means of election. To cite only one example, in France the leader of the Carolingian line succeeded the descendants of Clovis, and the dynasty of Hugh Capet that of Charlemagne. [3] Of course, heredity eventually took the place of election. Because of their distinguished services and the public's gratitude, various traditions established the right to rule in the principal families of Europe. Nothing was more legitimate. But during periods of revolution, we revert to the fundamental principle of popular sovereignty .It is the ultimate appeal whereby authority never fails to gain consecration. This inherent principle has been explicitly recognized only recently in certain constitutions of modern states.

Machiavelli: But if the people choose their masters, can they then overthrow them? If they have the right to establish whatever form of government that suits them, who is to prevent them from changing it at will? A regime of ordered liberty will not be the result of your doctrines, but an era marked by continual revolutions.

Montesquieu: You are confusing the right with an abuse that mayor may not result from its exercise. In other words, you are confusing the principle with its application. These are fundamental distinctions that must be understood.

Machiavelli: Don't expect to get off so easily. I am asking you about what logically follows from your principles. Try to avoid the consequences if you wish. But do the people have the right to overthrow their sovereigns or not?

Montesquieu: Yes, in extreme cases and for just cause.

Machiavelli: Who will be the judge of these extreme cases and their justice?

Montesquieu: And who could it be, if not the people themselves? Has it been otherwise since time immemorial? No doubt this is a dangerous prerogative, but it is as salutary as it is necessary. To hold the contrary would command men to respect the most odious governments and force them back under the yoke of a preordained monarchy.

Machiavelli: Your system has only one drawback. It presupposes the infallibility of the people's collective reason. But being men, aren't they prone to passion, error, and injustice?

Montesquieu: If the people are mistaken, they will be punished as men who have sinned against the moral law.

Machiavelli: How so?

Montesquieu: The scourge of discord, anarchy, and despotism itself will be their punishment. There is no other justice on earth while awaiting God's.

Machiavelli: You just mentioned the word despotism. See how we always return to it.

Montesquieu: This comment is not worthy of your great intelligence, Machiavelli. I have considered the most extreme consequences of the principles you oppose, in spite of the fact that taking the extreme case effectively distorts the truth of things. God has granted peoples neither the power nor the will to change so radically those forms of government essential to their existence. In political societies, as with all organic beings, the very nature of things limits the range of the use of freedom. The thrust of your argument must be limited to what is reasonable.

You believe that revolutions will be more frequent because of modern ideas. In fact, they won't be more frequent, and will possibly be much less so. To repeat what you said a little while ago, nations today live through industry .And what seems to you a cause of servitude is instead a factor that leads to order and liberty. I am aware that industrial civilizations are plagued with severe problems, but their benefits must not be denied nor their tendencies distorted. Whatever anyone says, societies that live by means of work, exchange, and credit are essentially Christian, for all such powerful and varied forms of industry are basically applications of several great moral ideas derived from Christianity, the source of all strength and all truth.

Industry plays such a formidable role in the dynamics of modern societies that you can't account for them without considering its influence. Such maters have nothing to do with the way you think. The scientific principles of modern economics are derived from the study of the interconnectedness of modern industrial society which decidedly points away from the concentration of power. The tendency of economics is to see the political apparatus merely as a necessary but very costly mechanism, whose workings must be simplified. It reduces the role of government to such elementary functions that its greatest drawback perhaps is to destroy government's prestige. Industry is the archenemy of revolutions, for without social order, it perishes, and the vital sap that sustains modern peoples is stopped. Industry can not do without liberty and is itself only a manifestation of liberty. Furthermore, economic liberty necessarily gives rise to political liberty, so that it can be said that the most advanced industrial peoples are also the freest. Forget India and China, whose dismal fate is to live under absolute monarchy. Cast your eyes upon Europe and you will see.

You just mentioned the word despotism again. All right, Machiavelli. You are one whose dark genius has completely drunk in all hellish ploys, all occult schemes, all the artifices of law and government that could be used to enchain both the peoples' bodies and minds. You are one who despises men and wishes a terrible oriental domination over them. You are one whose political doctrines are borrowed from the frightful visions of Indian mythology. Please tell me, I beg you, how you could set up despotism among peoples where public right is firmly based on liberty, and where morality and religion also conduce to the same end. How is it possible among Christian nations that are sustained by commerce and industry and in states whose political institutions stand in full view to a free press that casts light into the most obscure recesses of power? Summon all the resources of your powerful imagination. Search. Contrive. And if you solve this problem, I will join you in declaring that the spirit of modernity is vanquished.

Machiavelli: You have dealt me a strong hand. Be careful or I might take you up at your word.

Montesquieu: Do so, I beg you.

Machiavelli: I fully expect to be up to the challenge.

Montesquieu: In a few hours, maybe we'll be separated. You're unfamiliar with this place. Follow me along this winding, dark footpath. For several more hours we can avoid the surging crowd of spirits over there.

Seventh Dialogue

Machiavelli: We can stop here.

Montesquieu: I'm listening.

Machiavelli: First, I must tell you that you are completely mistaken about what my principles imply. You always associate despotism with decadent forms of eastern monarchy, but I don't see things that way. Given new societies, new ways of proceeding are required. To rule today does not require committing atrocities, or decapitating your enemies, confiscating the goods of your subjects, or engaging in widespread torture. No. Death, expropriation, and torture should only play a minor role in the internal politics of modern states.

Montesquieu: That's nice.

Machiavelli: To be sure, I confess that I'm not terribly impressed with your complicated, clanging machinery of industrial civilizations. But, rest assured. I do keep up with the times. The strength of those doctrines associated with my name is their adaptability to all times and all situations. Today, Machiavelli has progeny who understand the worth of his teachings. Although I am thought to be very old, my eternal youthfulness is always in evidence.

Montesquieu: Are you serious?

Machiavelli: Listen and decide for yourself. Ruling today is less a question of doing men violence than of disarming them, less a question of repressing political passions than of de-politicizing men altogether, less a question of censoring their ideas than of assimilating them and subtly altering them.

Montesquieu: What? I don't understand what you're saying.

Machiavelli: We are talking about the moral dimension of politics and we'll soon see how it can be put to use. The principle secret of governing consists in sapping public spirit to the point where there is a total lack of interest in the ideas and principles that inspire revolutions today. In all times, peoples, like men, are bought off with words. Appearances are almost always enough for them. That's all they ask. Sham institutions can be established that rest on equally empty speech and ideas. The liberal slogans that are used by some par ties as weapons against the government must be cleverly co-opted. The people must be inundated with these slogans to the point of boredom, even disgust. Today much is made of the power of public opinion. I will show you that it can be made to express whatever one wants if the hidden springs of power are truly understood. But before thinking about controlling opinion, you have n disorient it, to unsettle its convictions by acting in astonishingly contradictory ways, constantly diverting it, mesmerizing it, little by little leading it astray. One of the great secrets of the day is to know how to manipulate popular prejudices and passions so as to create such a confused way of thinking that any common ground of understanding is impossible among people who speak the same language and have the same interests.

Montesquieu: Where are you headed with these thoughts? Their obscurity portends something sinister.

Machiavelli: If the wise Montesquieu intends to let emotions get in the way of politics, perhaps I should stop here. I did not claim to base my position on moral grounds. You challenged me to put a stop to what agitates your societies, constantly wracked by the spirit of anarchy and revolt. Will you let me say how I'd solve the problem? You can indulge your scruples by taking my argument as purely theoretical.

Montesquieu: O.K.

Machiavelli: I acknowledge your request for more clarity. I will make myself clear eventually. But first let me tell you what is essential for the prince if his hopes to consolidate power are to be realized. First of all, he must try to destroy parties and dissolve independent associations, wherever they exist, in order to paralyze individual initiative in all its forms. Civic character would thus be undermined, weakening all resistance to slavery. Absolute power will no longer be an accident of fortune, but will become a need. These political precepts are not entirely new, but, as I was telling you, the techniques must be. Simple police and administrative regulations can attain a great number of these ends. In your societies-so intricate and well ordered -- you have put a monster called the state in the place of absolute monarchs, a new Briareus whose arms extend every where, a colossal, tyrannical organism in whose shadow despotism will always be reborn. So, by invoking the authority of the state, nothing could be so easy as putting into effect the secret project I was talking about a short while ago. And the most powerful means to that end are likely to be precisely those that an able man may gather from this same industrial regime that you find so admirable. For example, a simple change of a regulation would allow me to bring into existence immense monopolies. The fate of all private fortunes would become completely dependent on these vast reservoirs of public wealth. They could be taken over on the credit of the state the day after my political catastrophe. You are an economist, Montesquieu. Weigh the value of such a scheme.

As head of the government, all my edicts, all my ordinances would constantly aim at the same goal-the annihilation of independent powers, whether of groups or individuals, to develop the unlimited dominance of the state, making it the most powerful force in protecting, promoting, and remunerating society's activities.

I have another scheme that the industrial order makes opportune. In contemporary times, the aristocracy, as a political force, has disappeared. But the middle class landowners are still an obstacle to governments because they are inherently autonomous. It might be necessary to impoverish them or destroy them completely. In order to do that, all you need to do is increase the taxes on landed property, keep agriculture in a condition of relative inferiority, and aggressively promote commerce and industry. But, above all, speculation must be encouraged to the fullest, for excessive industrial prosperity can itself become a danger by creating too many independent fortunes.

Industrial magnates and manufacturers can be effectively dealt with by heavily stimulating spending for luxuries, increasing the level of wages, and skillfully striking heavy blows at the sources of production. I don't need to elaborate on these ideas. You know them well enough and in what circum stances and under what pretexts all this can happen. The public interest and even a kind of zealous regard for liberty and great economic principles will easily provide a cover, if need be, for the true goal. It hardly needs to be said that maintaining a formidable army continually employed in foreign wars must be the indispensable complement to this system. The point must be reached where the state is composed of nothing but proletarians, a few millionaires, and soldiers.

Montesquieu: Continue.

Machiavelli: So much for the domestic policy of the state. As for foreign policy, revolutionary ferment, which is suppressed in one's own country, should be in cited throughout Europe. Two important advantages result. The turmoil bred of liberalism abroad will excuse its repression at home. Moreover, because you can easily promote either order or chaos in foreign countries, you will command their respect. The main thing is to infiltrate the seats of power and foment cabinet intrigues. In this way, European politics becomes so entangled that you can manipulate, by turns, any country with which you deal. Don't think that this duplicity, if it is well carried out, could eventually work against the sovereign. Alexander VI practiced nothing but deception in his diplomacy, yet he always succeeded, so well possessed was he of the wiles of the fox. [4] But in what is today called official language, a strikingly different approach must be taken. Here, you cannot affect too great a display of the spirit of integrity and goodwill. Given that people see only the surface of things, the sovereign who knows how to act in this way will gain a reputation for probity.

Whenever there is any domestic turmoil, the prince must be in a position to respond with a foreign adventure. Whenever revolution is imminent, with a general war. But in politics, words must never correspond with deeds. So in these different circumstances, the prince must be clever enough to disguise his true designs. He must always appear to yield to the power of opinion while he exe cutes what he has secretly contrived.

To sum up the whole scheme: within the state, revolution is contained by the fear of anarchy, bankruptcy, and more generally, by general war.

In the quick sketch I've given .you, you can already see the crucial role that the art of rhetoric is called upon to play in modern politics. As you will see, I don't minimize the importance of the press and I know how to use the public rostrum when needed. You must be able to employ all the weapons against your adversaries that they use against you. Rather than rely on the violent power of the "demos," I would recur to the principles of right, in order to turn its arcane subtleties into resources of power. When decisions are made that might appear unjust or reckless, it is essential to know how to couch them in fine phrases, to adorn them with the most elevated principles of morality and right.

As you see, I have in mind an idea of power that is far from barbaric. On the contrary, power must draw to itself all the strengths and talents of that civilization where it finds itself. It must surround itself with journalists, lawyers, administrators, and men of experience, with people who know all the hidden mysteries, all the essential springs of social life, people who can speak all languages and who have studied man in all situations. They must be recruited wherever they are found, for these people perform extraordinary services by virtue of the ingenious ways they apply their talents to politics. In addition, it must have a multitude of economists, bankers, industrialists, capitalists, planners, millionaires, for everything ultimately can be reduced to numbers.

Assume for a moment that I have at my disposal the various intellectual and material resources that I have just outlined to you. Now, give me any nation -- do you hear -- any nation whatsoever. In The Spirit of the Laws, you regard it as an essential maxim not to disturb the character of a nation, [5] that is, if you want to preserve its original vitality. Well, I wouldn't even need twenty years to trans form utterly the most indomitable European character and to render it as docile under tyranny as the debased people of Asia.

Montesquieu: While amusing yourself in this way, you have just added a chapter to The Prince. Whatever your doctrines, I won't debate them. I will only make one observation. It is clear that you have not upheld your end of the bargain. The use of any of these means presupposes absolute power, and I have asked you explicitly how you could obtain it in political societies that rest on liberal institutions.

Machiavelli: Your observation is perfectly correct and I don't intend to dodge it. This was only a preface.

Montesquieu: I ask you to deal with a state based on representative institutions, a monarchy or a republic, a nation with a long experience of liberty. I ask you how, from there, you could return to absolute power.

Machiavelli: Nothing could be easier.

Montesquieu: Shall we see?



1. The emphasis on Machiavelli is as it appeared in original publication.

2. The Spirit of the Laws IX 3.

3. The Spirit of the Laws XXXI 4.

4. The Prince XVII.

5. The Spirit of the Laws XIX 5.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:33 am

Part 1 of 3

Second Part

Eighth Dialogue

Machiavelli; Hypothetically, let me take the most difficult case, a state constituted as a republic. With a monarchy, the task would be much too easy. I choose a republic, because with such a form of government, I will encounter what seems an insurmountable obstacle as far as ideas, mores, and laws go. Is such a case all right with you? Give me a state of any size, large or small. I assume if to be endowed with all the institutions that guarantee liberty. But I want to put to you this one question. Do you think the ruling power is beyond subversion or what is today known as a coup d'etat?

Montesquieu; Certainly not. But at least you will agree with me that such an enterprise would be singularly difficult in contemporary political societies as presently organized.

Machiavelli: Why? Aren't such societies, like all societies throughout history, a prey to factions? Isn't civil war latent in all societies, subject to parties and rival claimants to power?

Montesquieu: I admit the possibility. But it won't take too much to keep you from drawing the wrong conclusions. Nowadays usurpers face great dangers and are repugnant to modern mores. They do not succeed very frequently and certainly don't have the significance you appear to want to lend them. Changing who governs does not lead to a change in institutions. A pretender may disturb the state. O.K. And I grant that his party may triumph. But power is in other hands. That's all. Public right and the institutional basis of power stay intact. That is the crucial thing for me.

Machiavelli: Can you really be so deluded?

Montesquieu: Show me the contrary.

Machiavelli; Do you grant that an armed enterprise directed against established authority might momentarily be successful?

Montesquieu; Yes.

Machiavelli; You have to appreciate exactly where I stand at this moment. For the time being, I have suppressed all power other than my own. The institutions still left standing present no real obstacle to me. It's all pure form. In fact, my will would face no real resistance. The Romans coined such a beautiful term for the extralegal position I hold -- dictatorship -- connoting both power and energy . That is to say that at this moment I can do as I wish. I am legislator, executive, judge, and as head of the army, I'm firmly in the saddle, so to speak.

Keep this in mind. In the circumstances, my triumph was due to the support of a faction. That means that this could only have been brought off in response to ongoing internal strife. Let me venture to pinpoint its causes: either a conflict between the aristocracy and the people or between the people and the propertied classes. This is the deepest and perhaps most salient source of social discord. It manifests itself in a cacophony of ideas and opinions, from contradictory pres sure groups and interests, as happens in all states where liberty is momentarily unleashed. Political elements of all kinds make their class interest felt. Present are remnants of previously victorious but now vanquished parties, unbridled ambitions, burning greed, implacable hatreds. There are men of every opinion and doctrine -- those that would restore former regimes, demagogues, anarchists, and utopians, all acting out of devotion to their cause and equally at work in trying to overthrow the existing order. What are we to conclude from such a situation? Two things. First, the country feels a great need for tranquillity and will refuse nothing to whatever power can provide it. Second, given these partisan divisions, there is no real locus of power or rather only one -- the people.

I am a former pretender, now victorious. Assume that I have a great historical name capable of capturing the imagination of the masses. Like Pisistratus, Caesar, even Nero, I find my support in the people. That is as elementary as the ARC's for every usurper. With them is found the blind power that enables the usurper to do anything with impunity and authority , using a name to cover everything. See how the people really care about your legal fictions and your constitutional guarantees!

At the center of factional dispute, I have induced silence. And now I'll show you what I will do.

Perhaps you remember the rules I set down in The Prince regarding the preservation of conquered territories. The usurper of a state is in a position analogous to that of a conqueror. He is forced to remake everything, to dissolve the state, to destroy the city, and to change the customary practices of right and wrong.

That is the goal. But in modern times, you can only get there by indirect routes and roundabout ways, by employing clever schemes, and eschewing violence, as much as possible. I won't destroy institutions directly; rather, one by one, I will secretly tamper with each of their mechanisms. In this way I will by turns rig the operation of the judicial branch, voting, the press, individual liberties, and education.

Beyond constitutional law, I would pass a whole new set of ordinary laws that would not expressly abrogate old ones but would first blunt their influence and then completely overshadow them. These are my general ideas. Now you will see in detail how I would put them into practice.

Montesquieu: If only you were still in the gardens of Rucellai, Machiavelli, discoursing on such lofty precepts. How regrettable that posterity can't hear you!

Machiavelli: Rest assured. All this is in The Prince, for those who know how to read.

Montesquieu: All right. It's the day after your coup d'etat. What are you going to do now?

Machiavelli: One big thing, then one very little thing.

Montesquieu: How about the big one first?

Machiavelli: Taking over power after a violent coup is not enough. In general, factions do not readily accept their defeat. An accurate reading of the usurper has yet to be made. A test of wills will follow. There will be armed uprisings against him. The moment has come to subject the entire city to a kind of terror that causes the most intrepid souls to shrink back.

Montesquieu: What are you up to? You told me that your rule repudiates blood baths.

Machiavelli: There is no place here for false humanity. Society is menaced. We've arrived at a point where its defense is legitimate. What looks like an excess of harshness and even cruelty will prevent new bloodletting down the line. You needn't ask about the details. Terror must enter their souls so that fear softens their characters.

Montesquieu: Yes, I remember what you said in The Prince when you recount how Borgia staged his cynical execution in Cesena. [ll You are ever the same.

Machiavelli: No, no, as you'll see later. I only act this way out of necessity. It pains me.

Montesquieu: Then who will actually spill this blood?

Machiavelli: The army -- that great arbiter of justice, whose hand never dishonors its victims! There are two things of the greatest consequence that follow from the army's handling of repression. One, it will find itself forever alienated from the civilian population that it so indiscriminately punished. Two, it will bind its fate to the fate of its leader with indissoluble ties.

Montesquieu: And you don't think that you'll be implicated in all this bloodletting?

Machiavelli: No. In any case, the people see the sovereign as above such things. The excesses of soldiers are not always easily contained. The generals and ministers who carried out my orders will be held responsible. I can assure you they will be fanatically devoted to me, for they know full well what would await them after me.

Montesquieu: So that's your first act as sovereign! Now shall we see the second?

Machiavelli: I don't know whether you have fully appreciated in politics how much power lies in little things. After doing what I just told you I'd do, I'd issue a great quantity of new currency, and upon each coin my image would be stamped.

Montesquieu: But given far graver affairs of state that you have to sort out, this would be frivolous.

Machiavelli: You think so? That's because you never held power. Having the human profile stamped upon coins is the clearest sign of power. At first, the proud will be consumed with anger, rot people will get used to it. The very enemies who oppose my power will be forced to. carry my portrait around in their purses. It is quite certain that little by little everyone will eventually learn to smile upon those features that are everywhere stamped on the material tokens of their joy. From the day that my image appears on coins, I am king.

Montesquieu: These are rather novel conceits, I confess. But haven't you forgotten that modern peoples are inclined to give themselves constitutions that guarantee their rights? Given that the origin of your power is force, plus the measures you said you would immediately take, you still find yourself in the presence of a fundamental charter whose principles, regulations, and provisions are completely contrary to your maxims of government.

Machiavelli: I'll enact another constitution. That's all.

Montesquieu: And you don't think that will raise other difficulties?

Machiavelli: What difficulty could there be? For the time being, there is no other will, no other power than mine, and the popular element of the regime serves as the basis of my action.

Montesquieu: That's true. However, I have one reservation. According to what you have just told me, I imagine that your constitution will not be a monument to liberty. Do you think a single crisis, a single display of timely violence, is sufficient to rob a nation of all its rights, all its achievements, all its institutions, all the principles under which it has been accustomed to live?

Machiavelli: Please! Not so fast. As I told you a moment ago, peoples, like men, are more impressed by appearances than reality. This notion lights the way in politics and I would scrupulously adhere to it. Please tell me the principles you prize most highly and I'll show you that they don't inconvenience me as much as you think.

Montesquieu: What are you going to do with them?

Machiavelli: Don't be timid. Name them.

Montesquieu: I admit my reluctance.

Machiavelli: Very well. I will remind you of them myself. No doubt, you would have mentioned the principle of the separation of powers, freedom of speech and the press, religious liberty , and personal rights. You might also have mentioned the right of association, equality before the law, the inviolability of personal property and the home, the right to petition, no taxation without representation, punishments proportionate to crimes, the prohibition against ex post facto laws. Is this enough or do you want still more?

Montesquieu: I think it's more than enough, Machiavelli, to encumber your government.

Machiavelli: That's where you're wrong, so much so that I see no problem with proclaiming these principles myself. If you want, I will even put them into the preamble of my constitution.

Montesquieu: You have already shown that you are a great magician.

Machiavelli: Nothing to do with magic -- only political savoir faire.

Montesquieu: Having inscribed these principles at the head of your constitution, how can you avoid putting them into practice?

Machiavelli: Ah! Let's be precise. I told you that I would proclaim these principles but I did not tell you that I would inscribe them, nor even that I would expressly enumerate them.

Montesquieu: What do you mean?

Machiavelli: I would stay away from any specification of rights. I would merely declare to the people my recognition and support for the great principles of modern right.

Montesquieu: The significance of this escapes me.

Machiavelli: You will see how important it is. If I were to spell out these rights, my freedom to act would be restricted by those so specified. And I don't want that. By not specifying them, I appear to grant them all, and yet I grant none explicitly. This will later allow me to make an exception of those I may judge dangerous.

Montesquieu: I understand.

Machiavelli: Moreover, strictly speaking, some of these principles belong to the domain of political and constitutional right and others under civil rights. Herein is a distinction that must always guide the exercise of absolute power. People are most attached to their civil rights. These I will not touch, if possible. In this way, at least one part of my program will be fulfilled.

Montesquieu: And what about political rights?

Machiavelli: In The Prince, I set down a maxim, the truth of which is still relevant. "If the prince leaves the people's possessions and honor alone, they will always be content. Then he has only to worry about the pretensions of a small number of malcontents against whom he will easily prevail." That is my answer to your question.

Montesquieu: Strictly speaking, your response is not wholly satisfying. Someone could claim that political rights are also possessions, that respect for them is crucial to the people's sense of honor, and that interfering with them is tantamount to interfering with their possessions (S well as their sense of dignity. Someone might additionally claim that respect for both civil and political rights is mutually dependent. If the citizens are today deprived of political liberty , what guarantee is there tomorrow that they will not be deprived of individual liberty? If their liberty is assailed today, that tomorrow their property will not come under attack?

Machiavelli: You seem to have gotten yourself a bit worked up over your argument. But I think you will also come to see how exaggerated its importance is. You seem to think that modern peoples thirst for liberty. Can you imagine a time when the people no longer desire liberty? Is it possible for princes to be more passionately committed to it than the people? The societies that you've de scribed are so incredibly lax that individuals live only in the narrow sphere of their egoism and material interests. If you asked most people, you'd find the same response everywhere. "What does politics have to do with me? What does liberty matter to me? Aren't all governments the same? Doesn't a government have to defend itself?"

Moreover, note well that it is not only the people who speak this way. It is the middle class, industrialists, the educated, the rich, the men of letters -- all those who are in a position to appreciate your lofty doctrines of public right. They will thank me. They will cry out that I have saved them, and that the people are mere children, incapable of directing their own lives. Hey, nations have a kind of hidden love for vigorous and powerful geniuses as long as they demonstrate skillful deception. With respect to all those violent acts marked by duplicity, admiration will outweigh condemnation and people will say: "It's not right, but so what? It's shrewd, well calculated, and smoothly executed."

Montesquieu: Are you about to return to a discussion of the essence of your doctrines?

Machiavelli: No. We're now ready for their application and I would have been farther along if you hadn't caused me to digress. Let's continue.

Ninth Dialogue

Montesquieu: You were speaking of the day after you established a constitution without the consent of the nation.

Machiavelli: Just a minute now. I never said that I would go so far in offending traditional opinion. I am fully aware of its power.

Montesquieu: Really?

Machiavelli: I'm quite serious.

Montesquieu: Do you expect to unite the nation behind the new modes and orders you are proposing?

Machiavelli: Certainly. Does that surprise you? I will go you one better. I will start by having my coup against the state ratified by popular vote. In a carefully crafted message to the people, I will show that we were in a crisis situation. I have totally broken with the past to save them. I want what they want. People are free to condemn or vindicate me by their vote.

Montesquieu: Free under the threat of terror and armed force.

Machiavelli: I will be acclaimed.

Montesquieu: I believe it so.

Machiavelli: I have turned the popular vote into an instrument of my power and it will become the very foundation of my government. I will expand suffrage by abolishing the poll tax and class-based qualifications. With this simple step, the groundwork of absolutism will be laid.

Montesquieu: Yes. And at the same time you move to destroy the solidarity among families, debase the vote, and cancel out more enlightened voices with the weight of numbers that are turned into a blind power subject to your will. Mach iavelli: What I achieve represents real progress to which all the peoples of Europe today aspire. I bring about universal suffrage as Washington did in the United States. It will be put into play right away when I submit my constitution to its authority .

Montesquieu: What! Are you going to have it debated in constituent assemblies or ratifying conventions?

Machiavelli: Oh! I beg you. Leave your eighteenth century ideas out of it. They are already dated.

Montesquieu: Very well. Will the ratification of your constitution be debated? How will its main articles be discussed?

Machiavelli: But I don't intend them to be discussed at all. I believe I've already told you that.

Montesquieu: I'm only pointing out the implications of principles you were eger to adopt. You spoke of the United States of America. I don't know if you are a new Washington, but what is certain is that the present Constitution of the United States was discussed, deliberated, and voted upon by the representatives of the nation.

Machiavelli: For goodness sake. Let's not confuse times, places, and peoples. We are in Europe. My constitution is presented en bloc. It is accepted en bloc.

Montesquieu: But such a step doesn't fool anyone in the least. Voting under these conditions, how can the people know what they are doing and to what extent they are bound?

Machiavelli: And where have you ever seen a constitution truly worthy of its name and truly lasting that has ever been the product of popular deliberation? A constitution must issue, fully elaborated, from the head of a single man or it is only a work doomed to disappear. It will necessarily bear the mark of all the petty opinions that presided at its drafting and lack consistency, coherence, and practical force.

Once again, a constitution can only be the work of a single man. Things have never happened otherwise, as the histories of all the founders of empire testify -- Sesostris, Solon, Lycurgus, Charlemagne, Frederick II, Peter the First, for example.

Montesquieu: You are about to expound upon a chapter from one of your disciples.

Machiavelli: Who?

Montesquieu: Joseph de Maistre. Some general points you make are not without merit but I find them inapplicable here. Listening to you,Ihave the impression of someone who is about to lead a people out of chaos and the extremely benighted times that marked their origins. You don't seem to remember that according to our working hypothesis, the nation has reached the pinnacle of civilization, public right is well established, and well-ordered institutions are functioning.

Machiavelli: I'm not saying anything different. However, you will see that I don't need utterly to destroy your institutions to reach my goal. All I need to do is modify their organizational structure and to change their relations to each other.

Montesquieu: Explain.

Machiavelli: A little while ago you gave me a discourse on constitutional Jaw. I intend to put it to use. Moreover, contrary to what might be generally thought in Europe, I am not completely unacquainted with all these ideas of seesaw politics. You could find some of them in my discourses on Titus Livy. But let's return to the matter at hand. A moment ago you remarked, reasonalJy enough, that government powers in the parliamentary states of Europe were almost everywhere similarly distributed. The government consists of bodies whose interrelations are regulated by constitutional procedures.

Therein, we inevitably find a cabinet, a Senate, a legislative body, a Council of State, and a court of appeal. They may operate under different names but they have virtually the same functions. I will spare you all needless elaboration of the respective mechanisms of these powers whose workings you have deciphered better than me. It is obvious that each of them corresponds to an essential function of government. Notice that it is the function I consider essential, not the institution. Thus, there must be an executive power, a conserving power, a law-making power, a regulatory power -- of this there is no doubt.

Montesquieu: But if I understand you, these various powers are really one in your eyes and you are going to give them all to one man by doing away with public institutions.

Machiavelli: Once again, you're wrong. It could not be done without danger, especially in your country, given the fanatical support that reigns there for what you call the principles of '89. But please listen to me carefully. In statics, moving the fulcrum causes a change in the direction of the forces. In mechanics, changing the location of a spring causes a change in the machine's movement. And yet, it appears to be the same apparatus, the same mechanism. Likewise in physiology, character traits manifest themselves as a function of internal organs. If the organ's functioning is altered, the character changes. And so, the various institutions that we have just mentioned perform functions in the governmental structure similar to vital organs in the human body. I will tamper with internal chemistry. External features will not be touched but the political complexion of the state will change, nonetheless. Do you see what I'm getting at?

Montesquieu: It's not that difficult. You needn't be so circumspect. You keep the names but the thing itself is gutted. That is what Augustus did in Rome when he destroyed the Republic. There continued to be a consulate, praetorship, censorship, tribunate, as always, but there were no longer consuls, praetors, censors, or tribunes.

Machiavelli: You have to admit that worse models could be chosen. Anything is possible in politics if public prejudices are flattered and respect for appearances is maintained.

Montesquieu: Let's not lapse back into generalities. Get to work. I'm following you.

Machiavelli: Don't forget that each thing I do is grounded in certain personal convictions. As I see it, your parliamentary governments are only schools for quarreling, centers of sterile conflict that sap the creative energy of nations, doomed to impotence by public debate and the press. Consequently, I feel no remorse. I proceed from an elevated point of view and my goal justifies my deeds.

I substitute practical reason for abstract theory and follow the experience of the ages and the examples of men of genius who have done great things using the same means. I begin by restoring the vital conditions of power.

My first reform immediately impinges upon the claim you made for ministerial responsibility. In centralized countries, like yours, for example, public opinion instinctively holds the chief of state responsible for everything, good as well as bad. To inscribe at the beginning of your charter that the sovereign is not responsible is to contradict what public sentiment holds true and to promulgate a fiction that will never survive the noise of revolution.

I begin by striking out of my constitution the principle of ministerial responsibility. The sovereign that my constitution establishes will have sole responsibility before the people.

Montesquieu: No beating about the bush here.

Machiavelli: As you explained your parliamentary system, the representatives of the nation draft the bills alone or with the executive. Well, that is the source of the gravest abuses. In such a scheme, a deputy can take the place of the government at any time and propose poorly researched and badly considered bills. Why with parliamentary initiation of bills, the lower chamber could overthrow the government whenever it wanted. I strike parliamentary initiative from my constitution. The sovereign alone may propose laws.

Montesquieu: If your intention is to arrive at absolute power, I see you are taking the best route. In a state where the initiation of laws belongs only to the sovereign, he becomes the sole legislator to a great degree. But before you go any further down that road, I want to raise one objection. You want to establish yourself upon rock, but I see you building on sand.

Machiavelli: How so?

Montesquieu: Haven't you taken universal manhood suffrage as the basis of your power?

Machiavelli: Certainly.

Montesquieu: Then you are only the agent of the people, in whom alone true sovereignty resides, and serve at its pleasure. You thought that you could make this principle serve your authority. But don't you see that you can be overthrown whenever the people so desire? Moreover, you declared that you alone are responsible. Do you expect to rule like an angel? :;rry as you will but you will still be blamed for everything bad that might happen and you will disappear at the first crisis.

Machiavelli: You 're getting ahead of yourself. Your objection is a bit premature. But I will answer you now, since you are forcing the issue. You are quite mistaken if you think I haven't anticipated this objection. If my power is threatened, it could only be because of factions. I am protected against them by two basic prerogatives that I have placed in my constitution: the right of appeal to the people and the right to place the country in a state of emergency. l am head of the army. All coercive power is in my hands. The first sign of insurrection would find my bayonets taking the measure of the resistance. And I would find at the polls a new consecration of my authority.

Montesquieu: Your arguments are unassailable. But, I beg you, let's return to the legislative body that you've installed. I still see some complications. You have taken away parliamentary initiative from this Assembly. But it still retains the right to vote on bills that you propose there. Certainly you don't intend that this right be exercised, do you?

Machiavelli: You are more untrusting than I am. I swear I don't see anything inconvenient in this. With only myself able to propose laws, I don't have to fear any threat to my power. I hold the key to the tabernacle. Besides, as I said before, it is part of my plan to allow institutions to exist in appearance. But I have to say that I don't intend to allow the Assembly what you call the right of amendment. Obviously, to allow the exercise of such a power would enable the legislator to change the purpose and spirit of any of my laws. The law doesn't exist that can not be diverted from its original purpose and made susceptible to a variety of interpretations. The law is accepted or rejected -- no other alternative.

Montesquieu: But that's all that's needed to overthrow you. This could be accomplished if the Assembly were to systematically reject all your bills or merely refuse to vote taxes.

Machiavelli: You know perfectly well that things can't happen that way. Any chamber whatsoever that would so boldly shackle the course of public affairs would commit suicide. Besides, I have a thousand ways to neutralize the power of such an Assembly. I could reduce the number of representatives by half, thereby halving the political passions I would have to contend with. I could reserve to myself the right to name the presiding officers in the legislative bodies. Instead of permanent sessions, I could reduce the tenure of the Assembly to a few months. Above all, I could do something of very great importance that, I'm told, is already being put into practice. I would abolish the unpaid status of legislative service. I would have the deputies receive an emolument. Their service should be salaried to some extent. I regard this innovation as the surest way of attaching the representatives of the nation to my power. I don't need to elaborate. Its usefulness is fairly self-evident. I might add that as head of the executive branch, I have the right to convoke and to dissolve the legislative body and, in cases of dissolution, I would wait a long time before convoking a new one. I perfectly well understand that it would be dangerous if the legislative Assembly remained independent of my power. But rest assured. We will soon encounter other practices that will tie it to me. Are you satisfied with these constitutional details? Do you want more?

Montesquieu: That is hardly necessary. You can now proceed to the organization of the Senate.

Machiavelli: I see that you have clearly understood that it represents the principal element in my designs, the keystone of my constitution.

Montesquieu: I really don't know what else you need to do because from this point on I regard you as complete master of the state.

Machiavelli: So you say. But in reality, sovereignty could not be established on such frail foundations. At the side of the sovereign must be found bodies of individuals that remain impressive by virtue of brilliant titles, respectability, and the personal illustriousness of those who compose them. It is not good for the sovereign himself to be constantly active, always to reveal his hand. He must be able, when necessary, to hide his acts under the authority of great magistracies that surround the throne.

Montesquieu: It is easy to see that this is the r0.le for which the Senate and Council of State are destined.

Machiavelli: Nothing escapes you.

Montesquieu: You speak of the throne. I see that you are king, while a moment ago we were in a republic. This is quite a leap.

Machiavelli: It's beneath the illustrious French publicist to ask me to pause over such petty details. When I have all power in my hands, the exact time that I proclaim myself king is but a matter of expediency. Before or after having promulgated my constitution -- it doesn't matter -- I will be king.

Montesquieu: Let's assume what you say is true for the moment. We need to return to the organization of the Senate to see if what you say can possibly be borne out.

Tenth Dialogue

Machiavelli: Given the exhaustive studies you had to make in order to write your memorable work on The Causes of the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline, you could not have failed to notice the role that the Senate played in relation to the Emperors, beginning with the reign of Augustus.

Montesquieu: If you will allow me to say so, this is a matter that historical research has not yet completely clarified. This much is certain. Until the last days of the Republic, the Roman Senate was an autonomous institution vested with great privileges and having independent powers. That was the secret of its influence, the reason why its political traditions took such deep hold, and how greatness would be stamped onto the Republic. But from Augustus on, the Senate was nothing more than a tool in the hands of the emperors. Yet, it is not clear how they proceeded finally in stripping it of its power .

Machiavelli: My motive in returning you to this period of the Empire is not to clarify this point in history. This question doesn't interest me. All I wanted to say is that the Senate, as I see it, should playa political role vis-a-vis the prince analogous to that of the Roman Senate in the times that followed the fall of the Republic.

Montesquieu: All right. But in that epoch laws were no longer voted on in the popular forums, but were made by decree of senatus consultum. Is that what you want?

Machiavelli: Not at all. That would hardly be in conformity with modern principles of constitutional right.

Montesquieu: Your scruples in this regard deserve profound gratitude!

Machiavelli: I have no need of such procedures in order to decree what seems to me necessary. You understand that I fill in the details of legislation. In addition, my decrees have the force of law.

Montesquieu: It's true that you had forgotten to mention this point, though it is hardly insignificant. But then I don't see why you keep a Senate.

Machiavelli: Playing an exalted role in the constitutional system, its direct intervention should be reserved for grave situations only, for example, if it were necessary to amend the organic law or if sovereignty were threatened.

Montesquieu: You speak ever more like a prophet. You relish setting the stage for what's to come.

Machiavelli: Up to now, the constitutions your modern disciples have given the people fixated on the idea of foreseeing every eventuality and regulating everything in advance. I am not prone to such an error. I would not want to confine myself within strict boundaries. I would only spell out what is impossible to leave uncertain. I would have a fairly large opening for change. Then, in serious crises, there might be some other alternative to the disastrous expedient of revolution.

Montesquieu: These words shine with prudence.

Machiavelli: And as for the power of the Senate, I would put in my constitution the following provision. "The Senate shall act by senatus consultum in all matters that have not been specifically provided for in the constitution and which are necessary for its continued existence. It shall define the meaning of articles of the constitution that are open to various interpretations. It will have the power of judicial review to determine the constitutionality of all acts referred to it by the government or though grievances filed as petitions by the people. It may draft measures in the national interest. It may propose amendments to the constitution which will be enacted by senatus consultum."

Montesquieu: All this is quite nice. We have here a truly Roman Senate. I'll make only a few comments on your constitution. I gather it will be written in a vague and ambiguous language since you say that you will be able to predetermine the meaning of constitutional provisions.

Machiavelli: No. But everything must be anticipated.

Montesquieu: I thought your principle in such matters was the opposite, to avoid trying to anticipate and regulate every contingency.

Machiavelli: My illustrious interlocutor has not haunted the palace of Themis without profit nor has he donned the cap of president of a court of justice in vain. My words have had no other meaning than this: it is necessary to anticipate what is essential.

Montesquieu: Pray tell, I beg you, does your Senate, interpreter and guardian of the fundamental law, have any power of its own?

Machiavelli: Certainly not.

Montesquieu: Anything the Senate does will actually be done by you?

Machiavelli: I'm not saying anything different.

Montesquieu: It will be you, not the Senate, who actually interprets the constitution, reverses precedent, and overturns law.

Machiavelli: I don't claim to deny these things.

Montesquieu: Then that means that you reserve for yourself the right to undo what you have done, to take away what you have given, and to change your constitution for better or worse or even make it disappear altogether if you judge it necessary. I will not prejudge the intentions or motive that might lead you to act in various circumstances. I only ask you where one may find even the weakest safeguards for citizens in the vast field of arbitrary power. Above all, how could they ever be brought to endure such a situation?

Machiavelli: I see I've hit a sensitive nerve in you again. Rest assured. I would not bring about any change in the fundamental principles of my constitution without submitting these amendments to the approval of the people through popular vote in a referendum.

Montesquieu: But you would still be the judge of whether or not the amendment you propose is of such fundamental importance that it must be submitted to the people for their approval. However, you concede that amendments are to be ratified by a plebiscite and not made by a decree or senatus consultum. Will your constitutional amendments be publicly debated? Will they be submitted to conventions for deliberations?

Machiavelli: Decidedly not. If ever conventions were allowed to debate constitutional provisions, nothing could prevent the people from taking hold of the whole constitution and exercising their right to pass everything under review. The next day there would be revolution in the streets.

Montesquieu: At least you are consistent. So these constitutional amendments are presented as a whole, accepted as a whole?

Machiavelli: Indeed. In no other way.

Montesquieu: Well, I think we can now proceed to the organization of the Council of State.

Machiavelli: You really do direct the discussion of such matters skillfully, in the exacting manner of a presiding judge in a sovereign court. I forgot to tell you that I salary the Senate as I did the legislature.

Montesquieu: That's understood.

Machiavelli: I needn't add that I also reserve the right to nominate the president and vice-president of this august body. Concerning the Council of State, I will be briefer. Modern institutions offer such powerful tools for centralizing policy making that it is almost impossible to make use of them without exercising sovereign authority.

According to principles you yourself laid down, what in fact is the Council of State? It represents the interests of state and, through its rule-making prerogatives, brings a considerable amount of power into the hands of the prince. Its powers are quasi-discretionary and its regulations can substitute for actual laws, when so desired.

I am told that the Council of State in your country is, in addition, invested with a special prerogative even more extraordinary. Yet, I am told on good authority that on questions before ordinary courts it can lay claim, by right of review, to all litigation that it deems to have an administrative character. Thus, to summarize briefly, what I find so extraordinary in this prerogative is that the courts are relieved of their jurisdiction when faced with an administrative writ removing the case and referring it to the Council of State for decision.

Now, once again, what is the Council of State? Has it power of its own? Is it independent of the sovereign? Not at all. It is only a drafting committee. When the Council of State issues a rule, it is at the behest of the sovereign. When it judges a case, it follows the sovereign's will, or, as you say nowadays, the administration's. The administration is both party and judge in its own case. Do you know anything more formidable than that? Do you think that it takes a lot to establish absolute power in states where everything is so well organized under an institution like this?

Montesquieu: I must admit that your comments are apropos. But, granting that, the Council of State is an excellent institution in itself. Nothing could be easier for its proper functioning than to insulate it from political pressure. Undoubtedly, this is not what you will do.

Machiavelli: Indeed. I will preserve political control wherever I find it. I will restore it wherever it is lacking by strengthening the political ties that I consider indispensable.

You see, we haven't been idling along. There you have it. I have just presented you my constitution in finished form.

Montesquieu: Already?

Machiavelli: A small number of artfully arranged mechanisms are sufficient to change completely how power operates. This part of my plan is complete.

Montesquieu: I thought that you would address yourself to the court of appeals.

Machiavelli: It would be better to postpone what I have to say about it.

Montesquieu: It's true that if we add up all the powers in your hands, you might feel some satisfaction.

Let's summarize: You make law, first -- by proposals to the legislature; second -- by decrees; third -- by senatus consultum; fourth -- through rules; fifth -- by writ of Council of State; sixth -- by ministerial regulations; seventh -- and finally -- by coup d'etats.

Machiavelli: You don't seem to be aware that the most difficult task still remains.

Montesquieu: I really doubt it.

Machiavelli: Then you haven't taken sufficient notice of the fact that my constitution was silent concerning a bunch of traditional rights that would be incompatible with the new order I have just founded. For example, freedom of the press, the right of association, judicial independence, voting, the right of electing municipal officers by commune, the right to form a militia and many other things that will have to disappear or be changed radically.

Montesquieu: But haven't you implicitly recognized all these rights by formally recognizing those principles from which they are derived?

Machiavelli: I told you I recognize no principle or right in particular. Moreover, the measures that I will adopt are only exceptions to the rule.

Montesquieu: That's right. Exceptions that prove the rule.

Machiavelli: To succeed I must choose my moment well, for a missed opportunity may ruin everything. In The Prince I penned a maxim that could serve as a rule of thumb. "The usurper of a state must carry out all the harsh deeds security requires all at once so that he will not have to come back to them. Later, he will no longer be able to oppose his subjects either in good or bad times. If you have to act in bad times, once fortune is opposed to you, you're no longer in a position to do it. If in good times, your subjects will not tolerate a change they believe to be coerced."

On the very next day after my constitution takes effect, I will issue a series of decrees with the force of law that will do away with these liberties and rights, whose exercise may prove dangerous, in a single stroke.

Montesquieu: Indeed, you've chosen your moment well. The country is still terrorized by your coup d'etat. As for your constitution, nothing will be denied you, since you could take everything. As for your decrees, there is nothing to grant you, since you ask for nothing and take everything.

Machiavelli: You do have a way with words.

Montesquieu: You'll admit, however, that my words come more easily than your actions. Despite your strong hand and your steady eye, I confess to having some trouble believing that the country will not rise up with a second coup d'etat, awaiting you in the wings.

Machiavelli: The country will willingly close its eyes, for according to my working hypothesis, it is tired of strife and longs to settle down, like the desert sands after the shower that follows a storm.

Montesquieu: What beautiful metaphors. It's too much!

Machiavelli: But I hasten to assure you that the liberties I suppress I shall formally promise to restore after factional strife has been quieted.

Montesquieu: I suspect that we will wait forever.

Machiavelli: It's possible.

Montesquieu: It's certain, for your maxims allow the prince to break his word when it's in his interest.

Machiavelli: Don't jump to conclusions. You will see how I'll make use of this promise. Soon, I will take it upon myself to pass for the most liberal man in my kingdom.

Montesquieu: Now that's a surprise for which I am unprepared. But in the meantime, you directly suppress all liberties.

Machiavelli: "Directly" is not in the statesman's vocabulary. I directly suppress nothing. Here the fox's mantle must cover the lion's skin. What's the use of political maneuvering if it can't attain the desired goal by devious ways, when straight ones are inadequate? The form of my system is now in place. Its animating forces have been readied. Nothing remains but to set it in motion. But to do this I must have a delicate hand. It is here that prudence is recommended to the prince in putting into place all the artifices of government and legislation.

Montesquieu: I see the argument is entering a new phase. I am ready to hear you out.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:34 am

Part 2 of 3

Eleventh Dialogue

Machiavelli: You very reasonably observed in The Spirit of the Laws that liberty is a word to which many different meanings are attached. I am told that the following proposition can be found in your book. "Liberty is the right to do what the laws permit." [2l The definition is apt and I strongly agree with it. And I can assure you that my laws will permit only what is necessary. Their essential spirit will soon become clear. Where would you like to begin?

Montesquieu: I would not be averse to seeing how you will protect yourself from the press.

Machiavelli: Indeed, you have put your finger on the most delicate part of my task. I have in mind a plan for handling this problem whose design is both momentous and subtle. Fortunately, here I have a little elbowroom. I cut and prune with confidence so that my acts will not provoke any reaction.

Montesquieu: Why? Pray tell.

Machiavelli: In most parliamentary systems, the press has a knack of making itself hated. Why? Because it always finds itself in the service of violent, selfish, narrow passions. It is adversarial by nature. It is venal, unjust, without magnanimity and patriotism. Finally, and above all, the role it plays can never be made clear to the great mass of men.

Montesquieu: Oh, if you're looking for grievances against the press, it doesn't take too much to find a great many of them. But if you are asking about its proper role, that's another thing. Quite simply, it prevents the exercise of arbitrary power. It forces the depositories of public authority to govern constitutionally. It obliges them to be honest, restrained and respectful of constitutional practices in relations among themselves and with others. Finally, to make a long story short, it gives to anyone who is oppressed the means to voice one's grievances and be heard. Much can be pardoned in an institution that, despite so many abuses, serves so many crucial purposes.

Machiavelli: Yes, I am familiar with such theoretical claims on its behalf, but try to make them understood by the masses. Consider the number of those who really care about the press's fortunes and you'll see what I mean.

Montesquieu: So you might as well go on to how in practice you will muzzle it. I believe that's the appropriate word.

Machiavelli: That's it. Moreover, it's not only journalism that I intend to control.

Montesquieu: All printing then.

Machiavelli: You're resorting to irony.

Montesquieu: Next, I suspect that even irony will be censored, given the curbs you'll bring to free expression.

Machiavelli: There's no defense against such refined wit. But you understand quite well that it wouldn't be worth the effort to escape the attacks of the press if I had to suffer those in books.

Montesquieu: AlI right, let's begin with the press.

Machiavelli: Any notion about suppressing newspapers purely and simply would be very imprudent. It is always dangerous to violate popular sentiments. Instead, I would change the details of certain laws and the modifications would appear to be motivated simply by solicitude for public morality and order.

I would declare that in the future no newspaper would be allowed to operate without governmental authorization. There's the way to nip evil in the bud. It's not hard to see that only those organs devoted to the government will receive authorization in the future.

Montesquieu: But since you raise these points, let me just say that the spirit of a newspaper is a function of the personnel on its editorial board. How will you prevent editorial boards from being hostile to your power?

Machiavelli: The problem you raise is really a paltry one. The choice is ultimately up to me not to authorize any new newspaper, if I so wish. But I have other schemes, as you 'll see. You ask me how I would neutralize a hostile editorial board? It's very simple, really. I will stipulate that governmental authorization is also necessary for all changes in editorial personnel, from editors-in-chief to managing editors.

Montesquieu: But the old established newspapers -- those inveterate enemies of your government whose editorial board won't change -- will speak out.

Machiavelli: Just hold on. All newspapers, present and future, can be brought under certain fiscal controls to curb their enterprises. I will impose upon political newspapers what is today known as a stamp tax and a surety. The newspaper business will soon be barely profitable and thanks to the imposition of these measures, it will only be embarked upon warily.

Montesquieu: This is not an adequate solution for you. Political parties are not concerned with profits.

Machiavelli: Don't get so worked up. I have something to shut them up. Here come the repressive measures. There are states in Europe where suits against the press are brought before juries. I know of no more deplorable measure than this, for it means that the pettiest journalistic drivel may stir up a controversy. The crimes of the press are very hard to pinpoint. A writer can disguise his attacks in such varied and subtle ways that it is not even possible to bring clear charges before the courts. The courts will always be empowered to act. That goes without saying. But, ordinarily, this repressive power must be exercised administratively.

Montesquieu: Then there will be crimes that won't be within the province of the courts to judge, or rather, you will strike with two hands -- judicially and administratively.

Machiavelli: How awful! Such solicitude for a few nasty and spiteful journalists who make a point of attacking and denigrating everything. They act no differently toward governments than armed bandits toward travelers on their journeys. Give a little leeway and they constantly put themselves above the law. What if we took a little of this leeway away?

Montesquieu: They are the only ones you will repress?

Machiavelli: I can't promise that, for these people are like the heads of the Hdra of Lema. If you cut off ten of them, fifty more sprout up. I lay the blame primarily on newspapers that are scandalmongers. I would have them consider the following speech. "I could suppress all of you. I haven't yet done so but I can. I'll let you live, on one condition, that you don't try to block my progress or discredit my power. I don't want to have to summon you every day before the courts or to be constantly resorting to the law to curb your infractions. Even more, I don't want an army of censors looking into the day before what you are going to publish the next day. You have pens, so write! But keep this in mind. I reserve to myself or my agents the right to judge when I am being attacked. No subtleties. I'll know when you attack me. And you will be made aware of it in return. In such a matter, I will take justice into my own hands, but I won't act precipitously. We must come to a certain understanding. I shall warn you once or twice but the third time you will be suppressed."

Montesquieu: I am struck by the fact that your scheme isn't limited to curbing the journalist but it strikes at the newspaper itself, whose ruin affects the interests and groups behind it.

Machiavelli: Let them find some other outlet. They won't be bothered. As I told you, my administration will impartially impose those sentences handed down by the courts. Two convictions in one year will inevitably lead to the suppression of the newspaper. I would not stop there. By decree or law, I would also say to newspapers the following. "Keep to your proper concerns and do not hope to stir public opinion by commentaries on the debates that take place within my government. I forbid you to report on them. I even forbid you to report on judicial proceedings that deal with the press. You must no longer expect to move the public mind by what purports to be news gathered by outside sources. The publication of false news, in good or bad faith, will be punished by jail."

Montesquieu: That seems a bit harsh. In the final analysis, newspapers have nothing else to sustain them but what comes from such newsgathering, it being too dangerous to engage in political commentary directly. To require that each news story published by a newspaper be true seems quite unreasonable to me, for in most cases the newspaper will not be able to defend its veracity with absolute certainty, and even when circumstantially certain that the story is true, hard evidence may be lacking.

Machiavelli: They will think twice before stirring up public opinion, as they should.

Montesquieu: But there's another problem. You may have eliminated opposition from the domestic press but you may still find opposition in the foreign press. AIl kinds of discontent and hatred will be inscribed on the doors of your kingdom. Newspapers and inflammatory writings will hurtle across your borders.

Machiavelli: Here you touch upon a point that I intend to regulate in the most rigorous manner, because the foreign press is indeed very dangerous. First, the introduction or circulation in the kingdom of any unauthorized newspapers or writings will be punished with imprisonment, and the punishment will be sufficiently severe to stifle the desire. Next, those of my subjects convicted of having written against the government while abroad will be investigated and punished when they return. It is truly reprehensible to write against one's government when abroad.

Montesquieu: That depends. But the foreign press in bordering states will speak out.

Machiavelli: You think so? We are assuming that I rule a large kingdom. The small states on my border will be kept in constant fear, I assure you. I will make them pass laws that will prosecute their own citizens for attacks on my government by the press or otherwise.

Montesquieu: I see I was right when I said in The Spirit of the Laws that the areas surrounding a despot must be laid waste. Civilization must not be allowed to penetrate. I'm sure that your subjects will be kept from knowing their own history. As Benjamin Constant once said, you will make your kingdom into an island where what happens in Europe will not be known, and the capital will be made into another island where what happens in the provinces will not be known.

Machiavelli: I don't want my kingdom to be disturbed by rumors from abroad. How will news of the outside world be conveyed? By a small number of agencies that will filter information sent from the four comers of the world. So, these agencies have to be bribed, and from then on the only news they transmit will be under the control of the government.

Montesquieu: That's quite enough. You can now proceed to how you would police books.

Machiavelli: This is less a concern of mine. At a time when newspapers have proliferated so dramatically, books are hardly read any more. But I in no way intend to leave the door open. In the first place, I will require those who choose for a profession that of printer, editor, or bookseller to have a license. That is to say, government authorization will always be revocable, either directly or after a judicial hearing.

Montesquieu: But then all these businessmen will only be like public officials. The instruments of thought will become the instruments of power.

Machiavelli: I shouldn't think you'd complain, for this is how things were in your time under parliaments. Old customs should be preserved when they are good. But let's return to fiscal measures. I shall hit books with the stamp tax already imposed on newspapers or rather I shall impose a heavier stamp tax on books that do not have a certain number of pages. For example, a book that does not have two or three hundred pages is not really a book. It is a pamphlet. I think you grasp the advantages of this scheme. On the one hand, the tax will considerably reduce the great number of these little books, which are like an extended form of journalism. On the other hand, I force those who want to escape the stamp tax to embark upon long and expensive compositions that will barely sell and scarcely be read in that form. Today, there are hardly any but a few devils that have the conscience to write books. They will give it up. Taxes will discourage literary pretensions and criminal law will make the publishing industry itself more amenable, for I shall make the publisher and printer criminally responsible for what their books contain. If there are writers daring enough to write works against the government, it is imperative that they find no one to publish them. Such salutary intimidation will resurrect censorship, but by indirect means. Government could not itself exercise such a power because of the discredit into which this preventive measure has fallen. Before bringing out new works, printers and publishers will confer. They will scout what is available and bring out books that respond to popular demand. Through them, the government can always remain well informed about publications that are being prepared against it. Prior restraint of such publications can be invoked and their authors may be handed over to the courts.

Montesquieu: You told me that you would not touch civil rights. You don't seem to realize you have just struck a blow against free enterprise. Property rights are involved here and will disappear in turn.

Machiavelli: These are mere words.

Montesquieu: Then you have finished with the press?

Machiavelli: Oh, not yet!

Montesquieu: What's left?

Machiavelli: The other half of the job.

Twelfth Dialogue

Machiavelli: So far, I've only shown you the "defensive strategy" I would pursue with regard to this power. But I now must make clear how I will use this institution to augment my power. I dare say that, to this day, no government has conceived of anything as bold as what I am about to describe. Since it is almost always because of the press that governments in parliamentary countries are brought down, my scheme envisions neutralizing the press by the press itself. Because journalism wields such great power, do you know what my government will do? It will become like them. It will be journalism incarnate.

Montesquieu: Truly, you constantly amaze me. You offer me an ever-changing panorama of things to consider. I confess that I'm curious to see how you will go about putting this novel project into effect.

Machiavelli: It taxes the imagination much less than you think. I shall count the number of newspapers that represent what you call the "opposition." If there are ten in this category, I shall have twenty pro-government. If twenty, I shall have forty. If forty, eighty .You will recall that I have reserved myself the power to authorize the creation of new political journals. Surely, by now, it's obvious how I will make use of it.

Montesquieu: Indeed, it's all quite simple.

Machiavelli: Not quite as simple as you might think. However, the public at large must not suspect this tactic or the scheme would miscarry and public opinion would forsake those that openly defend my policies.

I shall divide the newspapers devoted to my cause into three or four categories. In the first group, I will put a certain number of newspapers that will adopt the official line of things in a straightforward way. They win defend my acts unreservedly. I hasten to say that these are not the ones that will have the most influence on public opinion. In the second group, I will gather another host of newspapers whose character will be less orthodox and whose mission will be to rally to my power that mass of lukewarm and indifferent men who accept the established order without reservation but whose political religion extends no farther than this.

In the following categories of newspapers, the most powerful support for my power will be found. Here, the official or quasi-official slant on things is totally absent, but only on the surface, of course. Even these newspapers will be tied to my government, visibly, in some instances, and invisibly, in others. I won't venture to say how many there will be, since I expect a loyal organ in every camp, in every party .I shall have an aristocratic organ in the party of aristocrats, a republican organ in the republican party, a revolutionary organ in the party of revolution, an anarchistic organ, if need be, in the party of anarchists. Like the god Vishnu, my press will have a hundred arms, and these arms will stretch out their hands throughout the country delicately giving form to all manner of opinion. Everyone will belong to my party without knowing it. Those who think they are speaking the language of their party will be acting for mine. Those who think they are marching under their own banner will be marching under mine.

Montesquieu: Are these ideas possible or only wild fantasies? They make the head swim.

Machiavelli: Steady yourself. We're not finished yet.

Montesquieu: I'm only wondering how you will be capable of leading and rallying all these troops of propagandists secretly enlisted to your government.

Machiavelli: You must consider it an organizational matter only. For example, I will set up under the title of Division of Printing and the Press a center to coordinate action. It is from here that instructions will be sought and commands will issue. As it so happens, those wholly in on the secret of this scheme will witness something bizarre. Newspapers devoted to my government will attack me, cry out, and stir up controversy about me.

Montesquieu: That is beyond me. I'm not following you.

Machiavelli: It's not all that difficult. Let it be well understood that neither the foundations nor the principles of my government will ever be attacked by the newspapers I'm talking about. They will only give voice to polemical nitpicking and will be an in-house opposition operating within the narrowest limits.

Montesquieu: So what's the use of all this?

Machiavelli: That's a rather naive question. The advantages are quite considerable in themselves. But beyond them, most people will come to be heard saying something like the following. "This regime lets anyone speak his mind. It is unjustly attacked. But instead of clamping down, which it might do, it puts up with these things and is tolerant." Another no less important result will be to elicit observations like the following. "See the extent to which the foundations of this government and its principles command the respect of everyone. Here, newspapers are allowed the greatest freedom of speech and yet they never attack the established institutions. They stand above unjust accusations born of passion. Even the enemies of the government can not help but render them homage."

Montesquieu: That, I swear, is truly Machiavellian.

Machiavelli: I am greatly honored but I haven't yet mentioned the best things. Such newspapers, secretly devoted to my cause, allow me to shape public opinion the way I want on all questions of domestic or foreign policy. I can stimulate the imagination of my people or put them to sleep. I can reassure or disconcert them. I can take either side of an issue and present one or the other as true or false. Depending on circumstances, I can admit to something as a fact or deny it. In such a way, I plumb public opinion and assess whatever reaction I provoke. I try out schemes and plans and make decisions on impulse in order to launch what you call in France "trial balloons." I am free to fight against my enemies without ever compromising my power. After making these newspapers speak, I can force them to make the strongest possible retractions. I elicit public favor for certain decisions. I can incite enthusiasm or hold it back. I always have my finger on the pulse of the public. Unconsciously, it reflects my personal feelings on things. Sometimes it expresses astonishment at finding itself so consistently in agreement with its sovereign. It will be said that I am a man of the people, that there is a secret and mysterious sympathy that unites me with their will.

Montesquieu: In theory, these various schemes seem to be perfectly conceived. However, I offer one more observation, though I do so tentatively this time. You abandon China as a model in this regard and the silence that prevails there. But if you allow your troops of newspapers to fake opposition in order to advance your designs, I truly don't see very clearly how you can prevent the non-affiliated newspapers from mounting a real attack on you, after figuring out the game you're playing. Don't you think that eventually they will lift some of the veils that cover so many machinations? When they figure out the secret of this comedy, how can you keep them from laughing? It all appears to me a squalid joke.

Machiavelli: Not at all. I tell you I've spent a great deal of my time here examining the strong and weak points of these schemes. I am quite well informed about the conduct of the press in parliamentary countries. Surely you are aware that journalism is a kind of freemasonry. Those who live by it are all more or less attached to one another by bonds of professional discretion. Like ancient auguries, they do not easily divulge the secret of their oracles.

They would gain nothing by betraying one another since most of them have skeletons in their closets. I agree that it is fairly likely that in the heart of the capital city, among a certain class of people, these things will not stay a mystery. But such things will not be suspected anywhere else. The overwhelming majority of the nation win proceed along the track I have laid out for it with the utmost trust.

What does it matter if in the capital a certain group may be aware of the artifices my journalism employs. Its most potent influence is reserved for the provinces. The climate of opinion will always be favorable to me there, and each of my schemes will carry the day. The provincial press win belong to me completely. No contradictions or discussion is tolerated. From the administrative center where I shall sit, the order will be transmitted to the governor of each province to make the newspapers speak out in a particular way on a given matter. At the same time, the whole country will come under the same influence. A particular impulse will be transmitted and felt long before the capital is aware of it. You see that opinion in the capital does not preoccupy me. It may indeed find itself enveloped by opinion emanating from the provinces and running behind trends, if need be, without their even knowing it.

Montesquieu: I wanted to raise one last objection. But your train of thought is so powerful and sweeping that you have made me lose my own. A certain number of independent newspapers still exist. It's well nigh impossible for them to debate political questions, but they will be able to attack you over matters of administration. Your officers will not be perfect. Achieving absolute power brings in its train a number of abuses for which the sovereign himself may not be responsible. But all those acts of your agents that affect the private interests of your subjects will make you vulnerable. Complaints will be heard. Your agents will be attacked. You will necessarily be held responsible and public esteem for you will gradually erode.

Machiavelli: I don't fear that.

Montesquieu: It is true that you have so multiplied the means of repression that you only have to choose among them.

Machiavelli: That's not what I had in mind. I don't want to have to resort to repression constantly. A simple decree is enough to put an end to all discussion on a subject related to my administration.

Montesquieu: And what form will it take?

Machiavelli: I shall require newspapers to give front-page coverage to the corrections sent them by the government. Agents of my government will hand them memoranda that will lay the matter out in no uncertain terms. "You have said such and such, but what you say is not exactly true. You have allowed yourself to voice such and such a criticism, but you have been unfair, acted improperly, and are mistaken. Consider yourself notified." As you can understand, this is a rebuke that is fair and open.

Montesquieu: Of course there will be no reply.

Machiavelli: Obviously not. Discussion will be closed.

Montesquieu: So you will always have the last word and without resorting to violence. Very ingenious. You phrased it very well a moment ago when you said your government would be journalism incarnate.

Machiavelli: Just as I don't want the country to be stirred up by rumors coming from abroad, I don't want it to be set off by rumors from within, even those passed on by word of mouth. If there is some strange case of suicide, some shady financial dealings, some malfeasance by a public official, I shall forbid the newspapers to speak of it. Silence about such things, rather than noising them about, is more respectful of public decency.

Montesquieu: All the while, you yourself will be making use of journalism with a vengeance?

Machiavelli: It's quite essential. Today, it's a law of survival for any government to make effective use of the press in all its forms. It's very strange, but true. And so I will be involved in this medium well beyond what you may imagine.

To understand all the ramifications of my scheme, you have to see how I will use statements in my press to prepare the ground for official political acts. Suppose I want to resolve some problem in domestic or foreign affairs. For several months, each of my newspapers will play upon the public mind in their own fashion and then recommend a course of action. One fine morning, this course of action is officially adopted. You know with what care and ingenious circumspection official documents must be drafted in important matters. The problem in such cases is to give a certain amount of satisfaction to all parties. Therefore, each of my newspapers, according to its particular slant, win try to persuade each party that an adopted course of action favors it most. Things not explicitly stated in official documents can be implied through interpretation. The official newspapers will openly expand upon what appears only by allusion. Democratic and revolutionary newspapers win trumpet what they read into it. Meanwhile, as dispute rages and my acts are given the most diverse interpretations, my government always reserves the right to answer once and for all. "You are mistaken regarding my intentions. You have misread my declarations. I only meant to say this or that." What is key is never to be forced to contradict yourself.

Montesquieu: What! After what you've just told me, you can make such a claim?

Machiavelli: Certainly. And your astonishment proves that you have not understood me. It is a very important matter that words be consistent when acts can not. Do you think the masses can judge whether logic guides its government? It's enough to tell them so. I want the various phases of my policies to be presented as the development of a single thought linked to an unchangeable goal. Every event, whether foreseen or unforeseen, will appear to be a cleverly in tended result of policy. Changes of direction will be presented as different responses to the same problem, different roads leading to the same destination, various means to an identical solution, a goal unremittingly pursued despite obstacles. The most recent event will be presented as the logical culmination of all the others.

Montesquieu: Truly, you are to be admired. What strength of mind! What deeds!

Machiavelli: Every day my newspapers will be filled with official speeches and reports, referring to ministers and the sovereign. I am not forgetting that we live at a time of faith in human industry to solve all the problems of society. It is a time that is preoccupied with improving the lot of the working classes. I would devote myself all the more to such matters as a welcome outlet for channeling the energies of domestic politics. People in southern climes need to see the government constantly busy. The masses consent to be inactive, but on one condition -- that those who govern them provide a spectacle of incessant, feverish activity. The masses constantly want to be distracted by novelties, surprises, and dramatic moves. Perhaps it seems bizarre, but once again, that's the way it is.

I would assiduously pursue what all this implies. Therefore, with regard to industry, the arts, and even administrative matters, I would commission studies calling for all manner of projects, plans, schemes, changes, reshuffling, and improvements. Reports of such things in the press would overshadow proposals coming from the most numerous and innovative publicists. It is said that political economy is a fertile field in your country. Well, I would leave nothing to be invented, published, or even said by thinkers, utopians, and the most enthused intellectual hacks of your schools. The welfare of the people would be the single and invariable object of my public utterances. Whether I speak or have my ministers or my writers speak for me, all subjects relating to the greatness of the country, its prosperity, the majesty of its mission and destiny would never be exhausted. The exalted principles of modern right, the great questions that stir humanity would find constant expression. My writings will breathe the spirit of the most enthusiastic, universal liberalism. Western peoples love the oriental style. Therefore, all my official speeches, all my proclamations would be filled with exalted and scintillating images, always stated in the most high-sounding way. People do not like atheistic governments. Therefore, in my dealings with the public, I would never fail to present my acts as falling under Divine Providence, while subtly tying my fate to that of the country.

I would like the acts I take during my reign to be compared constantly to those of past governments. This would be the best way to accentuate my benefactions and elicit the gratitude they deserve.

It will be very important to cast the mistakes of those who preceded me into relief. This will demonstrate my capacity to avoid the same. In such a way, a kind of antipathy, indeed an ineradicable aversion, will be attached to the regimes I succeed.

I would give a certain number of my newspapers the task of constantly exalting the glory of my reign while holding other governments responsible for the shortcomings of European politics. Moreover, I would want a great many of these eulogies to seem to be only an echo of foreign newspapers. I would reprint articles paying homage to the brilliance of my policies, whether deserved or not. In addition, I would have certain newspapers sold abroad. Their support of me would be all the more persuasive as I would allow a tincture of opposition on certain small points.

I am not unaware of the need of outlets for the public spirit. Intellectual activity closed off at one point will necessarily manifest itself at another. For that reason, I have no fears in seeing the nation engage itself in all manner of speculation -- theoretical and practical -- regarding industrial life.

Moreover, outside of politics, I assure you I would be a very good prince. Philosophical and religious questions would be debated undisturbed. In such matters, freedom of conscience becomes a sort of obsession. This tendency need not be opposed. It couldn't be done without danger anyway. In the most civilized countries of Europe, the invention of printing has given rise to a foolish and mad kind of writing that stops just short of pornography. It's a grave disease that knows no bounds. But, sad to say, it is better not to restrain it, so that this rage to write that possesses your parliamentary democracies may be satisfied to a certain extent.

This pestilential writing whose speech can not be stopped issues from the platitudinous writers and men who dominate journalism. It will not fail to create a repellant contrast to the dignity of the language that will issue from the throne and the lively and picturesque arguments that win subtly defend my power in all its manifestations. Now you understand why I wanted to surround the prince with this swarm of publicists, bureaucrats, lawyers, businessmen, and judges. They are essential for drafting this mass of official communications. Its impact on men's minds would be very potent.

In brief, that is the broad outline of my regime's regulation of the press.

Montesquieu: Then are you finished with it?

Machiavelli: Yes, regretfully, for I have been much briefer than I should. But our time is limited. We have to proceed quickly.

Thirteenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: You've put me through an emotional ringer. You have at your disposal such a wealth of resources! You put forward such novel ideas! There is poetry in all this -- a kind of sinister beauty worthy of a modern Byron. The dramatic talent of the author of The Mandragola is again on display here.

Machiavelli: Do you think so, Monsieur de Secondat? Your irony hints at a lack of self-assurance. You are not certain that these things are not possible.

Montesquieu: If you're concerned about what I think, I tell you I'm waiting for the upshot to all this.

Machiavelli: I'm not quite there yet.

Montesquieu: So, go on.

Machiavelli: I await your orders.

Montesquieu: Your first moves have seen you enact a formidable set of laws governing the press. You have extinguished all voices except your own. Factions stand mute before you. Don't you fear anything from conspiracies?

Machiavelli: No, for I wouldn't have been very far-sighted if I didn't disarm them all. All it would take would be a single swat from the back of my hand.

Montesquieu: How so?

Machiavelli: I would start with hundreds of deportations -- all those who greeted my coming to power with gun in hand. In Italy, Germany, and France, I am told that secret societies recruit the lawless individuals who conspire against established governments. In my country, the dens where such sinister threads of conspiracy are woven into plots win be found out. I shall break them like spiders' webs.

Montesquieu: And after that?

Machiavelli: The act of organizing a secret society or of being affiliated with one will be severely punished.

Montesquieu: That's fine for the future. But what about societies already in existence?

Machiavelli: In the name of public safety, I will expel all those notorious for having been members. Those beyond my reach will remain subject to constant harassment. I will pass a law that will allow the government administratively to deport anyone who has been affiliated with such societies.

Montesquieu: That is to say, injudiciously deported.

Machiavelli: Why do you say "injudiciously?" Administrative decisions can be judicious, can't they? Rest assured. There will be little pity for factions. In countries continually agitated by civil discord, peace must be implacably restored. If domestic tranquility must claim a certain number of victims, the price will be paid. Afterward, the imposing presence of the commander is so formidable that no one will make an attempt on his life. After having covered Italy in blood, Sulla could appear again in Rome as an ordinary citizen. No one would dare touch a hair on his head.

Montesquieu: I see we are in a period filled with terrible executions. I am reticent about making any comment. Yet, it seems to me you could be less harsh and still achieve your ends.

Machiavelli: If an appeal were made to my mercy, I would look into it. Confidentially, some of the tough provisions I write into law are there to intimidate and will remain so, as long as I am not forced to use them otherwise.

Montesquieu: That's what you mean by "simply to intimidate?" Nevertheless, your nod to mercy does reassure me somewhat. Really, if any mortal heard you, there would be moments when you chill his blood.

Machiavelli: Why? I lived very near to the time of Duke of Valentino is whose historic reputation for terror was well deserved. He did have his ruthless moments. However, I assure you that once the necessity for executions had passed, he was a rather good-natured fellow. The same could be said of almost all absolute monarchs. Deep down, they are filled with goodwill, especially toward the disadvantaged.

Montesquieu: I'm not sure whether or not I like you better in your outbursts of rage. Your gentleness is even more frightening for me. You've abolished secret societies. Let's get back to the matter at hand.

Machiavelli: Don't go so fast. That I didn't do. You've confused things on this point.

Montesquieu: What? How so?

Machiavelli: I have suppressed secret societies of a certain ilk. I am speaking of those whose machinations would escape the surveillance of my government. But I have no intention of depriving myself of a useful channel of information and a means to influence affairs that can be considerable, if cleverly used.

Montesquieu: What are you thinking of in this connection?

Machiavelli: As I see it, I could give to a certain number of these societies a kind of legal existence or, rather, I could put them all under a single organization whose chief I would name. Then I would be in a position to control the various revolutionary elements in the country. These societies are made up of people from every nation, every class, and every social rank. I will be privy to the most obscure political intrigues. It will be like an auxiliary unit of my police. I will speak further about them in a short while.

The underground world of secret societies is filled with empty-heads who don't concern me in the least. But they can take directions. They represent a force that can be put in motion. If there is a commotion somewhere, it is my hand that sets it going. If a plot is hatched, I am the instigator. I am the head conspirator.

Montesquieu: And you think these bands of democrats, republicans, anarchists, and terrorists will let you come into their midst and break bread with them? What makes you think that those who want to throw off all forms of human domination will accept a guide who, you might say, is nothing but a master!

Machiavelli: O Montesquieu. You don't realize how impotent and even stupid most of these European demagogues are. These tigers have the souls of sheep. They're airheads. All you have to do to be accepted by them is speak their language. Moreover, almost all their ideas have an incredible affinity with the doctrines of absolute power. They dream of the gathering of individuals into a symbolic unity. They demand the complete realization of equality, which can only be brought about by power wielded by a single person. You see, even here I am the headmaster of their school! And besides, I have to say they have no choice. Secret societies exist under the conditions I have just laid down or they don't exist at all.

Montesquieu: The finale of sic v% sic jubeo does not have to wait long with you. I acknowledge you are definitely well protected against conspiracies.

Machiavelli: Yes, and it is important to underline the fact that the law will not allow gatherings or meetings in excess of a certain number of people. Montesquieu: How many?

Machiavelli: Why are you concerned with such details? All right, gatherings of more than fifteen or twenty people will not be allowed.

Montesquieu: What! Friends numbering more than that won't be able to dine together?

Machiavelli: I clearly see how worked up you're getting by this outrage to Gallic conviviality. All right, they may dine together, for my reign will not be as savage as you think. But on one condition. Politics is not to be discussed.

Montesquieu: Can they talk about literature?

Machiavelli: Yes, but only if literature is not used as the pretext for a political assembly. It is possible not to discuss a word of politics at a banquet. But a banquet itself may assume the character of a demonstration and be so understood by the public. That must not happen.

Montesquieu: Alas! Such a regime makes it difficult for citizens to breathe without offending the government.

Machiavelli: That's not correct. Only the factious will suffer from these restrictions. No one else will feel them.

It goes without saying that I am not talking here about acts of rebellion against my power, nor attempts whose aim is to overthrow my rule. Nor am I talking about attacks on the person of the prince or acts that question his authority or institutions. These are true crimes that are rightfully suppressed by procedures common to all legal orders. Legislation will anticipate all such acts. They would be punished in my kingdom according to various degrees of seriousness. The laws will be clearly framed in such a way to prevent the least injury, whether direct or indirect, to the established order of things.

Montesquieu: I take you at your word in this matter and will not inquire into your methods. Still, it's not enough to enact draconian legislation. A judge must be found who is willing to apply it. This poses a bit of a problem.

Machiavelli: There's no problem.

Montesquieu: Are you going to destroy the judicial system?

Machiavelli: I destroy nothing. I modify and innovate.

Montesquieu: Then do you plan to set up military courts, summary courts, and, finally, courts of special jurisdiction?

Machiavelli: No.

Montesquieu: Then what are you going to do?

Machiavelli: First, you should realize that I feel no need to decree a great number of harsh measures that I must then enforce. Many already exist and they are still in force. All good governments, free or absolute, republican or monarchic, face the same difficulties. In moments of crises, they are forced to resort to harsh laws. Some of these remain in vigor and others have grown weak after the necessities that occasioned their birth disappear. Both kinds must be used. With regard to the latter, remember that they haven't been explicitly abrogated. Prudence dictated their enactment and they are perfectly defensible. The return of abuses they first prevented necessarily brings them back into application. In this way, the government seems merely to be doing what good administration requires. And this is often the case.

You see that it is only a question of giving the courts a little fine-tuning. This is always an easy matter in centralized countries where the judiciary stays in direct contact with the administrative machinery under the authority of the government ministry responsible for it.

Implementation of the new laws made under my reign, most of which will have been promulgated as small decrees, will not likely be so easy. In countries where judges serve for life, there may be resistance to direct meddling by the government when it comes to interpreting the law.

But I think I have found a very ingenious and simple scheme, which appears as totally legal. Although it challenges the principle of life tenure for the bench, it will be seen as correcting the most unfortunate consequences of that principle. I shall issue a decree that will require judges who reach a certain age to retire. I don't doubt that here again I will have popular sentiment on my side. It is pitiable to see, as so frequently happens, a judge who is called upon to decide the highest and most difficult questions of law fall into a state of debilitating senility.

Montesquieu: Allow me a word here. I have some ideas on this subject. What you present as the fact of the matter is completely belied by experience. Men whose lives entail a continued exercise of the mind do not suffer a weakening of intelligence, as you would have it. If I may say so, this is the privilege granted those whose primary pursuit is thinking. If the faculties fail with age in the case of a few judges, they are preserved among the greater number. Their powers of thought continually augment. There is no need to replace them. Death inevitably and naturally brings vacancies to their ranks. But even if there were as many examples of senility as you claim, it would be a thousand times better, in the interest of sound justice, to suffer this drawback than to accept your remedy.

Machiavelli: I have other reasons for this remedy that are proof against your objections.

Montesquieu: Reasons of state?

Machiavelli: Perhaps. Be assured of one thing. In cases that are purely civil, judges will not deviate from the letter of the law any more than they did before.

Montesquieu: I think I see what you're driving at. If I correctly read what you just said, you will give judges a certain flexibility when it comes to political matters.

Machiavelli: I won't. They must do their duty and side with power. In politics, public order requires it. It would be the worst of all worlds if the sovereign were exposed to the seditious decisions of a court. These might be seized upon by the whole country and used against the government. To what purpose was silence imposed on the press if the voice of the people can make itself heard in the decisions of the courts?

Montesquieu: Though it seems a modest change, your appointment scheme has far-reaching consequences. This is why you attach such importance to it.

Machiavelli: You 're right. It effectively eradicates that spirit of resistance, that esprit de corps, which is always dangerous in judicial bodies that have preserved the memory of past governments and display a devotion that may border on worship. It brings to them new elements whose influences are all favorable to the spirit that animates my reign. Every year twenty, thirty, or forty posts in the judiciary will open up due to retirement. This means that the entire personnel of the judicial system can be reshuffled from top to bottom every six months. You understand that a single vacancy may lead to fifty new appointments by the successive upward movement of the holders of lower positions. Imagine what happens when there are thirty or forty vacancies at the same time. The collective spirit formed by prior professional attachments evaporates and greater solicitude for the present government is created because of the large number of positions at its disposal. There are young men ambitious to advance whose careers are not blocked by the life tenure of those who are ahead of them. They know that the government prizes law and order. The country, too. They serve both when they do what is called for on such questions.

Montesquieu: Unless people are incredibly blind, you win be accused of infecting the judiciary with a competitive spirit fatal to judicial bodies. I shall not elaborate on the consequences for I don't think that will stop you.

Machiavelli: I don't expect to escape criticism. It matters little to me, provided it doesn't reach my ears. In any case, I would consistently keep to a policy that sees my decisions as irrevocable in spite of any grumbling. A prince who acts in this way is always sure to win respect for his force of character.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:34 am

Part 3 of 3

Fourteenth Dialogue

Machiavelli; I have told you many times already, and I repeat it once more, that I don't need to create and reorganize everything. I find in existing institutions a great many of the instruments of my power. Do you know what sovereign immunity is?

Montesquieu: Yes, unfortunately for you. Without setting out to do so, I spoil a surprise that you would have been happy to spring on me with all your dramatic flair.

Machiavelli; What do you have in mind?

Montesquieu: I'm thinking of what you seem to want to talk about and what's true at least in France. Traditionally, exceptions to this practice have been countenanced under certain circumstances. But this legal recourse must be modified, if not completely abrogated, in a regime where sovereign immunity is recognized.

Machiavelli; I find you quite amenable on this point. Put simply, your ideas on this subject support one of the most tyrannical practices in the world. What! When individuals are wronged by government agents performing their duties and bring them before the courts, judges must answer them thus: "You have no legal recourse here. The doors of the court are closed. Go to the ministry for authorization to prosecute its officials." Such rigid conformity to legal process is a veritable denial of justice. How often will the government authorize such prosecutions?

Montesquieu: What are you complaining about? This would seem to suit your purposes very well.

Machiavelli: I told you that only to point out that in states where judicial procedure encounters such obstacles, a government does not have much to fear from the courts. In others, it is always as a temporary expedient that exceptions are inserted into the law. But when circumstances change, the exceptions remain, as they should. When order returns, they are not inconvenient; only when it is disturbed are they necessary.

There is another modern institution that serves the purposes of the central power no less effectively. I am speaking of the creation of that great magistracy attached to the courts that you call the Public Ministry. It was formerly called, much more accurately, the Ministry of the King, because this office holder is essentially removable and his power revocable at the discretion of the prince. I hardly need to describe the influence this magistrate has on the courts near where he is seated. It is considerable. Keep all of this in mind. Now I am going to speak of the Supreme Court of appeals, which I have avoiding speaking about, but which plays a considerable role in the administration of justice.

The Supreme Court of appeals is more than a judicial body. In some ways, it is a fourth branch in the state because it has the last word in determining the meaning of the law. So I will repeat what I believe I have already said with respect to the Senate and the legislative Assembly. If a court of justice were completely independent of the government, it could overthrow it at will by virtue of its powers and almost total discretion in matters of constitutional interpretation. In the name of liberty, all the court would have to do is systematically limit or expand those provisions of the law that regulate the exercise of political rights.

Montesquieu: Apparently you are going to demand it do the opposite.

Machiavelli: I won't demand anything. It will do what is appropriate all by itself. The various ploys I mentioned a short time ago will bring their respective influences to bear here. The nearer a judge is to power, the more power controls him. The conservative spirit of my reign will concentrate here to the highest degree. In their deliberations, the police power will receive an interpretation so favorable to my power that I will be relieved of a multitude of restrictive measures that otherwise would be necessary.

Montesquieu: Hearing you, someone would think that the laws are subject to the most fantastic interpretations. Aren't the laws written with clarity and precision? Do they lend themselves to the expansions and contractions that you imply?

Machiavelli: Surely the author of The Spirit of the Laws, the experienced judge who authored so many excellent decisions, does not need me to teach him about jurisprudence. There is no text, however clear, that is not susceptible to the most contrary interpretations, even in matters purely of civil law.

But please keep in mind that we are talking about political matters here. Now it is a common practice of legislators in all times to adopt elastic wording in many of their provisions. This allows them to adjust for various circumstances that cover all cases and allow exceptions that would have been imprudent to specify more precisely.

I am perfectly well aware that I must furnish you some examples, for without them what I am proposing would appear too conjectural to you. While speaking of sovereign immunity, you said that the common practice of making exception to the law must be changed in a free country.

Well, suppose that a certain law exists in the state that I govern and suppose that it has been changed somewhat. Thus, I am supposing that before my time a law had been promulgated that in electoral matters permitted the prosecution of government agents without the authorization of the Council of State.

The question is presented under my reign that has, as you know, introduced great changes in public right. Someone wants to prosecute an official before the courts on an electoral matter. The public prosecutor gets up and says: "The privilege that is claimed no longer exists today. It is no longer compatible with current institutions. The old law that dispensed with the authorization of the Council of State in such a case has been tacitly abrogated." The courts respond yes or no and finally the debate is brought before the Supreme Court of appeals. It defines public right on this point in the following manner. "The old law is tacitly abrogated. The authorization of the Council of State is necessary to prosecute public officials, even in electoral matters."

Here is another more specific example borrowed from the regulation of the press. I am told that in France there was a law that required, under penal sanction, that anyone making a living by distributing and peddling published materials must have a license. This license was to be furnished by a public official in charge of the general administration of a province. The law sought to regulate peddling as its main goal and to subject it to strict surveillance. Let us suppose that the text of the provision declares: " All distributors and peddlers must be furnished with an authorized license."

Well, in the event that the matter came before it, the Supreme Court of appeals could say: "It is not only the regulation of an occupation that the law had in view. It meant to cover any distribution or peddling per se." Consequently, the author of a piece of writing or a book who delivers even a single copy of his work, without prior authorization, (even if nominally complementary and not for sale), is engaged in an act of distributing and peddling. As a result, he falls under the penal provisions."

Y u immediately see what results from such an interpretation. Instead of a simple exercise of the police power, you have a law regulating freedom of the press and restricting the right to publish one's thoughts.

Montesquieu: You've certainly got what it takes to be a jurist.

Machiavelli; It's a must. How are governments overthrown today? Through legal distinctions and the subtleties of constitutional law, put to the task of opposing the ruling power by all available means, tools, and contrivances not prohibited by law. Do you expect the ruling power not to use these legal stratagems against the opposition, when they use them so relentlessly against the ruling power? Then the contest would not be equal. It would be impossible to mount any resistance. It would be necessary to abdicate.

Montesquieu: So many dangers stand in your way. It would be a miracle if you would anticipate them all. The courts are not bound by previous decisions. Jurisprudence will leave you with many lawsuits on your hands. People with justifiable claims will not tire of knocking on the doors of courts asking for different interpretations.

Machiavelli: In the beginning, it's possible. But when a certain number of decisions have definitively settled the law, the opening that existed before will close and the source of lawsuits will dry up. Public opinion would become so tame that total reliance would be placed on the official opinions of the government for the meaning of the law.

Montesquieu; How so?

Machiavelli: At certain moments, when there is a good reason to fear that some controversy may arise over some point of law, the government will declare as an advisory opinion that the law applies to this or that situation or that the law extends to this or that case.

Montesquieu: But these are merely declarations that in no way bind the courts.

Machiavelli: Nevertheless, coming from a government as powerful as the one I have organized, these declarations will have very great authority for and influence over courts of justice. They will be particularly effective in controlling individual petitions and, in many cases, not to say always, they will forestall annoying lawsuits, which won't even be filed.

Montesquieu: As you proceed, I see that your government becomes more and more tutelary. This is judicial behavior that is almost patriarchal in spirit.. In effect, such paternal solicitude demonstrated in so many ingenious ways must be acknowledged.

Machiavelli: So you have been brought to admit that I stand quite distant from the barbarous methods of government that you seemed to ascribe to me at the beginning of our conversation. You see that violence plays no role in all this. I take my stand where everyone does today, on right.

Montesquieu: On the right of the strongest.

Machiavelli: The right that gains obedience is always the right of the strongest. I know of no exception to this rule.

Fifteenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: We have covered a vast amount of ground in our discussion and you seem to have an answer for just about everything. But I feel compelled to tell you that you've got a long way to go before convincing me that you can hold onto power for very long. The thing that most astonished me was your intention to base your power on universal suffrage. I allow of nothing more fickle. Please tell me if I am understanding you correctly. You told me you would be king, right?

Machiavelli: That's right, king.

Montesquieu: Elected for life, or a hereditary monarch?

Machiavelli: I would be king in the strict sense of the word -- a hereditary monarch whose crown would pass to the first-born male. Women would never occupy my place.

Montesquieu: Not a very gallant attitude.

Machiavelli: Let me point out that it is the tradition of the French and Salic monarchy that I am following here.

Montesquieu: How will you be able to establish a hereditary line, given a democratic right to vote like that in the United States? Can you tell me this?

Machiavelli; Certainly.

Montesquieu: Come on now! Do you expect the will of future generations to be bound to such a principle?

Machiavelli: Yes.

Montesquieu: For the moment, though, I would like to know how you would square suffrage with the appointment of public officials.

Machiavelli: Which public officials? In monarchies, you allow full well, the government appoints officials at all levels.

Montesquieu: That depends. Generally, administrators at the local level are chosen by local inhabitants, even in monarchic governments.

Machiavelli: A simple law can change that. In the future, such officials will be appointed by the government.

Montesquieu: Will you also appoint the nation's representatives?

Machiavelli; You know that is not possible.

Montesquieu: That's a real pity. If suffrage is left free, and you fail to contrive the outcome of elections, a popularly elected Assembly, under the influence of various parties, will soon be filled with deputies hostile to your power.

Machiavelli: But I have no earthly intention of leaving suffrage free.

Montesquieu: I expected as much. What then do you propose to do?

Machiavelli: One thing is extremely important. Those who wish to represent the country must be attached to the government. I will have all candidates swear a solemn oath. I don't mean an oath to the nation, in the manner of your revolutionaries of 1789. I want an oath of fidelity sworn to the prince himself and to his constitution.

Montesquieu: If you have no compunction about violating your political oaths, how do you expect others to be more scrupulous in this regard?

Machiavelli; I rely very little on the political conscience of men. Rather, I put my stock on the power of public opinion. No one will dare disgrace himself by being openly false to his sworn word. Let me underscore the fact that the oath I require will precede ejections rather than follow. them. Under such circumstances, the commitment to serve me would have to precede any vote gathering.

Henceforward, the government will have to possess the means to resist the opposition and prevent it from drawing away its supporters. At election time, the parties customarily proclaim their candidates and submit their lists to the government. I shall reciprocate by declaring my candidates and placing their names before the parties.

Montesquieu: If you didn't have a monopoly on power, the odious way you deal with the opposition would alone spark resistance. By offering open competition, you invite retaliation.

Machiavelli: I intend to have the agents of my government, from the lowest to the highest rank, actively involved in making sure that only my candidates are

Montesquieu: In light of what you said before, that is something entirely to be expected.

Machiavelli: "The Jaws establishing suffrage are fundamental, likewise how suffrage is apportioned and how ballots are cast." [3] The smallest details of the electoral laws are of utmost importance.

Montesquieu: Sometimes I don't recognize what I've said when it comes from your mouth. It seems to me that what you just quoted was meant to apply to democratic governments.

Machiavelli: Most certainly. But you have seen already that the essence of policy entails reliance on the people. Although I wear a crown, my avowed and true goal is to represent them. Trustee of all delegated powers, I am alone their true representative, after all. What I Will, they will. What I do, they do. Consequently, it is absolutely imperative that elections not afford factions the opportunity to subvert all that I -- backed by armed might -- personify.

So, I have found other ways to counter their efforts. Take, for example, the law that forbids public assemblies. Naturally, it will be applied to political conventions. In this way, parties will not be able to gather together and draw up platforms.

Montesquieu: Why do you always emphasize parties? For all your talk about them, isn't your real policy directed toward frustrating the will of the voters? After all, parties are only groups of voters. If the voters are prevented from meeting and open debate, how can they ever vote intelligently?

Machiavelli: You show a certain naivete when it comes to political passions and their infinite adaptability and cunning in circumventing prohibitions. But don't worry about the voters. Those with "politically correct" dispositions will always know who to vote for .

Besides, I let toleration work to my advantage. Not only will I allow groups to gather in support of my candidates, I will go so far as to close my eyes to the activities of several popular candidates who loudly proclaim the cause of liberty. However, let me add that those who cry the loudest will be my own.

Montesquieu: And how will you regulate suffrage?

Machiavelli: Let me first outline my policy as far as the vote in the countryside goes. I don't want people to cast their votes in populated areas. There they can be infected with the spirit of opposition commonly found in towns and cities, which follow the lead of the capital. I want voting by commune. The benefits of this arrangement, so deceptively simple, will nevertheless be considerable.

Montesquieu: Your intentions are obvious. The rural vote will divide itself among insignificant local personalities, or, for want of familiar names, will fall back on candidates nominated by your government. I seriously doubt that this arrangement will bring many able or talented men to office.

Machiavelli: Public order has less need of men of talent than men devoted to the government. Great ability belongs to the person who sits on the throne and those gathered around it. Elsewhere it is useless, maybe even harmful, for it can only find expression in measures against authority.

Montesquieu: Your maxims cut like a sword. I have no argument against you. Rather, I ask you please to elaborate further on how you would regulate elections.

Machiavelli; For reasons you can well appreciate, I am opposed to proportional representation. It distorts elections by allowing for coalitions among men of diverse principles. I will draw up a number of electoral districts from larger administrative units, from which a single deputy may be elected. Thus. each voter will be able to mark only one name on his ballot.

In addition, I must be able to neutralize the opposition in districts where it has too much influence. For example, suppose that in a previous election the majority in a given district had opposed me. Suppose that there is again good reason to anticipate opposition to the government's candidate. Nothing could be easier to remedy. If this district has only a small population, I simply redraw it and put it into a neighboring district where opposition voices will be drowned out and where enthusiasm for its cause is dissipated. On the other hand, if the hostile district has a fairly large population, it can be divided into several smaller districts. They are then annexed to neighboring districts, where the opposition is completely submerged.

I am skipping a wealth of detail directed to the same general end. For example, when necessary, I could divide electoral districts in ways to allow for more administrative control. I could have municipal officers, whose appointment depends on the government, preside over the functioning of these districts.

Montesquieu: I am taken aback by the fact that you are not advocating something that was reportedly once employed in the time of Leo X. I am referring to having election supervisors rig the results.

Machiavelli: That might prove a tad difficult today. Such a practice would have to be conducted with the utmost prudence. Besides, a skillful government has so many other resources at its disposal! It's not necessary directly to purchase votes. Groups of people can be made to vote the way you want by plying them with government contracts, here promising a port, there promising to buy something, at another place promising to build a canal. Conversely, cities and towns that oppose my government get nothing.

Montesquieu: I don't want to discredit the brilliance of these schemes, but aren't you afraid of opening yourself to the charge that you are at one time a corrupter of popular will and at another its oppressor? Don't you fear compromising your power by constantly engaging in struggles where it is always so directly committed? The least success in contests against your candidates will be a shining victory for the opposition and a rebuff to your government. l am frequently struck by something quite unnerving in your policy. It seems that you are constantly required to succeed in all your endeavors, or suffer something catastrophic.

Machiavelli: Such language smacks of fear. Let me reassure you. I have come so far and have succeeded in so many things that I can't possibly feel threatened by such infinitely small things. For true political men, Bossuet's grain of sand will not tip the scale. I am so entrenched that I could weather the storm, without danger. The paltry administrative inconveniences that you mention are of no significance. Besides, I don't claim to be perfect. I know quite well that mistakes will be made. Certainly, now and then, some cases of corruption and scandal will surface. What can I do? Will that destroy or even jeopardize in any way the rest of my project? It is less important to avoid committing mistakes than to assume responsibility for them with alacrity and a proper attitude that silences critics. Even if the opposition succeeds in insinuating some local dissidents into my Assembly, what does it matter to me? I am not like others who make no allowances for the necessities of their times.

One of my great principles is to set things against themselves. Just as I use the press against the press, I would use oratory to counter oratory. I would have as many men as I needed with prepared speeches, capable of speaking several hours non-stop. The essential thing is to have a solid majority behind you and a presiding officer who can be trusted. There is a special art in conducting debates and swrunoning votes. But do I need all these parliamentary tricks? In my Assembly, I will control nineteen out of twenty men, all of whom will follow my instructions. In the meantime, I would pull the strings of a sham opposition, clandestinely enlisted to my cause. Anyone may then declaim ever so nobly. Their words would as easily penetrate the ears of my deputies as wind through a keyhole. Now do you want me to speak of the Senate?

Montesquieu: Having studied Caligula's reign, I can imagine what is in store.

Sixteenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: One of the striking features of your politics is the annihilation of parties and the destruction of other collective forces. Your program has not failed in this regard. However, I see around you certain things that you have not dealt with, for example, the clergy, universities, the bar, the national militia, and business corporations. It seems to me there is more than one dangerous element in all that.

Machiavelli: I can't say everything at once. Let's consider the national militia so that I won't have to be concerned with it anymore. One of my first acts would have to be its dissolution. A citizen militia can not be reconciled with the existence of a professional army. Unlike regulars, citizens in arms are liable to be fractious at any given moment.

And this matter does pose some difficulties. A national guard may be a useless institution but it is nonetheless very popular. In military states, it appeals to the puerile instincts in certain bourgeois circles. It may be anomalous and ridiculous but it brings together a taste for soldierly pomp and certain commercial mores. It is based on an inoffensive prejudice that would be inconvenient to counter. The prince must never appear to have interests opposed to those of the city, which believes its security is guaranteed by arming its inhabitants.

Montesquieu: But I thought you dissolved the militia?

Machiavelli: I dissolved it in order to reorganize it on other foundations. It is essential to put it under the command of certain civil authorities and to remove from it the prerogative of electing its leaders. Furthermore, I will tolerate its existence only in places convenient for me. I reserve the right to dissolve it again and to reorganize it on still other foundations, if circumstances so require. I have nothing more to tell you on this matter.

As for universities, the way that things are now handled is just about fine for me. You are aware that these great bodies of learning are no longer organized as they were. I'm told that they have almost everywhere lost their former autonomy. They are no longer anything but institutions in the service of public interests, financially governed by the state.

As I've said more than once, where we find the state, there we find the prince. The moral orientation of public institutions is in his hands. His agents mold the spirit of the youth. The government appoints the head of the teaching corps and its staff in their respective capacities. They are tied to it. They are dependent on it. And this is all that's needed. Here or there, we might find some vestiges of independence in some public school or academy. But it is easy to bring it back under central control and direction. All that is needed is a new regulation or a simple ministerial decree. I don't have to elaborate on every detail of what could be done. However, before leaving this subject, I must tell you that I regard it as very important to proscribe studies of constitutional law in the teaching of public right.

Montesquieu: Indeed, there are reasons enough for that.

Machiavelli: My reasons are actually very simple. I don't want young people who leave the schools to be mindlessly concerned with politics so that at eighteen years of age they are wrapped up in writing constitutions as they would tragic poetry. Such instruction can only twist the mind of the young and prematurely initiate them into matters that are beyond the limits of their intelligence. With these poorly digested and badly understood notions, we would not be educating real statesmen but utopians, whose rash thoughts would eventually be translated into rash actions.

The generations born under my reign must be raised to respect established institutions and to love the prince. To this end, I would make fairly ingenious use of the controls I would have over the curriculum. In general, I believe that the schools make a big mistake in neglecting contemporary history. It is at least as essential to know one's own times as it is that of Pericles. I want the history of my reign to be taught in the schools while I'm still alive. In such a way, a new prince finds his way into the hearts of a generation.

Montesquieu: Of course, such history would be one big defense of all your acts.

Machiavelli: Obviously I would not have myself denigrated. I would also try to undermine private education, which could not be directly proscribed. I could do this through the state universities. These would contain cadres of professors that would utilize their time outside the classroom to propagate convenient doctrines. I would have them offer courses in all the important cities that anyone could attend. In such a way, I would spread the government's influence and further indoctrination.

Montesquieu: In other words, you would co-opt even the last vestiges of independent thinking.

Machiavelli: I wouldn't co-opt anything at all.

Montesquieu: Would you allow professors other than your own to diffuse learning in the same way, without license, degrees, or authorization?

Machiavelli: What? You want me to sanction "clubs"?

Montesquieu: No, but let's go on to another subject.

Machiavelli: The safety of the government depends on a multitude of regulatory measures. Among my concerns, you were right to draw attention to the legal profession. Yet, regulation of this profession would get me involved where it is not necessary .Here I am dealing with civil matters and my rule of thumb is to show as much restraint as possible. In states that have a professional organization of lawyers, litigants regard the independence of the bar as a guarantee inseparable from the right of a public trial, whether it concerns a matter of honor, money, or life. It will be very rare when I intervene in such things. Public opinion would be alarmed by the inevitable cries that would be raised by the whole legal profession. Yet, I know that this body will be a source of influence constantly hostile to my power. You know better than I, Montesquieu, that this profession fosters cold and stubborn temperaments when it comes to matters of principle and minds whose tendency is to hold the acts of government to strict legality. Lawyers do not have as developed a sense of social necessity as a judge does. He sees the Jaw from too close and in ways too narrow to have an accurate conception, while the judge. ...

Montesquieu: Spare me your pleadings.

Machiavelli: I don't for moment forget that I am before a descendant of those great magistrates who backed the cause of the French monarchy with so much brilliance.

Montesquieu: And who rarely submitted to pressure on verdicts that would violate the laws of the state.

Machiavelli: That is why they ended up bringing down the state itself. I don't want my courts of justice to be parliaments, nor do I want lawyers, under the immunities of the robe, to engage in politics. The greatest man of the century, to whom your country had the honor of giving birth, said: "I wish that the tongue of a lawyer who speaks evil of the government could be cut out." Because modern mores are softer, I would not go so far.

At the first opportune moment, I would do one simple thing. While doing nothing at all to infringe on the independence of the profession, I will decree that lawyers be enlisted in the ranks of their profession by the sovereign himself. Providing a rationale for my decree will not be too difficult. I will merely point out to potential litigants that this procedure better guarantees their rights than when the profession, with all its cross-pressures, recruits its own members.

Montesquieu: It is only too obvious that even the most execrable measures can be given the color of reason. But let's see what you do with respect to the clergy. That is one institution that is only remotely dependent on the state. It is a spiritual power whose seat is located somewhere other than the fatherland. l know of nothing that threatens your power more than authority that speaks in the name of heaven but whose roots penetrate the entire earth. Remember that the Christian teaching is a teaching of liberty. I know that the state has strictly segregated religious authority from worldly politics. I also know that the words of preachers are limited to terms found in the Gospels. But the message that emanates -- of otherworldly ideals -- will prove the stumbling block to political materialism. It is this book, at once so humble and subdued, that alone destroyed the Roman Empire, Caesarism, and its power. Nations that avow Christianity will always escape despotism, for Christianity elevates man's dignity and places him beyond the reach of despotism. It develops moral strength over which human power has no sway. [4l Beware of the priest. He depends only on God. His influence is everywhere -- in the sanctuary, the family, and the schools. You can exert no influence on him. His priorities are not yours. He obeys a constitution that is beyond both your Jaws and sword. If you reign over a Catholic nation and have the clergy for an enemy, you will be brought down sooner or later, even if the people are nominally behind you.

Machiavelli: I don't know why you make such apostles of liberty out of priests. I am unaware of such a role either in ancient or modern times. I have always found the priesthood to be a natural support for absolute power.

The act of founding may have caused me to make concessions to the democratic spirit of the age and to look to universal suffrage as the basis of my power . But I hope that you realize that these things are only artifices demanded by the times. I also claim the privilege of divine right. I am no less a king by the grace of God. It is only natural for the clergy to support me, for we share the same principle of authority. However, if the clergy itself grows fractious, if it takes advantage of its position to conspire against my government.. ..

Montesquieu: Yes?

Machiavelli: You seem to think the church is so influential! Do you know how unpopular it has made itself in several avowedly Catholic states? In France, for example, the press has so disparaged it in the eyes of the masses that its apostolic mission has been rendered impossible. If I were king of France, do you know what I could do, if I so chose?

Montesquieu: What?

Machiavelli: I could provoke a schism in the Church and sever all bonds that tie the clergy to the Court of Rome. That is the real Gordian knot. I would have my press, publicists, and political men all declaim as follows: "Christianity is independent of Catholicism. Catholicism forbids what Christianity permits. The civil independence of the clergy and its submission to the Court of Rome are purely Catholic doctrines that constantly threaten the security of the state. Those loyal to the kingdom must not have a foreign prince for a spiritual leader. This is to leave the internal order of the regime to the discretion of a power that can turn hostile at any given moment. This hierarchy of things, dating from the Middle Ages, is tantamount to the tutelage of the people and keeps them in their infancy. It can not be reconciled with the virile genius of modern civilization, with its enlightenment and independence. Why seek in Rome for a spiritual leader? Why can't the sovereign also be pontiff'?"

The liberal press especially could be made to spread such a message. Moreover, it is highly likely that the masses would gladly listen.

Montesquieu: If you dared to attempt such a project, you would quickly learn of the awesome power of Catholicism, even among nations where it seems weakened." [5]

Machiavelli: Attempt it, Great God! On bended knee, I ask forgiveness of our Divine Master for having laid out such a sacrilegious doctrine, so infused with the hatred of the Church. But God, Who is also the source of earthly power, does not forbid the prince to defend himself from the encroachment of the clergy. In fact, the clergy transgresses against the precepts of the Gospel when it shows itself insubordinate to the prince. The roots of priestly conspiracies are hidden. By going to the Court of Rome, I would find the way to stop them before they grow.

Montesquieu: How?

Machiavelli: I would have only to point out to the Holy See the moral condition of my people, chaffing under the yoke of the Church, aspiring to break loose, capable of further fracturing Catholic unity, and throwing itself behind the Greek or Protestant schism in the Church.

Montesquieu: Threats instead of action!

Machiavelli: Montesquieu, you 're way off the mark. You fail to understand the respect I have for the papal throne! My only role and mission as a Catholic sovereign would be to become the defender of the Church. You are aware that today the temporal power of the Church is threatened by the anti-religious zeal and ambitions of countries north of Italy. Well, I would say to Saint Peter that it is my mission and duty to support and save him from his enemies. In return, I would ask him not to attack me but rather to lend me the support of his moral influence. This would not be too much to ask when I risk my popularity in defense of a cause so thoroughly discredited today in the eyes of the so-called European democracies.

These risks would not deter me. I would check the encroachment of neighboring states against the Holy See. If, unfortunately, the Pope were attacked and chased from the Papal States (as has already happened), my bayonets alone would restore and maintain him there, as long as I live.

Montesquieu: This would really be a masterstroke. If you could keep a garrison in Rome, you would almost be able to rule the Holy See, as if it were some province of your kingdom.

Machiavelli: Do you think that after rendering such a service to the papacy that the Pope would refuse to lend his support to my power or to come anoint me in my capital, if need be? Are there no such historic precedents?

Montesquieu: There is nothing that history has not seen. But what if, instead of finding in the chair of Saint Peter a Borgia or a Dubois, as you seem to expect, you find a pope who would counter your intrigues and brave your anger? What would you do then?

Machiavelli: Under the pretext of defending the Papacy's temporal power, I would resolve to bring about its downfall.

Montesquieu: Your genius can not be denied.

Seventeenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: I said that you have a certain genius. It really takes something of the sort to conceive and execute so many extraordinary things. I now have a better understanding of the god Vishnu in Indian folklore. Like the Indian idol, you have a hundred arms, and each of your fingers can trip a switch. Granting that nothing is beyond your reach, are you able to see everything that's taking place?

Machiavelli: Yes. My police force will be so vast that in the heart of my kingdom one half the populace will be watching the other half. Permit me to elaborate a bit on how my police force will be organized.

Montesquieu: Proceed.

Machiavelli: The Ministry of the Police that I set up will be the most important of my ministries. It will bring under centralized control a multitude of tasks that have as much to do with foreign as with domestic affairs.

Montesquieu: But if you do that, your subjects will immediately see that they are caught in a horrible net.

Machiavelli: If this ministry is disliked, I will abolish it and rename it the Ministry of State, if you wish. Besides, in the other ministries, I will organize bureaus with similar functions, most of which will be thoroughly integrated into what are today called the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. As far as this latter department goes, I am not for the moment concerned with diplomacy but only with ways to insure myself against factions at home and abroad. When it comes to security, most monarchs find themselves in similar straits. They would very likely further my projects for an international police force designed to promote our mutual security. I don't doubt for a minute that I could pull such a thing off.

I would then break down my cadres of international police into certain sub-groups. First, there would be men who are well off, bon-vivants, planted in foreign courts, whose job would be to keep me informed of the intrigues of princes and exiled pretenders to my crown. Next, I would have a set of revolutionary refugees to serve -- for a price, of course -- as my conduit into he affairs of obscure rabble-rousers. I would set up political journals, publishing houses, and bookstores in all the great capitals, secretly subsidized to follow at close hand the movements in current thought.

Montesquieu: Your policy is no longer directed at factions in your kingdom. You will end up conspiring against the very soul of humanity.

Machiavelli: You know that big talk doesn't really frighten me. I want every political man in league with foreigners to be observed and continually tracked until he returns to my kingdom. Here he will be immediately incarcerated to prevent a continuation of any such activities. To better infiltrate revolutionary intrigues, I have in mind a scheme that I think rather clever.

Montesquieu: Good God, what could that be?

Machiavelli: I would have a prince of my house, directly in line for my throne, play the role of a malcontent. In posing as a liberal and a critic of my rule, he would rally to his side, and thereby expose, those in the upper echelons of my kingdom who might conceivably engage in some rabble-rousing. Privy to foreign and domestic intrigues, this prince would play the lead role in an elaborate play that would end by informing on such unsuspecting dupes.

Montesquieu: What! You would have a prince of your own house engage in activities of police work?

Machiavelli: Why not? I know reigning princes who, in exile, have served on the staff of the secret police.

Montesquieu: I will hear you out, Machiavelli, but only to put an end to this frightful wager .

Machiavelli: Don't be indignant, Monsieur de Montesquieu. In The Spirit of the Laws you called me a great man. [6]

Montesquieu: I've paid dearly for such words. My punishment is listening to you. From now on, we can do without so many sordid details.

Machiavelli: As for domestic affairs, I will be forced to reestablish the cabinet noir.

Montesquieu: Go on.

Machiavelli: Your best kings have made use of it. The privacy of the mails must not serve to shelter conspiracies.

Montesquieu: Come clean. The merest whiff of conspiracy scares you, doesn't it?

Machiavelli: You're wrong. There will be conspiracies under my reign. Some are even a necessity.

Montesquieu: Come again?

Machiavelli: There might be some genuine conspiracies, but I am not talking about them. I can assure you that there will also be some sham conspiracies. At certain opportune times, when the prince's popularity is on the decline, they can be an excellent way of arousing the people's sympathy. The public can be intimidated and the prince can, if need be, procure the harsh measures he wants or put into effect those already at hand. These contrived conspiracies, which of course must be employed cautiously, have yet another use. They can lead to the discovery of real conspiracies. Blanket investigations can be undertaken into anything suspect.

Nothing is more precious than the life of the sovereign and many pains must be taken to guarantee it. He must be surrounded by countless bodyguards. But his secret service must be rather skillfully disguised so that the sovereign does not seem afraid when he shows himself in public. I am told that in Europe such precautions were so perfected that a prince could go out in public like an ordinary individual, and seemingly stroll heedlessly through the crowds, while actually being surrounded by two or three thousand of his protectors.

I intend to have my police infiltrate all ranks of society. There will be no private room or gathering place, no drawing room or intimate setting where an eavesdropper is not found to take in what is said at any hour. For those experienced at it, it is astonishingly easy to get men to inform on each other. The techniques of observation and analysis developed by professional cadres of the secret police are more astonishing yet. You have no idea of the range of their tricks and disguises. Instinct, patience, and imperturbability combine with a certain passion for these sorts of things. The ranks of the profession are made up of men from all sectors of society who are brought together by a -- how shall I put it -- a kind of love of the art.

Montesquieu: Let's keep the curtain closed on such things!

Machiavelli: You get no argument from me on this score. Ruling does indeed involve terrifying, dark secrets. I'll spare you some of the more frightening ones. The way the system is organized, I will be so completely informed that I would be able to tolerate certain genuine intrigues because I would have the power to suppress them anytime I wanted.

Montesquieu: Why would you even consider tolerating them?

Machiavelli: In European states, the absolute monarch must not use force indiscriminately. There are always certain underground activities that need some operating room before they reveal themselves and can be dealt with. Public opinion must not be aroused for just any reason of state security. Consider also that political parties, reduced to impotence, are often not content merely to grouse and remonstrate. To deprive them even of an outlet for their cantankerous minds would be a great mistake. Here and there, their complaints will be heard in books and newspapers. The government will be attacked by innuendo in some public speeches or in court, as the defense makes it summation. Under various pretexts, they will undertake small-scale demonstrations to voice their grievances. All these things, I assure you, will be timid undertakings, and the public, if made aware of them, will only be tempted to laugh. People will find me quite liberal. I will pass for being too easygoing.

I don't want anyone to utter even a word to the effect that my government is afraid. This is the real reason why I tolerate what, after all, can't really harm me.

Montesquieu: That reminds me. You have left a serious gap in your discussion -- something your decrees have not touched upon.

Machiavelli: What?

Montesquieu: You have not dealt with individual rights.

Machiavelli: I won't touch them.

Montesquieu: How so? I don't see how you can square tolerance with your claim to be able to squash anything that you see as threatening. Take a state of emergency, for instance, even a Jess serious concern that requires immediate preventive detention. How can you proceed in the face of habeas corpus laws? Isn't it the case that certain legal formalities and procedural guarantees will stand in your way? Time is lost while the mechanisms of law roll on.

Machiavelli: Wait a minute. When I said I would respect individual liberty, that did not preclude some very useful judicial reforms.

Montesquieu: I knew it.

Machiavelli: Hold on. Don't think you've scored some big point against me. What I have in mind would be the simplest thing in the world to do. In parliamentary countries, who is principally entrusted with overseeing individual liberties?

Montesquieu: It is a judicial tribunal composed of judges whose number and independence guarantee justice.

Machiavelli: That is most surely a defective institution. The slowness of its deliberations robs justice of the celerity and fear necessary to deter wrongdoers.

Montesquieu: What kind of wrongdoers?

Machiavelli: I am speaking of people who commit murders, thefts, crimes, and offenses justifiable as crimes against society. Jurisdiction over such matters must be given the necessary unity and dispatch. I would replace your council with a single judge, charged with overseeing the arrests of criminals.

Montesquieu: But we're not only talking about criminals. By this provision, you threaten the liberty of all citizens. At least draw a distinction between different kinds of crime.

Machiavelli: That is exactly what I don't want to do. Isn't someone who conspires against the government guilty in the same way as someone who commits a felony or misdemeanor? A moment of passion and being without resources can explain certain crimes. But what forces people to be interested in politics? Therefore, I want no distinction between crimes against society and crimes against the state. What is there about the spirit of modern government that leads it to organize different kinds of courts? In my kingdom, no distinction will be made between the insolent journalist and the ordinary thief. They will share the same cell and appear in the same court. The conspirator will share the docket with the forger and the murderer and appear before the same jury. Let me underscore the brilliance of such a reform. Public opinion, seeing the conspirator treated no differently than the common criminal, will begin to blur the two categories of crime. It will end up scorning them equally.

Montesquieu: You are destroying the very grounds of sound moral judgments. I know this means nothing to you. But what surprises me is that you would seem to retain the jury system.

Machiavelli: In centralized states like mine, public officials designate the members of the jury. In cases involving ordinary political offenses, my Minister of Justice will be able, if need be, to convene a panel of judges to deal with such things.

Montesquieu: Your scheme of domestic reforms is up to its task. It is time to go on to other concerns.



1. The Prince VII.

2. The Spirit of the Laws XI 3.

3. The Spirit of The Laws II 2 and following.

4. The Spirit of the Laws XXIV 1 and following.

5. The Spirit of the Laws XXV 12.

6. The Spirit of the Laws VI 5.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am

Re: The Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu

Postby admin » Thu May 10, 2018 8:35 am

Third Part

Eighteenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: Up until now you have been concerned with the structure of your government and the stringent laws necessary to maintain it. That is a considerable undertaking, but you have only just begun. For a sovereign who desires absolute power in a modern European state accustomed to representative institutions, you still have to face the most difficult problem of all.

Machiavelli: And what's that?

Montesquieu: The problem of state finances.

Machiavelli: I've not ignored such things. I remember telling you that every thing comes down to knowing how to manipulate numbers.

Montesquieu: That's all well and good. But in this case, the very nature of things will resist you.

Machiavelli: I confess that you take me somewhat aback. I was born in a century extremely backward when it comes to matters of economics and I understand little about such things.

Montesquieu: I'm not too anxious on your behalf. However, let me ask you one thing. I remember having written in The Spirit of the Laws that the absolute monarch was compelled, by the principle that informed his government, to impose only small taxes on his subjects. [1] Will you at least give your subjects the same satisfaction?

Machiavelli: I make no such promise. In truth, I know nothing more questionable than the proposition you have set forth there. How do you expect the trappings of monarchic power and the brilliance and display of a grand court to exist without imposing heavy sacrifices on a nation? Your thesis may be true in Turkey or in Persia, for all I know, for petty , lazy people who would not even have the wherewithal to pay a tax. But in European societies, labor produces a superabundance of wealth that presents itself in various forms -- all amenable to taxation. In these countries, the government supports itself through luxury .All public service projects are under central control. All high officials and dignitaries are given great salaries at public expense. Can you really expect someone who is sovereign master of all this to limit himself to modest taxes?

Montesquieu: All right. I accept your premises and will not defend my proposition whose real meaning has seemed to escape you. So, your government will be costly. Evidently it will be more expensive than a representative government.

Machiavelli: That's possible.

Montesquieu: Yes. But here is where you begin to have problems. I know how representative governments provide for their financial needs, but I have no idea of how absolute power, in modern societies, can support itself. If the past is any indication, absolute power could be maintained upon the following conditions: first, the absolute monarch would have to be a military leader. You understand this.

Machiavelli: Yes.

Montesquieu: Moreover, he would have to be a conqueror, for war would be the principal source of those revenues that would keep him in splendor and support his armies. If these expenses were met by taxation, they would crush his subjects, not because he spends less but because he .finds his means of support elsewhere. But today, war is no longer profitable. It ruins the conqueror as well as the conquered. Here then is one major source of revenue that escapes you. Taxes remain. But to Jay taxes as he wants, the absolute monarch would have to ignore the will of his subjects. In despotic states, a legal fiction is appealed to and this allows such rulers to tax indiscriminately. The sovereign is presumed to possess all the goods of his subject by right. When he expropriates something, he is only taking back what belongs to him. Thus, there is no basis for a claim against him.

Finally, it is in the nature of absolutism that the prince be free to dispose of his tax revenues. His action in this domain is above discussion and control. You have to admit that the defects of despotism are so extreme that it would take a lot ever to return to it.

Even if modern peoples are as indifferent as you say to the loss of their liberties, they are not so when their interests are at stake. And these interests are linked to an economic order far removed from despotism. Financial matters, which resist arbitrary handling, will impinge on your discretion in political matters. You whole reign threatens to collapse on this score.

Machiavelli: I don't see the cause for too much concern about this or any other matter.

Montesquieu: We'll see. Let's come to the point. That taxes are voted upon by the representatives of the nation is the fundamental rule of modern states. Do you or do you not accept this principle?

Machiavelli: Why not?

Montesquieu: Don't be too rash. This principle is the clearest token of a people's sovereignty .Granting them the right to pass taxes is to recognize the right to refuse, limit, or reduce to nothing the power of the prince to act. Ultimately, it is the right to destroy him, if need be.

Machiavelli: You seem very sure of yourself.

Montesquieu: Those who vote taxes are themselves the taxpayers. Their interests are closely bound up with those of the nation. They will be attentive to such matters. You will find these representatives adamant and unaccommodating in appropriating money in the same way that you will find them docile with regard to political liberties.

Machiavelli: Here your argument is demonstrably weak. Please consider a couple of things. In the first place, the nation's representatives are salaried. Even if they are taxpayers, other personal matters can make them malleable when voting tax measures.

Montesquieu: I agree with what your scheme portends. Your remark is to the point.

Machiavelli: You see the disadvantages of looking at things too systematically. The least change, if skillfully made, can change everything. Perhaps what you say is right if I were basing my power on the aristocracy or on the middle classes that could refuse to cooperate with me at any moment. Secondly, I base myself on the proletariat, the bulk of which possess nothing. The costs of supporting the state are hardly borne by them at all. I will arrange it so that they are completely exempt from any burden. The working classes show little concern for fiscal measures, since they are unaffected by them.

Montesquieu: If I've understood you correctly, one thing is clear. The "haves" would be forced to pay because that is the sovereign will of the "have-nots." Because of their poverty and greater numbers, the poor will hold the rich ransom.

Machiavelli: And isn't there something fair in this?

Montesquieu: It isn't even true. In contemporary society, from the economic point of view, there is no rigid demarcation between the rich and the poor. Through labor, the artisan of yesterday can be the bourgeois of tomorrow. You must realize what you are doing by attacking the landed or industrial bourgeoisie.

In reality, you are making it more difficult for someone to emancipate him self through labor. You are holding back a greater number of laborers in the bonds of the proletariat. It is a grave error to believe that the proletariat can profit from attacks on the source of productivity. By impoverishing the "haves" through fiscal measures, you will only be creating an unstable social situation. In time, even the "have-nots" will be totally impoverished.

Machiavelli: These are fine theories. I will counter them with others, just as fine, if you wish.

Montesquieu: Not just yet. You haven't resolved the problem I have posed for you. You have to obtain the wherewithal to meet the expenses of absolute monarchy. It will not be as easy as you think, even with a legislature in which you will have an absolute majority, backed by all the power of the popular mandate with which you are invested. Tell me, for example, how can you make the financial mechanisms of modern states amenable to the exigencies of absolute power? I repeat. The very nature of things will resist you. The civilized people of Europe have regulated their finances with multiple guarantees that are so strict and so jealous that it would be just as hard to raise public revenues arbitrarily as to spend it so.

Machiavelli: Please elaborate and explain this marvelous system.

Montesquieu: It will only take a moment to summarize it. The perfection of the financial system in modern times essentially rests on two fundamental operations: a system of accountability and public access to information. Herein lies the taxpayers' security. A sovereign may not tamper with such reforms without in effect saying to his subjects. "Things may be in order, but I want disorder and obscurity in the management of public funds. There are multitudes of expenditures I want to undertake without your approval. There are deficits that I want to conceal and revenues I want to disguise or inflate, according to circumstances."

Machiavelli: I like what you're saying here.

Montesquieu: In free industrialized countries, everyone is acquainted with financial management either out of necessity or out of personal or professional interests. Your government could not deceive anyone in these matters.

Machiavelli: Who is talking about deception?

Montesquieu: The whole work of financial management, so vast and complicated, can be reduced to two very simple operations: appropriations and expenditures.

It is around these two financial poles that so many laws and special regulations gravitate. There is nothing complicated in their objective. It is simply to guarantee that the taxpayer pays only the necessary and duly called for tax and that the government applies public funds only for expenditures approved by the nation.

I will not address myself to what is to be taxed, establishment of a tax rate, or how taxes are to be collected. Nor will I investigate how to guarantee against tax evasion and to instill order and precision into the circulation of public funds. Those are accounting details that I don't need to discuss with you. I only wish to show you how public scrutiny goes hand-in-hand with a system of auditing in well-organized systems of public finance in Europe.

One of the most important innovations was to bring the operations of public financing to light, to make visible the government's use of the public's wealth, the source of its revenues and object of its expenditures. This was achieved by the invention of what is today called the state budget, which is a rough estimate of expected revenues and projected expenses, not over an extended period of time, but each year, for the following year. The essentials of the financial situation may be found there. In a way, the budget also shapes that situation, which is improved or worsened according to its projections. The different ministers prepare the parts of the budget and account for the various programs in their departments. They take the allocations of former budgets as a base for their projections, while introducing certain modifications, additions, or necessary cutbacks. All the requests are brought before a Minister of Finance who synthesizes the disparate elements and presents them to the legislative Assembly what is called a budget plan. This impressive document is published, printed, and reproduced in a thousand newspapers and reveals to all eyes the domestic and foreign policy priorities of the state and its civil, judicial, and military administration. It is examined, discussed, and voted upon by the representatives of the country and put into effect like any other law of the state.

Machiavelli: When it comes to financial matters, I want to express my admiration for the illustrious author of The Spirit of the Laws, how he rendered obscure theories into apt formulations and reduced somewhat ambiguous terms to the modern idiom in that great work that made him immortal.

Montesquieu: The Spirit of the Laws is not a work on finances.

Machiavelli: Your terseness on this score deserves all the more praise, for you were certainly capable of giving a complete account of the subject. Please continue. I beg you. I am following you with great interest.

Nineteenth Dialogue

Montesquieu: It may be said that the creation of the budgetary system has brought in its train all the other financial reforms that are a feature of all well-regulated political societies.

Thus, from the nature of budgeting itself emerges the rule that expenditures correspond to existing resources. This balance must be openly expressed through demonstrable and certified statistics. To better insure this result and so that the legislators that vote on the provisions are not led astray, recourse has been had to a very prudent measure. The general budget of the state has been divided into two distinct elements: an expenditure budget and a revenue budget, each of which must be voted separately and passed by its own special law.

In this manner, the legislator is obliged to concentrate on expenditure receipts separately and in turn. His decisions are not influenced in advance by vague notions as to the general balance of revenues and expenditures.

In the final stage, he scrupulously examines, compares, and harmonizes these two elements with a view to a final vote on the general budget.

Machiavelli: All this is very good, but can it be that expenditures are restricted to only what has been voted on by the legislature? Is this possible? Is it in the power of a legislative body so to cripple the executive, to forbid a sovereign to appropriate for unforeseen expenses through certain emergency measures?

Montesquieu: Obviously, you are uncomfortable with such an arrangement. I'm not.

Machiavelli: In states that operate in a constitutional framework, isn't there a provision for a sovereign, by decree, to requisition supplementary or extraordinary appropriations when the legislature is not in session?

Montesquieu: That is so, but on condition that these decrees be passed into law when the legislature reconvenes. Its approval is necessary.

Machiavelli: If I have already committed the money, they will be called upon to ratify a fait accompli. I don't find this so bad.

Montesquieu: That would be the case were it not for other restrictions. The most progressive legislation prohibits the sovereign from acting contrary to the ordinary provisions of the budget, other than by requisitioning supplementary and emergency appropriations. But the expenditure of such appropriations can not be made without the authorization of the legislature.

Machiavelli: I don't think it would be possible to govern under such restrictions.

Montesquieu: Sure it is. Without curtailing the possible abuses arising from supplementary and emergency appropriations, modern states have thought that legislative control over the budget would be a chimera. After all, they thought, since here is a finite amount of resources, expenditures must somehow also be limited. Political events can not force financial realities to change from one moment to another. Furthermore, the recess of the legislature would never be so long as to preclude the possibility of an expeditious vote on exceptional expenses.

Reform has gone even farther. When resources are earmarked for a certain purpose, they return to the general fund if they are not used. It was thought that, while staying within general allocated limits, a government should not be able to use the funds for other than its appropriated purpose, to engage in a kind of shell game, where funds are transferred by administrative decree from one department to another. If this were not the case, expressed legislative intent could be circumvented, and, by an ingenious subterfuge, we would return to a situation of arbitrariness.

In this light, what has come to be called line-item budgeting has been invented. That is to say, expenditures are broken down into subsidiary accounts that are similar in nature in all departments. For example, subsidiary A will comprise, in all departments, expenditure A, subsidiary B expenditure B, and so on. In this scheme, unspent appropriations must be removed from the accounts of the various departments and reported as surplus revenue for the budget in the following year. It goes without saying that department heads will be held responsible.

These financial guarantees culminate in the establishment of an independent board of auditors that sits permanently, acting as a kind of appeals court, having jurisdiction and auditing powers over all facets of state bookkeeping and the management and use of public funds. It even has the task of pointing out to the administration better ways of financial management from the point of view of both expenses and revenues. This explication should give you some idea of how such an organization would constrain absolute power.

Machiavelli: I confess to still being a bit dumbfounded by this financial excursion. You are taking advantage of my weakness. I told you that I understood very little about such things. But let me assure you. I would have ministers who would know how to turn these arguments around and show the dangers of most of these measures.

Montesquieu: You wouldn't be able to do some of these things yourself!

Machiavelli: Don't get me wrong. The principal concern of my ministers would be to spin out fine theories. As for myself, I will speak of finances as a statesman rather than an accountant. There is one thing you are inclined to forget. Of all things that concern politics, financial matters are most amenable to the maxims of The Prince. Those states that have budgets organized in detail and kept up to date look to me like those merchants who have perfectly kept books but end up bankrupt. Who has budgets larger than your parliamentary governments? What government is more expensive to run than the democratic government of the United States or the constitutional monarchy of England? It is true that the immense resources of this latter power are placed at the service of the most profound and savvy statecraft.

Montesquieu: You are not speaking to the point. What are you getting at?

Machiavelli: This. The rules that govern financial management on the state level bear no relation to those governing household economics, which seem to serve as your model.

Montesquieu: Are you coming back to that same distinction -- between politics and morality?

Machiavelli: In effect, yes. Isn't this universally recognized and practiced? Although much less extreme, didn't such a distinction exist in your time? Didn't you yourself say that when it comes to finances, states permit themselves irregularities that would put the most dissolute sons of well-off families to shame?

Montesquieu: It's true. I did say that. But I would be very surprised if you can draw an argument favorable to your thesis from such a statement.

Machiavelli: I presume you mean that our orientation must be not what is done but what should be done.

Montesquieu: Exactly.

Machiavelli: I answer that it is necessary to will the possible and that what holds universally cannot but be done.

Montesquieu: I agree that this is what experience would teach.

Machiavelli: And I have a sneaking suspicion that if you were even to balance your budget, as you indicate, my government, totally absolute as it is, would be less expensive than yours. But I am not interested in getting into an argument about this. You are completely deceived if you think I feel myself hampered by that system of finance, howsoever perfected, that you have just elaborated. I share with you your enthusiasm for streamlining the process of tax collection and for measures to counter tax evasion. I am delighted at ways to insure accounting accuracy. I am sincere when I say these things. But this plethora of precautions is truly silly if you interpret the real problem as coming from the absolute sovereign dipping his hand into the public till or wanting to manage the public finances alone. Do you think the danger lies here? Once again, so much the better if the funds are collected, move, and circulate with the miraculous precision that you have described. In fact, I expect to adopt all these marvels of accounting, all these splendid financial reforms and have them redound to the splendor of my reign.

Montesquieu: You possess a certain vis comica. What I find surprising is that your financial theories are in patent contradiction with what you said in The Prince, where you strictly recommend parsimony for the prince, and even avarice. [2]

Machiavelli: You're wrong to be surprised at such a thing. I recognize that the times have changed. One of my most fundamental principles is to adapt myself to the times. Please, let's go back to what you said about a board of auditors so we can get that out of the way. Is this institution a part of the judicial branch?

Montesquieu: No.

Machiavelli: Then it is a purely administrative body. Let's even presume it to be beyond reproach. There's nothing it can do once it has audited the accounts! Can it prevent appropriations from being voted or expenditures from being made? Its audits tell us no more about the financial state of affairs than the budget. It is a bookkeeper's office, without the ability to oppose, utterly gullible. So let's stop talking about it. I'm not the least bit anxious if such an institution is retained, no matter how efficient you have made it.

Montesquieu: Retain it! Then you plan to tamper with the other features of financial organization?

Machiavelli: You guessed it. After a political coup d'etat, doesn't a financial one inevitably follow? Is the exercise of my absolute power to stop short there? What is the magic of your financial institutions that would ward it off! I am like the giant in the fairy tale who was tied down by pygmies while he slept. In getting up, he broke the bonds without having noticed them. The day after I take control of the throne, I won't bother about votes for the budget. It will be decreed extraordinarily. Appropriations will be passed by dictate, which my Council of State will later approve.

Montesquieu: Do you plan to go on like this?

Machiavelli: No. The following year, I will return to legal ways. I've already told you several times that I don't intend to destroy anything directly. There were regulations before me. I will regulate things in my turn. You mentioned that the budget would be voted under two distinct laws. I consider that a bad arrangement. Finances can be better handled when revenues and expenditures are voted at the same time. My government is hardworking. Public deliberations should not squander precious time in useless discussions. Henceforth, budgetary revenues and expenditures will be included under the same law.

Montesquieu: And what about the law that prohibits spending supplementary appropriations other than by a previous vote in the Assembly?

Machiavelli: It is abrogated. You understand the reason very well.

Montesquieu: Yes.

Machiavelli: It is a law that can not be applied under all circumstances.

Montesquieu: And what about itemized budgeting?

Machiavelli: It can't continue. Expenditures will no longer be voted according to individual line-items in the various ministries, but according to ministry by total expenditures allotted it.

Montesquieu: You are talking about immense sums. Block sums for each ministry gives only the grand total to examine. As far as the public's expenditures go, you have, in effect, thrown away the sieve and are content to have a bottomless barrel.

Machiavelli: That's not quite accurate. I will retain what you call line-items. Expenditures will be in blocks representing distinct elements. They are there to be examined. But ministries will decide expenditures within the blocks and transfers among accounts will be allowed.

Montesquieu: And from one ministry to another?

Machiavelli: I don't go that far. I want to remain within the limits of what is necessary.

Montesquieu: Your moderation is exemplary. Don't you think such innovations will cause financial panic in your country?

Machiavelli: Why would they cause more alarm than other measures?

Montesquieu: Because these touch upon the material interests of everyone.

Machiavelli: The distinctions that you draw are too subtle.

Montesquieu: Too subtle! That's a well-chosen word in this context. Why don't you just say that a country that can't defend itself when it comes to political liberties can not defend itself when it comes to money?

Machiavelli: What could anyone complain about? In all the essentials, the public's fiscal rights have been preserved. Aren't taxes duly voted and collected? Aren't expenditures also duly voted? Here, as elsewhere, everything is based on people's votes. My government is certainly not reduced to indigence. The people who acclaim me do not merely tolerate the splendor of my throne. They positively crave it. The people look to a prince for an expression of their power. They really hate only one thing -- wealth in their peers.

Montesquieu: Don't try to slip away. You're not finished yet. I want to make you consider budgetary matters a bit further. No matter what you say, the very existence of a budget represents a limit to your power. It may be breached, but only at your peril. It is published. Its elements are known. It stands as a financial barometer of sorts.

Machiavelli: Since you want to, let's get on with it.

Twentieth Dialogue

Machiavelli: The budget represents a kind of limit, you say. Perhaps. But its limit is elastic and can be expanded as far as wanted. I will always act within it, never outside.

Montesquieu: What do you mean?

Machiavelli: Do I have to teach you how things can be handled, even in states that have perfected the art of budgeting? Real art lies in knowing exactly when, by ingenious expedients, to elude limitations that really exist only on paper anyway.

What is the annual budget? Nothing but a provisional measure, a rough survey of principal financial goals. The books aren't closed until account is taken of expenditures that necessarily arise during the year. In your budgeting, there are I don't know how many different kinds of expenditures. These correspond to all types of contingencies and are known as complementary, supplementary, extraordinary, provisional, what have you. Each of these expenditures alone makes up so many more distinct budgets. Now this is the way it happens. Suppose for example that the main budget passed in the beginning of the year totals 800 million. At mid-year, financial realities are no longer in line with first estimates. There is then presented to the Assembly what is caned a revised budget that adds 100 million or 150 million to the original estimate. Afterward comes the supplementary budget. It adds 50 or 60 million to it. Finally, there comes a budget to amortize the debt, which adds 15, 20, or 30 million. In short, in terms of the general budget, the total difference is one-third of the anticipated expenditure. The legislature is called to confirm these. later figures by vote. In this way, at the end of ten years, the budget can be doubled or tripled.

Montesquieu: I doubt that this increase in expenditures is based on anything you've done to improve the financial situation. Nothing you've hypothesized can occur in states that are not subject to your inanities. But you're not finished yet. Expenditures, after all, must balance with revenues. How will you bring this about?

Machiavelli: It can be said here that everything consists in the art of classifying certain sets of figures and in making use of certain distinctions among different expenditures. Skillfully done, the necessary latitude can be obtained. Thus, for example, the distinction between the ordinary budget and the extraordinary budget can be of great use. Extraordinary is a marvelous cover word. Such a budget can be used to help pass what would otherwise be an arguable expenditure or to raise more or Jess problematical revenues. Assume, for example, that I have 20 million in expenses. It must be met with 20 million in revenue. I have listed among my revenues a war indemnity of 20 million, which will be collected later on. Or again, l have listed an increase of 20 million from the proceeds of certain taxes, but which will be realized only the following year. Examples like these could be multiplied. Such things would take care of the revenue problem. As far as expenditures go, recourse can be had to a contrary procedure. You simply subtract instead of add. For example, the expense of collecting the tax is deducted from expenditures.

Montesquieu: May I ask how all this will be justified?

Machiavelli: I could reasonably maintain that this is not an expense of the state. In a similar way, l could remove from general state expenditures the cost of services to provinces or towns.

Montesquieu: I won't debate any of that. I just want to know what you plan to do with revenues that mask deficits and with the expenditures that you eliminate?

Machiavelli: The essential thing in this regard is to make use of the distinction between the ordinary and extraordinary budgets. Those expenditures that so preoccupy you must be referred to the extraordinary budget.

Montesquieu: But in the end these two budgets are totaled and the sum of expenditures appears.

Machiavelli: On the contrary. They must not be totaled. The ordinary budget is presented alone. The extraordinary budget is presented as an appendix and is handled in a different way.

Montesquieu: How?

Machiavelli: Don't make me get ahead of myself. In the first place, there is a particular way of presenting the budget to disguise rising costs, when the occasion presents itself. The government doesn't exist that isn't required to act like this. There are inexhaustible resources in industrial countries, but, as you pointed out, those countries are sometimes parsimonious and suspicious. They haggle over even the most necessary expenditures. The conduct of financial policy is no different from others. It can't be done openly and aboveboard. Otherwise, it would meet with obstacles all along the way. But in the end, and, thanks to the perfection of budgeting, everything is broken down to be seen and analyzed. If the budget can be made to harbor certain mysteries, it also must bring certain things to light.

Montesquieu: Undoubtedly, you mean for the initiated only. I surmise that you will reduce financial legislation to obscurity and empty formalities as happened with the Romans' judicial procedure at the time of the Twelve Tables. But let's get into this a bit more. If your expenses increase, your resources must increase proportionately. Or do you expect, like Julius Caesar, to find two billion francs in the coffers of the state. Perhaps you intend to discover the Potosi mines?

Machiavelli: You're getting a bit carried away. I will do what all governments do, what makes government itself possible. I will borrow.

Montesquieu: This is what I wanted you to say. Certainly there are but few governments that do not have to borrow. Yet, they resort to such expedients with great caution. It would be immoral and dangerous to weigh down future generations with exorbitant burdens beyond the limits of any foreseeable resource. How are loans made? By issuing notes that support an obligation on the part of the government to pay interest at a rate proportionate to the amount of money lent out. For example, if the loan is 5 percent, the state at the end of twenty years has paid a sum equal to the borrowed capital. At the end of forty years, double that sum. At the end of sixty, triple. Notwithstanding this, there will remain the indebtedness for the fun amount of the principal. It follows that if the state adds to its debt indefinitely, without taking any steps to pay it off, it would eventually make it impossible for it to borrow any more or cause it to fall into insolvency. The upshot of all this is easy to grasp and there isn't a country that doesn't recognize it. In this light, modern states wanted to set certain limitations to the increase in taxes. A scheme caned a system of amortization was invented. It is truly admirable in its simplicity and mode of execution. A special fund was created whose resources are designed to redeem the debt in successive stages of payments. Every time the state borrows, it must contribute a certain sum of money to a sinking fund for the purpose of extinguishing the newly owed money over a given time period. The government is indirectly limited in such a scheme. This is the source of its ingenuity. Because of the requirements of amortization, the nation, in effect, says to the government: "Borrow if you must, but you must always make provision to fulfill the new obligation you contract in my name." If constantly required to amortize, borrowing will not be undertaken lightly. The nation will authorize only borrowing that is duly amortized.

Machiavelli: Why should I adopt such a scheme, I ask you? Ten me which states have sound amortization laws? Even in England they have been suspended. If we don't find them there, where are we to find them? What is done nowhere can't be done.

Montesquieu: I can assume that you won't have them, then?

Machiavelli: On the contrary. The scheme does have certain advantages. I will have such regulations and will certainly put the funds produced to good use. When the budget is up for adoption, the money in the sinking fund could, from time to time, be accounted as revenue.

Montesquieu: And when the debt fans due, it will be accounted an expense?

Machiavelli: I can't swear to that. It all depends on circumstances. Of course, I will be very sorry if this financial arrangement does not proceed in an orderly way. My ministers win present the situation in a very dour manner. My God, when it comes to finances, I don't claim that my administration can't be criticized for certain things. But when a case is well presented, many things can be gotten away with. Don't forget that financial management is also to a large degree a matter for the press.

Montesquieu: What?

Machiavelli: Didn't you say that the very essence of a budget was the public scrutiny it allows?

Montesquieu: Yes.

Machiavelli: Aren't budgets accompanied by accounts, reports, and official documents of all sorts? What possibilities these public communications lend to the sovereign when he is surrounded by able men! I want my Minister of Finance to be perfectly clear in his use of statistics. Moreover, his literary style must be impeccably lucid.

It's good policy to repeat .constantly the truism that "the management of public finances at the present time takes place in broad daylight."

This incontestable statement must be presented in a thousand ways. I want things written like this: "Our accounting system, the fruit of long experience, is distinguished by the clarity and verifiability of its procedures. It hinders abuses and allows no one, from the petty bureaucrat to the chief of state himself; to divert the most miniscule sum from its destination or to put it to improper use."

Or, take your own words. How might they be improved upon? It could be said that: "The excellence of the economic system rests on two foundations -- a system of accountability and public access to information. By auditing and overseeing financial management, we make it impossible for even the most miniscule sums to enter the public coffers from the hands of the taxpayer and from there be transferred from one account to another. It will not be passed into the hands of state creditors without guaranteeing the legitimacy of its collection, the regularity of its movement, and the legitimacy of its use. We will see to it that the funds are audited by responsible officials, judicially overseen by irremovable judges, and finally sanctioned and accounted for by the legislature."

Montesquieu: O Machiavelli, you ridicule everything. But your ridicule has something hellish in it!

Machiavelli: You are forgetting where we are.

Montesquieu: You would defy heaven itself.

Machiavelli: Only God can fathom the heart.

Montesquieu: Shall we get back to the matter at hand?

Machiavelli: At the beginning of the fiscal year, the Comptroller of Finances will declare: "Up until now, nothing changes the estimates of the current budget. Without being overly optimistic, there are very good reasons to hope that, for the first time in many years, the budget, despite borrowings, will show no deficit. Such an enviable state of affairs, obtained in exceptionally difficult times, is the best indication that the increase in national income has not slowed."

Do you think that's well phrased enough?

Montesquieu: Go on.

Machiavelli: At this point, debt management, which you mentioned a short while back, will be addressed in the following terms. "Plans to payoff the debt will be carried out soon. If what is projected in this regard actually comes to pass, if the revenues of the state continue to increase, it is not impossible that, in the budget five years hence, the public debt will be liquidated because of a surplus of revenue."

Montesquieu: These are long-term hopes. But what if, after having promised to work out some schedule of debt cancellation, nothing is accomplished? What will you say?

Machiavelli: It will be said that the moment was not propitious. It will be necessary to wait a little longer. It is possible to go even further -- respectable economists contest the real efficiency of sinking fund schemes. You must know about these theories. I can recall them for you.

Montesquieu: It's not necessary.

Machiavelli: These theories can be published in non-official journals, until they insinuate themselves into the public's consciousness and are finally openly avowed.

Montesquieu: What are you saying now? Earlier you had recognized the efficiency of amortization and exalted its benefits.

Machiavelli: But don't the fundamentals of all science change? Mustn't an enlightened government be open to the advances made in economics in this century?

Montesquieu: Nothing displays more effrontery. We'll leave aside debt management. After having been unable to keep any of your promises, when you find yourself overrun by expenses, after having predicted a surplus of revenue, what will you say?

Machiavelli: If need be, our state of affairs will be boldly acknowledged. This frankness does honor to a government and moves the people when it emanates from a mighty power. But on another level, my Minister of Finance will try to strip away all significance from statistics that indicate increasing expenses. He will say what is true: "When it comes to finances, experience demonstrates that a certain amount of overspending is not as serious as thought. New resources ordinarily arise in the course of a year, notably in the proceeds from this or that tax. In addition, a considerable portion of appropriations, not put to use, will be impounded."

Montesquieu: Will that ever happen?

Machiavelli: When it comes to finances, you know that there are certain cut-and-dried terms, stereotypic phrases, that have a great effect on the public, calm it and reassure it.

Thus, while artfully presenting this or that liability, something like the following is said. "There is nothing exorbitant about this figure. It is not out of the ordinary. It conforms to preceding budget requests. Figures that later bear on our outstanding debt are very encouraging." There is a bunch of similar expressions that I won't mention because there are other more important artifices to which I must call your attention.

First, in all official documents, it is necessary to insist on the theme of prosperity, increasing productivity, commercial activity, and a constantly rising standard of living.

The taxpayer is less affected by any imbalance in the budget when he is told such things. So magical is the effect of official documents on the mind of bourgeois blockheads that these things can be repeated ad nauseum without their ever challenging them. When the budget falls out of balance and, the following year, the public mind must be prepared for a certain shortfall, you have merely to publish an advance report to the effect that next year the deficit won't be nearly so high.

If the deficit proves lower than predicted, it will be presented as a real triumph. If higher, you merely say: "The deficit is greater than predicted but was even more the preceding year. On the whole, the situation is better. Less has been spent, although the circumstances have been particularly trying -- war, scarcity, epidemics, unforeseen shortages of certain essentials, etc. But next year, increasing revenues will, in all probability, allow us to attain the long-desired goal of solvency. The debt will be reduced and the budget correctly balanced. Progress can be expected to continue. Barring extraordinary events, a balanced budget will be customary in our public finances as it is now our standard."

Montesquieu: This is high comedy. The standard will be customary indeed! It will never be attained. There will always be some extraordinary circumstance, some war, or some essential shortage somewhere.

Machiavelli: I'm not so sure there will be such crises. What is certain is that I will be the standard bearer of the nation's honor.

Montesquieu: That's the least you could do. If you win glory, that's no cause for rejoicing. In your hands, honor is only a means to power.

Twenty-First Dialogue

Machiavelli: I fear you have some prejudice against borrowing. It is a very useful practice in a number of ways. Whole families are made dependent on the government. Individuals are given an excellent investment opportunity. Contemporary economics recognizes that far from impoverishing the state, public debts enrich it. Allow me to explain how.

Montesquieu: That's not necessary. I am familiar with such theories. Because you are always speaking of borrowing and never repaying, I first would like to know to whom you will ask for such capital and for what purpose.

Machiavelli: Foreign wars are a great help in providing a rationale. For a large state to undertake a war, it might take about five hundred or six hundred million francs. Only one-half to two-thirds of such a sum need be spent. The rest finds its way into the treasury for domestic expenditures.

Montesquieu: Five hundred or six hundred million francs, you say! Where are these modern-day bankers who would loan a sum that, by itself, might equal the total wealth of certain states?

Machiavelli: You mean to say that you haven't gotten beyond such rudimentary notions of borrowing! Don't take offense but you are still in the dark ages of finance. We no longer borrow from bankers.

Montesquieu: From whom, then?

Machiavelli: When you are dealing with money merchants, you are dealing with a small number of people who frustrate competition by combining to insure high interest rates. It is far better to address yourself to all your subjects, the rich, the poor, artisans, manufacturers, anyone who has a coin at his disposal. The public is called upon to underwrite the debt. So that everyone may purchase government securities, they can be sold in very small shares, for ten francs up to a million, or even for five francs up to a hundred thousand. Shortly after the shares are issued, rumor has it that their value is rising and that they are going fast. Word spreads and there is a rush from all sides to purchase them. Things are at a fever pitch. In a few days the coffers of the treasury are overflowing. So much money comes in that places can't be found for it. Nevertheless, arrangements are made for accepting it, for if demand outstrips the supply of outstanding securities, it is then possible really to impress public opinion.

Montesquieu: How?

Machiavelli: Those who acted too late are given their money back. This is played up big in the press and orchestrated with dramatic flair. You may have to give back as much as two to three million. Judge for yourself how great an effect this will have on the public mind.

Montesquieu: As far as I can see, this trust is alloyed with an unbridled spirit of speculation. I've heard this scheme spoken about. But somehow everything that comes from you has a sinister and underhanded air. Be that as it may, you now have your hands full of money, but ...

Machiavelli: I would have even more than you think. In modern nations, there are great banking institutions capable of directly lending the state one hundred to two hundred million francs at prime rates. Large cities can also make loans. In these states, there are other financial institutions such a savings banks and agencies to administer health plans and retirement funds. Normally, the state requires that their funds, which are immense (sometimes ranging from five hundred to six hundred million francs), be deposited in the public treasury, where they mix with the general fund, usually in return for small interest to the depositors.

Moreover, the government can raise money exactly like bankers. They issue readily negotiable bonds for a sum of two or three hundred million francs -- negotiable I.O.U.'s, so to speak, which are quickly bought up before they fall due.

Montesquieu: Let me stop you here. You speak only of borrowing and these I.O.U.'s. Are you never concerned about paying back what you have borrowed?

Machiavelli: Let me remind you that the state's land can also be sold, if need be.

Montesquieu: Ah. Now you are beginning to sell yourself. Do you have any other way of financing your loans?

Machiavelli: I suppose it is about time I told you how debts are dealt with.

Montesquieu: You say how debts are dealt with. I wish you would be more precise.

Machiavelli: I use this expression because I think it is precise. Debts can not always be paid off, but they do have to be dealt with. The vigor implied in the phrase is quite apt, for debts, like a formidable enemy, must "be dealt with."

Montesquieu: Well, how would you then "deal with them?"

Machiavelli: There are several ways. First, there is taxation.

Montesquieu: That is to say that the debts will be used to pay off the debts.

Machiavelli: You are speaking to me as an economist, not as a financier. What is valid for the one may not be for the other. With the proceeds from a tax, debts can be paid off. I know that taxes cause complaining. If resistance is met, I will try a different one or I might still be able to employ the same tax under a different name. You know that there is great art in filling the loopholes of what can be taxed.

Montesquieu: I imagine that you will soon find and fill them all.

Machiavelli: There are other things that can be done. There is what is called conversion.

Montesquieu: What's that?

Machiavelli: Conversion applies to the consolidated debt, that is, debt that accrues from the state issuing bonds. For example, bondholders can be told something like this: "Until today, I paid you 5 percent on your money, now I intend to only pay 4.5 percent or 4 percent. Agree to this change or immediately take back only the principal that you have lent me.

Montesquieu: But if the money is really given back, the procedure is not wholly dishonest.

Machiavelli: If they ask for it, it Will be given back. But very few so situated would do so. Holders of such bonds are creatures of habit. Their funds are invested in the first place because they have confidence in the state. They prefer less interest and a secure investment. lf everyone were to demand his money, it is obvious that the treasury would be in a fix. This never happens. In this way, several hundreds of millions of debt can be cancelled.

Montesquieu: Extracting such loans, no matter how it is defended, is an immoral expedient that always destroys public confidence.

Machiavelli: You don't know stockholders.

Here is another scheme that might be tried to finance the public debt. A short while ago I spoke to you of certain other funds, like savings accounts, that were at the state's disposal. The state is required to pay interest for the use of such monies, except when such investments are immediately redeemed. If, after managing such funds over a long period of time, the state can not payoff these contributors, it can refinance such debt, postponing its due date.

Montesquieu: In effect, the state says to its depositors that temporarily it does not have the money it owes. It merely issues a new certificate of indebtedness.

Machiavelli: Exactly. It can refinance all its uncovered debts in just the same way -- treasury bonds, debts owed to municipalities and banks. This applies to all debts that form a part of what is rather picturesquely called "the floating debt," that is, debts that have no fixed basis and which mature in the more or less distant future.

Montesquieu: These are strange ways of paying off the public debt.

Machiavelli: How can you blame me if I am only doing what others do?

Montesquieu: For sure, if everyone in fact does it, how can we hold Machiavelli blameworthy?

Machiavelli: I am only telling you a fraction of the schemes that could be employed. Far from dreading a policy that sees the national debt increase and constantly refinanced, I would want the entire public fortune tied to government bonds. I would have it so that cities, towns, and public authorities convert all their real estate and liquid capital into bonds. It is in the interest of my dynasty to promote these financial measures. Every last cent in my kingdom would depend on my continued existence.

Montesquieu: Isn't all this somehow fatally flawed? Aren't you directly bent on ruining yourself through ruining the state? Large bond markets exist in all countries of Europe, but backed by prudence, wisdom, and the probity of the government. The way you arrange your finances, your bonds would be spurned in foreign markets, and they would fall to the lowest value in those of your kingdom.

Machiavelli: What you say is just plain wrong. A glorious government like mine would enjoy great credit abroad. And vigor would overcome apprehensions at home. Moreover, I would not want the credit ofroy state to depend on the exaggerated fears of the most insignificant brokers. I would dominate the stock and bond market through the market itself.

Montesquieu: What now?

Machiavelli: I would have mammoth banking institutions ostensibly chartered to lend money to industrial enterprises but whose real purpose would be to bolster my bonds. These financial giants would be able to manipulate the markets at will. They would be able to sell four hundred or five hundred million francs worth of securities at any given moment. They could also relieve pressure on the markets by buying an equal amount of securities. What do you think of such a scheme?

Montesquieu: Your ministers, favorites, and mistresses will reap big profits through such institutions. Apparently, you will Jet your administration use state secrets to play in the money markets.

Machiavelli: What on earth are you saying?

Montesquieu: How else do you justify these institutions? You have used theory to obscure the real nature of your government. But in practice, it is all too evident. Your government will be unique in history. It will never be slandered.

Machiavelli: If anyone in my kingdom were to do so, he would disappear as if struck by a thunderbolt.

Montesquieu: Admittedly, it is difficult to argue with thunderbolts. You're really quite fortunate to have them in your arsenal. Are we finished with finances?

Machiavelli: Yes.

Montesquieu: It's quickly getting late.



1. The Spirit of the Laws X 13.

2. The Prince XVI.
Site Admin
Posts: 29337
Joined: Thu Aug 01, 2013 5:21 am


Return to Ancien Regime

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests