Tue. Oct 19th, 2021

Commentary In the introduction to their translation of Machiavelli’s “Discourses on Livy,” Harvey Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov make a profound observation about Machiavelli’s political wisdom. “He tries to show,” they write, “that to understand political situations correctly, one must not listen to the intent of the words people use but rather look at the necessities they face.” What makes this profound is not only its truth—who doesn’t know that to understand political actors one needs to look beyond what they say to what they do?—but also the distance of its conclusion from the words that articulate it. How, in other words, can we know what people believe are the “necessities” they face? And what should we budget for any discrepancy between the necessities they believe that they face and the necessities they in fact face—something that the searchlights of time have a way of picking out, sometimes long after the dramas …

Author: Roger Kimball
Source: https://www.theepochtimes.com/machiavellian-necessities-and-the-fragility-of-liberty_4047252.html

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