Wise words that succintly describe the edge America has drawn, and the hope in a man like President Trump.
From The Cave and theLight, by Arthur Herman. Chapter 16: Aristotle, Machiavelli, and the Paradoxes of Liberty
History teaches us what human beings are like in reality rather than what we would like them to be. And when we deal with the sum total of history’s record, high-minded ideals like those of Plato’s Philosopher Rulers have to be pushed off over the side. Reality teaches a very different set of lessons about politics – and Machiavelli’s ambition was to present them to posterity.
That at least was Machiavelli’s goal. What he did in reality was to plug Aristotle’s formula for understanding civic liberty into Polybius’s time machine, the inevitable cycle of historical rise and decline. The result was the Discourses, a much longer work than The Prince but crucial for understanding that more celebrated book. For in writing the Discourses, Machiavelli discovered a basic paradox: When it…
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