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Machiavellian Feminism

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 11:54 pm    Post subject: Machiavellian Feminism Reply with quote

Hi Marianne,

I am coaxing myself to sleep re-reading Quentin Skinner's ("Past Masters") Machiavelli and I am on chapter three " The Philosopher of Liberty " which deals with the period after he stopped trying to cocksuck his way back into favour with " The Prince " and joined the Orti Oricellari and wrote his Discourses on Livy i.e. nominally he was changing back from " Black " to " White " - from Cato to Cicero but was still trashing the Humanist Renaissance Republican traditions which insisted upon an absolute adherence to an upright unbending " virtu " i.e. manliness. Now this term " virtu " has given Feminist Republicans a bit of trouble because it is explicitly male and Machiavelli depicts it as being sexy and arousing the sexual attentions of Fortuna whom Machiavelli thinks should be treated like any other woman i.e. not coldly approached with polite candid inquiries but hotly seduced by treating her roughly. Fortuna will not spin The Wheel of The World for the timid other than against them. The suggestion of domestic violence to bring order and obedience to the household is unmistakeable. This is very prominent in The Prince but in The Discourses he introduces a further argument about it in respect of The Republic.

What Machiavelli argued about The Republic in Rome and in Athens is that other cities did not have the Fortune to be founded by virtuous men. He praised Solon for creating a foundation for Liberty in The Rule of Law where the laws were to be made by The People in Athens and therefore as a consequence they learned to be virtuous because they identified themselves with the government and wanted to defend The State as their own possession. The security of society therefore did not depend upon The State but vice versa - The State depends upon the virtue of the citizens and in past centuries this meant explicitly the manliness of men ... but surely their mothers as well as their mothers are the persons who first taught them virtue ? ... Arguably then The State is The Family writ large and it relects the relationships between women and men which its future citizens first witness as children.

Now married women being dependent economically upon men once encumbered with small children to look after are at a disadvantage in their relationships with husbands who can not only exploit and mistreat wives but who have historically have passed unjust laws declaring women to possess fewer rights or to just be possessions. In other words men have behaved without manliness - without virtue - and women have resorted to behaving like vixens i.e. have been compelled to adopt the strategies of the fox which Machiavelli praises as a necessary resort but which Cicero condemned as deceitful and lacking in virtue. In contrast or in reaction men have resorted to behaving like lions i.e. using force which Machiavelli also praises e.g. in the calculated use of murdering unpopular politicians in order to appease a discontented populace.

Surely then the security of society rests upon establishing moral and ethical relationships between women and men.: this is what Machiavelli actually advocated although he admitted that The Prince might need to be either a lion or a fox e.g. cruelly executing a few people in order to restore The Rule of Law to prevent many more people dying if The State as the means to preserve The Rule of Law which is the guarantor of Liberty for most of The People in Society.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 26, 2017 9:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Given our preoccupations with criticising religious ideologies it is worth noting that Skinner points out that in The Discourses chapters 11 - 15 Machiavelli advocates that in the greatness of republics what is of paramount importance is the promotion of virtue through the observance of religion. A city needs institutions which can develop the means to deal with the growth of corruption and the most basic institution - the foundation of public virtue - is the family : to have corrupt laws which plant within the family - within the child's first experience - unjust relationships between women and men is to corrupt the republic.: it is not in The Public Interest to treat The Family as the property of either the mother or the father but it is arguably best to treat The Family as existing for the benefit of The Unborn Child i.e. not a gestating foetus but a child as yet not conceived other than in our imaginations ... Y Repwblic is always about imagining a future in which we will have recreated The World ...

... since God has obviously created it rather thoughtlessly ...

Machiavelli was not interested in whether the Christianity of his day was " true " but whether it was effective in creating civic virtue and if necessary by coercing The People by publicly shaming them rather than merely preaching that they ought to be good. He damned The Papacy for setting a bad example which had led to the loss of virtue which resulted in the corruption of Italian society and the reliance of the cities upon foreign mercenaries who betrayed them thus resulting in their conquest by foreign powers. Having seen the collapse of the chaotic regime of Savonarola and the invasion of Florence by The Papacy he declared that The Ancient Roman Religion was preferable to the modern - that Christianity does not praise manly virtue but treats human beings as contemptable : what is needed is to create a Civil Religion constructed in The Public Interest to teach citizenship and The Rule of Law ...

In Republicanism the laws advise us about how to behave towards each other : a Feminist Machiavellianism makes sense.
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