Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, May 12, 2014

Coming soon to an Arizona near you... Machiavellian Democracy!

The cure for apathy is empowerment.

Let's just figure that voter apathy, as a general condition, is a given. If you want me to expound on that point, challenge me in comments to this post.

We also know, from increasingly frequent reports over the last couple of years, that inequality has encroached upon America and Arizona in a pervasive manner.

Can the financial condition or situation the typical American finds themselves in reasonably be considered oppressive?  Should anyone working a full-time job be unable to pull one's family out of poverty? Or be unable to keep up payments on an underwater mortgage? Or otherwise be unable to enjoy the fruits of one's hard work?

Really, what matters is whether the typical Arizonan considers the economic climate (not just the summer temperatures) oppressive.

As I reported in my previous post, Niccolo Machiavelli apparently wasn't a Machiavellian when it came right down to it. His most currently famous writing, The Prince, likely was more of a warning to the people than a blueprint for princes on how to deceive and subjugate the people.

In Machiavellian Democracy, John P. McCormick expounds at great length on Machiavelli's passion for the "republic" as a form of political structure. The book sheds light on what so many have experienced at the hand of the ruling class in Arizona. Of course, the GOP has consistently sought and imposed ways to dominate, exploit and yes, oppress the people.

McCormick and Machiavelli, besides illuminating what's been done in the shadows, figuratively, if not literally, are tremendously empowering. Take this passage, for example (from page 31),
Machiavelli's analysis asks readers to ponder whether expansive, formal checking by one political actor (the people) on another political actor's (the nobility's) governing does not itself entail a form of governing; whether it is not, in itself, a substantive form of participation in rule.
Machiavellian Democracy then capitalizes on ever-present moments of aristocratic oppression by seeking and putting in place institutional arrangements through which the people vigorously and effectively respond to the grandi's* oppressive schemes and actions; it empowers the people to halt the grandi's insolent behavior, punish those who are especially guilty of it, and establish new laws that reset the grandi's institutional boundaries for future action. 
This passage is instructive when we look back on the first six weeks of the 2014 regular session of the Arizona Legislature. On the first day of the session, Yarbrough introduced the unmistakably oppressive SB1062. Framing it as religious liberty does NOT remove the underlying purpose, oppressing the people they demonize. In Cathi Herrod's case, they demonize certain of the people (popolo, not the grandi) in order to drive fundraising and further an agenda of oppression.

Herrod was astoundingly freaked out at the backlash against her bill and could do nothing but prevaricate about the actual intent of the bill and about the people who ROSE UP to denounce it and demand it's veto.

Nevertheless, protests at the Capitol, tens of thousands of online protest petition signatures, actually getting the attention of corporate media, set the course for the only thing the governor could do about it. On February 26, she vetoed SB1062. Brewer listened. The business elite and corporate media pundits may have claimed that the popular UPRISING had nothing to do with the governor's veto. That's just propaganda in hopes of fooling the people when another incident arises.

However, though chambers of commerce got the governor's staffers to answer their phone calls, it was the National Football League that grabbed the attention of the chambers. The people's UPRISING grabbed the attention of the NFL and clamped down hard. Thus chastising the troglodytes in the legislature who refused to heed the warning.

At the end of the 2013 regular session, the GOP majority passed the unmistakably oppressive Voter Suppression Bill, #StopHB2305. The GOP underestimated the people. This year, finding the warning (in the form of successfully qualifying the referendum for the ballot) unavoidable this time, to mitigate their own stupidity, the GOP repealed HB2305 rather than face the wrath of the voters this year in November. Brewer signed HB2196 (the repeal) on February 27, the day after she vetoed SB1062.

Cutting through all of the rhetorical bullshit, the GOP effort in each of these situations represents substantive oppression of the people by the grandi.

Look back at how ProgressNow Arizona exec. director Robbie Sherwood summarized the legislative session. For example,
Senate Bill 1062 vetoed. Cathi Herrod’s legislation to condone discrimination against the LGBTQ community based on religious objections inspired thousands of young Arizonans to protest and become politically active, many for the first time. The deafening community outcry and embarrassing national spotlight forced Gov. Jan Brewer to veto the bill.
Business elites and other skeptics have suggested other explanations for how this played out. But Robbie's assessment matches Machiavelli's. The popolo lashed out loudly and emphatically. Those who needed to hear and heed (the grandi), heard and heeded. After putting on a show of thoughtful analysis, Gov. Brewer did what everyone knew she had to do. Of course, one of those (grandi) who is oppressively too big for his britches (John Kavanagh), claimed (for a time) that Brewer was going to sign the bill into law.

John Kavanagh chided me last fall about my use of the word "hubris." Well, I can think of no better word to describe GOP lawmakers who, even though they see the writing on the wall, do the bidding of Cathi Herrod, ALEC and the private prison industry. ALL of whom have promulgated oppressive policies. All of whom got it, at least to some extent already, stuffed back in their faces. More from McCormick's book,
Machiavelli's Discourses demonstrates that the people are passive and deferential... but that when provoked with threats to their liberty, the people can react with enough spirit and virtue to punish transgressors and to deter future instances of oppression. (emphasis mine)
It is VERY important, however, to note that this is not a once and for all deal. The fight goes on every day and every year, every decade and every century. The grandi have, according to McCormick's exposition of Machiavelli, insatiable appetite for oppressing the people. Frankly, all honest renderings of American history from the beginning, show this to be true.

Bill Moyers sheds light on what we recognize these days as Democratic lawmakers being too soft.
One of our two major parties is dominated by extremists dedicated to destroying the social contract and the other party has been so enfeebled by two decades of collaboration with the donor class it can offer only feeble resistance to the forces that are devastating everyday people. Our economy is a plantation run for the aristocrats — the CEOs, hedge funds, private equity firms — while the field hands are left with the scraps. Go see Robert Reich’s documentary Inequality for All. It’s all right there.
Machiavelli empowers the people.

Elizabeth Warren has given us A Fighting Chance (very empowering). And Ralph Nader empowers and emboldens us with his new book, Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

The cure for apathy is empowerment.

In Arizona, the emerging empowerment of the people over the grandi hasn't happened overnight. Key individuals and groups have been at it for a while and will continue to fight that good fight.

Join us.


* Grandi, literally the Great. As used by Machiavelli, it wasn't the size of a latte at Starbucks, but rather one of the terms he used in referring to the aristocracy. Or, "The grandi 'who wish to command and dominate the people' and the popolo 'who desire only not to be commanded or oppressed by the grandi.'"

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