Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Friday, December 18, 2015

Let's revisit Machiavellian Democracy

Ultimately, what Machiavelli teaches us is that the essence of politics does not reside in universal value systems but in the constitutive role that political struggle engenders... The purpose of democratic politics is not to arrive at universal “truths” but rather to foster a system where competing hegemonies emerge through political struggle and conflict. - Giulio Caperchi (From the blog Genealogy of Consent, essay/post titled, What can Machiavelli teach us about Democracy?

Ms. Bitter Smith's blustery rhetoric, along with the faux erudite pretentiousness of Trash Burner Bob Stump brought us those "ruling elites'" knee jerk reactions to the latest People's Struggle, that of government accountable to the people of Arizona, rather than to those who control the halls of power and the corporate media. Namely, "green mccarthyism," "bully journalism" (that one from Stephanie Grisham, Speaker Gowan's flack), and "solar mafia."

Those expressions are stark reactions to the fact that social media is open and democratic and that somebody is actually using them for legitimate political struggle in Arizona.

Yes, Facebook is a corporation and is owned by stockholders. But access to it is free and open.

Yes, Blogger ( is owned by Google, which is owned by stockholders. But access to it is also free and open. Same for Twitter. There are other platforms similarly free and open. (I know, we are the product, but that's not the salient point here)

We have seen that elections have consequences. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey is doing his best to put his brand on our state government. Much of that is not good for the people or the future of the state, like his goal of eliminating the state income tax. His plan for sweeping billions of dollars out of the state land trust fund is also highly problematic. But those are subjects for another day.

But now, we fight on. Republican ruling class (members of Congress in particular) will still target Net Neutrality, the free and open access to the communication media we need for the political struggle.

But I digress.

The Arizona Corporation Commission is a unique agency, understood by many to be a fourth branch of government. When its balancing partisan tension was eliminated with installation of five commissioners all of the same political party (after the 2012 general election), it was easy to foresee that corruption issues would eventually emerge.

In 2014, I learned about Machiavellian Democracy.
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. [...]
* 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.'"
If imposing obscenely high "grid access charges" for homeowners with rooftop solar distributed generation isn't oppressive in our contemporary (first world) times, what is (I know, there are plenty of things more oppressive, but this is one salient example)?

So, corporate media emphasizes, as much as they can get away with, the perspective of the elite ruling class. In this case, Bitter Smith and Stump. But Bitter Smith and Stump have been caught taking advantage of their power when they thought they could get away with it.

Now they moan and cry and complain about green mccarthyism, bully journalism and the solar mafia.

But what they've encountered is a situation that they don't control and they don't like being held accountable. So I would tell Susan and Bob to ask Bette Midler what she would say to people "who can't take a joke?"

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