On his Chapter Four (‘Concerning A Civil Principality’) from his infamous work, The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli wrote;
”… people do not wish to be ruled nor oppressed by the nobles, and the nobles wish to rule and oppress the people…”
He goes on to state that;
”He who obtains sovereignty by the assistance of the nobles maintains himself with more difficulty than he who comes to it by the aid of the people [adding] because the former finds himself with many around him who consider themselves his equals,and because of this he can neither rule nor manage them to his liking. But he who reaches sovereignty by popular favour finds himself alone, and has none around him, or few, who are not prepared to obey him. Besides this, one cannot by fair dealing, and without injury to others, satisfy the nobles, but you can satisfy the people, for their object is more righteous than that of the nobles [as] the latter wishing to oppress, whilst the former only desire not to be oppressed…[so] it is necessary for a prince to have the people [99%] friendly, otherwise he has no security in adversity”.
And on Chapter XIX (‘That One Should Avoid Being Despised & Hated’) he goes on discussing this issues as he does in more depth and analysis on his other popular work, Discourses on Livy.
The point is of course simple and well appreciated by the students of world and western history, namely the cyclical nature of internal wars between the plebs (99%) and the nobles (1%) throughout the world and most importantly within the western nations and societies. And every time these wars takes place the people always end up winning something though they never really shake the roots of the status quo establishments and elites; what they get it is usually a set of radical and at times (actually most of the time) revolutionary new laws and reformed systems.
From Greece to Rome to European Monarchs giving way to parliament as arbitrator as Machiavelli wrote;
”[the first invention was] the parliament and its authority, because he who founded the kingdom [of France], knowing the ambition of the nobility and their boldness, considered that a bit in their mouths would be necessary to hold them in; and, on the other hand, knowing the hatred of the people, founded in fear against the nobles, he wished to protect the, yet he was not anxious for this to be the particular care of the king; therefore, to take away the reproach which he would be liable to from the nobles for favouring the people, and from the people for favouring the nobles, he set up an arbiter, who should be the one who could beat down the great and favour the lesser without reproach to the king”. (Chapter XIX, The Prince).
Later the socialist (and communist) movements as well nationalism will again force the nobles and their rulers (monarchs) to embrace full popular democracy but then people became apathetic as they benefited from the new system of affairs and soon the popular [mass] democracy was slowly replaced by the privileged [lobbying or capital] democracy as elections became ‘great auctions for who can by influence and political power’. It is this system, neoliberal capitalism, that today masses are challenging, from Occupy Movement to Arab Spring (in itself rather different and more complex, so not an area of discussion with relevance here). What the people, masses or plebs or 99%, wants today is a form of social-enterprise or -responsible capitalism not the greedy wall street inspired and manipulated neoliberal model first set out by Reaganomics and Thatcher in UK.
So today like in the past, new politicians rise up to claim representation for the ninety-nine percentile from Italy (Beppe Grillo and Five Star Movement) to Greece (Syriza and Tsipras) to Spain (Podemos) to even France (and Hollande) to UK today and Corbyn and Old Red Labour to across the pond in US with Bernie Sanders. In short, this is the new patterns of post-2008 politics in the west and across the world as the 99% fight [again] with the old nobles (1%) for power and governing say and influences.
Alas, as in the past, the entrenched ruling elites can never be moved – without arms and no I am not calling for such an action – they will have to give something which in turn will see a new system emerging from this new internal wars between the plebs and the nobles; so the big question now is what next?
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