Recently in class, we discussed the characteristics of a Machiavellian Ruler. When asked to think of modern day examples of a Machiavellian Ruler, my mind immediately jumped to Hitler’s Third Reich. Before committing to such an obvious example, I reviewed the characteristics of a Machiavellian Ruler one last time: cunning, controlling, manipulative, and narcissistic. After, I thought…would a true Machiavellian Ruler not be difficult to identify?
Throughout history, all known civilizations have been structured around a central government or leader. Even the ancient Greeks adopted a governing body where elders and prominent generals were held in high regards. People look to leaders or people in positions of power to make important decisions for the country. This concept is supported by the Miligram Experiment, named after the Yale psychologist, who tested a person’s willingness to obey authority. The experiment involved participants asking an actor questions. Participants were given directions to electrocute the actor, if believed the actor was lying. Keep in mind, participants were not aware they were electrocuting an actor because they could not actually see him. Studies revealed that many of the participants willingly electrocuted the actor even though they knew it was morally wrong.
This experiment is important to my understanding of the power behind Machiavellianism. If someone is a good Machiavellian Ruler, they can manipulate masses to obey their command at any cost. However, to be successful in gaining this respect, the masses must have profound respect and trust in their authority figures. This refocused my attention to the Nazi Regime. Many German people adored Hitler and wholeheartedly supported the effort to distinguish Jews. The main reason they adhered to Hitler’s commands was because they trusted Hitler. They trusted a man who was able to pull Germany out of the greatest financial crisis any European nation has ever experienced, transforming Germany into an industrial force to be reckoned with. Although Hitler was a sociopath, he was truly a great leader. Unfortunately, his book Mind Kempf, written prior to his outbreak in politics, revealed his personal goals for Germany. Thus, I searched for a different example of a Machiavellian Ruler since Machiavelli taught that a good ruler must not make his personal goals known.
Then, it dawned on me…
The United States of America. Although the political system of the United States is a democratic republic on the outset, I believe it to be the greatest modern day shadow republic. The shadow republic applies the characteristics of Machiavellianism, while enabling the authoritative body to have more resources for its endeavors. The United States also tricks its citizens into thinking they have real political power, when in reality, they only have an indirect influence in determining the figure head of the various branches of government. The media is a prominent force in the United States, controlling everything citizens hear and see. Important news channels are even notoriously known to be politically bias, subtly showing support for their own party members.
Are the people of the United States aware of every action the government takes? No! Yet, people constantly moan and groan about the corrupt political system. For example, what US citizen was aware that Osama Bin Laden had been located and assassinated until it had already taken place? Were these actions justified? Many citizens condone US aggression, yet are eager to point the finger at every other country of the world for their actions, believing that the US represents all that is holy, just, and fair in the world.
What better place to look for Machiavellianism than right here in the United States? After all, what is the real purpose to act as the moral crusader of the world? Ethics? Power? As citizens of the Untied States, is it not our right to know the exact intentions of our government, considering the amount of domestic resources they use, as well as how they are used?