Scandal: To Be a Prince or Not To Be?



The end justifies the means. This is the core of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”. Machiavelli speaks about “great men” one of them being Moses. But what does he mean by “great”? For him, those who understand what Moses is really about are the princes, Moses is a matter of faith, thus most will accept him. He laid down laws that lasted 1300 years. He laid down “God’s law”, it was eternal. Why was it eternal, who said that? Moses did. Who said Moses was the executor of God’s law? Moses. Whose God? Moses’ God. Machiavelli says dot not look at what he says but his actions. He went up to a mountain to receive the word from God but no one actually saw him. He came back down and laid down what he believed he was told to say. What does Moses think you should pay attention to? His speeches. According to Machiavelli, Moses is really no different than us, just better at it. What is Machiavelli’s point in all this? He found an oppressed people. Opportunity gives the founder matter. What is matter? Matter is the people. What are in the hands of a prince? Matter. Once you have the matter what are the rules for Machiavelli? Necessity. You can make a mistake but if you want to be a winner you don’t have a choice. If you don’t do it you will have to obey someone who does. Armed prophets win. Jesus didn’t have any arms. He was killed. How did his teachings survive? Romans adopted them. What did Romans specialize in? Killing. In Chapter 15 Machiavelli speaks on “of those things” for which “men” this is going to be true about them and especially all humans and always princes. Why is the prince special? Who is the chapter written for? The language of praise and blame is a permanent feature of humanity. It is essential to their relationship to one another. The rulers and the ruled. He believes most of us will fail to comprehend humanity. How will the prince use what is misunderstood, he will manipulate it. Do people really see the effectual truth of Machiavelli? Does the Bible promise Heaven on Earth anytime soon? No. But that doesn’t mean many people cannot see it in their minds or think it through philosophically or get divine guidance. Machiavelli says the Prince is concerned with self preservation and the Bible is against that. What should govern? The “is” or the “ought”. For Machiavelli, he is teaching us something key which is that there is no such thing as evil thus you can do whatever you want under the condition that the prince wants to preserve his power. You have to learn not to be good if you want to be able to transition from people to prince. Morality doesn’t rule here, necessity does. According to him, Christains would say : “Is” should be governed by “ought”. He would say: “Ought” is governed by “is”. If we associate “is” to power we have said that power is a means to some end. On page 62 he says “everyone will confess”. Who is everyone? People and princes. Will they do it in the same way with the same reason? Does the prince want to appear good? It is necessary that he appears good.

*Spoiler Alert*

There is so much about the show Scandal that seem to have Machiavellian ideals. Contrary to mainstream ideals, the white house chief of staff is an openly gay man. The Democratic president is having an on and off affair with an African-American woman who is the center of the show. The vice president is a Christian Republican. But why is it one of the most successful shows in the network right now? That same President killed a supreme court justice who had attempted to assassinate him. The openly gay man killed more people and made more lies in the pursuit of fulfilling his job description to keep the president in power. The vice president Christian woman ended up killing her gay husband to preserve her image so it would not get in the way of her running for President. The President won the reelection because the head of the secret government agency that answers to no one, was taken out of his seat because of the president. This seems ironic but he is the father of the Olivia Pope, the woman with the affair who is also a very intelligent crisis manager and lawyer. He knew him winning the re-election would make Olivia happy and when all lost was hope, he slipped a fatal dose of meningitis into the son of the President during a nationally televised event. His son died on TV and the public responded positively to it. The President understood he won because his son had died and during the celebration he went into his oval office and along came the first Lady, the woman who might be the most Machiavellian rooted of them all. Most of what she has done her whole life is sacrifice her happiness to maintain a good image and preserve the power of the President. She told him in that moment that she understood the devastated dad part but that he needed to get it together and give a speech. She also knew Olivia was the best at getting him to do this and even tried to call his affair to see if she could give any good tips. There is so much more that can be written on Scandal and Machiavellian values but there is not enough space. They relate because a lot of the show and the scandal arises from the mindset that in order to preserve power and be the ruler one must do whatever is necessary in order to keep it. It is about appearances and making the people believe through the media or through speeches that you have everything under control and you understand their concerns, even if you don’t.