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Of Power and Praise

November 9, 2010

As Machiavelli once wrote in The Prince , “For many many authors have constructed imaginary republics and principalities that have never existed in practice and never could; for the gap between how people actually behave and how they ought to behave is so great that anyone who ignores everyday reality in order to live up to an ideal will soon discover he has been taught how to destroy himself, not how preserve himself.”  More simply put, many people have made order of rule in which they think they know best , but in reality know very little.  I recently found a rather humorous video that although is meant as a comedic skit, portrays this very ideal written about 500 years earlier.

In this video, a non-existent Handsome Men’s Club show a hierarchy as well as a sovereign leader.  This sovereign leader was not appointed by the other members of this club and is eventually removed from power by the general will of the the remaining members of the Club.  These members could be seen as the people invoking their power to remove the sovereign due to his failure of upholding his duties as “President.”  The leader is shown for the fraud he is and immediately removed from his previous authority.  This video can be used for examples of numerous political thinkers including  Hobbes, Machiavelli, Locke, and many more.

I was laughing the first few times saw this video, but as we talked more in class about leaders of political regimes and how  they can rule, this video came to mind for some reason.  As everyone can clearly tell, this video is merely a spoof, but, strangely enough, it has some parts in it that ring true for many of the things we have learned and debated about thus far. This club was based on praise, which Machiavelli spoke of as one of the driving forces in men.  Could this be an example of what Machiavelli was trying to warn us of?  To warn the Prince of what not to do in his rule?  I think so.  Just remember, keep your head held handsome and don’t abuse your power.

2 Comments
  1. cwatson872 permalink
    November 9, 2010 4:27 PM

    This also reminds me of Rousseau’s quotation about the nature of civil society. Just in that, there’s not really an extremely important reason that social structure is the way it is, it just is because people accept it.

    But I guess, like in the video, when people realize that there really isn’t any method to why they’re organized like they are – or perhaps the structure is outdated and irrelevant – people have the chance to dissolve the old regime and restructure.

  2. vdeepa permalink
    November 11, 2010 5:48 AM

    This video reminded me of Burke’s idea that of the “swinish multitude”. He felt that the French Revolution disrupted order and did not establish a system that put into application their theoritcal aim. This idea was represented in the video. As you point out, “These members could be seen as the people invoking their power to remove the sovereign due to his failure of upholding his duties as ‘President'”. And once the soverign figure was removed, there did not seem to be a set plan for how the governing should be changed. It would be interesting to see what happened to the efficiacy of the Handsome Men’s Club after the “revolution”.

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