Dissent and Democracy: the disappearance of Political Icons – By Teodros Kiros (PH.D)

November 2nd, 2008 Print Print Email Email

A long line of brilliant thinkers have linked the idea of dissent with the possession of a consistent intelligence- an intelligence that knows how to create power and also maintain it. (more…)

A long line of brilliant thinkers have linked the idea of dissent with the possession of a consistent intelligence- an intelligence that knows how to create power and also maintain it.

The relentless Machiavelli who was divided between his respect of democracies and his love of republics advised sovereigns who wish to create power and maintain it to be sufficiently flexible, when new political situations demand it, and also listen carefully to fortune, when it meanders its way. Virtu propels the engines of the uniquely political; and Fortuna favors leaders only when they intuit its presence and shutoff the analytical propensities of intelligent rulers.

Politics, argued Machiavelli, cannot be anchored on moral goodness-that is too utopian, but rather on virtu (flexible disposition) and Fortuna (luck). Both concepts are crucial for the understanding of the distinctly political. Virtu produces appropriate political action swiftly, intelligently and courageously; Fortuna projects ample opportunities that favor the moves of Virtu. Both Virtu and Fortuna work in concert to move the people from passivity towards social movements that aim at changing their lives and increase their freedoms by creating power and counter the tyrannies of an oppressive regime.

The current leader of the Ethiopian regime known for his erudition has certainly read Machiavelli’s Prince and is actively using its teachings, for the particular purpose of squashing dissent by annihilating the voices of dissent, exactly as Machiavelli advises.

It is not an accident that, Tewodros Afro, the Icon of contemporary Ethiopian Music is rotting in prison. The Ethiopian sovereign has takes Machiavelli’s advise to heart and is aiming at jailing, killing and intimidating the Icons of the Ethiopian people.

Machiavelli’s advise centers on what the sovereign has to do to remain in power, once power is acquired. Maintaining power is much more difficult than coming to power. One could come to power if Fortuna favors the leader. Once thus favored the sovereign then must master the techniques of virtu to stay in power, otherwise the leader looses ground, as Machiavelli counsels.

The pcrime minister of Ethiopia has been doing exactly that. He is maintaining the project of tyranny by imprisoning political icons systematically. His tyranny is not madness but a mastery of virtu. All his moves are following Machiavelli’s advice to the last page and so far it is working for him- as he continues to stay in power.

My next article will turn Machiavelli against him, as I would begin advising the Ethiopian opposition to use Machiavelli as an advocate of the Ethiopian people’s movement.

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