This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Full text of " dialogue in hell between machiavelli and montesquieu " See other formats "Soon we will see a frightful calm, during which all will unite against the power that violated the law. Brussels A. Mertens and Son, Printer Rue de l'escalier, 22 Modest Foreword This book has traits that can be applied to all governments, but it has one precise goal: to personify one political system in particular that has not varied in its methods for a single day since the unfortunate and, alas, already too faraway date of its inauguration. This is not a lampoon or a pamphlet; the senses of modern people are already too policed to accept violent truths about contemporary politics.
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This banner text can have markup. Search the history of over billion web pages on the Internet. Full text of " dialogue in hell between machiavelli and montesquieu " See other formats "Soon we will see a frightful calm, during which all will unite against the power that violated the law.
Brussels A. Mertens and Son, Printer Rue de l'escalier, 22 Modest Foreword This book has traits that can be applied to all governments, but it has one precise goal: to personify one political system in particular that has not varied in its methods for a single day since the unfortunate and, alas, already too faraway date of its inauguration. This is not a lampoon or a pamphlet; the senses of modern people are already too policed to accept violent truths about contemporary politics.
The supernatural duration of certain successes [in this field] is furthermore intended to corrupt honesty itself; but public consciousness still lives, and the heavens will one day day interfere in the games being played against it. One better judges certain facts and certain principles when one sees them outside of the framework in which they habitually move before our eyes; the change of optical perspective sometimes terrifies the eyes! Here, everything is presented under the form of fiction; it would be superfluous to provide the key in anticipation.
If this book has an import, if it contains a lesson, it will be necessary for the reader to understand it and not have it given to him. Furthermore, such reading will not fail to have quite lively distractions; it is necessary to proceed with it slowly, as is suitable with writings that are not frivolous things. One will not ask where is the hand that traced out these pages: a work such as this is, in a certain way, impersonal. It responds to an appeal to consciousness; everyone has conceived it; it is executed; the author effaces himself, because he is only the editor of a thought that is in the general sense; he is only a more or less obscure accomplice of the coalition for good.
January Info notbored. Is this him who is before me? Montequieu: The name "Great" belongs to no one here, O Machiavelli! I am he whom you seek. Machiavelli: Among the illustrious personages whose shadows people the sojourn of darkness, there is none I desire to meet more than Montesquieu.
Driven back into unknown spaces by the migration of souls, I give thanks to the happenstance that finally places me in the presence of the author of The Spirit of the Laws.
Montequieu: The former Secretary of State of the Florentine Republic has still not forgotten the language of the courts. But what can those who have crossed the somber shores exchange, if not anguish and regret?
Machiavelli: Is this the philosopher or the statesman who speaks thus? What importance can death have for those who have lived through thought, since thought does not die? As for me, I do not know a more tolerable condition than that which is made for us here until the day of the last judgment. To be delivered from the cares and concerns of material life, to live in the domain of pure reason, to converse with the great men who have filled the universe with the sound of their names; to follow from afar the revolutions of the States, the fall and transformation of empires; to meditate upon their new constitutions, on the changes in the customs and the ideas of the people of Europe, on the progress of their civilization, in politics, the arts and industry, as in the sphere of philosophical ideas: What theatre for thought!
What subjects for astonishment! What new points of view! What unheard-of revelations! What marvels, if one can believe the shadows that descend here! For us, death is like a profound retirement, in which we finish receiving the lessons of history and the qualifications of humanity. Nothingness itself has not broken all the ties that bind us to the earth, because posterity still speaks of those who, like you, have imparted great movements to the human spirit. Your political principles rule, at present, over nearly half of Europe; and if someone could be freed from fear by effectuating the somber passage that leads from hell to the heavens, who can do it better than he who presents himself with titles of pure glory before eternal justice?
Montequieu: You do not speak of yourself, Machiavelli; it would be too modest, when one leaves behind the immense reputation as the author of The Prince. Machiavelli: I believe I comprehend the irony that hides behind your words.
The great French publicist thus judges me like the crowd that only knows my name and a blind prejudice? This book makes a fatal reputation for me, I know it: it has rendered me responsible for all the tyrannies; it has attracted to me the malediction of the people who have personified in me their hatred of despotism; it poisoned my last days and the disapproval of posterity seems to have followed me this far.
Yet what did I do? I protected it against the bloody intrigues that grew in all senses around it, fighting with diplomacy like another fights with a sword; dealing with, negotiating with, joining or breaking the threads in accordance with the Republic's interests, which were then crushed between the great powers and tossed around by war like a skiff.
And it was not an oppressive or autocratic government that we supported in Florence; these were popular institutions. Was I among those whom one saw change with fortune? The Medicis' torturers knew to come after me, following the fall of Soderini. Elevated along with liberty, I succumbed with it; I lived in banishment without the glance of a prince deigning to turn towards me. I died poor and forgotten. This was my life and these were my crimes that won me the ingratitude of my party, the hatred of posterity.
The heavens, perhaps, will be more just towards me. Montesquieu: I know all this, Machiavelli, and this is why I have never been able to comprehend how the Florentine patriot, how the servant of a Republic, was made to be the founder of the somber school that has given you, as disciples, all the crowned heads, but that is proper to justify tyranny's greatest crimes.
Machiavelli: And if I tell you that the book was only a diplomat's fantasy; that it was not intended for publication; that it has received publicity to which its author has remained a stranger; that it was conceived under the influence of ideas that were then shared by all the Italian principalities that were avid to aggrandize themselves at the expense of each other and that were directed by an astute politics in which the most perfidious was reputed to be the most skillful.
Montesquieu: Is this truly your thinking? Since you speak to me with such frankness, I can confess to you that such was mine and that, in this respect, I shared the opinion of many of those who knew your life and had attentively read your works.
Yes, yes, Machiavelli, and this avowal honors you: then you did not say what you thought or you only spoke under the influence of personal feelings that, for a moment, clouded your great reason. Machiavelli: This is what deceives you, Montesquieu: as well as those who have judged as you have. My only crime was telling the truth to the people as well as to the kings; not moral truth, but political truth; not the truth such as it should be, but as it is, such as it will always be.
It was not me who was the founder of the doctrine whose paternity one has attributed to me; it was the human heart. Machiavellianism came before Machiavelli. I move on[l] without, of course, speaking of those who came after me, the list of which would be long, and who learned nothing from The Prince that they didn't already know from the practice of power. Who in your time rendered me more brilliant homage than Frederic II? Pen in hand, he denied me in the interest of his own popularity and, in politics, he rigorously applied my doctrines.
By which inexplicable failing of the human spirit does one complain to me about what I wrote in this book? So many would like to reproach the scientist for seeking the physical causes that bring about the fall of the body that injures us by falling; the physician who describes the illness; the chemist who records the history of poison; the moralist who paints the vices; and the historian who writes history. Montesquieu: Oh, Machiavelli! Nature did not make me apt for discussion, but it is hardly difficult for me to respond to you: you compare the evils engendered by the spirit of domination, cunning and violence to poison and sickness; and these are the illnesses whose means of communication your writings teach to the States; these are the poisons that you teach one to distill.
When the scientist, the physician, and the moralist research evil, it is not to teach its propagation; it is to cure it. But this is what your book does not do; but this doesn't matter to me and I am not less appeased. From the moment that you do not erect despotism as a principle, from the moment that you yourself consider it to be an evil, it seems to me that, by this alone, you condemn it and, on this point at least, we can be in agreement.
Machiavelli: We are not at all in agreement, Montesquieu, because you have not understood all of my thought; I have laid you open to a comparison in which it was too easy to triumph.
Socrates' irony doesn't worry me, because he was only a sophist who used a false instrument — logomachy — more cleverly than the others. This isn't your school and it isn't mine: thus let us leave words and comparisons so that we can concern ourselves with ideas. Here is how I formulate my system and I doubt that you can weaken it, because it is only made up of deductions from moral and political facts of an eternal truth: bad instincts among men are more powerful than the good ones.
Man has more enthusiasm for evil than for good; fear and force have more control over him than reason. I do not stop to demonstrate such truths; only the scatterbrained coterie of Baron Holbach — in which J. Rousseau was the great priest and Diderot was the apostle — has contradicted them. All men aspire to domination and there is none who would not be an oppressor if he could; all or almost all are ready to sacrifice the rights of others for their own interests.
What restrains the devouring animals that one calls men? At the origin of society, there was brutal and unchecked force; later it was the law, that is to say, force still, ruled by forms. You have consulted all the sources of history; everywhere force appears before rights. Political liberty is only a relative idea; the necessity to live is what dominates the States as well as individuals.
In certain European latitudes, there are people incapable of moderation in the exercise of liberty. If liberty is extended there, it becomes license; civil or social war occurs and the State is lost, either it is divided into factions and dismembered by the effect of its own convulsions, or its divisions render it prey to foreigners. In such conditions, people prefer despotism to anarchy. Are they wrong?
Once constituted, the States have two kinds of enemies: enemies within and enemies without. What weapons can they employ in a war against foreigners? Do the two general enemies reciprocally communicate their battle plans so as to mutually place each other in a position to defend themselves? Do they prohibit nocturnal attacks, traps, ambushes, battles of unequal numbers of troops?
No, no doubt they do not and such combatants would make us laugh. And do you not want one to employ these traps, these artifices, all of these strategies that are indispensable to war, against [internal] agitators?
No doubt one would use less rigor, but basically the rules are the same. Is it possible to use pure reason to lead the violent masses that are only moved by feelings, passions and prejudices? Whether management of affairs is confided in an autocrat, an oligarchy or the people, no war, no negotiation, no internal reform can be successful without the help of those combinations that you appear to disapprove of, but that you yourself would be obligated to use if the king of France tasked you with the least affair of State.
What puerile disapproval has struck The Princel Is it that politics has nothing to do with morality? Have you ever seen a single State that conducts itself in accordance with the principles that govern private morality? But then any war would be a crime, even when it has a just cause; any conquest that had no other motivation than glory would be a heinous crime; any treaty in which a power tilts the balance in its own favor would be an undignified fraud; any usurpation of sovereign power would be an act that would merit death.
Nothing would be legitimate if it weren't founded on rights! But I have told you all along and I maintain it, even in the presence of contemporary history: all the sovereign powers have had force at their origins or the negation of rights which is the same thing.
Is this to say that I should proscribe rights? No, but I regard them as an extraordinarily limited application, as much in the relationships of the nations amongst themselves as in the relationships between the governors and the governed. Moreover, do you not see that this word "rights" is infinitely vague?
Where does they begin and where do they end?
The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu
Add to GoodReads. The Dialogue in Hell between Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Humanitarian Despotism and the Conditions of Modern Tyranny. The Dialogue in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli is the source of the world's most infamous literary forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.
dialogue in hell between machiavelli and montesquieu
A true curiosity, the book that served as the basis for the Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion; in fact, entire passages of the Protocols were apparently lifted directly out of this book. A bit Maurice Joly. The Dialogue in Hell between Montesquieu and Machiavelli is the source of the world's most infamous literary forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.