Friday, April 15, 2011

A very brief examination of the Arab revolts through a Machiavellian perspective.

A very brief examination of the Arab revolts through a Machiavellian perspective.

As Machiavelli put it, fear and love cannot be combined. So an autocrat is best advised to base his rule on fear, not love. The people can withhold their love, but cannot withhold their fear. The autocrat controls the fear. So, essentially, it is better to be feared than loved.

Yet Machiavelli also prescribed that care, extra care, must be given to not being hated, as when hate increases it shatters the walls of fear.
And according to him, seeds of hate are sown when the autocrat infringes on people’s money and women.

For decades it worked very well in the Arab context. People feared, and autocrats ruled with stability.

I would venture say that the walls of fear were broken in many an Arab country because of fiscal mis-management and fiscal corruption. Poverty struck, and middle classes took the brunt of taxation.  At the same time, the autocrats and those in their orbit enriched themselves conspicuously amassing wealth via dubious means that were not insulated from the populace rumors and hearsay. Inequality, corruption and poverty were all naked infringements on the subjects’ money to which Machiavelli referred. Thus the seeds of hate were sown. And in some contexts, the hate was so high so as to shatter the walls of fear. Hence the comfortable situation of basing one’s rule on fear, no longer applied. And of course the spiral of hate increases when casualties start to fall.

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