"You may call me by name or call me by value." (Just a pun. Do not make too much of it here.)
Niklaus Wirth, developer of Pascal, Algol,
and other computer programming languages
Ed wrote: "... needed to be tricked -- by a Noble Lie from a Machiavellian Philosopher King -- into living under a totalitarian dictatorship..."
You do like to mix metaphors and allusions. Is this a banana split or a stew or a cocktail? And while I do not wish to defend Thomas Hobbes, I caution you against accepting someone's translation of his works. As I have proposed, our common English uses of "morality" and "ethics" confuse the two. What did Hobbes mean by the words he chose? If you read any Shakespeare, you know that you need liner notes to explain the nuances. Hobbes: 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679; Shakespeare: 26 April 1564 (baptised) – 23 April 1616. (Wikipedia on both.)
I say that because, indeed, your ethical worth is your market value in society. You might have great moral worth (to yourself) but if your fellows reject you, your market value will fall. This is well-known, and widely accepted, and in fact, might truly be one of the "noble lies" upon which our society is founded, the story of the Martyr, from Jesus to John Galt, really, that whole "different drummer" thing.
Do not ascribe to me views I do not hold. I only caution you against what appears to me to be your religious devotion to Objectivist catechism.
In Machiavelli, the prince is not a king. The prince rules a town and is the "first citizen" or principal citizen. Machiavelli could have called his book The King, but he did not. We confuse the meaning from our ignorant assumptions of royal descent and inheritance in which the sons of the king (princes) inherit the throne. But that confuses two different meanings of the word prince. And like Hobbes, Machiavelli was writing in an older dialect of a modern language. Moreover, you would be hard-pressed to find anything like the "noble lie" in Machiavelli, though he does speak of deceit as a useful tactic. He does also caution against it. It is not absolute. Machiavelli alludes to ancient history, but says nothing of Plato or Socrates who were the sources of the noble lie theory of statecraft.
- Ayn Rand disliked Thomas Hobbes.
- Thomas Hobbes (supposedly) said this.
- Therefore, I will rant against this context-free statement.
Similarly, "totalitarian" and "dictatorship" are also conflated. Dictatorship is ancient and honorable. The town of Cincinnati was founded by Revolutionary War veterans of the Society of Cincinnatus, named for the Roman farmer who led his state through hard times and returned to his plow.
The idea of a "totalitarian" government is wholly modern
Given a time machine, you might explain it well to Plato. Machiavelli would think you really overstepped your bounds and think too highly of your abilities to direct all aspects of an entire society, when all you really want to do is rule without losing your head. Also, as the Wikipedia article points out, both capitalism and liberal democracy are accused of being "totalitarian."
The notion of "totalitarianism" a "total" political power by state was formulated in 1923 by Giovanni Amendola who described Italian Fascism as a system fundamentally different from conventional dictatorships. The term was later assigned a positive meaning in the writings of Giovanni Gentile, Italy’s most prominent philosopher and leading theorist of fascism. He used the term “totalitario” to refer to the structure and goals of the new state. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarianism)
I am not a Hobbes scholar by any stretch, but I do understand something of his historical context. To condemn all of his ideas from our point of view is to miss the opportunity to appreciate his attempt at a rational derivation of politics. By the same standard, I point out that at this time the magnetic field was demonstrated by Robert Norman and explained by William Gilbert, they still had incorrect ideas about magnetism and had no idea that it related to electricity. It would be wrong to denigrate them. And I caution against condemning Thomas Hobbes without a close reading of his work. For one thing, he did offer the social contract theory of government. I think that most here would agree that without government, life would be "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”
Find Hobbes' works in the Online Library of Liberty here.
(Edited by Michael E. Marotta on 7/30, 8:18am)