Thursday, March 17, 2005

Unexpected Wisdom of the Day: Machiavelli

I was doing a bit of reading the other day, and upon reading my copy of Machiavelli's Prince, I noticed a timely bit of advice. One caveat: The whole of Machiavelli's ideas are not to be completely embraced. He was after all, not the biggest fan of democracy. However, this tidbit from chapter 3 of The Prince, does serve as a sufficient counter-argument to that overused anti-war misconception that war is never the answer:

"Because the Romans did in these instances what all prudent princes ought to do, who have to regard not only present troubles, but also future ones, for which they must prepare with every energy, because, when foreseen, it is easy to remedy them; but if you wait until they approach, the medicine is no longer in time because the malady has become incurable; for it happens in this, as the physicians say it happens in hectic fever, that in the beginning of the malady it is easy to cure but difficult to detect, but in the course of time, not having been either detected or treated in the beginning, it becomes easy to detect but difficult to cure. Thus it happens in affairs of state, for when the evils that arise have been foreseen (which it is only given to a wise man to see), they can be quickly redressed, but when, through not having been foreseen, they have been permitted to grow in a way that every one can see them. there is no longer a remedy. Therefore, the Romans, foreseeing troubles, dealt with them at once, and, even to avoid a war, would not let them come to a head, for they knew that war is not to be avoided, but is only put off to the advantage of others."

my emphasis added.

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