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Recent studies show that unprecedented numbers of students are cheating in school, that stealing has increased 5,000 percent since 1950, that illegitimacy has skyrocketed. In keeping with our nation’s ongoing slide into the lower depths, the White House itself was recently vandalized by outgoing staffers of the Clinton administration. The Drudge Report described
this vandalism as “widespread sabotage of White House office equipment and lewd messages left behind by [the] previous tenants.”
Here is a true glimpse of America’s cutting-edge liberals: the best and brightest of a rebel generation stripping the letter “W” from office machines, writing dirty epithets on the walls. This venereal vanguard, led by “Twisted Willie” himself, came to the White House in 1993. And now that their time in paradise is over, they have inflicted this last, unprecedented indignity on
our nation’s administrative center. And worse yet, President George W. Bush is not inclined to apprehend or punish the culprits, who allegedly caused some $200,000 in damage.
What else could we have expected? Bad men act with impunity, expecting a weak response from good men. The good men follow the script, like jackasses, guaranteeing further outrages in the future.
None of this should surprise us. The country has been ruled by political hooligans for eight dreadful years. The opposition party, in all that time, has been weak and pitiful, perhaps because any hard-fisted response would have been matched by further left-wing outrages, leading to a disruption of the country’s all-important prosperity.
So the Clinton administration was allowed to do its thing. At the very outset they dismantled White House security. In the words of former White House FBI-man Gary Aldrich, the Clintons appointed people “who previously would have been considered unsuitable and/or security risks.” This included persons with histories of drug abuse. According to Aldrich, the Clintons themselves refused to obey the rules and refused to follow the directives of congressional oversight committees. They also subverted the effectiveness of the Secret Service.
The most shocking fact, however, is not that the Clinton administration harbored hooligans. The most shocking fact is that the American people elected this Arkansas reprobate and his disgusting entourage not once, but twice.
America is in serious trouble, even though we presently enjoy material prosperity. In fact, this prosperity is currently holding us up. But if the economy should sputter, don’t count on the result. Bad people are tolerable when they are sated, but notice how their temper changes when things don’t go their way. Behind every charming narcissist lies a fuming, murderous incendiary. The recent White House outrage only gives us the smallest glimpse into this mentality. It is only natural that the outgoing crew was unhappy at their departure, and this unhappiness was not simply internal. It was inflicted on the country in general.
Some Americans want to know if there is a solution to our present political and social difficulties, which stem from corruption, apathy and widespread ignorance. People want to know how to deal with political hooligans, rebels and saboteurs. Do we turn a blind eye, as President Bush has done? Or do we go after them?
It is only natural, given our hedonistic market system, that people want ready-made solutions. They actually become angry when the growing cancer of corruption is brought into the open with no apparent or simple solution at hand.
The bad news should be obvious by now. Things will get worse before they get better. The good news is, that all political problems eventually fix themselves. All things contain the seeds of their own destruction. This includes the bad as well as the good.
The Italian political thinker, Niccolo Machiavelli, had a few words on the subject of corruption, which might do us good to review.
“Those princes and those republics,” wrote Machiavelli, “which desire to remain free from corruption, should above all else maintain incorrupt the ceremonies of their religion and should hold them always in veneration; for there can be no surer indication of the decline of a country than to see divine worship neglected.”
According to Machiavelli, corruption proceeds from a decline in religious observance, and marches forward against liberty itself. Using history as his guide, especially Roman history, the author of “The Discourses” wrote that “a corrupted people, having acquired liberty, can maintain it only with great difficulty.”
Machiavelli clearly says that legislation is to no avail in states where the citizens themselves are corrupt. Real reform can only be initiated by an “extremely strong individual,” wrote Machiavelli, who is determined to eradicate the bad and elevate the good. “If a state is in decline owing to the corruption of its human material a renaissance, if it is possible at all, will be by virtue of some one person.”
This is a disturbing statement, difficult for Americans to accept. But when society itself is corrupt, history shows that the solution must come from outside the society, through the uprightness of a single person. “Furthermore,” says Machiavelli, “institutions and laws made in the early days of a republic when men were good, no longer serve their purpose when men have become bad.”
Again and again, Machiavelli harped on the necessity of bringing forth “one good man.” Such a person is supposedly the only way out. But there is a moral paradox here. “To reconstitute political life in a state,” wrote Machiavelli, “presupposes a good man, whereas to have recourse to violence in order to make oneself prince in a republic supposes a bad man.”
Let us think about this for a moment. In order to save a republic you need a good man who is willing to behave like a bad man (i.e., a dictator). This is very unusual, says Machiavelli. “Very rarely will there be found a good man ready to use bad methods … with a good end in view.”
In recent Western history we have an example to draw upon. In the early 1970s Chile’s democracy got into trouble under a lamentable Marxist president, Salvador Allende. The resulting anarchy and economic collapse, along with fears of communist dictatorship, led Gen. Augusto Pinochet to intervene. A devout Catholic, Gen. Pinochet followed Machiavelli’s model for rescuing a corrupt state. Some observers would say that Pinochet was a good man “willing to behave like a bad man” with a good end in view.
Pinochet and his associates knew they could not reason with Marxists, so they murdered them. They decided to round up the leading troublemakers and eliminate them without any judicial proceedings. Thinking of the long-term welfare of the Chilean people, Pinochet’s temporary dictatorship thereby brought about economic prosperity and, in the end, a constitutional democracy. Had the communists taken over the country, however, economic stagnation and mass executions on a much larger scale might have followed. In that event, democracy would never have been restored.
Given the success of Pinochet’s ruthless measures, and the benefits they brought to Chile as a whole, we are left in a horrible moral quandary. Today, ironically, Gen. Augusto Pinochet may be tried and imprisoned for his bad actions. He will be tried chiefly because these bad actions ended in a good result. Here is another paradox: that the savior of Chilean democracy is not honored by that democracy. Instead, he is to be punished.
It is disturbing to contemplate, but strict morality obligates us to tolerate hooligans, subversives, wreckers and communists. They are allowed to destroy the Constitution by inches. They are allowed to break down religion, to infiltrate the schools, to manipulate the courts, to slowly erode the economic viability of the nation. We can do nothing against them because their subversion is protected by law.
Machiavelli has been decried as a villain for writing: “It is a sound maxim that reprehensible actions may be justified by their effects, and that when the effect is good … it always justifies the action.”
This idea has been denounced because, more often than not, evil means go along with evil ends. Communism itself uses this principle, declaring that its ends justify its means. The moral crisis of our time, whether it commences in Vietnam, Chile, China or the United States, is a crisis between contending visions of the future. We are talking about a kind of cultural and political warfare which, inevitably, must escalate from parliamentary politics to radical violence. This is not something anybody can put a stop to. It is built into the pattern of modernity. It is part of the natural degeneration of the human raw material that goes into society. And this is the tragedy of Augusto Pinochet, an 85-year-old retired general who is now one short step from being tried for using bad methods for a good end.
If the United States continues with its permissive attitude toward political hooliganism, if serious corruption and abuse of office continues, a solution will eventually present itself. We will end up with a military intervention like that experienced by Chile. And there is no telling whether we will end up with a Pinochet who renews democracy, or a Castro who crushes the very hope of democracy into dust.
Taking a longer view, today’s corruption might be seen as an intermediary stage between the system we have today and another political system, yet unborn. One might also observe that the solution is built-in to the problem. Of course, it may be a case of one horror following another.
This, however, is historically normal.