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Machiavelli and the social conservatives

Thu 3 May 2007 In: Comment

In a recent jeremiad, fundamentalist homophobe and all-round misanthrope Garnet Milne argued that Helen Clark and the Greens were students of the Renaissance political philosopher and strategist, Niccolo Machiavelli, dedicated to retaining power at all costs. Sure they are. At the moment, though, it is right-wing neoconservatives who are the most adept students of the philosopher in question, particularly filtered through the work of Leo Strauss, particularly when it came to the US Iraqi War. His Thoughts on Machiavelli (1958) fostered a reading that it was permissible to engage in "noble lies" to conceal "deadly truths," like the lie that George W Bush was a 'compassionate conservative,' and that the Iraqi War was justifiable due to weapons of mass destruction. Machiavelli and Strauss both condoned the instrumental, manipulative use of religion to achieve political objectives to ground support for otherwise unpalatable policies. And thus, we witnessed the unholy electoral alliances between the Republican Party and US Christian Right- and the National Party, Exclusive Brethren and Maxim Institute here? But hey, the US Christian Right is willing to countenance anything that hard right governments do, as long as they make the right anti-gay, anti-feminist and anti-abortion measures. I wish I was exaggerating, but if you want a particularly obscene example of the power-drunk nature of the US Christian Right, witness the Family Research Council and its allies at a so-called "Values Voters Forum" in Washington DC, September 22-23rd, 2006. Right-wing talkback shrew Ann Coulter and ex-Family Research Council head Gary Bauer condoned torture in the name of the Bush administration's "War on Terror." It was okay to suppress antiwar dissent, no matter what the cost in civil liberties and human rights. According to Tony Perkins and Focus on the Family's James Dobson, it's okay to privatise social welfare, and the poor are "that way" because they're "lazy and immoral," and it's also allowable to persecute illegal immigrants to the United States, oh, and 'global warming' is part of a neo-marxist one world conspiracy. What was that about Machiavelli again, Garnet? Looks to me like he's one of your lot... Recommended: Leo Strauss: Thoughts on Machiavelli: Glencoe, Illinois: Free Press: 1958. People for the American Way: Values Voters Summit: September 22-23rd, 2006: Not Recommended At All: Garnet Milne: Craig Young - 3rd May 2007    

Credit: Craig Young

First published: Thursday, 3rd May 2007 - 12:00pm

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