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FINEFROCK Nicolo's Nostrums: Machiavelli's Modern Messages
by Steve Finefrock - Hollywood Forum
[scriptwriter] 6/6/06

From the Phone Booth: The Smallest Space in 'Hollywood'

Michael Ledeen is the masterful maestro of all things Machiavelli -- check his own intriguing analysis and modern-day application of Nicolo's universal principles of leadership -- but let me take a stab, after discovering 25-year-old notecards of the "best of Machiavelli" drawn from my poli-sci students' selections at OSU-OKC campus. That adventure derived from belated discovery of Nicolo, as I prepared for adjunct instruction and stumbled upon a paperback copy of his classic, The Prince and its overdue lessons. Within those pages was eighty percent of what I'd learned in painful political practices and dozens of college classes: oh, all the tuition that could have been saved by a simple $4.95 purchase [in 1981].

Today, the lessons are as applicable as four hundred years ago, proven most firmly as required-reading for officers commanding SEAL teams [for this intriguing insight, again see Ledeen's introductory to his interpretative work]. And for the sealing of the fate of the left, an arduous task still ahead of us, it bears examination and elaboration of selected out-takes, courtesy of Okie-stan students' own choices in a basic intro to the subject of politics, economics and leadership, in some cases two or more versions [different translations, chosen by different students]:


Founder of Hollywood Forum, a speaker-bureau and panel-discussion vehicle to "Bring the Potomac to the Palisades" on issues that overlap politics and culture with the Hollywood film-TV influence on such national concerns. His scripts have addressed politics [including a TV series pilot/bible package about state political combat, called "A State of the Union"], hazardous materials [from twelve years in emergency management, including six years managing FEMA's Superfund curriculum for hazmat], terrorism, equestrian reincarnation, serial murderer killing journalists in the nation's capitol, and fantasy about time-wasters.[go to Finefrock index]

There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to initiate a new order of things. / There is nothing more difficult than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things.

Conservatives in Hollywood? Oh, yeah, they be brave souls. Making conservative film and TV product is a cutting-edge effort that is cutting to one's fortunes. This New Order of things is yet to be, but there is a small movement toward the 'fertile' moment; some fits and starts of late have postponed the implantation of that zygote of a future New Order. No one wants to be first, or even second and third. Once that bold trifecta have proven the new order is not-so-new, and not so dangerous, the flood will begin. For now, we hope. And know that delayed success is due to Nicolo's long-established view, and perhaps due to some immolations of recent vintage. But it will happen. As Newt's startling rise in '94, the shock that will shake the most is yet to come in American politics. It is more difficult than curing polio or syphilis, as those metaphors are apt in describing the challenge in conquering a small part of Hollywood. But plan on it, though you can't yet mark a date for this cultural D-Day on your calendar.

The first impression that one gets of a ruler and of his brain is from seeing the men he has about him. / The first mistake a ruler can make lies in the selection of his ministers.

'Bush's Brain' was chosen by Dubya! As were Rummy, and Condy, and so many other shrewd folks, not the least being Cheney, small-gage birdshot marksmanship notwithstanding. In the big-gage subjects of world strategery and policy, the men and women about him make Dubya a Nicolo Notable. That's the serious, soberest "SAT Test" of this president -- more than any Yale grade-point average.

This is a common failing of mankind, never to anticipate a storm when the sea is calm. / When for lack of diagnosis, political disorders are allowed to grow that everyone can recognize them, remedies are too late.

Defense appropriations get the axe, pre-Pearl Harbor, pre-Korea, pre-Vietnam, pre-Iran hostages, and pre-Gulf War, not to mention pre-911. Ditto on funding and legislative authority for intelligence operations. The greatest at these failings are liberals, democrats, progressives, socialists -- oh, wait, that's a redundant construction. CIA cuts led to problems of recent vintage, as liberals thought it was all over [and with the help of some BARs -- Barely A Republican -- amidst ourselves] and suddenly found there to be a flood and we were without the ships, or lifeboats, to survive. While liberals love to hate the corporate owners of the Titanic for their failures, the left's myopia risks 300 million lives at the feet of Clintonian defense cuts. There is indeed always another storm over the horizon. And when liberals realize it, that means just about everyone has figgered out what the smart people -- e.g., GOPsters -- figgered out years ago. A Rule of Thumb [in our eye]: When liberals say we need defense improved, it's too damned late.

Avoid being left at the mercy of someone else. / Only those defenses are good, certain and durable, which depend on yourself alone and your own ability. / No one should ever allow himself to fall down in the belief that someone else will lift him to his feet, because it will not happen;or if it does happen, it will not prove to his advantage.

Europe? France? Saudi Arabia? Even Turkey! Yeah, like we wait for the umpteenth meaningless resolution by the U.N. to mean anything before we act. The Lone Ranger, in command of a regiment of Rangers of the U.S. Army, is what works. Always has. Waiting for the cavalry of Europe to come to our rescue, or of France, or any other nation means there will be no rescue. The only reliable cavalry has been the U.S. of A. For ourselves, or for others. No one dials "911-France"! Washington's Farewell warning about entangling alliances hints he may have read a pre-SEAL copy of Nicolo. Letting our attention lapse, with the faint expectation that other nations will come to our rescue, is plain folly. And the folly of plain-brain liberals who see nothing until it's too late, and want to rely on others -- those others themselves always relying on the U.S. as the international 911. When the 911 staff closes down, who will protect us?

We do not find men falling down just because they expect to find someone helping them up. / He who depends least upon fortune, will maintain himself best. / No principality is secure without having its own forces.

A bit redundant of the above, but recapitulation of this vital principal is in "The Prince" thru several chapters, so it bears repeating: AIN'T NO ONE HELPIN' US BUT US, spelled U.S. of A.

The chief foundation of all states, whether new, old, or mixed, are good laws and good arms. / Because there is no comparison whatever between an armed and a disarmed man, it is not reasonable to suppose that one who is armed will obey willingly one who is unarmed, or that any unarmed man will remain safe among armed servants.

Rosie O'Donnell understood this when she wanted her own adopted son protected from threats which she was able to anticipate, for her own concerns. Hollywood once grasped it, symbolically in the classic western, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance -- Ranse protests Liberty's holding up the stage in the opening, waving his lawbook like a magic-wand at the ruffian thug and getting beat to within an inch of his life in the bargain. By film's end, he's taken up arms, albeit with the liberals' obligatory, plaguing self-doubt for doing so. It was an ugly world in Nicolo's time, and remains so. Even "Star Trek" recognized it: when the Klingons became friendly associates of the alliance, up popped the Cardassians. There are always Cardassians, or the Borg, or something new, and often worse. As Ranse discovered, and Hollywood forgot, laws without arms are just words on paper.

A wise prince should never remain idle in peaceful times, but industriously make good use of them, so that when fortune changes she may find him prepared to resist her blows, and to prevail in adversity.

Another recapitulation of an earlier entry. Time's a wastin' even now. Cardassians' Cousins will succeed whatever victory we may achieve over the Islamofascists. Ya think China's 1.4 billion people will be able to spring forth a nasty army around the year 2050? Ask Russia -- they're planning to resist those blows. That's why Russian chess champs are the world's best strategery masters. They think in terms of decades, and the Chinese think in terms of centuries. Either one could be the next breed of Cardassians. And they ain't kissin' cousins.

There are two ways of fighting: by means of law, and by means of force. The first belongs properly to man; the second to animals, but since the first is often insufficient, it is necessary to resort to the second.

Ranse realized this, finally, with John Wayne's Tom giving him timely lever-action assistance, as the actual man who shot Liberty Valance. Ranse advanced to the Senate, and governorship, with his lawbooks in his briefcase. But what made him governor was the public's belief he had shot Liberty Valance. Laws without arms? Paper cuts don't win freedom; the Minutemen didn't wave lawbooks at the Redcoats, nor did our army Rangers at Point du Hoc. Without good laws propagated by men who can effectively bear arms, chaos reigns as the lawbooks are torn into shreds at the hands of "Liberty" in the frontier. So long as arms are borne only by "Liberty" there can not be political liberty.

The first way to lose your state is to neglect the art of war, to win a state is to be skilled in the art of warfare. / War and its organization is the only act that is necessary to one who commands.

Written well after Sun Tzu's The Art of War but another recapitulation, with that Chinese tome being a business guidebook, along with other classic warfare manuals [try the Marine "Warfighting" manual for further elucidation]. The stakes are no higher than those in which the price is paid in blood and treasure. Which is why Army/Air Force/Marine Captains [Navy Lieutenants] and higher ranks are so valued in the private sector: the price paid in the ranks of blood and treasure as the measure of competence well prepares such talent for the civilian sector. [See Kelly Perdew's latest book on that subject, how he won The Apprentice for being an Army Ranger, and continues to win in the private sector.] Ditto for politics, where if the dems get control of our nation's decisions on how to spend blood and treasure, we are lost, and the world is doomed.

When arms have to be resorted to, go in person and perform the duty of captain.

Thus Dubya realized he needed to visit the troops in Baghdad, even if only symbolically. And landing on that carrier was an expression of his grasp of this principle. Knowing a bit of combat arms' practices and methods helps also. Something Clinton avoided even learning in an ROTC classroom, much less in a Mach-3 interceptor. Ole Billy, our boy-president [and future first-hubby?] did vainly strive to emulate this principle, when he laughingly marched around a grassy meadow with uniformed Marines at his heel.

The arms of others either fall from your back, or they weigh you down, or they bind you fast. / Armor belonging to someone else either drops off you or weighs you down or is too tight.

Thus, another reflection on Washington's Farewell Address telling us to avoid entangling alliances. A brief alliance, serving our own national purpose is fine, for the time required to meet a specific need for our own goals. But again, we arm ourselves, and protect ourselves, and don't expect to fall down with the hope others will intercede. So long as we have the "Marines" [as an all-encompassing metaphor], there will be an America -- and that is where the world will ask for protection. Do we want to be dependent on others, like they are pathetically dependent on us? Will we be picked up by the French? Russians? Chinese? United Nations' blue helmets?

It is better to be impetuous than cautious, for fortune is a woman, and it is necessary to conquer her by force.

As Patton interpreted it, a good plan violently executed right now is superior to waiting and waiting and waiting until you've finalized the Perfect Plan. Liberals won't go into battle until there's a Pluperfect Plan. Thus much of the debate on pre-Iraq planning, or its supposed insufficiency. We'd be still waiting for the Pluperfect Plan, and Fortune would keep Saddam's torture cells in eager production. With all the Pluperfect Planners complaining, Do Something!

One must be a fox in avoiding traps and a lion in frightening wolves.

Even Woody Allen understood there are always Cardassians, and they are not amenable to polite methods, when declaring, Someday it is true that the lamb may lie down with the lion -- but the lamb won't get much sleep. GOPsters must watch carefully for traps -- the latest has snagged us tightly: loss of fiscal restraint as one of our trump cards, giving the dems quite a free reign in the future -- and learn to be robust at intimidating our adversaries [shock-&-awe is just one tactic in support of this principle]. That one's tough: the media won't allow us to have our own Carville or Begala or Dean or Moore, or even Clooney. But we must find a way, and find the persons with the persona to be a likable lion on the TV, radio, internet and other venues. And that's another PhoneBooth issue, for the future -- Gutless Republicans -- but not now.

Nicolo offers so much more, for later. Check Amazon.com for Ledeen's book on Machiavelli for modern leadership, and read the original for your own elucidation. Eighty percent of what you'd learn in four years of poli-sci instruction is in one tiny book, The Prince by Nicolo Machiavelli. Try it -- You'll Like It. And you NEED it, for the coming tortures of truth and justice in the battle for the hearts and minds of Americans, and the control of the greasy pole that is politics.

And let be added a lovely lady GOPster's famous quip, by Clare Booth Luce: No deed goes unpunished.

True,oh so true, for consideration and remembrance by many of fellow GOPsters, might I add, and reiterate. Trotsky was assassinated not by capitalists, but by his Own Kind. In Navy parlance, Watch your six. Nicolo would approve that little addendum.

copyright 2006 Steve Finefrock





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