Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Machiavelli , Not Hobbes

This might not necessarily be relevant to this discussion of Hobbes and Globalization by Peter A. Thiel and James Poulos, but this idea didn't really start with Hobbes:
For Hobbes, the natural state must be replaced by an artificial or virtual world over which humans have full mastery and control.

Hobbes got it from Bacon, who in turn got it from Machiavelli. People often focus on his colorful phrase:
fortune is a woman, and if you wish to keep her under it is necessary to beat and ill-use her; and it is seen that she allows herself to be mastered by the adventurous rather than by those who go to work more coldly.

But earlier he writes:
I compare her to one of those raging rivers, which when in flood overflows the plains, sweeping away trees and buildings, bearing away the soil from place to place; everything flies before it, all yield to its violence, without being able in any way to withstand it; and yet, though its nature be such, it does not follow therefore that men, when the weather becomes fair, shall not make provision, both with defences and barriers, in such a manner that, rising again, the waters may pass away by canal, and their force be neither so unrestrained nor so dangerous. So it happens with fortune, who shows her power where valour has not prepared to resist her, and thither she turns her forces where she knows that barriers and defences have not been raised to constrain her.

Certainly sounds like the seeds of the idea that "the natural state must be replaced by an artificial or virtual world over which humans have full mastery and control" to me.

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