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Posts Tagged ‘Machiavelli

“Thugs fretting under the restraints of a not very thick skin of civilization”*…

 

… The history of “thug” goes back not just to the hip-hop scene of the 1990s, to Tupac Shakur and the “Thug Life” tattoo that stretched, arc-like, across his abdomen; it goes back to India—to the India, specifically, of the 1350s.”Thug” comes from the Hindi thuggee or tuggee (pronounced “toog-gee” or “toog”); it is derived from the word ठग, or ṭhag, which means “deceiver” or “thief” or “swindler.” The Thugs, in India, were a gang of professional thieves and assassins who operated from the 14th century and into the 19th. They worked, in general, by joining travelers, gaining their trust … and then murdering them—strangulation was their preferred method—and stealing their valuables…

Who is a thug? Who is not a thug? “The thug,” the Brown University professor Tricia Rose writes in her book The Hip Hop Wars, “both represents a product of discriminatory conditions, and embodies behaviors that injure the very communities from which it comes.” Thugs, in this conception, are both victims and agents of injustice. They are both the products and the producers of violence, and mayhem, and outrage. So it is fitting that, as the word’s history suggests, there is—contrary to [Baltimore] Mayor Rawlings-Blake’s claims last [week]—a kind of universality to thuggery. Thugs are not necessarily “evil”; thugs are not necessarily opposed to “the will of good”; thugs are not necessarily unsympathetic. Which is another way of saying that thugs are human. And, being such, they evolve. Mark Twain, in Following the Equator, noted that all of human history, on some level, has found “Thugs fretting under the restraints of a not very thick skin of civilization.”

Twain continues…

The joy of killing! the joy of seeing killing done–these are traits of the human race at large. We white people are merely modified Thugs; Thugs fretting under the restraints of a not very thick skin of civilization; Thugs who long ago enjoyed the slaughter of the Roman arena, and later the burning of doubtful Christians by authentic Christians in the public squares, and who now, with the Thugs of Spain and Nimes, flock to enjoy the blood and misery of the bull-ring. We have no tourists of either sex or any religion who are able to resist the delights of the bull-ring when opportunity offers; and we are gentle Thugs in the hunting-season, and love to chase a tame rabbit and kill it. Still, we have made some progress–microscopic, and in truth scarcely worth mentioning, and certainly nothing to be proud of–still it is progress: we no longer take pleasure in slaughtering or burning helpless men. We have reached a little altitude where we may look down upon the Indian Thugs with a complacent shudder; and we may even hope for a day, many centuries hence, when our posterity will look down upon us in the same way.
Following the Equator

More at “The History of ‘Thug’.”

* Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World

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As we examine our etymology, we might send crafty birthday greetings to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli; he was born on this date in 1469.  Machiavelli wrote comedies, poetry, and some of the best-known personal correspondence in Italian; but he is best remembered as a Man of Affairs, first as a servant of the Florentine Republic in a time during which Medici influence was on the wane, then as an adviser to the Medici.  His most famous work, The Prince— first published as a pamphlet in 1513– was written mid-career to gain favor with the Medici, who were at that point regaining dominance in Florence.  The essay on the exercise of power (inspired by Cesare Borgia) not only failed to win over the Medici, it alienated Machiavelli from the Florentine public; he never again played an important role in government.  Indeed, when the Florentine Republic was established in 1527, Machiavelli was effectively ostracized.

But published in book form posthumously (in 1532), The Prince began its steady growth in influence.  And of course today, Machiavelli is considered one of the fathers of modern political theory… if not indeed a philosopher of thuggery.

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

 source

Written by LW

May 3, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Thou hast set all the borders of the earth”*…

 

email readers click here for video

Changeable Europe:  a (largely, if not entirely accurate; still, informative) animated/timelapse look at how drastically European borders have evolved over the last 1000 years.

(Click the Vimeo logo in the player above, or here, for a larger version.)

* Psalms 74:17

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As we doubt whether good fences make good neighbors, we might wish a crafty Happy Birthday to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli; he was born on this date in 1469.  Machiavelli wrote comedies, poetry, and some of the best-known personal correspondence in Italian; but he is best remembered as a Man of Affairs, first as a servant of the Florentine Republic in a time during which Medici influence was on the wane.  His most famous work, The Prince— first published as a pamphlet in 1513– was written mid-career to gain favor with the Medici, who were at that point regaining dominance in Florence.  The essay on the exercise of power (inspired by Cesare Borgia) not only failed to win over the Medici, it alienated Machiavelli from the Florentine public; he never again played an important role in government.  Indeed, when the Florentine Republic was established in 1527, Machiavelli was effectively ostracized.

But published in book form posthumously (in 1532), The Prince began its steady growth in influence.  And of course today, Machiavelli is considered one of the fathers of modern political theory.

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito

source

 

Written by LW

May 3, 2014 at 1:01 am

Freudian Slips…

From Fox News, announcing the big news story of May 1, 2011:

BREAKING NEWS
Obama Bin Laden Dead

Still, Happy World Press Freedom Day!

***

As we remember that, to paraphrase Craig Newmark, a free press is the immune system of a democracy, we might wish a crafty Happy Birthday to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli; he was born on this date in 1469.  Machiavelli wrote comedies, poetry, and some of the best-known personal correspondence in Italian; but he is best remembered as a Man of Affairs, first as a servant of the Florentine Republic in a time during which Medici influence was on the wane.  His most famous work, The Prince— first published as a pamphlet in 1513– was written mid-career to gain favor with the Medici, who were at that point regaining dominance in Florence.  The essay on the exercise of power (inspired by Cesare Borgia) not only failed to win over the Medici, it alienated Machiavelli from the Florentine public; he never again played an important role in government.  Indeed, when the Florentine Republic was established in 1527, Machiavelli was effectively ostracized.

But published in book form posthumously (in 1532), The Prince began its steady growth in influence.  And of course today, Machiavelli is considered one of the fathers of modern political theory.

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito (source)

Your correspondent is a few too many time zones away to allow for timely posting of a new missives; so this is a note from a May 3 pastregular service should resume May 6


Written by LW

May 3, 2012 at 1:01 am

Freudian Slips…

From Fox News, announcing the big news story of May 1:

BREAKING NEWS
Obama Bin Laden Dead

Still, Happy World Press Freedom Day!

As we remember that, to paraphrase Craig Newmark, a free press is the immune system of a democracy, we might wish a crafty Happy Birthday to Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli; he was born on this date in 1469.  Machiavelli wrote comedies, poetry, and some of the best-known personal correspondence in Italian; but he is best remembered as a Man of Affairs, first as a servant of the Florentine Republic in a time during which Medici influence was on the wane.  His most famous work, The Prince— first published as a pamphlet in 1513– was written mid-career to gain favor with the Medici, who were at that point regaining dominance in Florence.  The essay on the exercise of power (inspired by Cesare Borgia) not only failed to win over the Medici, it alienated Machiavelli from the Florentine public; he never again played an important role in government.  Indeed, when the Florentine Republic was established in 1527, Machiavelli was effectively ostracized.

But published in book form posthumously (in 1532), The Prince began its steady growth in influence.  And indeed today, Machiavelli is considered one of the fathers of modern political theory.

Niccolò Machiavelli by Santi di Tito (source)

Yaka-Wow!…

Rubik’s Cube for the Blind (via Yanko Design, which readers will remember)

On an obliquely-related front, from the ever-illuminating World Wide Words:

In what seems to have been a mixture of rueful admission
of error and pleasure in accidental accomplishment, the Times noted
on 23 April that a transcription error in an interview on 15 April
with the neuroscientist Baroness Greenfield has gone viral. She was
concerned that excessive playing of computer games or using social
networks such as Twitter would stop the malleable brains of young
people developing as they should: “It’s not going to destroy the
planet but is it going to be a planet worth living in if you have a
load of breezy people who go around saying yaka-wow. Is that the
society we want?” Within 24 hours, it is said, Google had 75,000
results for “yaka-wow”. It has inspired a Twitter stream, a page on
Facebook, mugs and T-shirts; it has become a personal philosophy:
“I think, therefore I yaka-wow”; and it has led to the creation of
the virtual First Church of the Yaka-Wow. What Baroness Greenfield
really said was “yuck and wow”, a derogatory comment about the
limited emotional range and vocabulary of Twitter users. Considered
linguistically and culturally, it’s a fascinating example of the
way electronic communications can today create and transmit a new
word.

As we coin ’em as fast as we can, we might recall that it was on this date in 1469 that civil servant, philosopher, and father of political science Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli was born.  Machiavelli served the Florentine Republic; in 1498, after the ouster and execution of Girolamo Savonarola, the Great Council elected Machiavelli as Secretary to the second Chancery– the blunt instrument replaced by the sharp…

But Machiavelli is, of course, best known for his short “how to” book on political power, The Prince.  Written in 1513, it was only privately circulated during Machiavelli’s life; but it was published publicly in 1532, five years after his death– and has had such an impact on our understanding of the cynical exercise of political power that “Machiavellian” has become a widely-understood adjective.

Niccolò Machiavelli

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