You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2011 07 05Article 212751

Opinions of Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Columnist: Amenga-Etego, SaCut

If Ghana were a Machiavellian Republic

Everybody knows- or think they
know- what Machiavelli Nicolo the Italian political philosopher’s work is
about. He claimed that what Christopher Columbus did for geography, he’ll do
for politics. In other words, he set out to found, discover or invent a new
modern state. I set out to situate Ghana in a Machiavellian republic scenario
according to my understanding of ‘the PRINCE’, his most famous book which is
seen as the ‘BIBLE OF REAL POLITIK’ and whose words have guided and inspired
not only modern political animals, but also business men and strategists, as
the ultimate guide to winning and maintaining power in a dangerous, deceptive,
disloyal, opportunistic world- the real world.

Nicolo
Machiavelli grew up with parents fromthe Florentine nobility as an Italian power
under the guidance of Lorenzo de' Medici, Il Magnifico. The downfall of the
Medici in Florence occurred in 1494, bringing in the fervent and austere
Savonarola who took over the rule of Florence in which year Machiavelli entered
the public service.From 1494
to 1512, he held an official post at Florence which included diplomatic
missions to
Various
European courts.During his official career
working with Savonarola, Florence was free under the government of a Republic,
which lasted until 1512, when the Medici returned to power, and removed
Machiavelli from his office. Savonarola’s attempt to impose a kind of THEOCRACY-
a Christian republic of virtue- on the people of Florence caused loss of power
to the Medici who again ruled Florence from 1512 until 1527, when they were
once more driven out. After several years of practice and study of statecraft,
Machiavelli has crafted the idea of the modern democratic state which many
argue is a fulfillment of his promise to do for politics what Machael Angelo
did for art or what Christopher Columbus did for geography (although Cristobal
Columbus have been found to be a liar as the Indians and other peoples had long
discovered and settled in the West indies before Columbus ever set sail).


What is the nature of the character of the
PRINCE in a Machiavellian republic? In chapter VI he makes it clear that in the
real world of politics, a prudent ruler must always follow in the footsteps of
great men who have been outstanding. If his own prowess fails to compare with
theirs, at least it has an air of greatness about it. The prudent Prince must
behave like those archers who, if they are skilful, when the target seem too
distant, know the capability of their bow and aim a good deal higher than their
objective, not in order to shoot so high but so that by aiming high they can
reach the target. Therefore, in a state where the ruler is completely a new
comer -such as president Mills of Ghana- (emphasis is mine), the difficulty he
encounters in maintaining his power is more or less serious insofar as he is
more or less able.’ By aiming and working to prove that he is his own man; not
needing to learn from those who have been outstanding such as NDC founder and former
president of Ghana, can we say that President
Mills have been prudent?. Again, I double doubt it. After all, Machiavellian republic,
the leader believes the ‘ends will justify the means’. If president Mills
discards President Rawlings his mentor to please his critics and eventually lose
power as a result, could this be considered prudent? No!

According to Machiavelli, a ruler comes to
power in a ‘constitutional principality’ either through his own prowess or good
fortune. So that if President Mills came to power on his own prowess, then he
should have no difficulty in maintaining power. However, if he came to power
through good fortune- either by the aid of the nobles or the people- both of
which classes exists in every polis, principality, republic or state with two
opposing dispositions- the people merely wants to be left alone, not to be
oppressed by the nobles whiles the nobles constantly seek to dominate and
oppress the people. ‘If the people find they cannot withstand the nobles’
Mchiavelli says in chapter nine (9) of the PRINCE, ‘they increase the standing
of one of their own, and they make him prince in order to be protected by his
authority. The nobles in the same way if they see they cannot withstand the
people, they start to increase the standing of one of their own numbers and
make him prince in order to be able to achieve their own ends under his cloak’.
If the people become hostile to the leader, he will surely be deserted. But if
the nobles become hostile to the ruler, he must fear active opposition and
resistance. Therefore, in a Machiavellian republic, the ruler must either be
with the people or with the nobles to maintain his power. The prudent ruler
will stand with the people who have the greatest power to increase or decrease
his standing at will. Where does president Mills stand? Does he stand with the
people or with the nobles? I guess he’s confused.

In
Machiavelli’s code of conduct for the prudent ruler, he outlines the conduct
for a leader towards subjects and friends. ‘Since it has been my intention to write
something which shall be useful
to him who apprehends it, it appears to me more appropriate to follow up the
real truth of the matter than the imagination of it; for many have pictured
republics, principalities and states such as a ‘father for all’ republic
(emphasis is mine) which in fact have never been known or seen, because how one
lives is so far distant from how one ought to live, that he who neglects what
is done for what ought to be done, sooner effects his ruin than his
preservation; for a man who wishes to act entirely up to his professions of
virtue soon meets with what destroys him among so much that is evil’.
So: it is necessary for a leader wishing to
hold his own, to know how to do wrong, and to make use of it or not according
to necessity. Therefore, putting aside imaginary things concerning leaders, and
discussing those which are real, Machiavelli says that all leaders when they
are praised by the people or condemned, it is because one is reputed liberal,
another miserly, one is
reputed generous, one rapacious; one cruel, one compassionate; one faithless,
another faithful; one effeminate and cowardly, another bold and brave; one
affable, another haughty; one lascivious, another chaste; one sincere, another
cunning; one hard, another easy; one grave, another frivolous; one religious,
another unbelieving, and the like.
He goes on to say that it would be most
praiseworthy in a leader to exhibit all the above qualities that are considered
good; but because they can neither be entirely possessed nor observed, for
human conditions do not permit it, it is necessary for him to be sufficiently
prudent that he may know how to avoid the reproach of those vices which would lose
him his state; and also to keep himself, if it be possible, from those which
would not lose him it; but this not being possible, he may with less hesitation
abandon himself to them. And again, he need not make himself uneasy at
incurring a reproach for those vices without which the state can only be saved
with difficulty, for if everything is considered carefully, it will be found
that something which looks like virtue, if followed, would be his ruin;( such
as a ‘father for all’ republic) whilst something else, which looks like vice
(such as properly investigating and prosecuting killings, economic malfeasance,
etc of the immediate past NPP regime plus discriminating and satisfying party
foot soldiers in public jobs, contracts and appointments) yet, when followed
brings him security and prosperity.
Being
effeminate but cunning has drawn much condemnation to President Mills in the
past two years. His imaginary ‘father for all’ virtue has ended up dividing the
NDC party and truncated Ghana’s progress for over two years. His insistence on
being imaginary instead of dealing with the ‘effectual truth of things’ has
left him basking in moral illusions whiles the reality draws him further away
from retaining his hold on power.
On whether or not leaders should keep their
word, Machiavelli says in the PRINCE, ‘Every one admits how praiseworthy it is
in a leader to keep faith, and to live with integrity and not with craft.
Nevertheless our experience has been that those princes who have done great
things have held good faith of little account, and have known how to circumvent
the intellect of men by craft, and in the end have overcome those who have
relied on their word. You must know there are two ways of contesting; the one
by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second
to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary
to have recourse to the second. Therefore it is necessary for a prince to
understand how to avail himself of the beast and the man. This has been figuratively
taught to leaders by ancient writers, who describe how Achilles and many other
princes of old were given to the Centaur Chiron (half man, half horse) to
nurse, who brought them up in his discipline; which means solely that, as they
had for a teacher one who was half beast and half man, so it is necessary for a
leader to know how to make use of both natures, and that one without the other
is not durable. A leader, therefore, being compelled knowingly to adopt the
beast, ought to choose the fox and the lion; because the lion cannot defend
himself against snares and the fox cannot defend himself against wolves.
Therefore, it is necessary to be a fox to discover the snares and a lion to
terrify the wolves. Those who rely simply on the lion do not understand what
they are about. After all, he says, there will ever be wanting to a leader
legitimate reason to excuse this non-observance. On this score, there are
questions as to whether or not president Mills has succeeded in blending very
well these twin natures of the Centaur Chiron to make him a complete leader
capable of sustaining his power. But there is certainly no question regarding
the deceiving nature of the president who has even succeeded in making people believe
he is such a ‘holy’ man when indeed, he has been unable to practically
demonstrate that virtue in his leadership.

But it
is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a
great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to
present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who
will allow himself to be deceived. One recent example I cannot pass over in
silence.

Machiavelli asks in the PRINCE ‘Do you think anyone
can govern innocently? By trying to avoid the problem of dirty hands, a ruler
will be very naïve.’ He goes on to say that ‘those who want to enter politics
must be prepared to leave their scruples at the door.’ Therefore, going by this,
there is only one law in the game of politics- ‘the expediency of temporary
alliances’…It
is a zero sum game. There are winners and there are losers. There is the strong
and BOLD REALIST who sees things the way they are, and the WEAK IDEALIST who
require the comfort of moral illusions. Is a ‘father for all’ republic ideal or
real? If it was real, I double doubt the NDC party and government would be in
this present quagmire. Where is the real and true leadership from president
Mills that should have averted all this present happenings in the NDC?

And can be explained by the quality of the appointees
of the President? Many believe that President Mills took for granted the all
important aspect of maintaining his power. In the PRINCE XXII, Machiavelli
says, ‘the choice of servants is of no little
importance to a leader, and they are good or not according to the discrimination
(reshuffling) of the leader. And the first opinion which one forms of a prince,
and of his understanding, is by observing the men he has around him; and when
they are capable and faithful he may always be considered wise, because he has
known how to recognize the capable and to keep them faithful. But when they are
otherwise one cannot form a good opinion of him, for the prime error which he
made was in choosing them.’ What does the people around president Mills tell us
about him? Are they the most capable and
intelligent or just the most loyal? ‘Because there are three classes of
intellects of people to be chosen from by the leader to serve in his government
from the nation: one which comprehends by itself; another which appreciates
what others comprehended; and a third which neither comprehends by itself nor
by the showing of others; the first is the most excellent, the second is good,
the third is useless. In my books, there are a few people from the first class
of intellect in the government of Mills. There another few people from the
second class of intellect. The majority of the appointees in Mills’ government
are in the third class which has been described above- a class which neither
comprehends
neither by itself nor by the showing of others. So: a few excellent ones, a few
good, a lot of useless ones. Why then is preventing President from
discriminating or as it were, reshuffling to refine and end up with an
excellent team? Perhaps, when NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS wins and assumes leadership
of the NDC, where she becomes an automatic member of cabinet- only then will
there be a proper reshuffling in this government.

Flatterers
and sycophants are a threat to anyone with power. They can eventually become usurpers.
Machiavelli says ‘Flatterers are a danger from which leaders are with
difficulty preserved, unless they’re very careful and discriminating, forthere is no
other way of a leader can safeguard himself from
flatterers except letting people around you understand that to tell you the
truth does not offend you; but when everyone may tell you the truth, respect
for you abates’.

There is
no doubt in my mind that flatterers have been a bane to President Mills’
leadership in the last two and a half years. He hasn’t done as Machiavelli said, ‘A
wise
leader ought to hold a third course by choosing the wise men in his state, and
giving to them only the liberty of speaking the truth to him, and then only of
those things of which he inquires, and of none others; but he ought to question
them upon everything, and listen to their opinions, and afterwards form his own
conclusions. With these councilors, separately and collectively, he ought to
carry himself in such a way that each of them should know that, the more freely
he shall speak, the more he shall be preferred; outside of these, he should
listen to no one, pursue the thing resolved on, and be steadfast in his
resolutions. He who does otherwise is either overthrown by flatterers, or is so
often changed by varying opinions that he falls into contempt.’
There is
again no doubt in my mind that President Mills has rather chosen to give
liberty to flatterers to advise him rather than those who will tell him the
‘effectual
truth’ of things. Or rather, the truth
hurts president Mills so much that he prefers to be flattered. And by all
indications, these flatters and usurpers such as the Ato Ahwois, the Totobi
Kwakye’s, the Koku Anyidohos etc. etc,- who all have never run for political
office before- as well as people like Nii Lantey Vandapuye who run for NDC
national youth organizer against Haruna Iddrisu in the Bolgatanga NDC youth
congress in 2004 where he miserably lost by gaining only 16 votes despite the
party founder’s open opposition to the incumbent youth organizer in favor of
him because of his outright incompetence- all these people are flattering him
all the way to Sunyani. These ill-advisors plus other ‘hidden hands’ are so
artful at flattering that they have even managed to convince an effeminate,
non-enduring and a not exactly confident and a seemingly ailing President Mills-
that even though he has not been able to inspire the mass following of the NDC,
he has not been BOLD, principled and resolute enough to serve justice, He has
allowed the opposition NPP to continue to reign and control things, he has not
been able to hold accountable past government officials like the NPP did in
2001, he has woefully failed to unify the party after dividing it, though he
hasn’t had the endurance or will throughout this period of campaign to
personally visit all constituencies, and would be unable to withstand the ‘all
die be die’ violent tactics of the NPP in 2012- that despite all these and
mores charges against Mills’ candidature, the discerning NDC delegates will
retain him as leader in Sunyani at the risk of losing power in the next general
elections- even if president Rawlings the NDC founder refuses to campaign for
him as he has already indicated. And despite the golden opportunity the NDC
delegates have in NANA KONADU AGYEMAN-RAWLINGS the boldest candidate for the NDC
to face and defeat the NPP and Nana Akuffo Addo in 2012. The delegates have
seen the endurance in NANA KONADU during this period. They have felt her sincerity.
They have been invigorated by her charisma. They know she is the real deal.
Therefore, if Ghana were a Machiavellian Republic, the NDC Congress in Sunyani
will be the ground were the flatterers will bring President Mills to his Knees
as all indication show that the honorable NDC delegates are ready to demonstrate
resolutely their belief in the original and true ideals and values of the
AFRC/PNDC/NDC movement by overwhelmingly endorsing the credible and BOLD NANA
KONADU AGYEMAN- RAWLINGS our only true hope for a victory in the 2012 general
election.
SaCut
Amenga-Etego
NDC
Youth activist