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Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527) var pioner i politikforskningen. Fra 1498 til 1512 var han ansat som sekretær for Firenzes byråd og og desuden travlt beskæftiget som diplomat i bl.a. Rom og Paris. Mens samtidens filosoffer og kunstnere dyrkede den antike græsk-romerske tradition på deres respektive områder, sekulariserede Machiavelli det fag, der senere blev til statskundskab ved at flytte opmærksomheden fra Guds vilje og menneskenes fromhed til de regerendes handlekraft. Motivet i hans politiske indsats og derefter i hans politiske skrifter var patriotisme. Italien bestod af en mængde mindre stater, der blev invaderet og domineret af tyskere, franskmænd og spaniere, og Machiavelli fremhævede derfor oldtidens romerske republik, der byggede på borgernes pligtfølelse og sammenhold.

År 1512 blev det republikanske styre i Firenze styrtet af Medici-slægten, der fremover herskede enevældigt. Macchiavelli blev arresteret, mishandlet og derpå forvist til sit landsted Albergaccio en halv snes kilometer syd for byen. Her skrev han de tre bøger, der har bevaret hans navn som en af de betydeligte italienske forfattere: “Fyrsten”, “Krigens kunst” og en kommentar til den romerske historiker Titus Livius.
Albergaccio er i dag en vinproducerende virksomhed med restaurant. Machiavellis arbejdsværelse er her bevaret og kan besigtiges af gæsterne.

Torben S. Hansen (©tekst og fotos)

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Kirken Santa Croce i Firenze. Her er Machiavelli begravet.

Hvem er  Oswald Spengler ?

altså ikke den tyske filosof, men  pseudonymet der har skrevet The Complete Spengler i Asia times  i en del år ? Ikke mange ved det. Han er  midaldrende  eller  ældre, af ukendt nationalitet, formentlig  angelsaksisk, bekendende  kristen og så konservativ at det gør noget. Pseudonymet er  ironisk ment, da han  afskyr den tyske  filosofs racisme, pessimisme  og bioligisme.  Det  var  David Gress der  gjorde  opmærksom på ham i Jyllands Posten forleden. Han er noget af en myte med tusindvis af Google  hits.  Det ville være  nærliggende at gribe  fat i  noget han har skrevet om Danmark, Islam, ytringsfrihed eller Kierkegaard (der  sammen med  Goethe, Biblen og Clausewitz er hans primære referencerammer) , men jeg er  i stedet faldet over et essay om moderne  kunst med den herlige tiltel:

Admit it – you really hate modern art
By Spengler

There are esthetes who appreciate the cross-eyed cartoons of Pablo Picasso, the random dribbles of Jackson Pollock, and even the pickled pigs of Damien Hirst. Some of my best friends are modern artists. You, however, hate and detest the 20th century’s entire output in the plastic arts, as do I.”I don’t know much about art,” you aver, “but I know what I like.” Actually you don’t. You have been browbeaten into feigning pleasure at the sight of so-called art that actually makes your skin crawl, and you are afraid to admit it for fear of seeming dull. This has gone on for so long that you have forgotten your ownmind. Do not fear: in a few minutes’ reading I can break the spell and liberate you from this unseemly condition. First of all, understand that you are not alone.  [..]

The Lord of the Flies is an appropriate benchmark for the movement. Thomas Mann in his novel Doktor Faustus tells the story of a composer based mainly on Arnold Schoenberg, whom resentment drives to make a pact with the Devil. Mann’s protagonist cannot create, so out of rancor sets out to “take back” the works of Ludwig van Beethoven, by writing atonal lampoons of them that will destroy the listener’s ability to hear the original.

Many critics maintain that Picasso’s famous painting originally named “The Bordello at Avignon” (Les Demoiselles d’Avignon) was the single most influential modernist statement. In this painting Picasso lampooned El Greco’s great work The Vision of St John. Picasso reduces the horror of the opening of the Fifth Seal in the Book of Revelation to a display of female flesh in a whorehouse.  Picasso is trying to “take back” El Greco, by corrupting our capacity to see the original.

By inflicting sufficient ugliness upon us, the modern artists believe, they will wear down our capacity to see beauty. That, I think, is the point of putting dead animals into glass cases, or tanks of formaldehyde. But I am open-minded; there might be some value to this artistic technique after all. If Damien Hirst were to undertake a self-portrait in formaldehyde, I would be the first to subscribe to a commission.

Asia Times Oswald Spengler, columnist (jeg afstår fra  at bringe nogle  nylige  kunstbilleder jeg har taget, da jeg ikke vil have   sagsanlæg fra fornærmede kunstnere). Men her er det  på sin plads at gøre opmærksom på dagens interview  med en anden “gammel, sur, hvid mand”,  Dr. Dalrymple i Washington Times: Necessary prejudice

Ayaan Hirsi Ali back in the Netherlands

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is back in the Netherlands, and wants to settle here, according to the newspaper NRC Handelsblad.  She left the country for the United States afer she had spoken out sharply against conservative Muslims. That led to a series of threats, which meant she had to be heavily protected while in the United States.

The US has been billing the Dutch government for the cost of this protection, but Justice Minister Hirsch Ballin is no longer willing to pay for it. For the time being, Hirsi Ali has been taken to a safe house at a secret address.The American authorities cannot take over the protection of Hirsi Ali because US law does not permit it. Therefore she has returned to the Netherlands, where she can continue her work for the conservative thinktank the American Enterprise Institute.   Radio Netherlands

Milton Friedman’s Last Interview

In talking about the Scandinavian “third way”, he also acknowledged that “a competitive market is not the whole of society. A great deal depends on the qualities of the population and the nation in how they organize the non-market aspects of society.” His argument was that the small sizeand relative homogeneity of Scandinavian countries enabled them to cooperate and reach consensus in a way that larger, less homogeneous societies could not. Markets, he said, were one way to enable people who hate or dislike each other to work together.  Huffington Post

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