Politics has no relation to morals

a writing by Katresa Durham

“Politics has no relation to morals”
-Machiavelli-

The whole concept around the ideas of politics has been centered around the main idea of control. In the examination of Polybius and Machiavelli, there are two very different views to consider when it comes to politics. Polybius states there are 6 different cycles and that moral issues merge once the political life has been notated. Machivelli on the other hand says that focusing on the cycle of regimes isn't where the focus of a successful nation lies, because they never go through it twice. Machiavelli's theories are more based on not ruling for the sake of not being ruled, but the success of a nation despite the regimes it might encompass. There is a deep lesson that is embedded in the words of each: what is the importance of the cycle, do the cycles make a successful nature, is there a way for a country to be successful without the politics.

Polybus calls the cycle of politics “anacyclosis”. According to Polybus, this cycle rotates through three basic form of government, democracy, aristocracy, and monarchy and three degenerate forms of each of these governments ochlocracy, oligarchy, and tyranny. Polybus states that these cycles are inevitable and if the rule of man does not destroy it then the law of nature, will.
“Nor again is every oligarchy to be regarded as an aristocracy; the latter exists only where the power is wielded by the justest and wisest men selected on their merits. Similarly, it is not enough to constitute a democracy that the whole crowd of citizens should have the right to do whatever they wish or propose. But where reverence to the gods, succour of parents, respect to elders, obedience to laws, are traditional and habitual, in such communities, if the will of the majority prevail, we may speak of the form of government as a democracy. So then we enumerate six forms of government,—the three commonly spoken of which I have just mentioned, and three more allied forms, I mean despotism, oligarchy and mob-rule. The first of these arises without artificial aid and in the natural order of events. Next to this, and produced from it by the aid of art and adjustment, comes kingship; which degenerating into the evil form allied to it, by which I mean tyranny, both are once more destroyed and aristocracy produced. Again the latter being in the course of nature perverted to oligarchy, and the people passionately avenging the unjust acts of their rulers, democracy comes into existence; which again by its violence and contempt of law becomes sheer mob-rule.1 No clearer proof of the truth of what I say could be obtained than by a careful observation of the natural origin, genesis, and decadence of these several forms of government. For it is only by seeing distinctly how each of them is produced that a distinct view can also be obtained of its growth, zenith, and decadence, and the time, circumstance, and place in which each of these may be expected to recur. This method I have assumed to be especially applicable to the Roman constitution, because its origin and growth have from the first followed natural causes.” (Polybius, book 6)

According to polybius this cycle cannot be avoided, seeing as how the cycle itself is rooted in the very foundation of each nation. This cycle is the very make up of politics itself, it is the nature of people. In order to have a successful nation, the politics have to be successful, for it is better to rule than be ruled. Polybius discusses that the most effective regime would be the one that is mixed. A mixed regime is neither one form of politics nor the other, hence the word mixed. Sparta is noted as the best form of a mixed regime. Sparta took all its’ neighbors flaws and learned how to make a successful regime so powerful that these cycles were absent. Sparta went eight hundred years before falling because it learned how to rule in a way that took the ruling at its weakest point. A successful regime is based on the identification of how to best its opponents. Polybius does state that there is no way around the cycle of politics for the politics themselves are only created out of the common good of the people.


Machiavelli, although understanding the cycle of regimes and the valid points that it reveals, understands that the only reason we have a political system is in the development of a society. Machielli states that in order to truly not fear many things and instead conquer them all, the people group together and create a society. Once a society of people is created then the rules of politics are put into play only to be able to control the stability of the established society. Although Machiavelli can admit the truth of these cycles, he understands that they truly all are awful.
“And this is the cycle through which all states that have governed themselves or that now govern themselves pass; but rarely do they return to the same forms of government, for virtually no state can possess so much vitality that it can sustain so many changes and remain on its feet. But it may well happen that while a state lacking counsel and strength is in difficulty, it becomes subject to a neighboring state which is better organized; but if this were not the case, then a state might be liable to pass endlessly through the cycle of these governments.
Let me say, therefore, that all the forms of government listed are defective: the three good ones because of the brevity of their lives, the three bad ones because of their inherent harmfulness. Thus, those who were prudent in establishing laws recognized this fact and, avoiding each of these forms in themselves, chose one that combined them all, judging such a government to be steadier and more stable, for when there is in the same city-state a principality, an aristocracy, and a democracy, one form keeps watch over the other.
Among those who have deserved great praise for having established such constitutions is Lycurgus, who organized his laws in Sparta in such a manner that, assigning to the king, the aristocrats, and the people their respective roles, he created a state which lasted more than eight hundred years, to his everlasting credit, and resulted in the tranquillity of that city.” (Machiavelli , discourses on livy. Book 1. Chapter 2.)
Machiavelli does see the importance in the mixed regime of sparta and of the powerful men that put themselves in a position to adhere to greatness. Machiavelli notates that Rome was the second most successful city, because of its ability to balance the ruled with the ruling. Machiavelli references Rome as being able to not glorify its’ leader with the balancing of them and the Plebs. There is no greater downfall than glorifying a nation's leaders into deities. The significance of the plebs was the true justice it upheld. The ruled were just as loud as the ones ruling and this created a balance of justice. If politics consists only in one dominant force of trinity in order to stay in dominion with the dominated that this is a incognizant balance. Politics is about humans ruling humans without the true indoctrination of freedom. Rome had the understanding that in order to have a successful city, you needed a lot of people. In adding the plebs to balance out those in power, created a sense of energy that gave each person a voice to acknowledge. In doing so created a systematic sequence of balance.

In the previous paragraphs there is a common identification of the importance of politics and the regimes that make them. Societies are made so that people feel safe and each of these societies require organization in the forms of ruling them. Polybius states that these cycles are natural and that there is no real way around them. Machiavelli states that these politics are only in place for the balance itself, but the growth of the society is what is more important and that these cycles lead to the complete downfall of each successful nation. Is there a way to completely dissociate from this historical notation that runs in a chaotic circle with itself; do we absolutely need politics?
“Whoever takes upon him to reform the government of a city, must, if his measures are to be well received and carried out with general approval, preserve at least the semblance of existing methods, so as not to appear to the people to have made any change in the old order of things; although, in truth, the new ordinances differ altogether from those which they replace. For when this is attended to, the mass of mankind accept what seems as what is; nay, are often touched more nearly by appearances than by realities.” (Book I, Chapter 25)
Machivelli says here that if anyone would seek to make a change, they have to complete the action in a way that doesn't arouse suspicion. We cannot just completely dismantle a system that took hundreds of years to build. The concepts that both Machivelli and Polybius identified were gratitude and virtue. Rome and Sparta were successful because the people believed so much in their freedom that they would die for it. The cycle of politics biggest control mechanism was driving with fear and religion.
“For had not this religion of ours been brought back to its original condition by Saint Francis and Saint Dominic, it must soon have been utterly extinguished. They, however, by their voluntary poverty, and by their imitation of the life of Christ, rekindled in the minds of men the dying flame of faith; and by the efficacious rules which they established averted from our Church that ruin which the ill lives of its prelates and heads must otherwise have brought upon it.” (Book III, Chapter 1)
Religion gave hope to the people that had none and became a beacon of light for the city. Religion is how they kept the society in the hands of fear. The people couldn't bear to lose their freedom and their soul, so these two concepts became the entire realm of each person's reality. So is it adherenalty possible to be able to create a society that is completely based on the ideas of freedom and gratitude without having to abide by control tactics, fear, or the cycle of politics?
“In support of what has been said above, I might cite innumerable instances, as of Moses, Lycurgus, Solon, and other founders of kingdoms and commonwealths, who, from the full powers given them, were enabled to shape their laws to the public advantage; but passing over these examples, as of common notoriety, I take one, not indeed so famous, but which merits the attention of all who desire to frame wise laws. Agis, King of Sparta, desiring to bring back his countrymen to those limits within which the laws of Lycurgus had held them, because he thought that, from having somewhat deviated from them, his city had lost much of its ancient virtue and, consequently much of its strength and power, was, at the very outset of his attempts, slain by the Spartan Ephori, as one who sought to make himself a tyrant. But Cleomenes coming after him in the kingdom, and, on reading the notes and writings which he found of Agis wherein his designs and intentions were explained, being stirred by the same desire, perceived that he could not confer this benefit on his country unless he obtained sole power. For he saw that the ambition of others made it impossible for him to do what was useful for many against the will of a few. Wherefore, finding fit occasion, he caused the Ephori and all others likely to throw obstacles in his way, to be put to death; after which, he completely renewed the laws of Lycurgus. And the result of his measures would have been to give fresh life to Sparta, and to gain for himself a renown not inferior to that of Lycurgus, had it not been for the power of the Macedonians and the weakness of the other Greek States. For while engaged with these reforms, he was attacked by the Macedonians, and being by himself no match for them, and having none to whom he could turn for help, he was overpowered; and his plans, though wise and praiseworthy, were never brought to perfection.
All circumstances considered, I conclude that he who gives new institutions to a State must stand alone; and that for the deaths of Remus and Tatius, Romulus is to be excused rather than blamed.” (Book 1, chapter 9)
Machivelli claims that it is necessary to be alone in order to truly see something clear, disassociating from all known identities and worlds previously known. No great man, leader, or author ever simply created something magical from asserting its dominance from another man's ideas, but instead in recreation of its truth. It is true that if you want something then it is better to take it with force than to simply entertain its outlandish theories. It has already been notated, however, that to truly recreate a better vision, one must not arouse suspicion. One must seclude himself away and address every history ever told and simply acknowledge the truth within it. All great ideas are brought in the silence and disconnect of the human experience, to truly listen to the pure energy around you. When polybius mentions that if the cycle of politics does not end itself, then the law of nature will. Outside the laws of rule, in the law of nature there is no such thing as good or bad. The world is arranged in such a fluctuating way that you have to break a few eggs to make an omelet. There is an illuminating concept when Romulous kills his brother, for what he did was for the sake of a free society. All morality is a self defense mechanism that we arrive at in order to protect ourselves. Both Polybius and Machivelli adhered to gratitude and the virtue within it. The act of gratitude was a sense of justice for one's own existence. In order to completely raise a new era of gratitude and virtue, one must not be centered in the idea of control. Religion played a role in forcing an idea of what was important, in order to have everything in balance. The true law of nature indicates that nothing is ever truly important and that life will always be chaotically neutral. The sun will shine whether any human is here on this planet or not. In order to truly bring upon a new era the human process and existence needs to be centered in life, not control. The ruling and being ruled has to end. Ths spartans mixed regime showed us that there is a way around falling, but it also held that the moment its size became too big it was its downfall. In order to have a complete unit of life, each regime has to be centered in balance and in gratitude. It has to take every piece of knowledge and focus it in the eyes of harmony. Each civilization has fallen due to the same basic principles.
“Men always praise ancient times, but not pleasantly.” “Who praises the past? The old.”
There is a way to make a harmonious unit detached from fear, control, or politics. It simply must be deciphered by those who are dissociated from the ideas that have repeated mistakes, it must be virtuous and harmonious with acknowledgement to man and nature.

“Politics has no relation to morals.”

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