Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Thoughts on a New Mayor's First Full Day in Office

'A city is not an extended family. That is a tribe or a clan. A city is a collection of disparate families who agree to a fiction: they agree to live as if they were as close in blood or ties of kinship as in fact they are in physical proximity...A city is a place where ties of proximity, activity and self-interest assume the role of family ties.'
--the late A. Bartlett Giammatti, president of Yale University, in 1989.

'When a private citizen becomes prince of his native city, not through wickedness or some other intolerable violence, but by the favor of his fellow citizens, I say that one ascends to that position either through the favor of the people or through the favor of the nobility, because in every city, these two humors are found. And this arises from the fact that the people desire not to be commanded or oppressed by the great, while the great desire to command and oppress the people. And from these two opposed appetites, there arises in cities one of three effects: either princely rule, or liberty or license...He who attains princely rule with the help of the great will maintain his position with greater difficulty than he who becomes prince with the help of the people, because he finds himself to be prince amidst many who think themselves his equals, and for this reason he is unable to command and manage them to his liking. But he who attains princely rule through the favor of the people finds himself later alone, and has no one or very few around him who are not ready to obey him.'
--The Prince, by Niccolo Machiavelli

1 Comments:

At 10:11 PM, Blogger Daniella said...

John,

I stated to read this post and kept saying to myself, My God this sounds like Machievelli, and then I think of Venezia and it all sounded so Italian...I think I was born in the wrong time.

Wonderful déja vue. Thanks

 

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