Machiavelli's preferences are always disciplined by
There is no way, Machiavelli believes, to solve all or even most human
Beyond and superior to his preference among the forms
of government, Machiavelli projects his ideal of "liberty". For any
given group of people, "liberty", as Machiavelli uses the word, means:
independence - that is, no external subjection to another group; and
internally, a government by law, not by arbitrary will of any
individual men, princes or commoners.
Independence, the first condition of liberty, can be
secured in the last analysis only by the armed strength of the
citizenry itself, never by mercenaries or allies or money;
consequently, arms are the first foundations of liberty. There is no
lasting safeguard for liberty in anything but one's own strength.
Internally, also, liberty rests on force - on the
public force of the state, however, never on force exercised by
private individuals or groups, which is invariably a direct threat to
liberty. Guaranteed by force, then, internal government means
government by law, with strict adherence to due legal process.
As protectors of liberty, Machiavelli has no confidence
in individual men as such; driven by unlimited ambition, deceiving
even themselves, they are corrupted by power. But individuals can, to
some extent at least and for a while, be disciplined within the
established framework of laws.
A great deal of Discourses is a commentary on
this problem. In chapter after chapter, Machiavelli insists that if
liberty is to be preserved: no person and no magistrate may be
permitted to be above the law; there must be legal means for any
citizen to bring accusations against any other citizen or any
official; terms of office must be short, and must never, no matter
what the inconvenience, be lengthened; punishment must be firm and
impartial; the ambitions of citizens must never be allow to build up
private power, but must be directed into pubic channels.
- James Burnham, The Machiavellians, p.
Almost none of these things hold for the country I
live in, Holland, which is supposed to be a free and liberal country,
ruled by liberal laws that apply to all:
The citizens are not allowed to own arms - only a
few tenthousands of policemen and military men, both groups civil
servants of the government, are allowed to. 
Such laws as get accepted are proposed by one of two
small groups of the ruling elite: Parliamentarians or leading civil
servants serving the government. 
The Dutch drugsmafia lives and trades since four
decades effectively both protected by mayors and police while
remaining officially illegal, which frees them from having to pay
taxes or to have the drugs they sell controlled for quality or
Leaders of big business and leaders of the
drugsmafia are effectivey above the law: They do not get arrested,
or if arrested, even for major crimes, are let off with symbolical
The Dutch High Court has decided that, as a matter
of principle, civil servants do not bear any personal responsibiity.
A person living in the dole in Holland receives per
month as money to live on what good Dutch lawyers may and do demand
per hour in payment for services rendered. 
Terms of political or bureaucratic office tend to be
livelong, or even generations long, and only may seem to be broken
because the officeholders change positions between being (nominally)
a high civil servant and being (nominally) a politician in the
parliament or mayor of a city or village. 
Appointments in a political office, such as that of
mayors or aldermen, may last for 10 or 20 years, all of which are
without real control, since those who are supposed to control them
generally are from their own parties, priming themselves for a
similar career. 
Punishment in Holland go by income: The higher the
income, the lesser the judicial punishment, and conversely.
Anybody who gets to be a mayor, alderman, or belongs
to the top of the bureaucracy of a city, town, or ministery, can and
generally does build his own power base and sources of extra income.
But there are regular elections, that are
nominally fair, and the majority of the citizens do believe
they live in a free country, in an open society, and in a real
democracy, though effectively they are illiterate in vast majority as
regards science, politics, history, or almost anything else that forms
part of a good civilized education, because that means of personal
emancipation has also been mostly ruined by levelling down all schools
and all education so that at present at least half of the people can
acquire, if they have the money, some MSc. in a science like "European
Studies", "Business Studies", or "Emancipation."
As to the points I sowed (mostly for skeptical
 Even so, Dutchmen are free to defend
themselves by prayer if the government - democratically of course -
 This group does not number more than a few
hundreds persons, in practice.
 This is literally and precisely true: See e.g.
The Willing Executioners of The Truth About Amsterdam
 Albert Heyn affair (top provably swindles for
hundreds of millions of euros: punished by 25.000 euros, "because they
have been punished already by negative publicity"); Bouwfraude (most
public building in Holland - billions of euros yearly - are priced
systematically much too high by fraud: not punished at all).
 And this applies only to the cheaper more or
less good lawyers - and "good lawyers" generally will refuse to
prosecute people in power, especially if these risk to be convicted of
some crime if they were to be competently prosecuted.
 Quite a few Dutch ministers/mayors/top
bureaucrats come from governing families, and had fathers and
grandfathers with the same jobs even functions: Donner, De Graaf, Van
Aartsen, for example.
 As in Amsterdam (12 years for mayors) and
Limburg (18 years of mayors and aldermen).
 See  for part of the explanation. Besides,
Holland is a small country, so the leading men often know each other
from university, if not married into the families of other leading
 As with drugs and the inner city in Amsterdam,
that are exploited by mayor and aldermen and leading civil servants
from the Dutch Labour Party.
The truth about Holland gets rarely written, if that truth may in
any way be painful to anyone with power in Holland, or to the average
electorate's proud chauvinism. It does happen occasionally that
foreigners who lived in Holland, attracted by its reputation, after
they succeeded in fleeing again, also succeed in publish some of the
truth about Holland, and one such book is the amusing
The UnDutchables (link to
the site for it).
And yes... elsewhere, from North Korea to Venezuela by way of
Russia, it may be considerably or much worse indeed, since
l'Histoire n'est qu'une suite d'horreurs."
for which reason
Philosophie, rélativement au monde, est d'allier, à son régard, le
sarcasme de gaité avec l'indulgence du mépris."
P.S. Ik ben ook vandaag niet zo fris, en beperkte me
dus tot een fraai citaat, met enig commentaar. Wie er anders over
denkt - als trotse Hollander - mag dat natuurlijk (totdat
bijvoorbeeld een regering Wilders ook dat
verbiedt) maar zou
"De illusie van
eens moeten doornemen.
En mocht ik morgen wat frisser zijn, dan kunt u een verhandeling
verwachten in verband met Wilders of in verband met ME.