This begins the first of many essays on Machiavelli’s “Discourses on Livy”. Machiavelli wrote this book to create a realistic method of keeping a republic without loosing liberty from within or without. I will be using certain chapters and produce a relevant connection with the republics we have now and also with the future Socialist Republic we should create.
In Chapter 7, Machiavelli deals in the issue of the right to accuse. He states that the right to accuse is beneficial to the republic for two reasons. The first is that, because of the fear of being accused, the person in question will not undergo actions that will undermine the state, or if he does, then he will be put down at once. The second is that it provides a vent for the people to express their ills, because if there is no way to vent these ills, it will only accumulate and overwhelm the state. Pierro Soderini, has his example. After having taken over Florence from the Medici, he set out to create a republic. For the Issue of impeachment however, he failed. He used only a tribune of 8 people. When it was Pierro on trial, the judges must have voted for him (i do not have a lot of information of Pierro’s trail,i don’t even know the charge, but it is safe to say that the judges would vote for him, thus being against the people). Machiavelli states that this is a mistake, since “the few will do the will of the few.” Since the will of the few is not the will of the people, the people did not have a vent to express their ills, because the tribunes will side with the few powerful people in question. And thus they allowed the Medici to return with the papal army. If the people had been able to impeach Pierro and found him guilty, they would have been able to vent their ills and not call on the papal army to come in Florence. Had he been found innocent, Pierro would fear being accused again, and would make sure he does not rouse the anger of the people again. This also vents the peoples anger. Alas, History did not happen along this path, and Florence fell into aristocracy.
I like Machiavelli’s analysis that “the few will do the will of the few.” And this is especially true with the Supreme Courts of Western Democracies. Dominated by a few people, their decisions tend to go along with the established rules that have been set up by those with power. For example, long before the Civil rights movement, laws concerning the equality of Blacks were denied because the laws of the state were accepted as legitimate. Thus the Blacks were allowed to be lynched, beaten, and oppressed by Southern society. Only when class action suits came along did the Courts decide to address this issue in full. These class actions suits are the only things that truly make the system democratic. In fact, if the Courts had denied the class action suits, the people would have very likely taken up an even more aggressive stance against the state.
And so what is the Socialist Republic to do with the right of accusation? It should support the people’s right to charge those of authority, and the right to judge, so to keep the nature of the Republic’s judicial system democratic. I propose then that the workers council, which is essential to a socialist republic, be the ones to judge. The Council are the people, is made up of the people, and serves only the people. Using Machiavelli’s logic, “The Many will do the Will of the Many.” However, there are those who would warn us of false accusations, but which still can damage state and stifle the natural ambitions of people. Machiavelli addresses this, and so will I, in the next chapter.